Heitkamp: Federal judge nomination coming 'fairly soon'
BISMARCK — Sen. Heidi Heitkamp expects to see a nomination "fairly soon" for former U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson's successor, the North Dakota Democrat said this week.
During a meeting Tuesday, Aug. 7, Heitkamp said there's a candidate being vetted for the position, but she didn't identify that person.
"We expect we're going to see that nomination fairly soon," she said. "And if they nominate this person, I'll be proud to push it through as fast as I can."
The U.S. Senate confirmed Erickson as a federal appeals court judge in September. The lower court has leaned on judges from other states to help handle the North Dakota caseload while the seat remains open, said Rob Ansley, the clerk of court.
A spokeswoman for Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said they recommended that the White House interview "several people" for the judgeship but declined to name them.
Hoeven also has recommended Drew Wrigley to be North Dakota's top federal prosecutor, a post currently held by U.S. Attorney Chris Myers. He pulled his name from consideration more than a year ago after Wrigley said he wanted his old job.
Wrigley was U.S. attorney in North Dakota from 2001 to 2009.
He said Wednesday he's been encouraged by the support he's received but was unaware of any timeline for the nomination.
"The White House has interviewed candidates for both positions and is finishing their process," Hoeven spokeswoman Kami Capener said in an email Wednesday. "Once the White House announces their nominees, we'll work to confirm them in the Senate as quickly as possible."
Heitkamp had fewer updates to share on the U.S. attorney position but heaped praise on Myers, who has been in the job since 2015. She said there "tends to be a rumor" that she's holding up the Trump administration's nominations but dismissed that as illogical.
"When did I get that powerful?" she said Tuesday.
Late Wednesday, Heitkamp's office responded to a request for additional comment.
“Chris Myers has been doing a top-notch job as North Dakota’s U.S. attorney which is why he was named Prosecutor of the Year earlier this year for his work and extensive investigations that have led to arrests and indictments of those involved in trafficking fentanyl and other legal drugs to our state," a statement from her office read. "As long as Chris continues in that position, I don’t see a need for a change. Additionally, the White House is still vetting nominees for U.S. District Judge and I hope they make an announcement soon.”