Politics

Heitkamp Spotlights Hometown in New TV Ad

North Dakota Democrat is working with the same ad-maker as 2012 cycle

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., talks with constituents at Amvets Club in Bismarck, N.D., on Aug. 17. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is continuing the local focus of her campaign ads, highlighting her hometown of Mantador, North Dakota, in her latest television ad.

“In every small town in North Dakota, I see my hometown of Mantador,” the Democrat says over sweeping shots of the rural town. “I see my dad in every road construction crew. And my mom in every school janitor. I know how hard North Dakotans work.”

The ad, first provided to Roll Call, is Heitkamp’s ninth TV spot so far. It’s part of a six-figure buy and will air on statewide broadcast television and online. She closes with a phrase that’s sure to be repeated on the campaign trail.

“I’ll work with anyone, but I’ll only answer to you,” she says, looking directly into the camera.

Heitkamp’s high-profile race against GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer has been a clash of two well-known lawmakers and their opposing parties. She has highlighted her independent streak to show she’s willing to stand up to the Trump administration when its policies hurt North Dakota, pointing to recent tariffs as an example. But Cramer has said he better reflects the Republican state, and Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales now rates the race Tilts Republican.

Heitkamp’s homegrown messaging and well-produced TV ads helped her secure a surprise victory in 2012. She’s once again working with Mark Putnam, the ad-maker behind many eye-catching Democratic spots.

A memorable ad from her 2012 race featured Heitkamp at the batting cages, knocking each GOP attack into the air. It’s not clear if she’ll head back to the batting cages for a similar one this year. (She laughed and said, “I don’t know,” when asked in an interview at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee last month.)

But while Heitkamp is once again emphasizing her family and her North Dakota roots in her ads, she now has a Senate record to defend — along with the challenge of running in a state that President Donald Trump won by 36 points in 2016.

She said last month that she was ready to talk about her record on the campaign trail, noting that her favorite TV ad so far has been “Top 10,” which highlights her bipartisan accomplishments.

Watch: ‘North Dakota Nice’ Takes a Backseat in Senate Race

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