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Our opinion: Biden must start healing process

Perhaps the most important task facing President-elect Joe Biden is ending the fierce, sometimes vicious, partisanship that seems to rule Washington. He has an excellent opportunity to send a message in that regard while at the same time gaining a top-notch member of his Cabinet.

It has been reported two people are at the top of Biden’s list as potential nominees for secretary of agriculture. One is U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio. Fudge, of Cleveland, would be a good selection.

But the other candidate, former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., would be excellent.

Heitkamp represents a state where agriculture is a key sector of the economy. She knows the industry and understands the concerns of both farmers and food processors. Heitkamp also has been a supporter of programs such as “food stamps,” which are an enormous benefit to low-income Americans.

On the technical merits, then, Heitkamp is very well qualified to be secretary of agriculture.

But merely understanding one’s department is only half the battle in Washington. The other, of course, is politics.

There, Heitkamp would be a wise choice for Biden — because of her record in the Senate as a centrist. That makes her appealing to both moderate Democrats and to Republicans in the Senate who, it appears, will be the controlling factor in confirming Biden’s nominees for Cabinet posts.

Nominating Heitkamp would send a message that Biden is serious about attempting to heal America’s political divisiveness wounds.

It would smooth the way for him in dealing with Congress — and not just in matters relating to agriculture.

In nominating Heitkamp, Biden would get a three-fer: He would get a really good secretary of agriculture.

He would earn trust from Americans sick and tired of hardline partisanship. He would build a bridge with moderates in Congress.

For these reasons, then, Heitkamp should be Biden’s nominee for secretary of agriculture.

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