Time to bring Heitkamp home

Dan Eberhart, Watford City

Senator Heidi Heitkamp recently touted her support for North Dakota’s energy industry, boldly declaring she led the fight to repeal the oil export ban in 2015.

Led the fight? First, understand that Heitkamp ultimately was a cosponsor of legislation written by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a bill that reached the president’s desk only after it was added to the must-pass House omnibus spending bill. Others did the heavy-lifting.

Viewing this from the perspective of an energy industry CEO, North Dakota voters should know Heitkamp’s true record in the Senate is one that places her squarely on the side of North Dakota’s competitors, primary among them, the Islamic Republic of Iran.

When Senator Heitkamp cast her vote for the Iran deal, she voted to remove sanctions on the world’s largest state-sponsor of terrorism, allowing the country’s oil industry to regain access to the global marketplace.

The Iran Deal signed by then-President Obama was deeply flawed. It included an expiration date that would have allowed Iran to produce nuclear weapons within a year of the deal’s end, while allowing the government in Tehran to grow fat on millions of dollars in oil profits that were then funneled into the hands of Hezbollah and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard. These are organizations that support the genocidal Assad regime in Syria and have engaged in atrocious acts of terrorism across the Middle East.

At a time when North Dakota energy producers were struggling with low commodity prices, Heitkamp doubled down and voted to make their lives more difficult by allowing Iran to compete with its state-subsidized oil on the world market. The result: less money for North Dakota oil workers and a less stable world.

The Iran deal wasn’t the first, or the last time, Heitkamp voted against the interests of North Dakotans. She has repeatedly forsaken traditional North Dakota values to curry favor with her Democratic colleagues in Washington. Heitkamp voted against repeal of the Obama administration’s duplicative and unworkable BLM flaring rule, even though she knew, as a former EPA attorney, that North Dakota already had a similar rule in place.

Heitkamp voted to protect sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials. She voted repeatedly against efforts to repeal Obamacare, despite the fact that insurance premiums under the program are slated to jump more than 20 percent over the coming year.

Heitkamp’s record shows, on average, she voted with President Obama 88 percent of the time.

All this raises the question of where Heitkamp stands on President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. Will she stand up to national Democrats to protect North Dakota from federal overreach or will she side with her party bosses in Washington?

Whatever claims Heitkamp makes about her record, one thing is clear: it’s time to bring her home and elect someone who better reflects the state’s values and priorities.

Voters are starting to get the message. A recent poll shows Heitkamp, who won by the narrowest of margins in 2012, trailing Congressman Kevin Cramer by 5 percentage points.

The boom in shale oil production has helped transform North Dakota’s economy. In order to keep the oil flowing to market, North Dakota needs representatives who will fight for pipelines and other infrastructure investments that Democrats in Congress oppose. North Dakotans also deserve someone who reflects their values and respects their tradition of hard work and honest talk.

Eberhart is president and CEO of Canary, LLC, and Vice Chair of the Cramer Senate Finance Committee.