Updated at 2:49 p.m. ET
Oklahoma oil tycoon Harold Hamm has offered to be North Dakota Representative Kevin Cramer’s finance chair for his potential Senate bid, The Atlantic has learned—the clearest sign yet that Cramer will make a play for Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s seat.
According to two Republican sources with direct knowledge, Cramer would also likely face an uncontested primary: Should he decide to run, North Dakota state Senator Tom Campbell, the current Republican front-runner, would likely abandon his Senate campaign and seek Cramer’s House seat instead.
Cramer’s candidacy would be good news for the party: Heitkamp is among the most vulnerable Democratic senators up for reelection, one of 10 running in states that Donald Trump carried in 2016. But GOP leaders have privately fretted that Campbell lacks the name recognition and fundraising power to beat her in November.
Hamm made the offer to helm Cramer’s finance team this week, according to the two Republicans, who relayed Hamm and Cramer’s conversation. (Sources I spoke with for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.) Hamm, who is also a board member of the pro-Trump nonprofit America First Policies and was once a rumored pick to be the president’s energy secretary, has been a key behind-the-scenes influence on Cramer’s decision. According to a source with direct knowledge, he’s lobbied Cramer hard in the last month, impressing upon him Heitkamp’s vulnerability and shifting trends in the GOP’s favor since Congress passed tax reform. (A Politico/Morning Consult poll released Wednesday has the GOP edging out Democrats on a generic ballot for the first time since April.)