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Heitkamp raises nearly $12.6 million in less than three weeks, highlighting boost after Kavanaugh vote

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp holds up a board with photos of her family members who served in the military during an appearance with former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, at the Fargo Air Museum. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

BISMARCK - North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp raised nearly $12.6 million in the first 2.5 weeks of October, nearly doubling what she had raised the entire election cycle, according to new campaign finance disclosures.

The Federal Election Commission report covers the days after Heitkamp said she would vote against now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh. She said at the time that she believed the woman who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assaulting her while they were teenagers and she cited his temperament in denying the allegations.

Heitkamp is seen as one of the most endangered Democratic senators facing re-election this year. She's the only Democrat elected to statewide office in a state that President Donald Trump won by 36 percentage points.

Heitkamp has now raised more than $27.6 million this election cycle and has $11.1 million in cash on hand. She has consistently outraised Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer, who raised $630,000 between Oct. 1 and Oct. 17, according to the FEC. He has has raised $5.6 million this election cycle and has $976,000 on hand.

Despite that fundraising disadvantage, Cramer has led Heitkamp in public polls. He has highlighted her opposition to Kavanaugh as evidence against her moderate credentials, though she supported Trump's first nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Heitkamp's campaign downplayed the effect of the Kavanaugh vote on her eye-popping fundraising figures. Less than 2 percent of the larger contributions listed a North Dakota address, according to FEC data. Nearly $7.5 million of her early October haul came in the form of donations of $200 or less.

“In an outpouring of support for civil and principled politics, Heidi’s received nearly 15,000 contributions this cycle from every corner of our state and 3,000 new volunteers in just the last few weeks" Heitkamp spokesman Sean Higgins said in a statement. "It's simple – while Kevin Cramer will always fall in line with Mitch McConnell and the special interests, Heidi will always work across the aisle and only answer to North Dakotans.”

Cramer's campaign and the North Dakota Republican Party deferred to a statement from a spokesman from the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

“If anyone needs additional evidence that Heidi Heitkamp is bought and paid for by the liberal left, just look at the ridiculous payoff she took to vote against Justice Brett Kavanaugh,” Michael McAdams said. “Instead of siding with the majority of North Dakotans who wanted to see Heitkamp confirm Justice Kavanaugh, she sold them out for a pile of out-of-state cash and proved they can’t count on her.”

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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