Trump May Appoint Dem To Cabinet And Give The GOP An Extra Senate Seat

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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President-Elect Donald Trump will meet with a red state Democratic lawmaker Friday for a potential cabinet job that would give Republicans another crucial seat in the Senate.

Trump will meet North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp at Trump Tower to discuss a possible cabinet role, which would give North Dakotans the the chance to elect another senator.

When a North Dakota senate seat is vacated, the governor has to hold a special election within 95 days to fill it.

That’s good news for Republicans. Trump won North Dakota by a 36 percentage point margin in the 2016 election. Republican Sen. John Hoeven won his reelection this year by a nearly 62-point margin over his Democratic opponent.

Should Trump hire Heitkamp, the GOP could have a 53-47 edge over Democrats in the Senate.

“She comes very highly recommended, very highly qualified, is a proven leader and would be an asset in any role or capacity,” Trump spokesman Jason Miller told reporters Thursday, according to The New York Daily News.

It’s unclear exactly what cabinet job Heitkamp would be up for, but being from a major oil producing state Trump could bring her on to head the Interior Department. Heitkamp used to work for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), so that could be another option, or she could head up the Agriculture Department.

Heitkamp has been a vocal critic of EPA regulations targeting coal-fired power plants and Interior Department rules on oil and natural gas drilling. She also joined Republicans in pushing for the Keystone XL pipeline’s approval.

At Interior, Heitkamp has a lot of competition from other nominees, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and former Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell.

The Interior secretary is traditionally from western U.S. states, where the federal government owns about half the land. Alaska Sen.Lisa Murkowski, a Republican, wants the Interior secretary to be from Alaska. The federal government owns 60 percent of Alaska.

I’m pretty keen on Mead Treadwell, I think he would do a good job at the Department of Interior, and I have said so,” Murkowski, the chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, told Politico.

Heitkamp was silent on what role she could play in Trump’s administration.

“I appreciate the President-elect inviting me for a meeting,” Heitkamp said in a statement to the Daily News.

“Every single day, my work is motivated first and foremost by how I can be most helpful to the people of North Dakota,” she said. “They are my driving force and have been throughout my career in public service. Whatever job I do, I hope to work with the President-elect and all of my colleagues in Congress on both sides of the aisle to best support my state.”

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