Our friend Heidi Heitkamp is unable to be here today and I beg your indulgence to allow me to speak on her behalf. It goes without saying that this is an important race. It is for a seat in the United States Senate. Each state only gets two. This seat is even more important because of the Senator who is retiring. Kent Conrad is retiring after serving North Dakota with distinction, with dedication, and with dignity for over 27 years. These are some big shoes to fill. In this upcoming election, we, the voters of North Dakota; whether Democrat, Republican, or Independent, will have to decide who is going to replace Kent Conrad. We need to choose wisely.
But before, we get to the many reasons why North Dakota needs Heidi Heitkamp in the Senate, I want to take you back a few years…. ,to another time……. to another place, when another important decision had be made. I want to tell you about a guy named Joe.
It was 1935, and Joe worked for a company in New York City. Joe worked in an office and not a fancy office. No window, no secretary, no receptionist. All he had was a small desk and a telephone. His office was in a big building, but not a fancy building. It was not a big bank. It was not a skyscraper. It was really just a large pile of bricks with a roof too small to cover the place. Most of the workers worked outside. And Joe did not work in a fancy part of New York City. He did not work in Manhattan. He did not work in the upper East Side. He did not work in Greenwich Village. Joe worked in the Bronx.
You see, Joe was the Manager of the New York Yankees. He worked at Yankee Stadium and Yankee Stadium was located in the Bronx. Yankee Stadium; the greatest ballpark in the world. Forever, known as “The House that Ruth built.”
And in 1935, Joe had the hardest job in the world, because in 1935, Babe Ruth retired. Babe Ruth, 714 home runs, lifetime .342 batting average, seven world championships. The greatest player of his time; maybe the greatest player of all-time. And Joe had to find the replacement for Babe Ruth.
Kent Conrad is Babe Ruth. A career based on accomplishment, and on attainment, and dedication to the service of his state and his country. And now somehow, we have to replace Kent Conrad. Now there isn’t much question as to how we Democrats are going to vote but I have cautioned my Republican friends to take a real hard look at this race. I have also told them this story about a guy named Joe and how he handled his difficult decision.
Well, Joe did not quit. The Yankees did not fold. Baseball did not stop playing. That is the American way. We move on. We keep going. We march into the future. Now, the first thing Joe realized was that you can’t replace Babe Ruth. You don’t replace the irreplaceable. But you can’t quit either. Somehow you have to find a successor. There is still greatness out there, but as with the changing of the seasons, it too will be different. We just have to find it. And so Joe looked long and hard for someone to fill that big hole in the Yankee outfield. And in 1936, he found it. He found the successor to Babe Ruth. He found a guy named ………….DiMaggio.
Joe DiMaggio……., who went on to become the greatest player of his time. 361 home runs, lifetime batting average of .325; nine world championships; and a 56-game hitting record that still endures. Heidi Heitkamp is Joe DiMaggio. She is smart and she is tough. She truly does care about serving all the people of North Dakota. More than anyone I know, Heidi Heitkamp is the real deal.
This November, we the people of North Dakota are going to have to make a clear choice for Kent Conrad’s Senate seat. May our decision be as wise as the one made by that guy named Joe.