It’s Way Too Early for Senator Heidi Heitkamp to Have a Challenger


U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) arrives for a meeting with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York, U.S., December 2, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

You can tell, from their early and aggressive messaging, that the Democrats are running scared over the idea that Congressman Kevin Cramer might challenge Senator Heidi Heitkamp for her Senate seat next year.

It’s resulted in some true silliness, such as this tweet from (soon to be former) North Dakota Democratic Party Executive Director Robert Haider linking to and excerpting from a kind of stupid behind-the-paywall National Journal report:

The talking point here is that Cramer’s indecision, in April of 2017, on a 2018 Senate race is of great portent. The liberals, apparently with an assist from National Journal, are trying to make it seem like Cramer is indecisive. Like he’s dithering, and that’s holding up other Republicans who might jump into the race.

What a load of bunk.

When Senator Heidi Heitkamp ran, successfully, for the U.S. Senate in the 2012 cycle she didn’t officially announce her campaign until November of 2011. There was no Senate race in North Dakota in the 2014 cycle but Eliot Glassheim, who challenged incumbent Senator John Hoeven in 2016, didn’t announce his campaign the state party’s convention in April that same year.

Granted, Glassheim wasn’t a very serious candidate, but Heitkamp was in 2012 and will be again in 2018.

Cramer probably is undecided at this point. “I don’t know what I want to do,” he told me when I asked him about it last week.

I’m sure he’ll make his decision later this year, but whether he runs or not his indecision at this point tells us exactly nothing.

Unless you’re a partisan flak looking to manufacture headlines.

Much more interesting, to my mind, is that Senator Heidi Heitkamp apparently got heckled by members of her own party at a recent reorganization event, and that some Democrats are saying entire off-year districts may refuse to help the state party organize or raise funds.