NDAKOTA

Tuesday , February 13, 2018 - 12:25 PM

Sean Sullivan

(c) 2018, The Washington Post.

WASHINGTON - Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., is strongly considering a run for the Senate, according to several Republicans familiar with his emerging plans, a move that could help the GOP in the battle for the majority in the upper chamber of Congress.

Cramer told the West Fargo Pioneer last week that he was “mildly reconsidering” a run. In recent days he has taken further steps toward running, according to the Republicans, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private deliberations.

But these Republicans were split over whether Cramer would ultimately take the plunge. Some voiced confidence that Cramer could announce that he is running as soon as this week. Others were more circumspect, noting that GOP officials were under the impression that he was going to run earlier this year - only to see him suddenly rule himself out.

Republicans hold a narrow 51 to 49 majority. The race against Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., is one of their top pickup opportunities. It is one of 10 states Democrats are defending that President Donald Trump won.

The effort to recruit Cramer into the race has not let up since he announced about a month ago that he would not run, Republicans said. There are concerns among Republicans in Washington that without him, the chances of winning back the North Dakota seat would be diminished.

“He’s been the number one target since the beginning,” said one of the Republicans familiar with the situation. “That barely paused the day he said he wouldn’t run.”

Cramer did not respond to phone calls seeking comment. A Cramer spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Republican congressman is a close Trump ally. Trump had tried to convince Cramer to run, but in early January, he said he would not do it.

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The Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey and Robert Costa contributed to this report.

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