Heitkamp Contributes to new North Dakota Organization focused on Civic Engagement

Over the last few years, whenever I’ve spoken with people around the state, I’ve caught an earful of ideas about how North Dakota’s center-left can rebuild. Many of those ideas didn’t make it past the bar napkin note they were written on. It is no secret the influence of those who politically align on the center-left is at its lowest point in decades in North Dakota. Now, at least one of the ideas seems to be getting some backing from former Senator Heidi Heitkamp.

According to her latest FEC filing, Heitkamp contributed $125,000 to an entity called the Alliance for a Better North Dakota. Apparently, the organization formed in May of last year by a number of folks involved in North Dakota’s progressive, labor, and public policy circles. Tasha Carvell is the Executive Director. She has been involved in North Dakota politics and policy in the past working for former Senator Byron Dorgan and more recently with another organization called ThinkND.

I reached out to Heitkamp and Carvell to see if they wanted to comment on the contribution, and both sent me prepared statements. “Our goal of creating a more just, secure, and healthy North Dakota is a vision Heidi’s been fighting for her whole political life. Heidi knows as well as anyone that there’s still work to be done. Her investment validates our plan to help North Dakotans become better informed, organized, and engaged, and we’re grateful for her support.” Carvell responded.

I also asked Carvell about their plans. She emphasized civic engagement and “capacity building” in organizations and groups across North Dakota. According to Carvell, the Alliance will be “a group of committed funders looking beyond any single issue campaign or election, looking to fund infrastructure that supports organizations and projects that promote goals like democratic participation, accountability in government, collaboration, and communication with North Dakotans of all stripes.

My life’s work in public service has been about building stronger, safer, and more prosperous communities throughout North Dakota. Whether I was fighting to protect affordable, quality health care for North Dakotans, or working to combat the opioid crisis and cracking down on human trafficking, or promoting North Dakota’s vital industries and rural communities — the values of protecting our way of life and looking out for our neighbors always guided my efforts. These values are a natural fit for the Alliance for a Better North Dakota, and I’m pleased to be supporting this effort to strengthen our communities through civic engagement and participation. – Heidi Heitkamp

Recall that Heitkamp had a large fundraising haul in the latter half of the midterm election. When the number broke many observers wondered how the money would be used. The curiosity grew following the midterm results.

$125,000 is a strong foundation, but not necessarily a sustainable figure for what the organization looks to accomplish. I also asked about where the organization’s support is coming from beyond the donation from Sen. Heitkamp’s campaign. Carvell emphasized that the Alliance is an effort “started, funded, and run by North Dakotans.” She also noted that the organization is “still getting off the ground and certainly planning to play a role in the future.” I’ll be curious to see the next moves of this group. 

Tyler Axness