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Rep. Kevin Cramer. Photo: Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

Republican congressman Kevin Cramer will officially announce he's running against incumbent Democrat Heidi Heitkamp for the Senate seat in North Dakota at rally at a Bismarck hotel on Feb. 16, a source confirmed to the AP.

Why it matters: Last month Cramer decided against running, despite being courted by President Trump. But Republicans, who currently hold a narrow 51-49 majority in the Senate, are hoping to pick up North Dakota, which Trump won by double digits in 2016.

The backdrop: Many Republicans have described Cramer as the GOP's "best hope" of defeating Heitkamp in November.

  • Cramer has name recognition and holds the state's only House seat, making him a far more prominent figure in North Dakota than Republican state Sen. Tom Campbell, who's also running.
  • Cramer is also a close ally of President Trump. He promoted Trump early on in the presidential campaign.
  • Raising enough money to run was one of the reasons he cited when announcing he wouldn't challenge Heitkamp. But now Harold Hamm, an oil billionaire, has reportedly offered to help Cramer as his finance chair if he decides to run. (The curious thing is that Hamm has previously donated thousands to Heitkamp.)

The other side, per Joshua Karp, spokesman for Democratic PAC American Bridge:

"Mitch McConnell and Washington Republicans have been turned down over and over again by high-quality recruits in North Dakota, so out of desperation they are tying their fortunes to Kevin Cramer. "

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Biden Cabinet confirmation schedule: When to watch hearings

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 16 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The first hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet nominations begin on Tuesday, with testimony from his picks to lead the departments of State, Homeland and Defense.

Why it matters: It's been a slow start for a process that usually takes place days or weeks earlier for incoming presidents. The first slate of nominees will appear on Tuesday before a Republican-controlled Senate, but that will change once the new Democratic senators-elect from Georgia are sworn in.

Kamala Harris resigns from Senate seat ahead of inauguration

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Photo: Mason Trinca/Getty Images

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris submitted her resignation from her seat in the U.S. Senate on Monday, two days before she will be sworn into her new role.

What's next: California Gov. Gavin Newsom has selected California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to serve out the rest of Harris' term, which ends in 2022.