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North Dakota’s Native Son Builds Big National Profile

Posted on Tuesday, June 11, 2024
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by Shane Harris
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Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore Flickr

One of the more unexpected and intriguing storylines of this wild presidential campaign cycle is the sudden emergence of North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, a 67-year-old businessman who has risen from relative obscurity to become one of the Trump campaign’s top surrogates – and even a potential vice presidential candidate.

Burgum first entered the spotlight last June when he launched his own longshot campaign for president. The move raised eyebrows in Washington, as Burgum had just entered politics in 2016 and was not well known outside of North Dakota. Shortly after entering the race, a Quinnipiac poll showed 90 percent of Republican or Republican-leaning respondents said they hadn’t heard enough about him to form an opinion on him. Early primary polls had him at just 0.4 percent support.

But Burgum nonetheless managed to make the debate stage by spending big on ads in Iowa and New Hampshire and using innovative methods to meet the RNC’s required thresholds of support – including the controversial strategy of offering anyone who donated $1 to his campaign a $20 “Biden Relief Card.”

Burgum failed to make waves at the first or second debate – the biggest headline he generated was over the fact that he tore his Achilles playing basketball the day before the first event. But he did establish himself as knowledgeable on energy and the economy and as an effective critic of Biden’s electric vehicle mandate. He failed to make the third debate, and then suspended his campaign in early December 2023.

Nonetheless, while Burgum didn’t become enough voters’ top pick, he did earn respect as a generally likable person with a common-sense understanding of the issues Americans care most about.

Part of that appeal is likely due to Burgum’s background in North Dakota. The son of farmers in Arthur, a town of less than 400 people in the eastern part of the state, Burgum grew up learning the ropes of the agriculture business before attending North Dakota State University and then going on to earn an MBA from Stanford.

While at Stanford, Burgum befriended Steve Ballmer, the future CEO of Microsoft. After a stint in Chicago as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company, he returned to North Dakota to take over as president of Great Plains Software, a tech company in Fargo.

In 2001, Microsoft acquired Great Plains for $1.1 billion – at the time Microsoft’s largest ever purchase. Burgum remained on at Microsoft as a senior vice president until 2007, after which he started a venture capital firm focused primarily on companies in the Midwest.

In 2016, with no prior experience in politics, Burgum launched a campaign for governor of North Dakota, cruising to victory in both the primary and general election. Four years later, he easily won re-election with over 65 percent of the vote.

As governor, Burgum has pursued a number of popular policies, including incentives to address the state’s teacher shortage, broad tax cuts, and a successful program to lower the number of traffic deaths. He has also taken a somewhat mixed approach on climate issues, affirming his support for fossil fuels (a major industry in the state) while also investing in new technologies to reduce the environmental impact of oil and gas production.

Burgum has also proven himself as a pro-life advocate, signing into law some of the strongest legal protections for the unborn anywhere in the country.

Now, however, Burgum’s primary focus is helping Trump win back the White House after he officially endorsed the former president in January. Perhaps improbably, Burgum has become a mainstay with Trump on the campaign trail, and has reportedly made several trips to his Mar-a-Lago property, including for an Easter brunch.

Unsurprisingly, speculation has swirled that Burgum could be offered a high-level post in a potential second Trump administration, and could even be in the running for vice president. Republican North Dakota Senator John Hoeven, who supported Burgum until he suspended his campaign, told The Washington Post that he had “talked with President Trump about [Burgum], and I know that he likes him a lot and certainly I think he’s going to be a part of this administration. Now what role? We don’t know yet. But I think it will be an important role, and I think he’ll be a real asset to the Trump administration.”

Trump himself has also praised Burgum’s performance in the primaries and suggested that he could have plans for the governor. “He’s a very smart person. He’s an outstanding person,” Trump said of Burgum at a Las Vegas rally in February. “Get ready for something, okay? Just get ready.”

What exactly that “something” is remains unclear. But it seems safe to say that the country has not seen or heard the last of Doug Burgum.

Shane Harris is a writer and political consultant from Southwest Ohio. You can follow him on X @shaneharris513.

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Nancy
Nancy
9 days ago

He is only 67 and pro life – grass roots farming – small town born and raised. What is not to like?

