GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer is reversing course and running for Senate in North Dakota after all, according to multiple media reports and an announcement notice posted on his campaign’s Facebook page.
The name of his campaign’s Facebook page, linked to on his congressional campaign website, is now titled, “Kevin Cramer for US Senate.” The page also links to a Friday event in Bismarck titled “Cramer for Senate Announcement & Rally.” A GOP strategist confirmd Cramer is running.
Even after being courted by the president and Senate leaders, Cramer announced last month that he would not run against Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp. He said he wanted to spend more time with his family and that the state would be better served if he stayed in the House. Cramer is North Dakota’s at-large member, meaning he represents the entire state in the House.
But since that announcement Cramer said he had been encouraged by people in D.C. and in North Daktoa to reconsider since he would be the strongest contender against Heitkamp, especially given his high name I.D. in the state.
But Cramer would start the race with less money in the bank. He had nearly $1 million on hand, while Heitkamp had nearly $4.5 million at hte end of 2017.
Republicans consider North Dakota a top target in 2018. since Trump won the state by 36 points. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race a Tossup.
Cramer told reporters on Tuesday that he was reconsidering his decision, and that he would make a final decision when he returned home.
State Sen. Tom Campbell was already running for the GOP Senate nomination, but he could run for Cramer’s House seat instead.
Though Republicans were courting Cramer to run, Democrats do not view him as a strong challenger, especially given some instances where he has made controversial comments.
“Republicans themselves admit that Cramer’s toxic, ‘Akin-like tendencies’ and lackluster fundraising are a recipe for electoral disaster,” said Joshua Karp, a spokesman for the Democratic opposition research firm American Bridge. “But he is literally the only North Dakota candidate willing to say yes to Mitch McConnell and run this year.”
Watch: Fundraising Reports Say a Lot About a Campaign