Politics

Heitkamp of North Dakota Trails Cramer — ‘Her Luck Is About to Run Out,’ Says One Strategist

Liberal Democrat won election six years ago in highly conservative state; now she's in a fierce battle with Republican Kevin Cramer

Image Credit: ustin Sullivan/GettyImages & Chip Somodevilla/GettyImages

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) has been fighting to bridge a support gap to save her seat from challenger Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.).

Heitkamp (shown above right) was able to win election six years ago in a highly conservative state. Cramer (above left) has served as a representative for the only congressional district in the state since 2013.

North Dakota residents will elect one of them on November 6.

Heitkamp has positioned herself as a more moderate politician who shares the same values as everyone else in the state.

She and President Donald Trump even have some views in common when it comes to border security.

The evenhanded approach had seemed to work in the beginning, with the race a toss-up — but that changed.

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Related: Cramer Questions Heitkamp’s Intelligence During Final Debate

“For the last few years North Dakota has been one of our best pick-up opportunities,” Alex Conant, a partner at Firehouse Strategies and a Republican strategist, told LifeZette this week.

“Republicans are feeling very confident heading into the final days of the campaign. I think once voters were reminded about the difference between the two candidates, which became clear during the Kavanaugh hearings, the race was practically over, simply because there are so many more Republicans than there are Democrats in that state.”

Justice Brett Kavanaugh overcame a highly contentious confirmation process before being sworn in October 6. Senate Democrats had called for delaying or revoking his nomination for various reasons ever since his nomination was announced. The process was eventually overshadowed by sexual assault claims levied against him.

“Heitkamp is a liberal Democrat running is a conservative Republican state,” Conant said. “She got lucky six years ago and it looks like her luck is about to run out.”

North Dakota voters were evenly split between the two candidates up until she cast that vote.

RealClearPolitics has her down by 11.4 points with less than a week left. She did bridge the gap by a few points over the past week. CNN has also listed the race among its top 10 seats that are the most likely to flip in 2018.

“My feeling was North Dakota was put away after the Kavanaugh situation,” Republican pollster Adrian Gray told LifeZette this week. “I think it was one of those states that was in reach — but the moment she voted against Kavanaugh, I think she probably put the nail in her own coffin.”

Heitkamp has prided herself on being more moderate than many others in her party. She admits the Affordable Care Act has problems, which she has worked to fix by introducing legislation.

But she’s also argued that it was wrong to vote to repeal Obamacare without a replacement that would protect patients with pre-existing conditions. She also helped garner support for the Keystone XL Pipeline — while pushing for federal tax incentives aimed at wind and alternative energy.

Cramer also has plenty of accomplishments going into the race with his time as a representative. He highlighted the importance of tax cuts for helping economic growth and his vote in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

He also supports deregulation, such as his vote against the Bureau of Land Management’s Venting and Flaring Rule.

Related: Border Patrol Union That Endorsed Trump Now Backs Heitkamp

Heitkamp also had to deal with a controversy shortly after her no vote. Her campaign released newspapers ads that identified domestic violence, sexual abuse and rape victims without their consent.

She has since apologized for the mistake.

Gray noted, however, that process or one-off events like that usually don’t matter that much with voters.

“They’re so exposed to everyone’s mistakes and flaws that people are really forgiving on that type of stuff,” Gray said. “But when you make an actual values judgment like, ‘I’m not going to vote for this Supreme Court nominee,’ that’s not a mistake. That’s not a blip in the screen. That is signaling your values to your voters.”

Trump has drawn the attention of both candidates, having won the state during the presidential election of 2016. Cramer has mirrored the president on such issues as illegal immigration and defunding sanctuary cities.

Heitkamp has highlighted her willingness to work with the president.

Trump has drawn the attention of both candidates, having won the state during the presidential election of 2016. Cramer has mirrored the president such issues as illegal immigration and defunding sanctuary cities.

The North Dakota race has also been expensive for both sides, as millions of dollars have been spent. Heitkamp has spent $16,019,959 out of the $27,017,315 her campaign has raised. She has received most of her funds from large individual contributions at 47.13 percent.

Cramer has fewer funds to spare, with his campaign spending $4,951,051 of the $5,531,588 it raised.

He also received the bulk of his funds from large individual contributions at 54.14 percent.

PAC contributions accounted for the second biggest source of funds at 24.37 percent.

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