Washington (CNN)North Dakota's Rep. Kevin Cramer said Tuesday he hasn't made up his mind about whether he'll challenge Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in this year's midterm elections -- but will decide by "the end of the weekend."
North Dakota's Rep. Cramer weighing 'snowball of encouragement' to run for Senate
"There's certainly a growing snowball of encouragement coming out of the state," Cramer told reporters on Tuesday evening outside the House chamber.
His comments come hours after former state party chair Gary Emineth kicked off speculation by saying he was dropping out of the Senate race because Cramer had reversed his January decision to pass on the race and would run, after all.
Cramer said reports that he'd made up his mind were wrong.
"We're just respectfully reconsidering right now. I'll have a decision by the end of the weekend," he said.
He declined to say whether President Donald Trump had urged him to rethink his decision but suggested he is getting pressure from Republicans in Washington and at home.
If he runs, Cramer could reverse one of the GOP's biggest recruiting misses of the 2018 election cycle. His January decision to forgo a campaign against Heitkamp in what was expected to be one of the nation's most vulnerable Democratic-held seats left the GOP with state Sen. Tom Campbell. Cramer -- as a statewide elected official in North Dakota, which has only one House seat -- would bring a much higher profile to the race.
Democrats noted that a year ago, Republicans appeared to have soured on Cramer as a Senate recruit. Joshua Karp, a spokesman for the Democratic group American Bridge 21st Century, said that "anyone who says he's a top recruit is either lying through their teeth or related to him."
North Dakota's Republican Sen. John Hoeven wouldn't say Tuesday whether Cramer will run, but said he's "been asked to reconsider it by a lot of people."
Cramer said he has worked with Heitkamp on a series of issues and likes her personally but has heard from people back home that she doesn't reflect the values of voters. He singled out her votes against the GOP tax bill and an anti-abortion-rights measure as counter to voters in North Dakota.
But he acknowledged that the slim margin of GOP control in the Senate has been the argument he has been hearing from a variety of people in Washington in favor of a possible run.
"The fragility of the Senate majority, the agenda, the second of half of a presidential term and it's a patriotic call and it's not without a lot of merit and nobility," Cramer said.
But he said he's still weighing that against family considerations. Because it's a state with a small population, a Senate run could mean spending eight months arguing over 25,000 voters, he said.
Even after he announced he was going to run again for his House seat, Cramer said he still received encouragement back home to run for the Senate.
"You can be flattered by a president but you can be inspired by a neighbor, and that's how I feel about it," he said. "We owe it to listen to these people one more time."
Cramer said he believed that if he entered the race he would prevail: "I've always felt pretty comfortable with that." But he added, "I'm not foolish to say it's easy. ... It will be a very hard race."