« News & Views with Joel Heitkamp

There Is Always a Reason (Written by: Joel Heitkamp)

by Amy Iler

In North Dakota politics, the rules for Democrats are pretty simple. If you are running against an incumbent then prepare to lose… or, you better have the guts to point out where you are different.

Three races come to mind where Democrats gave North Dakotans reasons to vote for them over the incumbent and won. George Sinner beat Governor Allen Olson when he traveled the state and demanded action. Agriculture was in the toilet and farmers weren't going to take a back seat anymore. George Sinner knew that and spoke with action. In the end, not just North Dakota listened but the nation.

Kent Conrad ran against Senator Mark Andrews and won. Kent ran under the promise that he would balance the national budget and reduce debt or he wouldn't run again. After winning the race he kept his promise and, 6 years later, he didn’t run. After Quentin Burdick passed away, North Dakotans urged Kent to seek Quentin's seat and he did. He won that race, balanced the budget and reduced the debt. Senator Conrad stayed in the Senate until he chose to retire. 

Heidi Heitkampran against Congressman Rick Berg for the open seat of Kent Conrad. Congressman Berg was perceived by many to be the incumbent. She ran under the promise of voting for North Dakota and for what she thought was best.  She didn’t tout a party line, but promised not forget where she came from. After winning, many on her side of the isle where upset with her vote on gun control, while others such as myself, would say she kept her promise.

The Democrats are putting together one of the best statewide tickets they have had in years. The question is, are those candidates going to fight for the job and point out the differences? North Dakotans are willing to buy if the sales pitch is true and honest.

It is going to be an interesting campaign.