The Butt Hurt Over Senator Cramer Backing Savanna’s Act Is Just More Ugly Partisanship From Heitkamp Supporters


Senator-elect Kevin Cramer is The Forum's 2018 Person of the Year. David Samson / The Forum

If you’re a Democrat, and a Republican comes out in favor of a piece of policy you support, shouldn’t that make you happy?

It should, but sadly in our bitterly partisan environment, there are plenty who eschew progress in favor of petty political recrimination.

One recent and local example of this is the opposition from state gay rights leaders to a Republican-backed bill which gives them most, but not all, of the reforms they want to state discrimination laws. I get that it’s not all the want, but are they really going to let partisanship get in the way getting some of what they want?


Another example is the butt hurt from myopic and embittered Heidi Heitkamp supporters over Senator Kevin Cramer, who soundly defeated her in last year’s election, signing on to support Savanna’s Act. Legislation Heitkamp campaigned on last year, and fought to get passed despite a procedural block in the House during her final days in the Senate.

Case in point, this editorial cartoon Trygve Olson which makes it seem like Cramer only signed up to back the law because, after Heitkamp’s defeat, he can take credit for it:

Heitkamp’s brother, Joel Heitkamp, also teed off on Cramer for daring to support his sister’s legislation: “At the time, Kevin Cramer was a congressman in the House majority. He could have been the champion Savanna’s Act required. Instead, he did nothing. Nothing,” seethed the perpetually angry talk radio host. “Every morning when Cramer looks into that mirror to shave, he sees the person responsible for stopping Savanna’s Act in the first place,”he continued.

Let’s stipulate for a moment to the argument Olson, Heitkamp, and other partisan observers are making. Let’s suppose Cramer really is cynically supporting legislation he opposed previously because it was his political opponent’s idea.

Does that really matter?

IF these people believe Savanna’s Act is such important policy they need to vent public spleen over any opposition to it, shouldn’t they be happy to see it getting support? Especially from the majority party in the Senate?

But the thing is, their characterization of Cramer simply isn’t accurate. He didn’t oppose Savanna’s Act. In December, while still in the House, he was working to pass it. “I intend to work with my colleagues about hearing and passing it in the remaining hours of the 115th Congress,” he said at the time. “We are rapidly running out of time to approve a bill the Senate took over one year to pass and the House received on Dec. 10.”

The only criticism of Savanna’s Act I can find at all from Cramer is his desire to see some amendment so it “doesn’t disadvantage law enforcement agencies,” but that’s not unusual. Federal policy is usually complicated. Rare is the bill which doesn’t get some amendment during the legislative process.

What’s ironic about the attacks on Cramer is that, during the election, Heitkamp herself campaigned as a moderate who would “work with anyone” to get things done. Presumably that would mean someone like Cramer.

Apparently her supporters, up to and including her brother, didn’t get the memo.