Cortney touched upon this yesterday. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), who is a vulnerable red state Democrat running for re-election, made what some are calling a “category five blunder” by releasing an open letter that mistakenly identified survivors of sexual assault without their consent or knowledge.
Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Heitkamp’s Republican challenger, is ahead in the polls by nearly double-digits. As Cortney wrote, he spoke out against what he saw as the excesses and overreach of the Me Too movement we’re experiencing in this country, along with the attacks against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, whose confirmation battle was one of the most vicious in recent memory. In that fight, three unsubstantiated allegations of sexual misconduct were lobbed against him. It came off as more of a political hit job by Democrats, the GOP held firm, though it took some time for them to regain the upper hand, and Kavanaugh was confirmed. This is what teed up the Heitkamp debacle:
Responding to the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the "Me Too" movement at large, Cramer spoke out against the current "movement toward victimization" and added that the women in his family were "tough."
Heitkamp responded to Cramer by sharing that her own mom was a sexual assault survivor. Then, in a new open letter to Cramer which serves as a new ad, she writes that she and several other North Dakotan women are determined to show Cramer what “prairie tough” looks like.
“We are here to let you know that you are wrong – this is not ‘a movement toward victimization’ it’s about being a survivor," the ad reads. "We are here to let you know that we have all suffered from domestic violence, sexual assault, or rape – and that yes, we expect somebody to believe us when we say it. Because it happened.”
At the bottom of the letter is a long list of North Dakotan women who are identified as sexual assault survivors. However, some of the women named in the ad say the campaign did not seek their permission.
Of course, the Heitkamp campaign issued an apology, but the damage has been done. Now, some of the women are seeking a lawyer and could slap Heitkamp with a lawsuit. Rob Port of Say Anything, a North Dakota-based blog, said there are 22 women in the group that's considering taking legal action [emphasis mine]:
The misstep has led some women misidentified in the ad to decry the Democratic candidate and question how their names landed on the list, with one group of women saying they are seeking "a lawyer who will take our case" because the ad has "interfered with, or downright ruined, our lives."
The Heitkamp campaign, looking to slam Rep. Kevin Cramer, her Republican opponent, for suggesting "tough people" do not identify with the national conversation around sexual assault and the treatment of women, ran an open letter to Cramer to show him "what prairie tough looks like."
The letter featured over 120 names at the bottom, but several women have come forward to say they were either included without their permission or were not survivors of "domestic violence, sexual assault, or rape," as specified in the letter.
In response, Heitkamp admitted the mistake and said she was "personally apologizing" to each person impacted.
The Elizabeth Warren campaign, which is going to coast to re-election this year, decided to nuke the Democratic narrative in the closing days of the 2018 cycle by releasing the results of a DNA test that showed Warren wasn’t Native American. Okay—she’s…1/1024th Native American. It’s a joke. It’s pissed off the Cherokee Nation like no other for making their racial identity, and how one gets there, into a circus. This is all laying the groundwork for her possible 2020 bid, clearing the air of the allegation that she perpetuated a racial hoax, claiming she was part Cherokee, for personal gain; it appears as if she did. It was a wholly unforced error on the part of the Warren crew to drop this. That campaign might have made the epic blunder of the 2018 midterms until the Heitkamp crew came along and said, “hold my beer.”