Heitkamp not rushing into race

2010-01-08T02:00:00Z Heitkamp not rushing into raceBy CHRISTOPHER BJORKE Bismarck Tribune Bismarck Tribune
January 08, 2010 2:00 am  • 

Former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp is not jumping into the race for the Senate, but she has not ruled it out, either.

“I am flattered and grateful that so many people have urged me to run for the United States Senate,” Heitkamp wrote in a statement to media. “It is extremely premature for anyone to say that my decision is close to being made.”

 In the new political scene created by Sen. Byron Dorgan’s decision not to run, possible candidates are emerging, but no one is embracing the title. Heitkamp, who lost to John Hoeven in the governor race in 2000, has been considered a strong candidate against a possible Hoeven candidacy.

The governor is expected to run, and has said he would announce a decision within two weeks.

In Heitkamp’s statement, she said she was weighing the decision and conferring with others in the party.

"I'm going to talk to my colleagues in the Democratic-NPL party about how we can field the very best candidate to follow in Byron Dorgan's footsteps,” she wrote. “I'm going to talk to my family and friends of course, but this is a decision no one should make in haste.”

The job’s requirement to spend six years in Washington “gives me great pause,” she wrote.

Heitkamp’s brother, Joel Heitkamp, said he and his sister were natural objects of speculation as prominent Democrats.

“Neither one of us has to send out talking points to get people to talk about us,” he said, but added that neither was doing more than considering options.

Heidi Heitkamp is one of the few Democrats to have held a statewide office and run a close statewide race against Hoeven. Joel Heitkamp is a former state legislator and political talk show host.

Heidi Heitkamp won 130,000 votes to Hoeven’s 159,000 in 2000. She was diagnosed with cancer shortly before the election, which might have hurt her chances.

“She was ahead in the polls before she got sick,” Joel Heitkamp said.

Former State Sen.Jim Maxson, D-Minot, asked Kristin Hedger, a candidate for secretary of state in 2006, to run for the seat.

Another potential candidate, cable talk show host Ed Schultz, became less likely to enter the race. He told a political blog that he was happy at his talk show, which he would have to give up as a candidate.

Public Service Commissioner Tony Clark issued a statement Thursday that he would stay in his job. He was considered a possible candidate to oppose Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., for the U.S. House.

Republican Commerce Director Shane Goettle said that he was considering his options for statewide office.

Some, including Joel Heitkamp, are holding out hope that Dorgan could be convinced to run again, but that is unlikely said Mark Schneider, chairman of the state Democrats.

“The senator has made his decision and before he even announced his decision every effort had been made to get him to change his mind,” he said.

Schneider said there was no rush to name a front-runner for the seat.

“We’re casting a broad net,” he said.

(Reach reporter Christopher Bjorke at 250-8261 or chris.bjorke@bismarcktribune.com.)

Copyright 2015 Bismarck Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(15) Comments

  1. Hooplehead
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    Hooplehead - January 09, 2010 12:04 pm
    NDresident, I heard that pathetic love fest on "News and Views" also.

    What I found hilarious, was Joel blowing his top when a caller questioned the "transparency" of the health care debates.

