On Television: Is Heidi Heitkamp Running, And North Dakota Open Records Laws


It was nice to return to television last night after my recent hiatus, discussing some of the recent headlines with Chris Berg on Valley News Live’s 6:30 Point of View program.

Not surprisingly, we talked about Heidi Heitkamp and the 2016 question. Will she run or won’t she?

Berg asked me that question, and I’ll admit to going back and forth on the question since I was the first to report on rumors that Heitkamp was considering a 2016 run back in 2013. There are times when I have felt it’s very likely that Heitkamp would run, and other times that I’ve felt she’d rather not take the risk and stay in the Senate.

And “risk” is the right word. Heitkamp running for governor is a big gamble. The reward is that if Heitkamp wins she can use the power of the governor’s office to try and lead North Dakota Democrats out of the political wilderness they’ve been exiled to by voters (there’s less of a reward now that the Legislature has said that Heitkamp, if elected governor, can’t appoint her own replacement).

The risk is that if Heitkamp wins, Democrats probably won’t be able to keep her Senate seat. Is that trade worth it? And heck, if Heitkamp loses a gubernatorial campaign (which seems likely to me) she may not be able to hold onto that seat.

I was talking to someone last night who said the word from Democrats close to Heitkamp is that she is going to be doing some intense polling on this question in September, and will make a decision after that. Yesterday Heitkamp said that she’d make a decision “sooner rather than later.” I suspect we’ll all know the answer around the end of September.

As for open records laws, Chris brought up this post about open records laws and violations by the North Dakota University System. As you know, a topic I care deeply about.

I’ll be on a task force formed by Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem to look at ways to improve North Dakota’s open records laws, and our first meeting should be in September some time. I look forward to making these laws even stronger.