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Heitkamp 'taking steps to prepare to run' for re-election

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp has raised $1.6 million this year, according to a media report, suggesting she is preparing to run for re-election. The North Dakota Democrat raised the amount in the first quarter of 2017, giving her more than $2 million cash...

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Heidi Heitkamp
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Sen. Heidi Heitkamp has raised $1.6 million this year, according to a media report, suggesting she is preparing to run for re-election.

The North Dakota Democrat raised the amount in the first quarter of 2017, giving her more than $2 million cash on hand, according to political news site Politico. The amount raised by Heitkamp should be filed in the near future, and it would be more than any other North Dakota senatorial candidate has amassed in the first quarter of an off year.

"I'm taking the steps to prepare to run, but am still in the process of making a decision," Heitkamp said in an email to the Herald.

Politico cited "a person close to the campaign," but Heitkamp's press office said it didn't have information on the figures, citing requirements that campaign affairs to be handled by a separate office.

Speculation has been building over whether Heitkamp will seek another term in the Senate. This will be her first time seeking re-election. She narrowly defeated Republican U.S. Rep. Rick Berg by less than 1 percent.

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If Heitkamp chooses to run, it's likely she would face a tough campaign in North Dakota, a heavily red state. Residents overwhelmingly voted for President Donald Trump-he won almost 63 percent of the vote-over Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. Other Republican candidates in statewide elections performed well over their opponents.

It's uncertain which Republican would run against Heitkamp, though there has been speculation Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., could enter the Senate race. The staunch Trump supporter also has said he hasn't made up his mind on whether he will run for his current position or seek a bid against Heitkamp.

Heitkamp has met with the president and his staff multiple times. At times, she has been critical of Trump, though on other occasions she has backed the president's decisions. Most recently, she announced she would vote for Trump's Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., had about $1.8 million cash on hand, said Don Larson, a campaign adviser for the senator. Larson said he didn't have a figure for funds raised in the first quarter of the year but said it wasn't much since Hoeven was re-elected in November.

"We haven't focused fundraising since the election," Larson said.

Cramer's office did not immediately respond to a request Wednesday asking how much he had raised in the first quarter of the year and how much cash was on hand.

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