Publicly Senator Heidi Heitkamp likes to cultivate for herself a reputation as a pragmatic centrist. In fact, that’s the theme of her most recent radio ad (which hits the airwaves today, I posted the audio on Friday). The title of that ad is “Work With Anyone” and it alleges Senator Heitkamp’s willingness to do just that. Even with that villain President Donald Trump.
Behind the scenes, however, Heitkamp is a ruthless politician. Her surrogates attack and intimidate her critics, as her brother did to me on social media over the weekend. The Senator even has a Nixon-style enemies list.
Don’t take my word for it. When Heitkamp’s “Work With Anyone” ad was distributed to the media it came with an admonishment from her marketing people to prohibit it running on certain shows. Among them my own.
You can read the full email below. The hosts on Heitkamp’s enemies list are as follows:
- Scott Hennen (KFYR, Bismarck)
- Rob Port (WDAY, Fargo)
- Steve Hallstrom (WZFG, Fargo)
- Jarrod Thomas (KNOX, Grand Forks)
The common theme among those of us on the list is that we’re all right-of-center, and we all host Heitkamp’s opponent Kevin Cramer regularly for open phone segments where he takes calls from our audiences.
I’ve never once received a response from Senator Heitkamp or her staff to any request for comment or interview during her nearly six years in office. These days I send a request for interview to the Senator’s staff every Monday. I’ve spoken with Hennen before about his struggles to book Heitkamp on his show. He’s told me his unanswered requests now number in the hundreds. Fargo-based television host Chris Berg, while not on this list, has also told me of an inability to book Heitkamp.
On Friday I also spoke to Thomas.
“What bothers me is that not one of us has denied her access. We would be love to have her on, in the same capacity as we have Cramer,” he told me. “This is behavior unbecoming of a sitting US Senator.”
I agree, and it’s all the more ironic given the title of the ad Heitkamp has chosen not to run on our shows: “Work With Anyone.”
Anyone, it seems, except those of us on the Senator’s enemies list.