We’re fifteen months out from the 2018 election yet the partisan hit pieces have already begun to hit North Dakota mailboxes. I had a number of readers contact me to say they have received mail this week from the National Republican Senatorial Committee targeting U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp. Attacking someone fifteen months out who hasn’t even declared her intentions looks pretty desperate.
The NRSC has reason to worry. Earlier today, The Cook Political Report – an independent, non-partisan newsletter – put North Dakota’s Senate race in the “lean Democrat” category for next year. This rating change follows last week’s announcement by Republican State Senator Tom Campbell that he’d seek the NDGOP nomination to take on Heitkamp. The shift to “lean Democrat” is partially a result of Campbell’s poor recognition across the state compared to Heitkamp’s popularity. That is why, as I reported yesterday, Campbell has already spent $139,488 on television ads in the state. I can update that number today since he bought an additional $53,795 worth of television ads. Campbell has now spent $193,283. It has been eight days since he announced. Not only is this to help his name recognition but also to attempt and scare off any other Republican challengers. Did you know that Rick Becker and Kevin Cramer are meeting at 4 o’clock today? Cramer put that on his public calendar for a reason.
One of Campbell’s ads suggested he’d do whatever President Trump wants as if Campbell would be there to serve him and not North Dakota residents. That irresponsible approach mirrors what the NRSC hit piece on Heitkamp attempts to tell recipients. The laughable notion pushed by the NRSC is that Heitkamp has voted against Trump’s nominations. Yes, she has voted against some, but not all. It seems Heitkamp has taken the approach of supporting Trump’s policies and nominations when she thinks it is good for North Dakota but when there are votes to strip away funding for meals on wheels, crop insurance, or destroy trade deals beneficial to our family farmers she’s broken away from Trump because it is what’s best for North Dakota. What a radical approach to representing a state.
Every election year we hear from people that elections are too long. As a candidate three of the last five years, I can vouch for that sentiment. Nobody wants to open their mail to dishonest campaign literature fifteen months before an election just like nobody wants to see campaign ads during the nightly news this far out. The NRSC must feel it’s an uphill battle in ND if they’re starting paid advertising this early.