It’s Not a “Thug” Tactic to Describe a Political Operative as an Operative


Late last month Mary Rennich, a Democratic party activist and ardent Heitkamp supporter who is named in press releases from Heitkamp’s Senate office, attempted to crash a press conference Congressman Kevin Cramer and other Republicans were holding on the issue of health insurance. When Cramer’s campaign wouldn’t let her in, she cast herself as a victim. Merely a constituent wanting to ask Cramer questions about pre-existing conditions, and not a political activist looking to cause a distraction for her preferred candidate’s opponent.

Over the holiday weekend Rennich wrote a letter to the editor in which she described me as a “thug” for describing her this way in my original post on this matter.

Port and Cramer are lying and saying I was sent by the Heitkamp campaign to “disrupt” their press conference. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Port maligned my character — and lied about me — in a blog post picked up by Forum Communications. He doesn’t know me, or anything I have been through! For the Forum to run his story is deeply irresponsible journalism and borders on libel.

I want to end by saying this. Sure, I am a Democrat. But I am not an “operative” and didn’t attend the press conference on behalf of the Heitkamp campaign. It might be a convenient talking point for the Forum and for Cramer’s campaign, but it isn’t true.

Rennich doesn’t mention anywhere in her letter her work with Priorities USA, a Clinton-aligned political action committee which has been running attack ads targeting Cramer. She’s appeared in at least two of these ads on Facebook:

Rennich also admits that after the incident at the press event she went immediately to the North Dakota Democrats “because I wanted to tell somebody and get our experience out there,” she wrote.

People who aren’t political operatives might have considered going to a journalist to get their story out there, not coordinating with a political party. It’s worth noting that Rennich also told her story to Joel Heitkamp, the Senator’s brother, on his radio show. The interview was then touted via press release by the Heitkamp campaign.

If Rennich wants to play the victim, then fine, but there’s nothing thuggish about pointing out her motivations for her attempt to crash Cramer’s event probably weren’t as free of partisan politics as she’d like us to believe.