Politics

Democratic Sen. Heitkamp to Talk Cabinet Post With Trump

President-elect could be eyeing her for Agriculture or Energy jobs

North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp leaves a meeting on Capitol Hill earlier this year. On Friday, she will meet with Donald Trump to talk about a possible Cabinet nomination. (CQ Roll Call photo)

By John T. Bennett and Bridget Bowman CQ Roll Call

President-elect Donald Trump is considering adding North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp to his Cabinet and will meet with her on Friday in New York.

So far, the incoming chief executive’s picks to head federal departments and agencies have all been Republicans. Presidents of both parties have, in the past, tried to get at least one secretary from the other party into a first-term Cabinet.

[White House Trolls Trump on Carrier Jobs Deal]

Trump and his team view Heitkamp as being “an asset in any role or capacity” should she make the cut, an aide told reporters Thursday morning. She “comes very highly recommended and [is] qualified,” the aide added.

Heitkamp said any talk of her serving in the Trump administration was “way premature.”

“The president-elect asked me to come for a meeting. I don’t even know if it’s about a job,” Heitkamp told reporters Thursday. “And we’re looking forward to having a very productive discussion.

“So we think that there is certainly common interest in doing things in energy, common interest in doing things in agriculture,” she said. “Rural America is a high priority, I would think, for the new administration so I'm anxious to talk about new ideas to revitalize and create economic opportunities in rural America.”

In an earlier statement, Heitkamp didn’t rule out a Cabinet post.

“Whatever job I do, I hope to work with the president-elect and all of my colleagues in Congress on both sides of the aisle to best support my state,” she said. “Every single day, my work is motivated first and foremost by how I can be most helpful to the people of North Dakota.”

If Trump plucks Heitkamp from the Senate, it would open her seat in a state he won comfortably (64 percent to 28 percent over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton). Asked about her possible departure, Charles E. Schumer of New York, the incoming Senate minority leader, declined to comment.

The Trump transition office declined to specify which job she might be in the running to get. But her legislative priorities suggest the Agriculture or Energy departments could be good fits.

In the Senate, Heitkamp supported rolling back the decades-old prohibition on exporting crude oil, arguing that exports will bring long-term economic prosperity and much-needed revenue to state and local governments.

Heitkamp, who is up for re-election in 2018, backed Clinton for president. But, notably, she was absent when 12 other female Democratic senators appeared onstage at their party’s national convention in July to show support for Clinton.

[Secretary of State List Trimmed to Four as Trump Nears Decision]

She won’t be the only sitting senator to meet with Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

Georgia GOP Sen. David Perdue will also huddle with the duo, with an aide calling him a “fantastic ally for the president-elect.” Perdue was among a small group of Republican senators who was an active campaigner for Trump during the general election. Later Thursday, Perdue declined to comment about his trip to Trump Tower.

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton also will meet with Trump and Pence on Friday.

The hawkish Bolton has been mentioned as a possible secretary of State candidate, vying with the likes of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker of Tennessee., former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former CIA Director David Petraeus, the retired Army general who was last year sentenced to two years probation for giving his biographer/mistress classified information.

This article was updated at 2:49 p.m.Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.Contact Bennett at johnbennett@cqrollcall.com. Follow him on Twitter @BennettJohnT.Contact Bowman at  bridgetbowman@rollcall.com  and follow her on Twitter  @bridgetbhc.

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