Montana Politics

Is North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp Switching Parties?

Written by Nathan Kosted
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In a move that is perplexing many, North Dakota Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp traveled on Air Force One today with President Trump back to her home state. After traveling together, Heitkamp held an event with the President as he begins the rollout of his attempt at a massive tax cut for the rich.

The question on many people’s lips is whether this signals that Heitkamp will be switching her party allegiance as happened earlier this year when West Virginia Governor Jim Justice held an event with President Trump and switched his party affiliation. Justice had previously been a Republican and had switched to the Democratic Party to run for Governor in a state where many voters reflexively vote for Democrats at the statewide, if not the federal level.

This is why Heitkamp’s allegiance to the Democratic Party is being questioned. Following the election of Donald Trump in 2016 many spineless Democrats have chosen to pander to the darker side of politics as they worry about reelection. Heitkamp is up for reelection in 2018 and is considered by some to be the most vulnerable Senate Democrat in America. Party loyalty has grown weak over the last decade and we’ve seen candidates cynically try to switch parties before.

Some will remember that Senator Arlen Specter switched parties in 2010 and couldn’t even win the primary election after he did and Senator Jim Jeffords who chose not to run for reelection after he switched.

Max Baucus is an interesting name to bring up here as many people have strong feelings on him, his party allegiance and ultimately his legacy. Baucus grew up in a Republican household and it was not until after college that he chose to become a Democrat and run for the state legislature in the early 70’s. Baucus was always elusive on party politics and often crossed over for votes.

It was in 2001, after Baucus voted for the last massive tax cut package for the rich, that many Democrats could no longer stand idly by. The Bush tax cuts of 2001 were disastrous. The revenue lost from 2001-2011 was so massive that it accounted for 40% of the increase in the national debt. Lowering taxes on ultra-rich billionaires during two wars is disgustingly irresponsible and anyone who does it should be voted out of office. We currently are still engaged in wars in Afghanistan and with Daesh.

I remember being involved in many discussions of a primary for Baucus in 2002. In 2008 I was even asked to join a draft committee to find a primary challenger for him. I declined the invitation and still wonder if I made the right decision.

It was only after Baucus’ disastrous decision to vote against background checks for criminals and violent individuals with mental health issues that his polls numbers sunk so low that he never ran for reelection again.

Heitkamp is the last Democrat in the U.S. Senate who voted against these background checks. Will she remain loyal to her state, her voters, and her values or will we see another moderate populist lost to the DC beltway?

About the author

Nathan Kosted

2 Comments

  • An interesting analysis. I hope you’re wrong. Many were surprised when Jim Justice ran as a Democrat. Arlen Spector reportedly was a Democrat back in the day, but got crosswise with the corrupt Philly Dem machine and ran as a Republican. Heitkamp may have hitched the ride on Air Force One and appeared with the Prez to prove she’s able to work with everyone and therefore is not a Democratic obstructionist.

  • I’m glad so many more are beginning to open their eyes to realize how bad Max was for Montana. So why would his son be any different?

    What does Max have left in that 2014 campaign fund…$3 million? And why has he hung onto it for so long?

    It’s because of Zeno. Max hopes his son will fill his shoes, and perhaps Zeno will. $3 million goes a long way. After all, that’s how much Tom Woods was advised he’d need to raise to make a serious challenge to Zinke next year.

    Does Zeno have his sights set on ’18 as well? I feel he dipped his toe into the water (off-stage, off course) earlier this year for the special, but he chose not to get in. He was probably smart. But now we have a gaggle of no-names that think they have a chance. Max’s $3 million could prove them wrong real quick, with Zeno at the helm, of course.

    What’s so unfortunate is that MT Dems would fall head over heels in love with Zeno if they were told to (and when a candidate has $3 million, that’s how it goes).

    It’s amazing how quickly we forget how bad Baucus has been for us.

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