I had Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Burgum on my radio show today.
My first question for him was relevant to a post I wrote this morning about the Marvin Nelson campaign complaining that Burgum’s running mate wouldn’t debate. Apparently the University of Mary tried to schedule a debate between Nelson’s running mate, state Senator Joan Heckaman, and Burgum’s running mate Brent Sanford who is the mayor of Watford City.
I had reached out to the Burgum campaign for comment this morning but they didn’t reply.
This afternoon I asked Burgum why Sanford wouldn’t get on board with a debate. “Brent’s accessibility has been massive,” Burgum told me. He also said that since debates between running mates hadn’t been happened during previous election cycles he saw no reason why one should happen during this cycle.
“We haven’t had a Lt. Governor debate for 16 years,” he told me.
That’s an unfortunate response, nor am I sure it’s entirely accurate. Earlier this year, just before the primary vote, talk radio host Scott Hennen hosted a debate between Sanford and primary opponent Nicole Poolman who was Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s running mate.
Maybe Burgum is regretting picking Sanford as a running mate? Let’s face it, that pick was all about geography. Sanford is a western mayor who offset the perception of Burgum as a Fargo-centric guy, and just 12 days before he was added to the ticket Sanford was blasting Burgum in emails calling him an “IT socialist.”
Maybe that’s just not the sort of person Burgum wants out in front of his campaign right now. I know I was never impressed with his pick of Sanford. About the only good thing I can say about it is at least the Lt. Governor doesn’t do much.
I also asked Burgum about his endorsement of Donald Trump and whether he regrets it. “It’s certainly been a challenge to have someone at the top of the ticket who pulls the Republican party off message,” he told me. He said the Clinton/Trump race is between “two flawed candidates.”
“I don’t think you’d call it a disaster,” he told me. “I guess we’ll see on November 8.”
Asked if another of the Republicans who ran for president this year would be better than Trump, Burgum said “as long as that person wasn’t self destructing with a personal comment every day.”
Here’s the full audio: