Doug Burgum Releases New Campaign Ad Touting “Main Street Initiative”


During his Republican primary campaign gubernatorial candidate Doug Burgum carpet bombed North Dakota with ads, but just 21 days out from election day he’s run just two ads for his general election campaign.

The first was released back on October 10 and was familiar territory for anyone who followed Burgum’s primary campaign. He talked about the state’s fiscal challenges what with post-oil boom revenues falling, though he struck a more conciliatory tone with the Legislature in that one.

This new ad, released today, is a bit of a departure from Burgum’s campaign, though it’s more in line with the public’s perception of the candidate before he ran for political office. The ad touts what Burgum describes as a “Main Street Initiative” the tree pillars of which are, per the ad, “a skilled workforce, smart efficient infrastructure and healthy vibrant communities.”

Anyone who spent any time listening to pre-campaign Burgum knows that things like denser, downtown-centric urban development and “walkability” are kind of hobby horses for him. So much so that it made some observers, including this one, wonder if the governor’s office was really the right place for him. “[M]ayor certainly seems to be a better fit for Burgum whose well-documented passion is evangelizing for denser, more walkable urban development,” I wrote last November before Burgum announced his gubernatorial campaign.

That’s exactly what this Mainstreet Initiative is all about, as you can see Burgum’s campaign website.

From a conservative perspective – because remember, that’s how Burgum describes himself as a candidate – it’s not a terrible idea per se. When Burgum talks about the tax burdens associated expanded infrastructure serving sprawling development, he’s not wrong. Every additional mile of road surface, every new square mile of housing and commercial development, is area that has to be served by snowplows and sewer and police/fire protection.

Those things cost money.

But I tend to think that sprawl happens because people generally don’t want to live in denser developments, and I’m not I want the government getting into the businesses of making them want it.

I’ve spoken about this sort of thing at length with Burgum before, and one area we agree is that development should be priced appropriately. I argue that we should be subsidizing downtown development, and he shoots back that we should make sure that the cost of sprawling development is born by those building it and buying it.

I think we’re both right. If that’s the approach he takes this issue, then I support him.

Neither of Burgum’s opponents – Democrat Marvin Nelson or Libertarian Marty Riske – have run television ads.

As it happens, Burgum will be on my radio show Thursday on WDAY AM970 at 1:00pm.