WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2016 - North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp will meet with President-elect Donald Trump Friday afternoon in New York, amid speculation that she is in the running for agriculture secretary.
Heikamp, a first-term Democrat, insisted Thursday that Trump initiated the meeting and that she had no idea what he wanted to talk to her about. But North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer, a Republican with ties to the Trump transition, said Thursday evening that he had learned about the meeting plans earlier in the week from the transition team and that it was about agriculture. He confirmed that he would be interested in running for her Senate seat if she left to join the administration.
Heitkamp told Agri-Pulse that she intended to talk to Trump about the farm economy.
“We’re just interested in hearing his thoughts especially on rural America and what we can do to respond to concerns that folks have on economic uncertainty, especially in a period of low commodity prices,” Heitkamp said. She said was contacted about the meeting on Wednesday.
Heitkamp faces a tough re-election race in 2018. Taking a cabinet post could clear the way for Cramer to win her seat, although he has also been mentioned as a cabinet possibility. Under North Dakota law, a Senate vacancy would be filled by a special election.
Trump spokesman Jason Miller said on Thursday that Heitkamp came “very highly recommended,” was a “proven leader,” and “would be an asset in any role or capacity.” But on Friday morning, when he said that it was "too premature" to say that "specific administration roles" were being discussed with either Heitkamp or another Democratic senator, Joe Manchin of West Virginia.