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Trump could help a Democrat while hurting the party at the same time

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. (Dale Wetzel / Associated Press)
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. (Dale Wetzel / Associated Press)

Here's one way Donald Trump could both elevate a Democrat while diminishing the party at the same time.

North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democratic lawmaker representing a solid red state, will meet with the Republican president-elect Friday in connection with a potential Cabinet appointment. The senator was to discuss two specific posts: secretary of Energy or of the Interior, according to a person familiar with the meeting agenda.

Adding Heitkamp to Trump's Cabinet and removing her from the Senate could help Republicans increase their narrow majority in the chamber, which shrunk by two seats in last month's election. 

Heitkamp, first elected in 2012, is up for reelection in two years and is likely to face a tough fight given the state's strong GOP leanings.

Heitkamp "comes very highly recommended, very highly qualified" and would be "a proven asset in any capacity," Trump spokesman Jason Miller said, though he cautioned that of the dozens of people who have met with Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence, some merely provide insight and experience, while others are interviewing for jobs.

Heitkamp said she appreciated the invitation to meet with Trump.

"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," she said.

New presidents often like to choose at least one or two members of the opposite party to give their administration a flair of bipartisanship. Illinois Republican Rep. Ray LaHood was President Obama's first Transportation secretary; Obama also chose New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg for Commerce secretary before the Republican withdrew from the nomination.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia was also being considered for a potential position in Trump's Cabinet, Politico reported.

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