Do Pro-Keystone Democrats Really Want To Build The Pipeline, Or Just Get Re-Elected?

heidi heitkamp

On Friday North Dakota Senator John Hoeven was interviewed on CSPAN about his efforts to push a bill through the Senate that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline project. Senator Hoeven, a Republican, is counting on a number of Senators from across the partisan divide to get the legislation passed in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

But are those pro-Keystone Democrats like Senators Heidi Heitkamp and Mary Landrieu really interested in approving the pipeline, or is it just an election year stunt that gives them an opportunity to distance themselves from President Barack Obama?

Consider this, from Rolling Stone, which quotes a high-profile anti-Keystone activist as saying the pipeline push is just theater staged to get red state Democrats elected:

But Jane Kleeb, founder of Bold Nebraska and one of the leaders of the anti-pipeline movement, described the move to me as “a pretty brilliant move” that will give red state Democrats like Mary Landrieu and Mark Begich an easy and highly theatrical way to distance themselves from the president in the mid-terms, as well a rallying point for oil and gas money to support them. “Obama just used oil and gas to get red state dems elected,” Kleeb wrote.”No way will gas and oil push against Landrieu and Begich.”

Meanwhile, the NRSC (not exactly an objective source, I know) is pointing out that Senator Mary Landrieu wasn’t exactly an outspoken proponent of the Keystone pipeline before she was a candidate with a good chance of losing re-election.

You could make the same argument of Senator Heidi Heitkamp, who made the Keystone pipeline a big part of her successful 2012 campaign in which she, out of necessity, ran against President Barack Obama. Before her campaign, Heitkamp was silent on the issue of the pipeline. Her activism prior to being elected to the Senate was mostly headlining pro-Obamacare rallies.

And in terms of her personal wealth, she’s heavily invested in such a way as to profit from further Keystone delays.

This is an interesting game red state Democrats play. They are members of their national party. They vote for people like Barack Obama. But when they campaign in front of red state voters, we’re supposed to believe they’re a different breed of liberal.