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Port: Voting for Sanders, North Dakota’s Democrats move to left of relevance

MINOT -- At the national level Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is struggling mightily to unite her party even as her opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders, continues to win in some states.

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Rob Port

MINOT -- At the national level Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is struggling mightily to unite her party even as her opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders, continues to win in some states.

That made North Dakota’s caucus last night kind of important, as implausible as that might seem. Normally our state is almost irrelevant to presidential politics, but this topsy-turvy election cycle has been far from normal.

But Clinton didn’t get what she needed from the Peace Garden State.

“North Dakota Democrats handed U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders a convincing win over Hillary Clinton by a more than 2-to-1 margin in the state’s presidential preference caucus Tuesday,” Mike Nowatzki reports.

Sanders won 13 delegates to Clinton’s 5 with 64 percent of the vote.

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That’s fairly stunning given that North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp, the only Democrat to win a statewide election in our state since 2008, has been an outspoken proponent of Clinton’s candidacy since 2013.

And it wasn’t just Heitkamp backing Clinton in North Dakota either. Former Governor George Sinner, former Congressman Earl Pomeroy, former Senators Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan, as well as former U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon all backed Clinton too.

Combined those are the highest profile, most recognizable Democrats in North Dakota, yet their endorsement counted for naught.

That might be a data point explaining the Democrats’ lack of success at the ballot box in recent election cycles. It seems the Democratic base in North Dakota has moved so far to the extreme left that they’ve left behind the faction of their party capable of winning elections.

It speaks volumes that rank-and-file North Dakota Democrats have moved far to the left of Heitkamp, who barely held on to a Senate seat for her party in 2012 while campaigning on a platform that seemed like something a moderate Republican would present to voters.

Nor is this the first indicator of this phenomena.

Last year some Democrats, including former party chairman Bob Valeu, were expressing disappointment for Heitkamp for not governing further to the left.

These rank-and-file Democrats are dragging their party left, and the further left they go the more irrelevant they are in a state which doesn’t have much of an appetite for far-left liberal politics.

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