Denise
Denise
9 days ago

As our nation continues it’s painful fall into possible obscurity, the right president (Trump) and the right vice-president are more important than possibly any election in the history of this nation. Barack Hussein Obama was the first one to erase our border, his vice-president, no doubt at the “suggestion” of “O” also followed suit. Biden left American citizens in Afghanistan and $85 Billion in the highest tech weaponry in the world. Obama also said in a stumping speech that he would “fundamentally change America.” He was and is a traitor to this once Constitutional Republic.
During Trump’s presidency he personally visited Putin, Xi and Kim Jong and informed them that taking a shot at America would be a very bad mistake. Our nation is filled with millions of unknowns, border watchers recently saying they’re seeing “young men of military age” now and very few families. These people didn’t get to Mexico by themselves. This has been a massive concentrated effort to destroy our nation. There is no doubt a substantial world wide effort by some “elites” to build their “new world order” on the remains of America. Years ago I listened to Bush Sr.’s presidential speech. In it he made this comment: “We must usher in the New World Order.” Sadly America has also become a Godless nation and I believe 100% this has taken a massive toll on our strength and goodness.
Patrick Henry said it best: “When a nation forgets it’s God, tyrants soon forge it’s chains.” Sorry to be a downer but unless someone has a better knowledge please let us know.

Philip Seth Hammersley
Philip Seth Hammersley
9 days ago

Burgum is another Republican who actually has lived in the REAL world of commerce like DJT He hasn’t been on the government teat for 40 years like Slow Joe and his ilk!!

Pete from St Pete
Pete from St Pete
9 days ago

I was totally unaware of who Doug Burgum is when he entered the first debate. I have heard him several times on the Kudlow Report and am very impressed with him. We need more people with business experience and demonstrated common sense to fill high positions in our government.

Lloyd Grisham
Lloyd Grisham
9 days ago

Almost nobody knows who this guy is. He appears to be a solid citizen and has been a governor . The question is would he help get Trump elected.

Steve
Steve
9 days ago

As a native son myself I am not surprised. There is a lot of untapped talent in North Dakota. The breadbasket state is one everybody looks down on. Of course they are too stupid to know that their pasta and bread come from there.

Jerry
Jerry
9 days ago

It won’t surprise me if Burgum is Trump’s pick for VP.

Thinking
Thinking
9 days ago

Burgum is not a good candidate for VP or cabinet member. Too close connection to Gates. Watch out Mr president. Remember the spies in the White House last time?

Ken Paul
Ken Paul
9 days ago

Good guy but doesn’t balance the ticket. Most effective utilization would be appointment as Energy Secretary.

Granny
Granny
9 days ago

His bio sounds good, but on a national level is it enough?

Veteran
Veteran
9 days ago

This election is too important to monkey around with next to unknowns who have been virtually silent until now, and see an opportunity to make a break for themselves. If President Trump has learnt anything from listening to his advisers last time he won’t pick someone like Pence, Sessions, Barr, Matthis, or Haley for important jobs in his administration. The VP is only one heartbeat away from running this nation and most of us would be able to sleep better knowing that a position that important would be held by a tenacious fighter who does not give up in the face of unbridled adversity with a proven track record of taking on the communist lawfare machine head on much like Trump himself. That is why Kari Lake is the only logical, and rational choice to which Donald Trump should come, all else is lobbyist hype, bait and switch marketing, and opportunistic porcine laundry. In some cases.the names being peddled even belong to former darlings of Klaus Schwab’s ” great young leaders” WEF tutelage and internship program like Gabbard, and Stefanik, and Ramaswamy received huge sums of money from Soros. Rubio as well has a proven track record of making conservative noises and doing the left’s bidding; we don’t need another Mike Johnson at a critical time like this. Actions speak louder than words, and for politicians talk is the cheapest, and most inflationary currency around. Show me your fruits, not your artistic rhetoric of what you might have, could have, possibly, maybe, done

SAW
SAW
8 days ago

Glad he is on our side of the isle…

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
9 days ago

Bravo Burgum

Myrna
Myrna
9 days ago

I hope he will be the vice president. He knows how to succeed and will do whatever he is assigned well.

David
David
9 days ago

From what I have known and seen of him over the past several months I think he has the potential to be another Reagan. He seems like a centrist and I like the fact he is not a “career politician.” Burgum might be a good pick.
I do know the Republican nominee will have to be able to attract the “independent, the value voters, the free thinkers, disgruntled Democrats (and blue dogs if there are still alive), and those who don’t watch or read the news. I do think that turnout for 2024 will be lower than 2020 due in part to apathy and lack of interest.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
9 days ago

Outside of North Dakota, does anyone know who he is? Well, at least he’s smart enough to not write a book about how he shot a puppy…

Avoter
Avoter
8 days ago

I take all this with a grain of salt. A very small grain of salt. How many times have republicans in the past made promises to turn things around and right the course only to get elected and do nothing? I trust no one on the republican side except Trump himself. During his first term how many so called republicans absolutely stabbed Trump in the back while he was President? Make no mistake they will do it again and no VP will be able to prevent that from happening.

Fredric Ducolon
Fredric Ducolon
9 days ago

He kinda looks like California’s Governor brother, but is a million times smarter!

kit
kit
9 days ago

doug is too damn old. small state with few electoral votes. not a veteran. too rich

An older blonde women laughing in the kitchen with a grey haired man.
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