Heitkamp releases ad explaining Kavanaugh no vote

Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary On The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction MORE (D-N.D.), released a two-minute video explaining why she chose to oppose Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh's confirmation. 

Heitkamp announced Thursday that she would vote against Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.

“I wanted you to hear directly from me about why I’m voting against confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh. Considering and voting for a nominee to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court is really one of the most important jobs of any U.S. Senator, and I take that responsibility very seriously,” she said to camera.

Heitkamp noted the fact she voted for Justice Neil Gorsuch, President TrumpDonald John TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration MORE's previous pick for the Supreme Court. 

That’s why I voted for Justice Gorsuch, and that’s why I’m voting no on Judge Kavanaugh. You’ll probably hear a lot from the outside groups & special interests, but I want you to hear directly from me: pic.twitter.com/aoSHH3LrK5

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“In addition to concerns about his past conduct, last Thursday’s hearing called into question for me Judge Kavanaugh’s current temperament, his honesty and his impartiality," she said. "These are critical traits of any nominee to serve on the highest nominee to serve on the highest court in the country. I’m ready to work with the president to confirm a nominee who’s suited for the extreme distinction of serving for a lifetime appointment."

Kavanaugh has been accused by three women of varying degrees of sexual misconduct while he was in high school and college. He strongly denied any wrongdoing and said at a hearing last week in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee that the allegations were smears as part of “Revenge on behalf of the Clintons” and engaged in tense exchanges with Democrats on the committee.

At one point he asked Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharKlobuchar defends work record: Yes, I am a 'tough boss' Female Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations Klobuchar, O'Rourke visit Wisconsin as 2020 race heats up MORE (D-Minn.) if she had ever blacked out from drinking after she asked him the same question.

The nominee’s conduct during the hearing caught the attention of many on the left, who cited his temperament as another reason to vote “no” on his confirmation. Klobuchar later said that if she “was in his courtroom and acted like that, he would have thrown me out.”

Heitkamp also praised Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who was the first to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual assault and also testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Dr. Ford gave a heartfelt, credible and persuasive testimony. It took a great deal of courage, and it also came at a great personal cost to her,” she said.

“Our actions right now are an important signal to young girls and women across the country, and that signal I hope I’m sending as I will continue to stand up and for you,” Heitkamp added.

Heitkamp also made sure to highlight what she says is her independent record in the Senate, looking toward a tough midterm election in November.

“As your senator, I’ve always put politics aside and voted for what I believe is best for our state and our country,” she said.

“I’ve always said that North Dakotans are more independent than people think. If you weren’t I guess I wouldn’t be here. So I’m proud to be your senator, now and always. I will always work to put you first and the country first, and not politics first,” she said.

Heitkamp’s decision to vote against Kavanaugh comes almost a month before arguably the toughest election of her political career. She is running against Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerSenators highlight threat from invasive species Overnight Defense: Top general wasn't consulted on Syria withdrawal | Senate passes bill breaking with Trump on Syria | What to watch for in State of the Union | US, South Korea reach deal on troop costs GOP senators think Trump would win vote on emergency declaration MORE (R-N.D.) to win her second term in the Senate in a state President Trump won by about 35 points in 2016.

The North Dakota Republican Party released a statement Thursday slamming Heitkamp’s decision.

“Heidi Heitkamp just failed North Dakota, and voters know it. This race is now between a candidate who will be a voice for North Dakota and another candidate who politicizes every issue and staunchly opposes President Trump at every turn. Given that a majority of her constituents want this exemplary nominee confirmed, Heidi Heitkamp is on the wrong side of history, and this will be the last consequential vote of her career,” the statement said.

Two polls released this week have Heitkamp trailing Cramer by double digits. The Cook Political Report rates the race as a “toss up.”

The Kavanaugh confirmation hearings have served as a lightning rod for both the bases of both parties, with high stakes for politicians in close races to vote either for or against the nominee.