Former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who faced backlash during the 2018 primaries that she ultimately lost after she mistakenly outed sexual assault survivors in a campaign ad, is on the shortlist for a position in President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet.
Heitkamp, D-N.D., is a moderate who, in a show of bipartisanship helped push through two of President Trump's nominees to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is now one of Biden's top picks for agriculture secretary, according to Politico.
But the North Dakota native lost her seat in the Senate during the critical midterm race after her campaign released an attack ad aimed at her Republican challenger just a month before the 2018 election publicly naming victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Some of the women told Fox News at the time that they did not give permission for the campaign to name them, and others said they'd never experienced abuse and were falsely identified as survivors.
The ad criticized then-GOP opponent Rep. Kevin Cramer for comments he made before Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court. It was signed by more than 125 people, although some were just initials.
Heitkamp apologized to the women and said she “deeply regret[s] this mistake” and promised to issue a retraction and personally apologize to the women involved.
She was later accused of using a World War II veteran’s photo without his permission.
As a senator, Heitkamp served on the Senate Agriculture Committee and was an advocate for rural issues.
Despite this, she has also caught flack from environmental advocates about her support of the Keystone XL pipeline, which she pressed the Obama administration to push forward with but to no avail.
President Trump considered her for the agriculture position in his own Cabinet in 2016, but eventually passed her over for former Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue of Georgia.