How Badly Will Mayor Bloomberg's Vendetta Against Heidi Heitkamp Hurt North Dakota Democrats

heidi heitkamp

heidi heitkamp

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has it out for a group of Democrat Senators who voted against gun control, and he’s trying to hit them where it always hurts politicians. The campaign coffers.

Among those Senators is North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp:

NEW YORK — New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg personally wrote Wednesday to hundreds of Big Apple donors, asking them to stop funding four Democratic senators who opposed tougher gun laws in Congress.

The move by the billionaire mayor, who has long campaigned for tighter gun controls, comes as the nation prepares to mark on Friday the six-month anniversary of the deadly shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut.

In his letter, Bloomberg said Senators Mark Begich of Alaska, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Max Baucus of Montana had “sided with a gun lobby increasingly out of touch with Americans’ priorities.”

“The next time these four senators want you to support them with donations to their campaigns, tell them you cannot,” said the 71-year-old Bloomberg.

How likely is this to hurt Senator Heitkamp politically? Not very. Even though the Senator got 80% of the funds for her 2012 campaign from out of state, making her vulnerable if out-of-state funds are cut off, Heitkamp won’t be on the ballot in 2014, nor will she be on the ballot in 2016. She has several years before she needs to worry about running for re-election again, and by then this furor among liberals about her vote for gun control will probably have died down.

The larger question is, how much will this vendetta against Heitkamp – which consists of other left-wing luminaries such as former Obama chief of Staff Bill Daley – hurt other North Dakota Democrats? That’s an issue because the state Democrat party, upon which Democrat statewide, legislative and local candidates are heavily dependent, is in turn very dependent on out-of-state contributions.

According to the party’s final report for the 2012 cycle (spreadsheet below), of the more then $2.7 million they received in itemized contributions more than $2 million or nearly 74% came from non-North Dakota sources. Which sort of makes the state party the sort of out-of-state special interest group so many in the media deride:


Traditionally, a lot of this out-of-state money for the state party and for state Democrat candidates is filtered through the federal office holders. They have the contacts in Washington DC. They bring home the bacon for their state party, and their state and local candidates. But if Heitkamp’s vote on gun control diminishes her national fundraising ability that’s going to mean less funds for a North Dakota Democrat party. A party facing, in 2014, the daunting task of running challenge candidates against incumbent Republicans across the board in statewide elections, and huge legislative majorities.

Heitkamp’s vote against gun control was without a doubt in line with the wishes of most North Dakotans. But given how far to the left of the North Dakota electorate Democrats, nationally, have moved it may well cost Heitkamp and her party at the state level.

Democratic-NPL State Party Year-End Report