Leftists oppose Heitkamp as she takes on SD Gov. Noem
A coalition of more than 160 leftist groups organized by Friends of the Earth sent a letter to President-Elect Joe Biden on Tuesday, Nov. 17 opposing former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., for agriculture secretary.
But the same day Heitkamp highlighted her own profile when her One Country Project launched a digital ad campaign in South Dakota, charging Republican Gov. Kristi Noem with “a lack of leadership on the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In their letter, the environmental, food justice, sustainable agriculture, workers’ rights, animal welfare, social justice, public health, and anti-hunger organizations argued that “Heitkamp is the wrong choice for the USDA because she has aligned herself with corporate agribusiness at the expense of family farmers, supports fossil fuel interests, and holds views that are out of step with the Democratic Party and the majority of Americans.”
The groups pointed out that Heitkamp had accepted campaign donations from giant agribusiness companies including Bayer-Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland, Syngenta and Cargill; voted for President Donald Trump’s nomination of Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency; and supported the Keystone and Dakota Access gas pipelines.
The groups opposing Heitkamp are generally small, however, and do not include the Democratic-leaning National Farmers Union or the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, which are also considered progressive in policymaking circles.
Meanwhile, the One Country Project highlighted a South Dakota media report from October that Noem had been campaigning for President Donald Trump in Nebraska, New Hampshire and Maine and raising money for her own campaign chest.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is hitting rural America harder than ever, and Gov. Noem’s approach has been to lavish praise on soon-to-be former President Trump while doing nothing to control the spread of the deadly virus,” Heidi Heitkamp said in an OCP news release. “Instead of leading South Dakota and working to address the increasingly high COVID-19 case and hospitalization rate, she is campaigning for Trump in states across the country. South Dakotans know that common-sense actions like wearing a mask and limiting large gatherings are necessary to stop the spread of the virus across the state, yet Noem continues to bury her head in the sand and deny science. All South Dakota has got in return for the leadership vacuum created by Gov. Noem’s inaction is the highest infection rate in the country. Gov. Noem has shown that she cares more about being best friends with a lousy president than she does about protecting her constituents.”
The ads appeared as North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, both Republicans, issued mask mandates while Noem held firm against one.
South Dakota mayors began to support mask mandates in defiance of Noem, The Washington Post reported.
The Rapid City Journal reported that Noem’s office declined to reveal the costs of security that the state incurred during Noem’s travels.