Senator Heitkamp Says She’s “Likely” to Stay in the Senate


After weeks of speculation about whether or not President-elect Donald Trump would select her for his cabinet, Senator Heidi Heitkamp herself is throwing some cold water on the idea.

Feeding a scoop to her brother’s radio station, Heitkamp says she’s likely to stay in the Senate. “I think it’s likely that that’s going to be the outcome from all of this, yes” she said when asked if she’d stay in the Senate.

“I’m not saying ‘never never,’ but I will tell you that I’m very, very honored to serve the people of North Dakota and I hope that no matter what I do, that will always be my first priority.”

So that’s that. Heitkamp is more than likely staying in the Senate. Which means no special election for the U.S. Senate seat, and no special election for the U.S. House seat either since Rep. Kevin Cramer had said he’d run for the Senate seat if Heitkmp vacated it.

You really have to admire the shrewd way in which Heitkamp handled this.

By staying tight lipped about her appointment until now, with Trump’s announcement on his remaining cabinet picks imminent, Heitkamp has helped fan the flames of rumor and speculation. While Heitkamp playing nice with Trump may have enraged the tiny, worn-down, far-left nub that is North Dakota’s Democrat party these days, it probably endeared her to the majority of the state’s voters.

The people she’ll need if she hopes to be re-elected in 2018. Through all of this Heitkamp burnished her reputation as a pragmatic centrist. That’s what she’ll need to lean on to stay in office.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if Heitkamp used the possibility of her appointment as leverage for commitments for campaign support from national Democrats in the upcoming election cycle. With her state party in shambles, Heitkamp will need big help from out of state.

National Democrats have been upset with Heitkamp for things like her votes on gun control, but the possibility of her leaving for the Trump administration and basically giving up a Senate seat to Republicans probably brought them back into line.