Back in October I wrote about Aaron Krauter, an Obama appointee and a former state lawmaker, clearly being interested in getting back into North Dakota politics.
Krauter left his federal appointment to the Farm Service Agency with the election of President Donald Trump, and had a one year cool down period where he couldn’t get involved in politics. That was up in January.
Now I’m told that Krauter has visited Washington D.C. in the last couple of weeks and is strongly being encouraged to run for the U.S. House.
“He’s gearing up to run for something,” a long time political observer told me this morning.
Krauter served in the state Senate from 1991 to 2010, and was the Lieutenant Governor candidate in Heidi Heitkamp’s failed gubernatorial bid in 2000. He was appointed to be the director of the FSA in North Dakota by President Obama in 2009. He’s from western North Dakota, farming near Regent, and that probably helps Democrats given that their political influence these days is mostly limited to the Red River Valley.
In October I speculated that Krauter might run for statewide office. He has deep roots in agriculture, so a run for Agriculture Commissioner (an office which comes with a seat on the powerful North Dakota Industrial Commission, a position Democrats covet deeply) would make sense. Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger has announced a bid for re-election, but his campaign is under a cloud from his drinking problems. He got a DUI in the fall and could be vulnerable to a challenge from someone like Krauter come November. Also Public Service Commissioner Brian Kroshus, appointed last year by Governor Doug Burgum to finish Brian Kalk’s term, has never run for elected office before. He could also be vulnerable to a challenge.
But my sources tell me Democrats want Krauter to take a shot at three-term U.S. House incumbent Kevin Cramer.
That’s a tougher campaign than the statewide races I just mentioned, but it makes sense. Krauter would be a challenger Cramer would have to take seriously, and along with Heitkamp it would give the Democrats a strong one-two punch at the top of their ticket.
Even if Krauter lost, Heitkamp would likely soften the landing by giving him a job in her operation somewhere.
I reached out to Kratuer for comment on this but he didn’t immediately respond.