FARGO, N.D. – When Sen. Heidi Heitkamp was choosing her campaign headquarters, Fargo was the obvious choice. She grew up in the area, it’s nearly twice as large as any other North Dakota city and it’s the biggest potential source of liberal-minded voters in the strongly conservative state.
The Democrat’s chances to win a second term by defeating Republican challenger Kevin Cramer likely rest on her ability to pile up huge margins in Fargo. It’s why her barnstorming “Bring It Home Heidi” statewide bus tour in the final days was set to end Monday right back on home turf.
“Obviously I do better in Fargo. This is where I’m from,” said Heitkamp, who grew up in tiny Mantador, 50 miles (80 kilometers) to the south.
Heading into the final weekend of the campaign, Heitkamp was widely seen as trailing Cramer in a race Democrats were desperate to hold for any chance at taking control of the Senate. Former Vice President Joe Biden helped kick off the bus tour in Fargo on Thursday, urging voters to turn out.
In winning her first term six years ago, Heitkamp led Republican Rick Berg by nearly 10,000 in Cass County, which includes Fargo. She won by just 3,000 votes. Her campaign has said its internal polling shows her doing even better there this year, but officials declined to provide specific numbers they think she’d need to defeat Cramer.