UPDATE: Senator Heitkamp’s office has released a photo of the discussion since this post was written. Still, her office didn’t allow independent photo journalists take pictures.
The challenge for incumbent Senator Heidi Heitkamp this election cycle is positioning herself far enough to the right where she’ll pick up the Republican and right-of-center votes any candidate hoping to win on the statewide ballot in North Dakota needs, but not so far to the right that she alienates her left wing base from which she cannot afford to lose votes.
It is through that lens we should view Heitkamp’s decision today not to allow herself to be photographed with President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court:
Vulnerable Dems Donnelly and Heitkamp are meeting with Kavanaugh this afternoon, but neither senator is doing a photo op. Means photographers only get a pic of Kavanaugh walking into their office — not together.
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) August 15, 2018
Republicans have taken note:
— Jake Wilkins (@JakeWilkns) August 15, 2018
I don’t think we can overestimate just how much of a dilemma this Supreme Court vote is for Heitkamp. While many in her base no doubt want Democrats to take the Senate back from Republicans, and thus are willing to accept Heitkamp’s election year shift to the right as a sort of necessary evil, they no doubt also understand that Supreme Court appointments are for life.
Congressional majorities are fleeting, relatively speaking.
For what it’s worth, here’s Heitkamp’s statement on the meeting:
My statement on my meeting with Judge Kavanaugh today: pic.twitter.com/lnqKUZjhoV
— Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (@SenatorHeitkamp) August 15, 2018