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Heidi Heitkamp defends vote against Kavanaugh as reelection chances fade

October 8, 2018

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, North Dakota Democrat, said Sunday that it was more important for her to look at herself in the mirror than to bolster her re-election chances by voting to confirm Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.

“This is a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court. There’s no do-overs,” Ms. Heitkamp said on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” “The important thing for me is to be able to get up in the morning, look in the mirror, and know that I didn’t take a shortcut. That I didn’t do what was politically expedient.”

Her vote against Justice Kavanaugh has been described as the final nail in her foundering reelection bid against Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer, who leads her in the latest poll by 12 percentage points.

North Dakota WDAY-AM radio-show host Rob Port described her decision to vote “no” as a sign that she had given up on winning reelection.

“My initial reaction is to take this as an indication that Heitkamp may be tacitly conceding the race,” said Mr. Port last week on his Say Anything political blog.

Ms. Heitkamp chalked up her decision to her work with victims of domestic violence. Justice Kavanaugh was accused by Christine Blasey Ford of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school, which he has denied.

“Everybody’s going to make their own judgment, and I have to tell you my judgment on her experience is based on a lot of experience working with domestic assault victims, domestic violence victims,” said Ms. Heitkamp, who previously served as state attorney general.

“That’s not someone I want sitting on the bench.” Senator Heidi Heitkamp says she thought Brett Kavanaugh’s conduct during his confirmation hearing showed he does not have the right temperament to be on the Supreme Court. https://t.co/pbTijsM9Ih 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) October 7, 2018

She said he was also concerned about his “temperament” and “impartiality.”

“Two things stand out. First off, I think that her story was completely believable,” Ms. Heitkamp said. “And I found his performance to be disturbing.”

Former Democratic National Committee executive director Brian Lunde said Friday that her decision to walk a fine line between Trump supporters and opponents by opposing the nomination looked like a “political decision,” adding that “she was just out of step with the state.”

“I think I’ve never quite thought she could be positioned to win in a midterm election out here in North Dakota,” Mr. Lunde told WDAY-AM in Minot.

He said Ms. Heitkamp probably never had a chance. “It was really over before it began,” he said.

More than 60 percent of North Dakota voters supported Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation. President Trump won the red state in 2016 with 63 percent of the vote.

“She’s in a lose-lose, really,” said Mr. Lunde.

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