Heitkamp Sends $2.7M to ND Democrats

Heitkamp Sends $2.7M to ND Democrats

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp spread nearly $2.7 million of her campaign cash to the North Dakota Democratic Party to help candidates in statewide races.

State filings show Heitkamp's contribution last week came just days after her own campaign hauled in about $12.4 million in the first half of October. The flood of cash to Heitkamp came during the period in which she voted against Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination.

The statewide party, flush with the influx of Heitkamp's contribution, recently sent about $450,000 to four candidates trying to unseat Republican incumbents for secretary of state, tax commissioner, agriculture commissioner and public service commissioner.

North Dakota Republicans wield supermajority control in the Legislature and hold every statewide office except Heitkamp's Senate seat.

Neither Heitkamp's campaign nor the state Democratic party returned telephone calls Monday to comment on the contributions.

State Rep. Josh Boschee, a Fargo Democrat running against Secretary of State Al Jaeger this fall, has received more than $180,000 from the party, via the Heitkamp campaign.

"It's certainly going to help in reaching undecided voters," Boschee told The Associated Press. "We will be able to do more TV, radio and digital."

Former state Democratic Party Chairwoman Kylie Oversen, who is running against incumbent Ryan Rauschenberger, also got a $180,000 contribution from the party, which is about $45,000 more than what she had raised previously.

Rauschenberger, who is seeking a second term, said he had not seen all of the recent campaign filings, other than the donation to his opponent.

"It was our assumption that it came straight from Heidi's campaign, and it did correspond with the Kavanaugh decision," he said.

Rauschenberger said he has raised about $210,000 for the campaign.

More than 61,000 North Dakota residents, or about one-fifth of the expected voter turnout on Nov. 6, had already cast ballots by midday Monday. Rauschenberger said it's probably too late for the injection of cash to help much in any of the statewide races.

"I believe the injection of money shows they're desperate and Heidi is doing whatever she can to help her colleagues on the ticket," Rauschenberger said.

Sen. Jim Dotzenrod of Wyndmere got $80,000 from the party in his run against incumbent Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, who is seeking a third term.

Casey Buchmann of Washburn is running for the seat now held by Republican Brian Kroshus on the North Dakota Public Service Commission. State finance data show he received $10,000 from the party. Jean Brandt of Kramer is running for the seat now held by the GOP's Randy Christmann. She has not gotten recent financial support from the party.

David Thompson, a Democrat from Grand Forks, is running against Republican Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.

Campaign disclosures show the Heitkamp donated $2,500 to Thompson's campaign in June but neither she nor the part has given anything recently.