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Heitkamp says she'll 'likely' stay in the Senate

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Heidi Heitkamp "likely" will stay in the Senate instead of joining the Trump administration, making the chances of a special election, and the prospect of a Republican winning her seat, more improbable.

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WASHINGTON - Sen. Heidi Heitkamp “likely” will stay in the Senate instead of joining the Trump administration, making the chances of a special election, and the prospect of a Republican winning her seat, more improbable.

North Dakota’s lone Democrat in Congress has been cited as a top candidate for President-elect Donald Trump’s agriculture secretary, but she told her brother Joel Heitkamp on his KFGO radio show Thursday her first love is serving the people of North Dakota. When asked if she is going to stay in the Senate, Heitkamp said, “I think it’s likely that that’s going to be the outcome from all of this, yes.

"I’m not saying ‘never, never,’ but I will tell you that I’m very, very honored to serve the people of North Dakota, and I hope that no matter what I do, that will always be my first priority," Heitkamp said.

Heitkamp, who was unavailable for comment Thursday, met with Trump and his team earlier this month in Trump Tower in New York. She said they discussed an array of topics affecting North Dakota and the rest of the country but said the subject of a potential Cabinet post being offered to her was never brought up.

Heitkamp’s name has been floated for multiple Cabinet positions, including energy, interior and ag secretary. Trump had not named an ag secretary as of Thursday, though former Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., were chosen as his energy and interior secretaries, respectively.

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A Heitkamp appointment would leave her seat open in North Dakota, a state that overwhelmingly voted for Trump over Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. A special election would be held within 95 days of Heitkamp vacating her seat.

There has been speculation Heitkamp could face a tough campaign for her seat in 2018. She narrowly defeated U.S. Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., in 2012, and she is up for her first re-election run.

Some have predicted Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., might give up his seat to run against Heitkamp in two years, though he has not made that announcement yet.

Cramer, an early supporter of Trump, was considered to be in the running for energy secretary before Trump chose Perry.

Cramer did not immediately return a message Thursday.

The last North Dakotan to serve on a presidential Cabinet was former Gov. Ed Schafer, a Republican who served as President George W. Bush’s agriculture secretary from 2008 to 2009.

Related Topics: HEIDI HEITKAMP
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