The persistent rumor in North Dakota political circles is that Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) wants to come home. The freshman senator, elected by a narrow margin in 2012, is said to be considering a run for governor in 2016. The rumor is so pervasive that Republicans will consider a bill in the legislature that would block Heitkamp’s ability to appoint her own successor in the Senate. Current state law allows the governor to appoint a successor if a Senate seat becomes vacant. But under a proposal to be introduced by state Rep. Roscoe Streyle (R), any vacancies would be filled by a special election to be held 60 days after a vacancy is declared.
Streyle told Rob Port, a conservative blogger and fellow at the North Dakota Policy Council, that he will introduce the proposal when the session begins next year.
The proposal is overtly political: If Heitkamp doesn’t have the power to appoint a fellow Democrat, who would then have the advantage of incumbency, Democrats would have a difficult time keeping her seat in a deep-red state.