Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said she will likely remain in the Senate, despite being floated as a one of President-elect Donald Trump’s potential Cabinet picks.
“The job that I have right now is incredibly challenging. I love it,” the North Dakota Democrat told her brother Joel Heitkamp’s KFGO radio program on Thursday morning. “These are ongoing discussions but also I will tell you that my first love is serving the people of North Dakota.“
“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.
Asked if that meant she was staying in the Senate, Heitkamp responded, “I think it’s likely that that’s going to be the outcome from all of this.”
Heitkamp has been floated as a potential selection for Agriculture secretary, a position that Trump has yet to name. She met with Trump earlier this month and discussed coal mining, human trafficking, the economy and energy infrastructure.
The North Dakota senator said the Trump administration has a “laser-like focus” on creating jobs and building the economy. She also said the administration has a “very maverick” perspective on politics, which could be an opportunity for Democrats to work with the Trump administration.
Heitkamp is up for re-election in 2018, and faces a tough campaign in GOP-leaning North Dakota. If she is selected for the Cabinet, the seat would likely flip to GOP control. Trump won the state this year with 63 percent of the vote, while Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton garnered 27 percent of the vote.
Trump’s victory has some Democrats refocusing on the middle of the country, where Trump dominated.
Heitkamp said Thursday that she and other moderate Democrats like Sens. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Claire McCaskill of Missouri, who are also up in 2018, have been attempting to tell their fellow Democrats, “You guys don’t get it. You need to get out of whatever mindset you’re in.”
She said there wasn’t an awareness of a “sense of intrusion” in the Midwest and Plains states, especially when it comes to government regulation.
“I hope that’s going to change,” said Heitkamp.
Contact Bowman at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @bridgetbhc.