Doug Burgum showed up at Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s gubernatorial campaign announcement in Fargo today, and boy did that set gums flapping in political circles.
Burgum is considering a run for governor himself, after all. What portent does his attendance at Stenehjem’s event hold?
Interestingly enough, just as I was considering writing a post about this one of Burgum’s communications people reached out to me. “[Doug] hasn’t changed his timetable for a January decision,” Kilbourne Group communications manager Adrienne Olson told me in an email. “He did confirm that if he were to run, it would be as a Republican candidate.”
That last is a bit of news. In the past reports of Burgum’s rumination on a statewide campaign have come with a disclaimer that he hasn’t ruled out a run as an independent. Clearly, he has now ruled that out, much to the chagrin of KFGO talk radio host Joel Heitkamp who was ham-handedly promoting Burgum to his aging, declining audience as a sort of spoiler/wild card who could split the Republican vote.
What’s interesting is another rumor lighting up my radar today which has Burgum possibly running for Mayor of Fargo in the future though it seems that bit of chin wagging isn’t on target. “I was able to catch Doug and he confirmed that he is not considering a run for Mayor,” Olson told me.
Maybe the Stenehjem campaign started that one, though that’s not where I heard it.
But gosh, it would be interesting wouldn’t it?
The current mayor is Tim Mahoney, a Democrat, but in recent elections right-leaning candidates have made up some ground in the city government. Dave Piepkorn and Tony Gehrig have both won election to the five-member city commission (the mayor also has a seat on the commission). If Burgum were to become mayor it would put right-leaning candidates in three out of five spots in the city government.
Not a bad state of affairs for a metropolitan area that Republicans are afraid is drifting too far to the left.
And, if this humble observer’s two cents are worth anything, mayor certainly seems to be a better fit for Burgum whose well-documented passion is evangelizing for denser, more walkable urban development. Urban planning isn’t really what the governor does – in fact, I suspect any given governor’s ideas about zoning and street repair would likely be seen as an unwelcome intrusion in most municipal governments.
The most logical fit for Burgum’s agenda, as I understand it anyway, is as mayor of North Dakota’s largest city.
But who knows what’s in Burgum’s heart. And this isn’t to say I’m against Burgum running for governor. A showdown between Stenehjem, Becker and Burgum would be very, very good for business for those of us who make a living writing about politics.