Trump Considers Democrat Sen Heitkamp For Cabinet, But She May Not Accept

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Following reports that President-elect Donald Trump is considering nominating Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp as agriculture secretary, North Dakota democrats are expressing doubt that she would accept.

A report from Politico Saturday said Heitkamp was at the top of the list to lead the Department of Agriculture, according to a source close to the Trump transition.

North Dakota politicians close to Heitkamp doubt that she would leave her place in the Senate, potentially giving the Republicans another seat.

“Heidi has a 70 percent approval in North Dakota,” former North Dakota Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan told Agweek Monday. “She’s not going anywhere. She’ll run for re-election in 2018, and she will win,” Dorgan said.

Heitkamp met with Trump Dec. 2 at Trump Tower, and said she had a “thoughtful and wide-ranging” discussion with the president-elect about the Dakota Access Pipeline, the future of coal production in the U.S. and energy issues, among other things.

“I look forward to working with him and all of my colleagues in Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, to reach results for North Dakota and the country,” Heitkamp said in a statement after the meeting. Some suggested that Heitkamp could also be in the running for the interior or energy departments. (RELATED: Trump May Appoint Dem To Cabinet And Give The GOP An Extra Senate Seat)

Heitkamp was elected to an open Senate seat in 2012, narrowly beating Republican challenger Rick Berg with just over 50 percent of the vote. A Morning Consult poll from September showed that around 57 percent of North Dakotans approved of her job in the Senate, with 12 percent having no opinion. (RELATED: A Cowboy, A CEO, And A Senator Who Prays For Rain Top List For Trump’s Agriculture Secretary)

Former U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad also believes Heitkamp will stay in the Senate. “Heitkamp would be great [as Agriculture secretary], but I assume she prefers representing North Dakota, which she is exceptional at doing,” Conrad told Agweek. “If she runs, she wins because people like her and trust her. She is a leader, which no doubt is what attracted Trump’s team.”

Heitkamp is known for bucking the Democrat party when it comes to floor votes. A review of her votes last year found that she voted against the party 22 percent of the time. Notably, she opposed the party’s package of four gun bills this past June, and attracted anger from gun control groups for not joining the so-called filibuster in the Senate.

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