We know that state Senator Tom Campbell of Grafton is considering a run for the NDGOP nomination to challenge Democratic U.S. Senate incumbent Heidi Heitkamp (who is absolutely running for re-election despite her silly posturing).
We also know that both Kathy Neset, an oil industry consultant and member of the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education, and Congressman Kevin Cramer are considering runs for the Senate as well.
But what about Bismarck state Rep. Rick Becker? He expressed interest in a Senate run as far back as last cycle’s state NDGOP convention, just after completing a failed campaign for the gubernatorial endorsement at that event, and he’s still considering per our conversation this morning.
“My own timeline, I wanted to have a final decision by August,” he told me.
“It might have to go into September,” he added, noting that whether to run or not is the “biggest decision of my life thus far.”
Cramer has certainly been the most talked about of the potential challengers to Heitkamp, but Becker says his fellow Republican is a non-factor in his own decision making. He said he discussed a possible Senate campaign with Senator John Hoeven he urged not to rule out a run for the House seat should Cramer vacate it. Becker says he hasn’t shut the door on that, but he’s not against challenging Cramer should he run for the Senate either.
“If Cramer goes to the Senate that doesn’t mean I won’t go for the Senate any longer,” he said. “My decision isn’t hinged on what Cramer does.”
“My guess is Cramer stays in the House,” Becker added, though he admits he doesn’t have any specific knowledge he’s basing that belief on.
Becker says his preference now is for the Senate. “Ben Sasse and Rand Paul, they could use some help,” he said, referring to the Senators from Nebraska and Kentucky respectively.
I asked Becker about the mountain of money Heitkamp has already raised, mostly from out of state, for her re-election campaign. “Yes the sooner you get in the sooner you raise money,” Becker said, but added that there will be plenty of money from Republican supporters for a “viable” challenger to Heitkamp once one emerges.