Trump’s Agriculture Advisors: Heitkamp As Ag Secretary Would Be ‘Slap In The Face’

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Thomas Phippen Associate Editor
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Members of President-elect Donald Trump’s agriculture advisory committee are not happy with the idea of Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp being nominated for agriculture secretary.

Politico reported Saturday that Heitkamp, who met with Trump Dec. 2, was a top contender to lead the Department of Agriculture, even though Democrats in Congress would be loath to lose. (RELATED: Trump Considers Democrat Sen Heitkamp For Cabinet, But She May Not Accept)

“Their comments were that rural America delivered big time for Trump, so for this critical voting bloc not having the most qualified secretary would be a slap in the face,” one unnamed member of Trump’s agriculture advisory committee told Politico.

One member of the advisory committee believes the only reason to nominate the North Dakotan senator would be to appease the Democratic party.

“When I heard the name I thought ‘guys, this is Washington warmed over — this is more of the same,'” Jay Armstrong, part of Trump’s advisory committee and former chairman of the Kansas Wheat Commission, said. “It looked like it was for pure politics.”

“I was blindsided, as was everyone on the Trump agricultural advisory committee who’s contacted me,” Gary Baise, a Washington, D.C. lawyer who works with some of the committee members, told Politico. “There is pushback, and it’s strong.… She wasn’t out there supporting Trump, she wasn’t making contributions to the campaign. Why would you do this?,” Baise said.

Heitkamp aligns with Republicans on some agriculture policy issues. She voted with the GOP on food labeling legislation that supersedes state measures, and opposed a package of gun control bills Democrats tried to push through the Senate this summer.

North Dakota Democrats close to Heitkamp also doubt that she would leave her place in the Senate, as it would give the Republicans a chance to add another seat to their majority.

“Heidi has a 70 percent approval in North Dakota,” former North Dakota Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan told Agweek Monday. “She’s not going anywhere. She’ll run for re-election in 2018, and she will win,” Dorgan said.

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