U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., would prefer to remain in Congress even if offered a position on Donald Trump’s cabinet, if Trump wins the election.
However, Cramer said he would never rule out the possibility entirely, but that he felt he could best serve North Dakotans from the House rather than the executive branch.
“I’m not very interested, quite honestly,” the two-term congressman said. “And the reason I’m not is for me, my goal as North Dakota’s congressman is to pass really good, important policy for the people of North Dakota. And if I can, in my third term… if I could then have a friend in the White House, somebody who would sign my bills as opposed to veto them… to send something like that to the president’s desk that would be signed, to me that would be as richly rewarding as being a cabinet secretary or an undersecretary or a senior adviser of some sort.”
Cramer was an early supporter of the Republican nominee and has since acted as one of his advisers on energy policy and now acts as a surrogate, which means that he can speak on Trump’s behalf and represent him.
“We certainly would always support anybody from North Dakota and with good energy experience to become a leader in U.S. energy policy, but Congressman Cramer’s also done a great job for North Dakota as congressman,” said Ron Ness, president of the state’s Petroleum Council. “So I think it’s always good to have people advising a potential president whether or not they are in the administration or they’re within Congress. You can still continue to be an adviser. I think either way it’s a win-win for North Dakota.”
Cramer said he has not been approached by anyone on the Trump team about a possible position. He noted that there may be laws in place keeping candidates from doing so, acknowledging that promising someone a position could be viewed as bribery for a vote.
The congressman said Trump likes to surround himself with successful business people with an intention to run the government more like a business.
The presidential nominee’s main driving points regarding energy policy focus on states-first regulation, rolling back “job-killing” regulations from President Barack Obama’s administration and striving to put American interests before global ones, Cramer said.
Cramer’s main concerns about contender Hillary Clinton’s energy policies surround her stances against fracking and coal, which he views as an attack on fossil fuel jobs.
“We are not going to acquiesce America’s interests to global interests, and that’s the fundamental difference,” Cramer said. “People have gotten tired of other countries making our decisions for us when we’re the exceptional country,” he added.
Some environmental advocates suggest switching America’s power sources entirely over to renewable sources -- such as solar, hydroelectric and wind energy -- something Cramer disagrees with. He pointed out that jobs in the fossil fuel industry would not simply roll over to the renewable sector noting that wind turbines and solar panels are produced in Germany and China, respectively. He said that Trump is championing a combination or renewable energy sources and fossil fuels.
North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk praised Cramer in advising Trump and bringing him to the state to show him the oil industry firsthand and to meet people involved.
“Kevin has done a nice job as a congressman, and he’s done a nice job I think advising anyone about what the future of North Dakota energy opportunities are and what they might mean,” Kalk said.
State Rep. Mike Lefor, R-N.D., agreed with Cramer’s leanings to remain in Congress if Trump were to be elected and if he offered an executive position to the congressman.
“But I think Congressman Cramer would serve North Dakota a whole lot better right where he’s at because of his knowledge on energy,” Lefor said. “He’s a real big deal for us now to have a player on the national stage knowing full-well what he knows about North Dakota in the cabinet would be great, but I still think he’d be better serving us in Congress.”
Ultimately Cramer said he would prefer to answer to his constituency in North Dakota rather than answering to a chief of staff or the president. Something significant would have to happen for him to have a change of heart, he said.
“I’m working as hard as I can on getting re-elected to serve the people of North Dakota, and in the context of a House member, that’s really my goal,” he said. “I think I can do both the country and North Dakota as much good in the House of Representatives as I could in the Trump administration.”