NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Democrat Heidi Heitkamp prevails in North Dakota in upset of the night

Who says Democ­rats can no longer win in the prairies of the Midwest?

The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty’s ener­getic, per­son­able, and peo­ple-focused nom­i­nee for U.S. Sen­ate in North Dako­ta, Hei­di Heitkamp, appears to have won a sur­pris­ing vic­to­ry in one of the nation’s most con­ser­v­a­tive states.

Repub­li­cans had thought the Sen­ate seat cur­rent­ly held by Kent Con­rad was theirs for the tak­ing when Con­rad announced he would­n’t run again. But their can­di­date, Rick Berg, is now 2,994 votes behind with 100% of precincts counted.

As of 1:45 AM Pacif­ic Time, the results were as follows:

  • Repub­li­can Rick Berg: 49.31% (157,758 votes)
  • Demo­c­rat Hei­di Heitkamp: 50.25% (160,752 votes)

On Twit­ter, Heitkamp declared vic­to­ry, tweet­ing, “I am con­fi­dent I am going to be the next Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor from North Dakota.”

Con­grat­u­la­tions flowed in from sup­port­ers, though Heitkam­p’s Repub­li­can oppo­nent Rick Berg had yet to con­cede defeat.

Heitkam­p’s cam­paign received atten­tion from sev­er­al nation­al media out­lets (includ­ing the New York Times) for its heavy empha­sis on retail politics.

It’s evi­dent from the results that Heitkamp worked pret­ty hard to secure votes for her can­di­da­cy. Mitt Rom­ney crushed Barack Oba­ma in North Dako­ta, 58% to 38% — and yet, North Dakotans are send­ing a Demo­c­rat to the Sen­ate who has pledged to work con­struc­tive­ly with the pres­i­dent, rather than adding anoth­er suit to Mitch McConnel­l’s obstruc­tion­ist caucus.

Heitkam­p’s vic­to­ry is an unex­pect­ed hold for the Democ­rats. Our own Pat­ty Mur­ray, who was tasked with chair­ing the Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic Cam­paign Com­mit­tee in 2012, had argued that Democ­rats were poised to do well in 2012 despite hav­ing a dif­fi­cult map to work with. The results have vin­di­cat­ed her strat­e­gy and recruiting.

Mur­ray’s job was made all the hard­er by the retire­ments of Con­rad, Ben Nel­son of Nebras­ka, Herb Kohl of Wis­con­sin, Jim Webb of Vir­ginia, Daniel Aka­ka of Hawaii, and Jeff Binga­man of New Mex­i­co. But Democ­rats appear to have held on to all of those seats, except Nel­son’s, which is pret­ty impressive.

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  1. Try Kent Con­rad’s seat was up, not Byron Dorgan…

    # by heidi :: November 7th, 2012 at 8:15 AM
  2. It is Kent Con­rad who is retir­ing, not Byron Dor­gan. Sen. Dor­gan retired in 2010.

    # by Tommy :: November 7th, 2012 at 8:31 AM
  3. Thanks for the cor­rec­tion, Tom­my and Hei­di. I was pret­ty exhuast­ed when I wrote this post, and wrote Dor­gan instead of Con­rad. Mis­take fixed.

    # by Andrew :: November 7th, 2012 at 10:53 AM
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