Williston Mayor Told Heitkamp Campaign Not to Use His Comments as an Endorsement, They Kind of Did Anyway


Dan Genk, left, the supervisor of the FBI's Bismarck office, talks with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Wednesday at a round table discussion about human trafficking.

As a part of her bid to get re-elected, Senator Heidi Heitkamp has been touting comments from local officials in campaign press releases. Among them Williston Mayor Howard Klug.

It’s hard to say how much these local endorsements matter – typically they do little to sway voters – but a western North Dakota endorsement for a statewide Democratic candidate is perhaps more noteworthy than usual given how dominant Republicans are pretty much everywhere west of the Red River Valley.

So when Heitkamp’s campaign was touting friendly comments from Klug in a recent release it was eye-catching to the folks at the Williston Herald:

“From lifting the decades-old ban on crude oil exports to advocating for our airport and helping us with infrastructure challenges during the boom, Heidi has always been there for the hardworking people of Williston,” Klug is quoted as saying in the Heitkamp campaign release. “And while we continue our work to confront the scourge of human trafficking, Heidi has been lockstep with our community and law enforcement to help keep folks safe. She’s North Dakota through and through – and I’m grateful to have such a thoughtful, common-sense senator serving our state.”

But Klug, seemingly miffed at the use of his comments in Heitkamp’s campaign messaging, warned that this was not an endorsement of Heitkamp. The mayor “said he was asked by Heitkamp’s campaign staff if he would provide a quote on the Democratic senator’s work in western North Dakota. He agreed, so long as it did not include any overt campaign endorsement,” the Herald reports.

Seems like the Heitkamp campaign sort of disregarded that request:

More from the Herald:

Klug, reached Thursday, said that the quote sent by the Heitkamp campaign should not be considered an endorsement, even though the email’s subject line had described it as praise.

“I will say the same for Kevin (Cramer),” Klug told the Herald. “I don’t need to praise anyone for doing their job, but I do want to thank her,” he added.