MINOT, N.D. — It seems a foregone conclusion that attorney Mac Schneider, formerly a Grand Forks-based state senator, will be North Dakota's next U.S. attorney.
Former Sens. Byron Dorgan, Kent Conrad and Heidi Heitkamp have endorsed him for the job. He's more than qualified for the gig, and not just from the perspective of his legal experience and serious-minded policymaking. Schneider is well-liked on both sides of the political divide and has indicated that he wants the job.
Most importantly, Joe Biden is the president now, for better or worse, and he gets to pick someone to his liking to serve as U.S. attorney. Barring some significant and disqualifying flaw in his nominee, something not evident in Schneider's resume, whoever he chooses should be confirmed.
That's how it's supposed to work.
If only it had worked that way with the man who currently holds the office.
Drew Wrigley is in his second tenure as North Dakota's U.S. attorney. He was the 17th appointed U.S. attorney under former President George W. Bush and was appointed the 19th under President Donald Trump.
Unfortunately, thanks to behind-the-scenes gamesmanship from Heitkamp, this last has been a short stint for Wrigley, denying North Dakotans a full-term of his professionalism and zeal for the job.
Trump took office in 2017, but it wasn't until 2019 that Wrigley's appointment was confirmed. At the time, Sen. Kevin Cramer ripped the "failures of the 115th Congress" and, in a separate statement, accused unnamed senators of holding up appointments for reasons they wouldn't disclose publicly.
"Too often senators — under the cloak of anonymity — stall the nominations of qualified candidates for reasons they’ll only discuss behind closed doors. That has to change," Cramer said.
It's well-known in state political circles that Cramer was aiming these comments at Heitkamp. Indeed, Heitkamp publicly said that she saw no need for a Trump-appointed U.S. attorney in North Dakota.
Heitkamp has always been very successful at portraying herself as a kindly, aw-shucks political figure. Credulous news media members have lapped up this Saint Heidi routine, even as she engages a particularly ruthless sort of politics behind the scenes.
Heitkamp's efforts to derail Wrigley's appointment to his current job were the sort of ugly politics our nation needs to get away from.
If Heitkamp had a problem with Wrigley's qualifications, beyond the boundaries of a personal grudge, she should have spoken about them publicly. Short of that, she should have let the appointment happen. Instead, she chose to grind her ax in private, to the detriment of North Dakotans who went years without an appointment of a top federal prosecutor.
Republicans shouldn't play those childish games with Schneider and Biden.
Again, like it or not, Biden is our president and should be allowed to appoint well-qualified candidates such as Schneider to the offices under his patronage without the sort of rank partisan nonsense Heitkamp put in play under Trump.
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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.