The campaign has sent out a press release (below) linking to the first ad, a 30 second spot, which you can watch above.
It looks to inspire anxiety about North Dakota’s economy while setting Burgum up as the sort of optimistic, experienced leader who can lead the state into the future. It also makes a jab at “career politicians,” which is a term the Burgum campaign has clearly poll tested and found to be something voters want to hear.
It’s clearly aimed at Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. The other candidate in the three-way race, state Rep. Rick Becker, is a part-time state lawmaker and full-time surgeon. Stenehjem as been a full-time Attorney General since 2000 and was in the Legislature before that since the 1970’s.
But that’s what Burgum needs to do to win. With less than 100 days to primary day, he can’t just focus on ads aimed at raising his name ID. He has to throw some dirt on Stenehjem, and the “career politician” line is probably an effective place to start.
Though inconvenient for Burgum is how much money he’s spent on helping to elect the state’s previous governors. Burgum poured thousands into both John Hoeven and Jack Dalrymple’s campaign funds, and was even an honorary chairman of Dalrymple’s campaign.
Can he convincingly set himself as a challenger to the status quo when he spent so much time helping to elect the status quo?
“I believe in North Dakota. I believe we can move from good to exceptional. I believe in our people, our resources, and our potential as individuals and as a state,” Burgum says in his release. “I know what North Dakotans can accomplish when we work together.”
You can read the full release below, and for a press release it’s actually kind of an interesting read. Humility is not really something you find in any political campaign, but self-referencing yourself as a “visionary” is some Trump-level ego.
UPDATE: “The production values and theme are classic Wilson-Grand,” a political friend who has worked for Republican governors in the past tells me, referring the consulting firm with a long track record of working for ND candidates. “I can’t find any of them online, but they’re basically Ed Schafer’s 1992 campaign ads. Which were darn effective in a difficult economic time.”
But 2016 isn’t 1992, he adds. “I imagine the entire campaign will be a re-run of Ed’s efforts, but 2016 is just different than 1992.”