Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) has decided against challenging North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp this November, rejecting pleas from President Donald Trump and leaving the GOP without a top-tier candidate against Heitkamp — a first-term Democratic senator seeking reelection in a state Trump won by 36 points in 2016.
Cramer made the announcement Thursday on “What’s On Your Mind?” — a radio program syndicated statewide in North Dakota, saying he needed to spend time with his 10-year-old son.
“We’ve decided that the best thing for our family and for me and I think, frankly, for North Dakota is for me to seek reelection to the House of Representatives,” he said. “And while it’s still a robust campaign — there’s still a lot of work to do — it’s far less intense than flying around the country for the next 10 months every weekend going to Chicago and New York and you know, someplace far away to raise adequate funds to, you know, to run.”
Even without Cramer in the race, Republicans are still expected to maintain their narrow Senate majority. Democrats need to flip two seats without losing North Dakota — or any of the other nine seats they hold in states Trump carried in 2016. But Cramer’s decision to seek reelection in a statewide House seat with only nominal Democratic opposition — rather than challenging a sitting senator, even in a bright-red state like North Dakota — is the latest sign of a challenging political environment for the GOP.
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