Republican Governor Doug Burgum has had something of a rocky relationship with our state’s Republican-dominated Legislature which dates back to his 2016 gubernatorial campaign in which he campaigned against the “good old boys club” in Bismarck.
The “good old boys” being the mostly Republican men (and women) elected to the Legislature.
This has manifested itself in a number of ways, from Burgum getting the boot from the floor of the state Senate for wearing jeans to an unnamed lawmaker doing a deep dive on the costs of the events Burgum has scheduled during his first year in office (I can tell you that some lawmakers refer to the Governor derisively as the “event planner in chief”).
Tonight lawmakers are buzzing about a major donation made to a Democratic state lawmaker by one of the “nationally recognized presenters” Burgum invited to his Innovative Education Summit.
State Senator Erin Oban holds a seat in a mostly Republican district. In fact, she’s the only Democrat in western North Dakota (to the extent you can consider Bismarck “the west”) to hold a seat in the Legislature. She got a $10,000 campaign contribution in April from Ted Dintersmith of Massachusetts, described by Burgum as an “author, documentary filmmaker and venture capitalist.”
That’s a big, big contribution for a legislative race. In fact it was about 28 percent of Oban’s reported contributions in her pre-primary report filed with the Secretary of State’s office yesterday (see below).
There’s nothing illegal or unethical about Dintersmith’s donation, of course. And Oban is an educator in her day job. But politically speaking, I can tell you that Republicans – particularly in the Bismarck area – aren’t happy about a guest invited to the state by Burgum dropping big money on a Democrat in what promises to be one of the hottest legislative races in the state.
And if certain Republicans weren’t already skeptical of Burgum’s education agenda, they probably are now right or wrong.
Oban is being challenged by former NDGOP chairman, and erstwhile U.S. Senate candidate, Gary Emineth.