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On second thought, Cramer’s in North Dakota Senate race

February 15, 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) — Rep. Kevin Cramer will announce Friday 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.

A person close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who spoke with Cramer said the congressman will announce his entry at a rally at a Bismarck hotel. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak ahead of an official announcement, said Cramer had reconsidered an earlier decision against running after hearing from constituents.

Cramer’s Facebook page on Thursday listed a “Cramer for Senate Announcement & Rally” Friday evening at the Bismarck Ramada. The post included a picture of the congressman with the words “Kevin Cramer U.S. Senate.”

Cramer’s wife Kris, who also works on his campaign, declined to confirm the nature of the announcement.

Cramer announced in January that he was passing up the Senate race and would run for another House term instead. He came under pressure from his party to reconsider over concerns that the GOP would miss a big chance to pick up a Senate seat. Heitkamp narrowly won her first term in 2012 in a state that is strongly conservative.

On Wednesday, Cramer said he was reconsidering whether to run out of “patriotism” and because people from his party didn’t think Heitkamp could be beaten without him. He promised a decision by the weekend.

Republicans hold a 51-49 Senate majority. Heitkamp is among 10 Democrats in states Trump carried who are up for re-election in 2018.

Tom Campbell, a second-term state senator who trails Heitkamp badly in name recognition and money, is the only Republican currently in the race. He didn’t immediately respond to messages Thursday.

Cramer, 56, is a former state Republican director and chairman. He ran twice for the House in the 1990s, losing to incumbent Democrat Earl Pomeroy in 1996 and 1998 before winning it in 2012.

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Beaumont reported from Des Moines, Iowa.

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