North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp raised more than $12.4 million over the first 17 days of October, a Thursday Federal Election Commission filing showed. That period corresponded with Heitkamp’s Oct. 4 decision to vote against confirming President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh, even though she’s running for re-election in a state Trump won in the 2016 presidential election.
In total, Heitkamp raised more than three times more money in two and a half weeks in October than she had in the period between July 1 and Sept. 30, when she raised $3.6 million.
“In an outpouring of support for civil and principled politics, Heidi’s received nearly 15,000 contributions this cycle from every corner of our state and 3,000 new volunteers in just the last few weeks,” said Heitkamp spokesperson Sean Higgins told Politico.
About $7.4 million of that $12.4 million consisted of small donations of less than $200 each. But while small-dollar donations may have once signalled voters’ enthusiasm for a candidate, those donations might be coming from out-of-state donors grateful for Heitkamp’s Kavanaugh vote. (Before her latest windfall, Heitkamp received about 91 percent of her donations from out-of-state contributors, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.) And those donors can’t vote for Heitkamp’s re-election in 10 days.
Heitkamp is trailing her opponent, Republican Kevin Cramer, by an average of 14 points, according to a Real Clear Politics analysis. Trump won 63 percent of the vote in North Dakota in 2016, in a state that’s been solidly Republican-leaning since 1968.
But Heitkamp knew when she cast her vote against Kavanaugh that she might be waving goodbye to her Senate career. “When I listened to Dr. Ford testify, I heard the voices of women I have known throughout my life who have similar stories of sexual assault and abuse,” Heitkamp said in her announcement about her decision, referring to Christine Blasey Ford, who said Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a high school gathering in the 1980s. “Countless North Dakotans and others have since reached out and told me their stories of being raped or sexually assaulted — and expressed the same anguish and fear.”
Shortly after voting for Kavanaugh, Heitkamp told supporters, “The political rhetoric is, ‘You can’t vote that way if you expect to come back.’ And I tell people, Ray and Doreen Heitkamp didn’t raise me to vote a certain way so that I could win. They raised me to vote the right way.”
As of Oct. 17, with just a few weeks to go before the Nov. 6 election, Heitkamp had about $11 million in cash on hand.
Cover: North Dakota Democratic U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp makes a point in the U.S. Senate Candidate Debate with Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018, in Bismarck, N.D. The debate was sponsored by the North Dakota Newspaper Association. (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)