    Next day C-Span releases a letter saying "let us in, let us in!" LOL!
  2. NDresident
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    NDresident - January 09, 2010 11:36 am
    Had to laugh when I listened to the Joel Heitkamp show on KFYR (news and views) yesterday. It was a love fest for Heide... most callers were Heitkamp supporters who claimed she lost her election because the GOP scared off Heide voters because she had cancer. I am so happy that Heide survived her battle with cancer and is doing great, but I didn't vote for her because I felt she was not the best candidate for governor. If Heide runs...they might as well rename Joel's radio talk show from "news and views" to the "vote for Heide" show.
  3. Senior Citizen
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    Senior Citizen - January 09, 2010 9:41 am
    Senator Dorgan was the best person in office that ever came to ND. You Rep look at the list of accomplishments for the state. It has come to be a sad day when bloggers who are so biased as to not acknowledge these things. I hope that whoever runs and succeeds to the Senate can do at least half as much for the state. The mess the whole nation is in was not created in the few short months that Obama has been in office. Give him a chance to try to straighten out the mess from the Bush era.
    Report Abuse
    SCIENTIST - January 08, 2010 6:16 pm
    Hey Deb, let's look at the numbers --- Hoeven beat Heitkamp 55% to 45% in 2000. He beat his next opponent in 2004 by a margin of 71% to 28%. He won his last election by a margin of 74% to 24%. His approval rating stands at 87% and he's also the most popular governor in the nation. The state runs a surplus of over $600 million (shhhhh, don't tell the Democrats). I'd say Heidi is laying very low so she can quietly go back to her token position at Dakota Gas without getting a shellacking in November. Even if the Democrats got their messiah Obama to run against Hoeven (hypothetically speaking), he'd be whooped in a landslide too. In the lastest poll on December 21, 2009, "North Dakota finds the popular Republican governor leading Dorgan by 22 points – 58% to 36%" --- this is truly what led to Dorgan's retirement only two weeks later.
  5. Dakota Gal
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    Dakota Gal - January 08, 2010 4:14 pm
    And it is purely a matter of personal opinion whether it is better or worse to sell your soul to one political party over another. I do believe, though, in political science circles, the pundits have generally said that one thing that has kept the Democratic party from being as powerful as it otherwise might be is their frequent inability to stand together as a party, while the Republican party has been much more successful in creating a strong party line philosophy amongst its political powers. Hard to say what's true or not, given the fact that this is an unprecedented rabidly partisan political environment with each party's national committee spokespersons trying to turn EVERYTHING into a political battle of republican versus democrat. I wonder if in the future, anthropologists will be looking at this society and saying "If only they could have gotten over whether it was a democratic or republican idea and fostered decision making on the merits of what was best for the country, the United States would have survived"?
  6. Hog Man
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    Hog Man - January 08, 2010 2:10 pm
    Well put, Bob. Dorgan is leaving because he's better than the den of thieves he's associated with and knows that voting party line with them would cost him his job in November anyway.
  7. Bob the birther
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    Bob the birther - January 08, 2010 1:56 pm
    Dakota Gal, I agree with you however what you're missing is that pary trumps policy. Look no further than the 60 votes for this health care debacle that just passed. It was a strickly party line vote. So, yes they all dance and pay lip service but when the chips are down its party line. Hoven would never have voted "yes" on the health care bill. And to go one step further Dorgan would never have voted "yes", but had to because of pressure from his own party.
    This is just a quess but I would not be surprised if Dorgan quit because he silently disagrees with almost everything the Obama administration is doing. Even he sees this is a train wreck and has no interest in defending these bad policies at election time. He is smarter; and a better man than what he is leaving behind in DC.
    I say good for him, and thank you for 40 years of service.
  8. Dakota Gal
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    Dakota Gal - January 08, 2010 1:15 pm
    I'm having difficulty deciding if this is hilarious or pathetic. If you put the ideologies of Dorgan, Hoeven, and Heitkamp in side by side tables, you would have great difficulty distinguishing one from the other. They are all moderates who, I believe, truly want and have the ability to do the right thing for the people they serve. Here's where I can't decide hilarious versus pathetic - it seems like many of you believe that because Hoeven has attached a "republican" title to his ideologies, they are good. Because Heitkamp and Dorgan have attached a "democrat" title to their ideologies, they are bad. Yet, they are nearly the same. Do you not realize that or are you so tied up in partisanship that you can't see the forest for the trees?
  9. Bob the birther
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    Bob the birther - January 08, 2010 1:09 pm
    Obama is doing for the democrats what Bush 43 did for republicans.
    It is going to be hard for anyone associated with a D on their backs to win.
    The good news is republicans will win both and usually dont get voted out.
    North Dakota is the envy of most states with their fiscal responsibility leading to operating in the black and having low unemployment. With conservatives elected to the senate and house (to match at the state level) ND will do even better as it will be run by pretty much all conservatives.
    I thought Dorgan was the best senator in the USA.
    He tried to get cheaper drugs across the border, spoke out against illegal immigration, and did not tax union workers insurance. This administration has no room for such common sense. Now the left will suffer what the right suffered during the last election.
    Point being it really doesnt matter who from the dems run. They will lose.
  10. Deb
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    Deb - January 08, 2010 12:53 pm
    what a joke. pom's got $1.4million in the bank, and you really think that whatever sacrificial lamb R's put up against him will win? it's going to be a tough race, but pom will still pull it out. i'd love to see a Heidi-Hoeven cage match again. she has a huge chance of winning that. hoeven's done nothing for this state - i can't possibly imagine what platform he's going to run on. "hey look guys! i stood next to team ND when they accomplished something for this state and they took a picture of me YAAAAAAAY!"
  11. Hog Man
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    Hog Man - January 08, 2010 10:55 am
    This is funny. Reading the names of potential Democrat candidates makes me happy. Apparently the ND Dems thought they'd have all 3 clowns of Team ND in place for eternity and forgot to "groom" someone for the positions. I guarantee Dorgan's seat and Pomeroy's seat will go to the GOP in November.
  12. Scott
    Report Abuse
    Scott - January 08, 2010 10:30 am
    I have listen to both Heitkamps rip the Govenor left and right, ok time to stop talking about it and do something about it, if the only reason Heidi lost the Govenor race was because she was sick now is the perfect time to hop in the race and prove it my guess is if the Govenor runs neither one of you will have the guts to take him on.
  13. Do The Right Thing
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    Do The Right Thing - January 08, 2010 9:10 am
    That would be great for the do-nothing cry-babies too, because then they could just blame it all on democrats playing the misogyny card: "anyone who disagrees with her is called a woman hater...."

  14. The other side of the coin
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    The other side of the coin - January 08, 2010 8:55 am
    Heidi is the most qualified of the Democratic candidates and is wise to give this a lot of thought.

    The political scene in Washington is very contentious, to say the least, and our nation seems to be polarized by that fact plus the treacherous unproductive rising influence of both the far right wing media and some Senators themselves.

    That would give pause to any intelligent empathetic person. I would suspect that John Hoeven is asking himself the same questions as I see him as a moderate Republican and the current Republican Party has no room in it for moderates.
  15. Winterhawk
    Report Abuse
    Winterhawk - January 08, 2010 8:51 am
    The only thing she is waiting for is to see if Hoeven runs. If he announces, she is back undercover.
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