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Dems pounce on GOP for promoting poll day of Heitkamp's mother's funeral

From left: Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-ND, and Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-ND. Graphic by Sam Easter / Forum News Service

BISMARCK — North Dakota Democrats pounced on the state Republican Party for promoting a poll that found only about a third of voters think Heidi Heitkamp deserves to be re-elected Thursday, May 3, the day of the funeral for the Democratic senator's mother.

A Republican official, meanwhile, said the social media post was inadvertent.

The poll, released by Morning Consult, found 44 percent approve of Heitkamp's performance, compared to 42 percent who disapprove. But only 35 percent said she should be re-elected, compared to 49 percent who said it's time for somebody new.

The poll results, which also covered President Donald Trump's approval rating and other Senate races, were compiled using voter surveys from Feb. 1 to April 30.

While sharing a news story about the poll on Facebook, the North Dakota Republican Party said, "People have had ENOUGH!" A Democratic-NPL spokesman pointed out the post and provided a screenshot after it disappeared from the social media site.

State GOP Executive Director Dane Ferguson said a staffer meant to schedule the post for later, but it was instead posted immediately before being fixed in a matter of minutes.

"We wanted to respect the time with Heidi's mother's passing and the funeral and everything," he said.

Heitkamp's mother, Doreen, died Sunday at the age of 88 after a battle with Parkinson's disease. A Heitkamp campaign spokeswoman called the Republican post a "new low."

"We don't want to see this as a new nadir for partisan politics," Democratic-NPL spokesman Alex Rich said. "If it was an actual accident ... then we accept that."

Heitkamp is locked in a heated race with Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer, a contest that could tip the balance in the U.S. Senate. On Twitter, Cramer said he and his wife, Kris, were "keeping the entire Heitkamp family in our prayers today as they say goodbye to a special mother and grandmother."

Last month, Heitkamp issued a similar statement after Cramer's adult son, Isaac, died.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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