After a heated exchange Thursday, a North Dakota House committee narrowly endorsed legislation that would force a special election to fill a U.S. Senate vacancy – a bill Democrats have criticized as a political move to discourage U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp from running for governor in 2016. The bill’s chief sponsor, Rep. Roscoe Streyle, R-Minot, said a possible run for governor by Heitkamp in 2016 “wasn’t the primary reason” for putting House Bill 1181 together, “but it just got me interested in what the process would be.” Heitkamp has been mum on whether she’s considering a run, and her office said Thursday she had no comment.
Streyle made no mention of Heitkamp during Thursday’s hearing before the House Government and Veterans Affairs Committee, focusing instead on the fact that state law already requires a special election to fill a U.S. House vacancy.
A hog-house amendment he introduced would require the governor to call a special election within 95 days when a Senate vacancy occurs. His original bill had 60 days, but he said the secretary of state’s office suggested the longer period.