The conservative Koch brothers’ political network is launching a new ad campaign boosting Sen. Heidi Heitkamp — a surprising show of support for one of the most vulnerable Democrats up for reelection.
Americans for Prosperity is running digital advertisements to thank the North Dakota senator for helping pass a bill that relaxes some financial regulations under the Dodd-Frank law. The advertisement comes just a week after President Donald Trump praised her for her work on the bill at the White House.
“This was a bipartisan effort made possible by lawmakers like Heidi Heitkamp who put politics aside to work together,” said AFP President Tim Phillips. “While we don’t agree with Sen. Heitkamp on everything, particularly her vote against tax relief, we commend her for taking a stand against the leaders of her party to do the right thing.”
Heitkamp has made her aisle-crossing record her main selling point in her reelection race against Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) in a state that Trump easily won in 2016. She was the only Democrat invited to a bill-signing ceremony for the bank deregulation measure last week, though Cramer was also invited along with a host of other Republicans.
“There were two people there who really delivered that bill: Mike Crapo and myself,” Heitkamp said in a recent interview, referring to the Banking Committee chairman. “It’s really a question of who was there that had nothing to do with it.”
Trump has praised Heitkamp several times in the past year, though the president also helped recruit Cramer to run against her. GOP officials say that Trump will soon hold a rally for Cramer in North Dakota, though a Republican senator said it was unclear whether the president will attack Heitkamp.
AFP previously spent nearly a half-million dollars earlier this year hitting Heitkamp for voting against the Republican tax law, likely dwarfing the spending on the digital ad praising her, which was not disclosed by AFP. Phillips said he hopes Heitkamp votes with the GOP on making the tax law’s temporary tax cuts for individuals permanent.
Though AFP has traditionally spent far more on conservative causes and candidates, the group occasionally aligns with Democrats. AFP is also backing the Senate Democrats’ immigration plan, which would trade a path to citizenship for 1.8 million young undocumented immigrants for $25 billion in border wall funding. Heitkamp played a central role in writing that legislation, too.