President hopes to sway candidate and North Dakota Senate race

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - President Donald Trump is ready to jump into the middle of North Dakota’s upcoming Senate race. But, the president’s preferred candidate isn’t sold on running, at least not yet.

On the second day of the new year, Rep. Kevin Cramer and his family left the White House with an offer on the table from the president. “I don’t have a decision today,” said Cramer (R-N.D.), “but it was certainly a persuasive case that the president made.”

Cramer said if he tries to unseat North Dakota’s Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) in November’s midterm election, President Donald Trump promised support and an endorsement. Currently Senate republicans hold a narrow one-seat advantage. The president’s argument focused heavily on the importance of picking up a seat for the GOP in North Dakota according to Cramer.

The three-term congressman said he’s inching closer toward running, but isn’t completely convinced. He feels he’s in a good spot in the House and needs to consider how this kind of campaign would affect his kids and wife. “She has veto power,” said Cramer of his wife Kris, “we both have to come to ‘yes’ for me to say ‘yes’.”

The congressman said he and the president have previously discussed a possible Senate run. Cramer said the president’s pitch Tuesday focused more on his family.

While Cramer continues to consider running, experts said he can expect a tough race if he does get in, even with the White House behind him.

“There’s certainly a reason he’s been holding off thus far,” said Ryan Collins of the left-leaning Center for American Progress. Collins concedes President Trump’s opinion matters to North Dakota voters, but said polls show Sen. Heitkamp remains popular.

He said while democrats elsewhere are expected to try to link their republican opponents to Trump, he expects Heitkamp to attempt to link Cramer to the House and Senate establishment. Along with focusing on local issues, he expects potential debates to swirl around tax reform, health care, and energy issues.

Collins added that every day Cramer takes to make a decision, increases Heitkamp’s financial advantage. “The shorter time frame that you have in a race, it means it’s going to be harder to run,” he said.

We could not get an interview with Sen. Heitkamp Tuesday. But, in a statement, her campaign press secretary wrote:

“Whether it was working across the aisle to lift the decades-old ban on oil exports or negotiating a strong Farm Bill to support our agricultural economy, Senator Heitkamp has a clear record of bipartisan accomplishments. She’s staying focused on the issues folks care about and getting real results for North Dakotans, not an election nearly a year away.”

Cramer said he’ll make a decision by early February.

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