Doug Burgum Beats Wayne Stenehjem In NDGOP Primary Vote, Democratic Voters Were The Key

I’m calling it.

Oh, and the Associated Pres has called it too:

Doug Burgum has won the NDGOP gubernatorial primary, and is more than likely going to be our next governor. I don’t see how Democratic candidate Marvin Nelson beats him in the general election.

How did Burgum beat Stenehjem? He was able to build an unlikely coalition between the extreme right and the extreme left, working both ends of the political spectrum against the middle.

One need look no further than the crowd of people supporting Burgum to see the truth of this. Former NDGOP chairmen Robert Harms and Gary Emineth were some his most outspoken campaign surrogates, but quietly in the background Democrats were working to support Burgum too.

In the 2012 primary vote there were approximately 1.8 votes on the Republican slate of candidates for every 1 vote on the Democratic slate. In 2016, with just over 37 percent of precincts reporting, the ratio is roughly 6 Republican votes for every Democratic vote.

Sometimes not so quietly. Days before the election Jim Fuglie, a former chairman of the Democratic state party, posted an open plea on social media for liberals to support Burgum. Left wing talk radio host Joel Heitkamp has also been a booster.

Burgum’s wink wink, nod nod campaign for Democrat support, even as he ran as a Trump-loving conservative to Republicans, flat-out worked.

Doing some quick and dirty math, it sure looks like a lot of Demcorats crossed over to vote for Burgum. In the 2012 primary vote there were approximately 1.8 votes on the Republican slate of candidates for every 1 vote on the Democratic slate.

In 2016, with just over 54 percent of precincts reporting as I write this, the ratio is roughly 6 Republican votes for every Democratic vote.

I don’t want to put credit Democrat crossover voters as the silver bullet reason why Burgum won.

There was also the fact that he ran the most expensive campaign in state history. It was blundering and tone deaf at times, but when you can flood the zone with your messaging sometimes that doesn’t matter. Quantity, as they say, has a quality all its own.

And there was the fact that Stenehjem ran what was, at times, an ambivalent campaign. Remember when the Stenehjem campaign seemed to take a vacation for a couple of weeks after winning the convention in April?

Yeah, that was a problem.

So was Stenehjem’s seeming inability to recruit other statewide Republicans to his cause. Why weren’t Governor Jack Dalrymple and Senator John Hoeven on the campaign trail with him more? Why weren’t other statewide leaders like Public Service Commissioners Julie Fedorchak – an effective and energetic campaigner – on the trail with Stenehjem?

Who knows.

Anyway, Burgum now gets to go to Bismarck and try to govern a Republican super majority that he spent millions dragging through the mud.

Good luck, Doug.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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