President Donald Trump wants Rep. Kevin Cramer to run for Sen. Heidi Heitkamp's seat, the lone North Dakota delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives said this weekend.
All that is left for Cramer to do is weigh the information he has and make a decision, which he says could be announced in the coming weeks.
"I really haven't settled in my mind or in my heart yet," he said Saturday after an address to the North Dakota Veterans of Foreign Wars in Grand Forks. "I was saying by the end of this month, maybe early April, I'd make a decision and an announcement. It could be a little sooner than that."
Trump met privately with Cramer on Tuesday in an attempt to convince the North Dakotan to run for the Senate this November. That would potentially pit him against state Sen. Tom Campbell, R-Grafton, for the nomination and either Heitkamp, a Democrat, or her party challenger, Dustin Peyer of Driscoll, N.D., during the 2018 election in November.
The midterm election would be Heitkamp's first attempt to be re-elected to her office. She narrowly defeated Republican Rick Berg in 2012 by less than a percent of the vote.
Cramer was overwhelmingly re-elected to his seat in 2016 with 69 percent of the vote, defeating Democrat Chase Iron Eyes (23.75 percent) and Libertarian Jack Seaman (7 percent).
The president's pitch was "a step toward a 'yes'" in decided which office to seek, Cramer said, adding he doesn't need another poll or additional information to make a decision. The Congressman who was first elected in 2012 said he still needs to sit down with his family to discuss his campaign intentions before making a final decision.
"Now it is just a matter of giving appropriate weight to everything," he said. "I certainly wouldn't handicap (Trump's encouragements) as strongly leaning toward (running for the Senate)."
Trump has met with Heitkamp several times since his election in November 2016 to discuss policy and presidential nominations for Cabinet positions, department heads and a Supreme Court judgeship.
In a September visit to North Dakota, Trump called Heitkamp a "good woman."
"Sen. Heitkamp, everyone's saying, 'What's she doing up here?'" Trump asked as he called Heitkamp on stage during his speech in Mandan. "But I'll tell you what. Good woman, and I think we'll have your support - I hope we'll have your support. And thank you very much, senator."
Cramer, who also attended the event with Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and other North Dakota leaders, said Trump said that in hopes Heitkamp would support the president's tax reform bill and a move to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
"While he has tried to have a relationship with her, tried to reach out to her, she has responded poorly to those overtures, and you don't get to do that too many times with Donald Trump," Cramer said.
Campbell, or others who would announce a bid against Cramer before he declares, will not play a factor in his decision, the Congressman said.
The Herald was unable to reach Campbell for comment.
A House campaign would be his fourth run at his current seat. Ben Hanson, a Democrat from Fargo, and Minot Republican DuWayne Hendrickson have announced they would seek Cramer's office.
The Libertarian Party did not return messages left by the Herald questioning whether the party had announced candidates for the U.S. Senate and House races.