Last night after posting about a Mike Nowatzki article which stated, in the headline, that gubernatorial candidate Doug Burgum was “irked” by legislative endorsements for his opponent Wayne Stenehjem I got a call from Burgum who said I got it all wrong.
“You were mischaracterizing my reaction to the whole thing,” he told me.
I had described what I took to be Burgum’s objections to the 81 state lawmakers who endorsed Stenehjem as “small ball.”
“I completely agree with you if I was spending time on this thing it would be a small ball thing,” Burgum told me, but he says he wasn’t irked and he’s not really concerned about the legislative endorsements.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]”Polling is if someone calls you at home at night and say you support ‘a’ versus ‘b’,” Burgum told me in a phone interview this afternoon. “Some lawmakers said they were called at home and asked if they supported Stenehjem versus Becker.”[/mks_pullquote]
He said the Forum unfairly put the word “irked” in their headline. He says his only complaint was that Stenehjem put out a press release claiming legislative endorsements which happened before he was in the race. He said that amounts to polling without giving respondents all the choices.
“Polling is if someone calls you at home at night and say you support ‘a’ versus ‘b’,” Burgum told me in a phone interview this afternoon. “Some lawmakers said they were called at home and asked if they supported Stenehjem versus Becker.”
I reached out to Stenehjem’s campaign manager Nate Martindale and asked him to describe for me how they went about getting the endorsements. He said it was done verbally.
“Wayne and I, whether in person or by telephone call, contacted every Republican state legislator asking for their public support to be used on a list of Legislators for Wayne Stenehjem,” he told me via email. “Even our biggest supporters were contacted as a courtesy for confirmation. Legislators that did not respond to messages were not included the list. Certainly, if anyone is uncomfortable with their name on that list, we are happy to accommodate without issue.”
That doesn’t sound much like a poll to me, and it was widely known (particularly in political circles) that Burgum was considering entering the race, so it wasn’t like the lawmakers were unaware that there could potentially be more options.
Burgum says he’s not surprised by Stenehjem’s legislative endorsements. “Wayne’s got a 40 year headstart last night with his friends in the Legislature,” he said. “It’s completely not surprising to me. I would hope that the majority of people Wayne as worked with as a state leader would endorse him.”
Burgum said he has spoken to some lawmakers who said that they were feeling more neutral about Stenehjem’s campaign now that he’s in the race in the race, though he didn’t provide any names. State Senator Kyle Davison of Fargo, a former employee of Burgum’s, told Nowatzki he has switched from endorsing Stenehjem to a neutral stance.
But overall, Burgum said he’s moving on. “Between last night’s call and today’s call I’m not spending any more time on this,” he told me. “This race is about looking forward not looking back.”