Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown will endorse U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., in her 2018 campaign against U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.

In all of his leadership positions, Brown said Wednesday afternoon -- even citing his time with the U.S. Air Force and even the Boy Scouts -- he has always valued an “independent voice.”

“And I’ve found Heidi fills that value,” he added. “I’ve always found her to be informed, and engaged.”

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Brown said he’s not voting for Heitkamp based on party affiliations. A lot of his beliefs don’t line up with the Democratic platform -- he’s a member of the National Rifle Association, and he’s pro-life. He even voted for Donald Trump in the last presidential election because he respected Trump’s background in business.

“And he brought a different perspective to the office,” Brown said, saying he has faith the Trump administration knows what it’s doing when it comes to tariffs.

“As a state, we have a history of voting for the person, not the party,” Brown said.

Brown said he respects Heitkamp’s experience and what she has done for Grand Forks. Heitkamp’s work on issues such as agriculture and human trafficking have helped “actual people” in North Dakota, he said.

Brown said he’s not telling anyone how to vote. “There will be repercussions,” he said, “but if I didn’t speak up now I realized I would regret it for the rest of my life.”  

Brown acknowledged Trump’s support for Cramer’s campaign. “Maybe President Trump feels he owes a lot to the party,” Brown said, adding Trump has spoken highly of Heitkamp on multiple occasions. And Brown won’t speak out against Cramer’s campaign.

“I never said anything bad about anybody,” he said. “It doesn’t serve any purpose. … But a 6-year term, that’s a long time.”

In a press release Wednesday afternoon, Heitkamp said she was glad to accept Brown’s endorsement, citing her work for Unmanned Aerial Systems in Grand Forks and her degree from UND.

“Mayor Brown has been a strong and tireless public servant for the people of Grand Forks,” Heitkamp said. “North Dakotans deserve more than party politics, they deserve leaders who are committed to doing the most good for our state – and who deliver on keeping our communities and families protected and prospering. I’ll continue working with Mayor Brown and leaders across North Dakota to make sure our communities are strong, safe and thriving for the future.”