Retiring Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) will serve out his term and won’t leave his seat early to become director of the Office of Management and Budget, an aide tells the The Fix.
Conrad has been suggested by some as a potential replacement for recently departed OMB director Jack Lew, who has been named the next White House chief of staff, and Conrad’s staff did nothing to douse the rumors late last week, neither confirming nor denying his interest in the position in an interview with the Bismarck Tribune.
But in an interview with The Fix, Conrad aide Stu Nagurka said the senator will not leave his seat early to take the OMB job.
“He’s going to be serving out his term,” Nagurka said. “He’s made a commitment.”
Conrad also denied interest in the OMB job during an interview with the editorial board of the Fargo Forum this morning.
“There’ve been rumors that I’d be head of OMB,” he said. “Well, that’s not going to happen.”
Conrad’s potential departure would have been a big deal for Democrats, who almost certainly would have been ceding a Senate seat to Republicans for the remainder of the 112th Congress.
That’s because Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple would be appointing Conrad’s replacement, at least until this year’s open seat contest reaches its conclusion. In that race, Rep. Rick Berg (R-N.D.) is the favorite against former state attorney general Heidi Heitkamp (D).
If Dalrymple had appointed a Republican to serve out the remainder of Conrad’s term, the GOP would get a 48th seat in the Senate, reducing its minority from 53 to 47 to 52 to 48, and potentially making it tougher for Democrats to pass legislation.
The Forum initially reported that Conrad said he would make an announcement about his future soon, but has since removed that aspect of the story. The Fix has also removed it’s reference to that report.