Heitkamp credits volutneers for Senate winGRAND FORKS — Two days after her election to the U.S. Senate, Heidi Heitkamp said she was not certain she would be greeting happy supporters at a Grand Forks victory party today, but she gave them all the credit.
By: Christopher Bjorke , Forum Communications
GRAND FORKS — Two days after her election to the U.S. Senate, Heidi Heitkamp said she was not certain she would be greeting happy supporters at a Grand Forks victory party today, but she gave them all the credit.
“I told them, I can keep this competitive,” but her win was due to the work of her volunteers, said a hoarse but energetic Heitkamp at the Empire Arts Center.
“I tell people we knew it was going to be very, very close,” she said.
After one post-campaign day of rest Wednesday, during which the Democrat watched Republican opponent U.S. Rep. Rick Berg concede, she was on a tour of North Dakota cities to deliver a message of “We did it” to supporters and volunteers.
“For all of the millions of dollars that were spent, the thing that had the greatest impact was you knocking on doors,” Heitkamp told a crowd of about 200 supporters pressed into the lobby of the Empire in downtown Grand Forks. “Never forget: 3,000 votes. So many of you can take so much responsibility for what happened in this election.”
Heitkamp edged Berg by 2,994 votes in preliminary results from Election Day. She won 55 percent of the votes cast in Grand Forks County.
Election analysis has credited Heitkamp’s victory to her ground operation of volunteers who knocked on doors and made sure supporters went to the polls. Heitkamp agreed.
“That was always the plan,” she said.
The same week she concluded a 30-town campaign tour, Heitkamp was on the road again to Bismarck, Fargo and Grand Forks on Thursday. Plans to visit the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation were canceled because of an expected snowstorm.
Heitkamp spoke for about 10 minutes during her Grand Forks stop and then spent about an hour greeting people one-on-one, posing for photos and signing campaign signs.
“You were the people that were the wind on my back,” she said. “You were the people I relied on.”
In addition to her Thursday trip, Heitkamp was preparing to take office in January. She said she has requested her committee assignments, which include Agriculture, Energy, Finance, Indian Affairs, Veterans Affairs and Small Business.
She said Sen. Debbie Wasserman, D-Mich., who joined her at her Fargo appearance, would like her to be on the Agriculture Committee. Heitkamp will replace Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., who sits on the Agriculture, Finance and Indian Affairs committees.
She told the crowd her priorities in office will be fiscal stability, a new Farm Bill and a national energy policy.