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Commentary: Heitkamp drags North Dakota through the mud to the finish line

MINOT, N.D. — A dangerous place to be is between U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and the object of her relentless, overweening ambition.

Those of us who have been victims of the incumbent’s ruthless tactics are perhaps more aware of it than most.

Earlier this year, when it became clear my criticism was inconvenient for Heitkamp’s re-election chances, her brother took to his radio show to talk about my divorce.

When WWII veteran Lynn Aas objected to Heitkamp using the story of his service, and the Legion of Honor award it merited from France, to credit her own record on veteran issues a spokesperson for the Senator attacked him for engaging in “gutter politics.”

Last month around two dozen women found themselves victims of Heitkamp’s deep thirst for power when they were named as sexual assault survivors in a print ad for the incumbent without their permission. Some of these women felt endangered, worried their abusers might be able to locate them. Others had friends and family learn about their assault for the first time by reading about it in the newspaper. Still others weren’t sexual assault survivors at all.

When some of these women took to social media with objections about the ad one Mary Rennich, a Heitkamp campaign surrogate who has appeared in ads for the senator, called them “idiots.”

Now in the closing days of the election Heitkamp, behind in the polls and desperate for momentum, is dragging her entire state through the mud.

The issue is North Dakota’s voter ID laws, which were enacted over a year ago and upheld earlier this year by the U.S. Supreme Court (with votes from liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer, no less).

Heitkamp had little to say about ID policy when it was created by the Legislature last year, but in need of a talking point at the bitter end of her clumsy campaign the Senator suddenly sees it as a travesty.

Heitkamp and the national networks of left wing activists who are now showering her campaign with money and support (bought with the incumbent’s vote against Brett Kavanaugh, no doubt) are busy branding North Dakotans as a bunch of racist rubes out to disenfranchise Native Americans.

This isn’t true, of course, but supposing for a moment it was, where were these people when this law was passed?

Why did they wait until just weeks before election day to make a stink, when issues with tribal ID’s could have been resolved months and months ago?

Why did so many of them only start to care when it became a campaign issue?

It’s still easy for Native Americans to vote (as Heitkamp herself has been saying during visits to Indian country) but it’s politically convenient for Heitkamp and her surrogates to pretend otherwise.

Both as a way to inflame her left wing base ahead of voting, and perhaps as an excuse for losing on election day.

But North Dakotans should remember, when Heitkamp needed a talking point, she had no qualms about dragging our state through the mud.

Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator. Follow him on Twitter at @RobPort and listen on WDAY AM 970.
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