Senator-elect Heitkamp names campaign manager as chief of staff

Senator-elect Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) has named Tessa Gould her chief of staff.

Gould was Heitkamp’s campaign manager. She was previously chief of staff for former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.), and most recently was associate development director for the University of South Dakota Foundation.

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“Tessa was the only person in the country that could have successfully managed our campaign here in North Dakota, in a race where no one in the country was giving us much of a chance. So there was no hesitation in asking Tessa to put her unmatched political skills to work on my behalf again when I go to Washington,” Heitkamp said in a statement.

Gould has focused her public policy career on agriculture, rural economic development, tribal issues and children’s health.

“I was ecstatic to come home to North Dakota and run Heidi’s campaign, but I am humbled and truly honored to be asked to go to Washington and serve as Heidi’s Chief of Staff; she is someone I have long admired for her commitment to public service and her ability to get things done,” Gould said in a statement.

Heitkamp beat Rep. Rick Berg (R-N.D.) for the Senate seat.

Heitkamp said she already has been offered a spot on the Senate Agriculture Committee. She said getting a five-year farm bill done is her top priority.

On the campaign trail, Heitkamp also said she would be an advocate for oil drilling.

The state is home to the Bakken shale formation, which has generated a booming oil drilling business.

She also is a proponent of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring Canadian oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries. The project, which is largely seen as a jobs issue in North Dakota, still requires the Obama administration’s approval for the northern portion because it crosses national borders.