UPDATE: While Sen. Heitkamp didn't initially respond to inquiries, days after this column was published he did call in to a talk radio show I was appearing on and insisted he hadn't been driving the truck. He also noted the truck doesn't belong to him. The column originally said it wasn't clear who owned the truck. This column has been updated to reflect this new information.
MINOT, N.D. — The "let's go Brandon" chants that have been making headlines are, as I'm sure you know, a code for a profane epithet aimed at President Joe Biden.
The message on a truck Sen. Jason Heitkamp, a Republican from District 26, was riding in wasn't using any codes.
One of Heitkamp's fellow lawmakers, and fellow Republicans, sent me a picture of the pickup parked at the state Capitol for the just-concluded special session. The message conveyed on the truck is not a subtle one.
It says "F--- Biden," across the tailgate. In smaller print, it also says, "and f--- you for voting for him."
The truck was parked in a spot at the capitol assigned to Sen. Heitkamp.
I modified the photograph sent to me to obscure the license plate and profanity:
Multiple sources at the capitol told me they saw Sen. Heitkamp driving the truck. However, Heitkamp says that he was only a passenger in the vehicle. Per Heitkamp, the owner of the truck was giving him a ride because the senator's own vehicle was involved in a crash and not driveable.
I attempted to contact Sen. Heitkamp for comment by telephone and text message but initially received no response. Days after this column was originally published, Heitkamp called into a radio show I was a guest on to insist that he hadn't been driving the truck.
For what it's worth, Heitkamp has told my editor in the past that he immediately declines my calls.
This isn't the first time Heitkamp has garnered attention for some fairly vicious political rhetoric. In 2020, when Heitkamp first announced his campaign for the state Senate, Facebook posts in which he called for former President Barack Obama, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to be hanged.
Heitkamp ended up defeating Democrat Jim Dotzenrod in that race with over 52% of the vote.
Heitkamp has made headlines more recently after being charged with misdemeanor theft in Bottineau County, something he said resulted from a dispute with a former girlfriend. According to court records that charge is scheduled for a jury trial in March.
Ahead of the special session, Heitkamp also threatened legal action over a mask requirement for an interim committee meeting.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.