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Heidi Heitkamp, methane rule
North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

Heitkamp considered for energy secretary

Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp was invited to Trump Tower today for a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump. Rumors are circulating that the North Dakota senator is being considered for Secretary of Energy. With oil and gas production as one of the top revenue-driving industries in the state, having a North Dakota advocate in the position would ensure the state’s needs are considered by Washington.

The New York Times reported yesterday, however, that Senator Chuck E. Schumer of New York, the incoming minority leader, is “having heart palpitations.” Sen. Heitkamp, however, appears at first glance to have North Dakota’s interests at top of mind, not divisive politics. She said:

I appreciate the president-elect inviting me for a meeting. … Whatever job I do, I hope to work with the president-elect and all of my colleagues in Congress on both sides of the aisle to best support my state.

The Times seems to think that Sen. Heitkamp’s comments are bad for Democrats either way, even if they appear supportive of Sen. Heitkamp’s home state.

To Democrats, that last line can mean two things, neither of them good. If she is in line for an administration job, her Senate seat would turn Republican. If not, she seems to be indicating she is a possible vote for the Trump agenda.

If Sen. Heitkamp leaves her position for a spot in Trump’s Cabinet, it would leave an open seat in the Senate, where Democrats already have a minority. With strong Republican support for Trump in North Dakota, a “red state,” it’s unlikely that a special election would turn up another Democrat who could take her seat.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the soon-to-be Maryland senator who will chair the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in the next cycle, told CNN he spoke to Heitkamp about the matter.
“I told her exactly that: I’m sure she’ll do what’s right for the people of North Dakota,” Van Hollen said.
Politics aside, let’s hope that’s exactly what she does.
You can watch a short interview of Heitkamp discussing the matter here.

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