Progressive Democrats are furious that the Biden transition team is seriously considering former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp to lead the Department of Agriculture.
Heitkamp, who hails from North Dakota, has a track record of bipartisan cooperation, working with the fossil fuel industry instead of against it, and recently dared to tell the CEO of a progressive group not to radicalize important issues. Naturally, her stance and track record aren’t endearing her to the progressive wing of the party that is trying to take control over the Biden transition team.
The former North Dakota senator would certainly have the experience and expertise needed to handle the job. In fact, President Donald Trump actually considered appointing her to the post in 2016. She hails from a rural state, and has always been an advocate for her state’s farmers and their needs. She was on the Agriculture Committee in the Senate, helped craft the 2018 frame bill, and has supported programs for new farmers. She was recently picked as a co-chair of a Farm and Forest Carbon Solutions Task Force at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Naturally, Heitkamp is not the only contender with experience in the field, but her qualifications are noteworthy. Even so, progressive activists have a huge grudge against her because, as a senator, she voted to confirm a number of President Trump’s cabinet picks. An open letter signed by over 150 far-left organizations states that former Sen. Heitkamp holds views “out of step with the Democrat Party and the majority of Americans.”
The statement is an odd one considering that the overwhelming majority of Americans clearly don’t support far-left policies. In fact, the Democrat Party lost seats in the House of Representatives because voters were spooked by the Green New Deal and other progressive agenda items.
It remains to be seen who Biden will pick to head up the USDA. Progressives have been pushing for Rep. Marcia Fudge, who has been promoting herself as the best candidate for the position. However, House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi is said to be discouraging House members from taking on cabinet positions due to the fact that the Democrats have a razor-thin majority in the chamber. What’s more, the Republicans are likely to retain control over the Senate, which means that the odds of progressive cabinets being confirmed to cabinet positions are slim.
Even so, the bitter calls for the Biden/Harris campaign to not consider former Sen. Heitkamp for USDA Secretary are exposing deep divides in the party that won’t heal any time soon.