For some time now Rep. Kevin Cramer, an early supporter of President-elect Donald Trump, has been poo-pooing the idea that he would get a cabinet position in Trump’s administration.
But check out these comments Cramer gave to reporter Sam Easter after his meeting with the President-elect today:
Cramer recounted the discussion to the Herald by phone on Monday afternoon, hours after he said he spoke with both Trump and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.
“I will tell you this: He was interested in talking to me about a possible Cabinet post, specifically secretary of energy,” Cramer said, noting that Trump asked what Cramer would do if he was offered the post — would he stay in the House of Representatives or join the administration?
“He kept saying, well, which one would you rather do?” Cramer said. “There’s strong pluses to both, and I’d be honored to do either one. I’d do both with enthusiasm and all the influence I have.”
If Trump offers I have a feeling Cramer is going to say yes.
I’m also pretty sure that Trump is going to offer. Which would great news for North Dakota and responsible energy development nationally. Cramer has a very long, and very impressive history working with the energy industry as a regulator and legislator. He’d be great head up the Department of Energy.
But what would this mean for politics here in North Dakota? If appointed to the Trump administration Cramer would resign his office at which point Doug Burgum, who will be Governor by then, would have 95 days to call a special election.
Democrats would have to try and find a warm body to run after an election cycle where they saw not a single candidate get more than 30 percent on the statewide ballot. I have no idea which Democrat would be willing to volunteer to take a beating in a special election.
Republicans, meanwhile, would likely see a very competitive battle for the nomination to run in the special election. Who would the likely contestants be?
I have to think that state Rep. Rick Becker of Bismarck would be one. Becker ran a very strong gubernatorial primary campaign and has signaled interest in running for a federal office before. UPDATE: Becker tells me he’s undecided on a run and will make a decision when/if Cramer is picked by Trump.
State Senator Tom Campbell would be another possible. His aspirations for higher elected office are well known. UPDATE Campbell tells me he would “absolutely” campaign in a special election.
Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk would be another possible. He challenged Cramer for the NDGOP nomination for the House race back in 2012. UPDATE: Kalk says he’d “give it a hard look for sure.”
UPDATE: Throw another hat into the ring. I’m told that former Congressman Rick Berg is a strong possibility to run again, and that he’s been having quiet conversations with his former campaign staff.
Republicans, essentially, have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to potential candidates.
There would likely be others. Remember that the 2012 race for the open House seat drew no fewer than six Republican challengers. A special election is a different animal, of course. The candidates would have a much shorter timeline during which to organize a campaign and gather resources. Also, there is no primary. The decision on the nominee would be made by the NDGOP’s District Chairs and Executive Committee.
Still, don’t expect any sort of an anointment. The race, if Cramer does get appointed, will be competitive.