Port: Why does Heitkamp so often end up fighting politicians she helps elect?

MINOT -- In 2012 Heitkamp won a narrow election victory in no small part by promising to oppose bad energy policies coming from other Democrats.In her campaign ad titled "Field" Heitkamp touted her willingness to "stand up" to President Barack Ob...


MINOT - In 2012 Heitkamp won a narrow election victory in no small part by promising to oppose bad energy policies coming from other Democrats.
In her campaign ad titled “Field” Heitkamp touted her willingness to “stand up” to President Barack Obama on the Keystone XL pipeline. In a May 2012 article Politico described Heitkamp as not being afraid to “knock Obama.”
Heitkamp opted not to attend her party’s 2012 national convention at which Obama was endorsed for another term in the White House.
After getting elected, Yahoo! News described Heitkamp as a “defiant Democrat.”
Ultimately Heitkamp won her seat by fewer than 3,000 votes, and her victory was a result of aggressive efforts to distance herself from policies promoted by Democrats at the national level.
Particularly energy policies.
If Heitkamp is so passionate about protecting North Dakotans from the bad ideas of her fellow Democrats, why does she endorse and campaign for those Democrats?
A YouTube video of Heitkamp at the 2008 Democratic National Convention - the one where then-Sen. Barack Obama received the nomination to run for president - had her saying Obama was “going to be amazing.”
During the 2012 cycle, the Democrat who made that video used copyright complaints to stop Republicans from using it.
Since then, President Obama hasn’t been very amazing for North Dakota. He sandbagged and then nixed the Keystone XL project at a time when our state desperately needed the pipeline capacity. Obama’s rejection of the project has since inspired wars of attrition from political activists against other projects important to North Dakota, such as the Sandpiper and Dakota Access pipelines.
Obama has promoted the Clean Power Plan, which would raise power prices in North Dakota and harm the coal industry.
Obama has called for a moratorium on developing oil and coal resources on federal land, something which could be a major headache for state and privately owned land around it.
Obama has pushed for the Waters of the U.S. rule, a major regulatory threat to both the energy and agriculture industries.
He’s even called for a $10 per-barrel tax on oil, something which would translate into a $4.2 billion per-year tax on North Dakota oil at current production levels.
Heitkamp opposes these policies, sure, but she also called the man responsible for them “amazing” and is on the record saying she voted for him for president.
More damning, though, is that Heitkamp has gotten behind Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in a big way.
Way back in 2013, during her first year in the Senate, Heitkamp signed a letter urging Clinton to run for President. She’s now actively campaigning for Clinton, appearing in November alongside a dozen other female Democratic members of the Senate to tout the campaign. Heitkamp’s political action committee has donated $5,000 to Clinton’s campaign.
Yet Clinton opposes the Keystone XL project. Clinton has called Obama’s proposed moratorium on coal/oil development on federal land a “done deal” if she’s elected. She supports the Clean Power Plan.
Clinton, like Obama, will likely lose North Dakota in a landslide if she’s on the ballot.
Heitkamp’s defenders would argue that the senator doesn’t have to agree with every position taken by the candidates she endorses. That’s right. She doesn’t. She also doesn’t actually have to endorse anyone.
These policies were at the heart of Heitkamp’s success in 2012. She campaigned on them. They are of enormous importance to North Dakota.
Shouldn’t we get to know how Heitkamp can reconcile support for candidates who promulgate policy she must fight against to fulfill her campaign promises?
I sent just those sort of questions to Sen. Heitkamp’s office, hoping to include the answers in this column. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a response.
Port is the founder of, a North Dakota political blog.

Related Topics: HEIDI HEITKAMP
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