Hey, There's Yet Another GOP Contender in Town

And he's long-shot candidate Doug Burgum, governor of North Dakota
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 7, 2023 10:00 AM CDT
2024 GOP Race Has Yet Another Entrant
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum delivers his budget address in Bismarck, North Dakota, on Dec. 5, 2018.   (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP, File)

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has announced his candidacy for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, adding his name to the long list of contenders hoping to dent former President Trump's early lead in the race. Burgum, 66, made the announcement in the Wall Street Journal and was expected to kick off his campaign Wednesday in the city of Fargo, where he lives and which is near the tiny farm town of Arthur, where he grew up. "We need a change in the White House. We need a new leader for a changing economy. That's why I'm announcing my run for president," he said in a commentary posted late Tuesday on the newspaper's website. Known to few outside North Dakota, the AP reports that Burgum faces an immense challenge in a field dominated by Trump and the better-known governor in the race, Ron DeSantis of Florida.

As evidence of Burgum's long odds, he isn't even the most notable candidate to announce a campaign Wednesday. Former Vice President Mike Pence was launching his White House bid in Iowa, taking on the president he served for four years. Burgum, a former software entrepreneur, plans to visit early voting states right away. He'll campaign Thursday and Friday in Iowa, home of the first Republican caucuses, and Saturday and Sunday in New Hampshire, which hosts the first GOP primary. In a video, Burgum portrayed himself as a common-sense, rural state conservative, distinctly experienced in energy policy and far removed from the bitter war of words between Trump and DeSantis. "Anger, yelling, infighting, that's not going to cut it anymore," Burgum said in the video. “Let's get things done. In North Dakota, we listen with respect, and we talk things out."

As governor of the nation's fourth-least populous state, he signed bills this year advancing conservative policies on culture war issues. They include prohibiting government and schools from requiring teachers and employees to refer to transgender people by their preferred pronouns; barring transgender girls and women from competing in women's sports; and banning abortion, with few exceptions, after six weeks' gestation. His video also touched on his opposition to "woke" ideology. "I grew up in a tiny town in North Dakota," Burgum said. "Woke was what you did at 5am to start the day." Burgum enters the race with a more advanced background in energy policy than most of the Republican field in light of North Dakota's decadelong petroleum boom. "Instead of shutting down American oil and gas, we should unleash energy production," he said in the video, "and start selling energy to our allies, instead of buying it from our enemies."

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Burgum was first elected as governor in 2016, was reelected in 2020, and is eligible to run for a third time in 2024. In 1983, he founded Great Plains Software, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2011, and he stayed on as a Microsoft vice president until 2007. For those keeping track at home, in addition to Trump, DeSantis, and Pence, Burgum faces:

  • Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley
  • US Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina
  • Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
  • Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson
  • Anti-woke activist Vivek Ramaswamy
  • Conservative talk radio host Larry Elder
  • Businessman Perry Johnson
(More Election 2024 stories.)

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