Senator Heitkamp Doesn’t Want to Be Photographed With Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee


FILE -- Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-S.D.) during a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 12, 2018. Heitkamp is one of three Democrats who are up for reelection in states President Donald Trump carried and voted to confirm Justice Neil Gorsuch. (Tom Brenner/The New York Times)

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:

Republicans have taken note:

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: