Heitkamp-Cramer race heats up again


Recent polls have shown Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., as much as 16 points ahead of Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., in what has been one of the tighest Senate races in the country, but in recent days the race has taken on new life.

Heitkamp, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has continued to emphasize that North Dakota farmers are losing export markets under Trump administration trade policies.

The New York Times reported that Heitkamp has raised $12.5 million since her vote against Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. Controversies continue to swirl over a North Dakota law that for the first time will require all North Dakotans including Native Americans to show a street address before voting.

On Friday Heitkamp pointed out that Agriculture Department data showed that China bought no U.S. soybeans last week, and blamed the Trump administration’s tariffs on Chinese goods for leading to retaliatory tariffs that have made U.S. soybeans too expensive.

“During the same week last year, the U.S. exported 1.74 million metric tons of soybeans to China. About 70 percent of North Dakota soybeans are typically exported to Asia, primarily China,” Heitkamp said.

“These numbers are staggering and unprecedented since North Dakota farmers have spent decades developing the Chinese market for their soybeans. The loss of the Chinese market due to the administration’s trade war is an unfolding disaster for North Dakota soybean farmers,” Heitkamp said.

“North Dakota farmers work hard all season and take huge financial risks to get their crops from seed to the combine. But instead of a payday, they’re facing financial hardship and uncertainty as they struggle to store their beans. It’s time for the administration to realize that there are no winners in a trade war.”

Meanwhile, the Guardian newspaper noted that a Supreme Court decision that North Dakota can demand voter identification with street addresses will make it difficult for many Native Americans to vote because they have had only post office box addresses.

Some of the $12.5 million Heitkamp has raised in recent weeks could presumably could be used in the efforts to help Native Americans get documented street addresses by election day.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said at a Washington Post event Thursday that Democratic internal polls show that Heitkamp’s position is not as dire as public polls have said.

Van Hollen said he considers the North Dakota law an attempt to suppress the Native American vote, but that after Heitkamp won in 2012 after being behind by 10 points a week before the election he would not count her out.

After a Heitkamp-Cramer debate last week, the North Dakota Republican Party said that “a pillar of Heitkamp’s campaign strategy is fanning the flames of farmers’ fears.”

The GOP also said Heitkamp is “out of touch” with the views of North Dakotans. and criticized her for bringing former Nebraska Republican Sen. and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, former Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and former Vice President Joe Biden to North Dakota to campaign for her, calling them “irrelevant surrogates.”

Today North Dakota Republican Party Communications Director Jake Wilkins said that “Heitkamp has spent her campaign cozying up to President Trump, hoping voters forget her liberal record, but now in a moment of desperation” is bringing into the state the vice president of an administration that had “burdened the agriculture industry with the WOTUS regulation.”

–The Hagstrom Report