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The Latest: Cramer announces Senate bid at rally

February 17, 2018

FILE - In this May 26, 2016, file photo, North Dakota Republican state Rep. Kevin Cramer speaks in Bismarck, N.D. Cramer will announce Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, he is entering North Dakota's Senate race, a move that would give Republicans the candidate they hoped would take on Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The Latest on Kevin Cramer’s Senate run in North Dakota (all times local):

6 p.m.

North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer has officially launched his U.S. Senate campaign at an evening rally in Bismarck.

Cramer’s formal announcement Friday night amid party faithful comes about a month after he first passed up the Senate race.

The Republican is a staunch advocate of President Donald Trump and has been considered the GOP’s best hope of beating Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp.

The only other declared candidate, Tom Campbell, a second-term state senator, trailed Heitkamp badly in name recognition and money, and had drawn little enthusiasm from the GOP.

Cramer told The Associated Press that Trump had personally encouraged him three times to run for the seat, including twice after he said he wouldn’t.

___

6:30 a.m.

Rep. Kevin Cramer is lined up to launch his U.S. Senate campaign at an evening rally in Bismarck.

The “Cramer for Senate Announcement and Rally” is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the Ramada Bismarck.

Cramer’s announcement comes about a month after he first passed up the race.

But the Republican came under intense pressure from his party to reconsider over fears that it was handing Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp an easy re-election

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