Last week Doug Burgum launched a statewide television campaign with a negative 30 second ad which sought to play up anxieties over North Dakota’s economy and branded his likely primary opponent, Wayne Stenehjem, as a “career politician.”
This week Burgum has another ad, which his communications director Kate Mund called to alert me about personally this morning. This time it’s a 60 second spot which strikes a much more positive tone.
If I were advising the campaign, I think I’d have started with this ad instead of the negative one.
The ad “shares more of Doug’s story,” Mund told me in an email. It “highlights why he is the best candidate because of his business leader success and experience” and “shows how Doug, as a political outsider, will bring a new set of skills and leadership to the state’s CEO position.”
I think people are going to struggle with the idea of Burgum as a political outsider given his long history of involvement with the North Dakota Republican Party, not to mention his work on the campaigns of Governor Jack Dalrymple and Governor-turned-Senator John Hoeven.
I think most people view Burgum as being politically well-connected, which makes the “outsider” thing hard to swallow.
Overall, though, I think Mund has a point. Burgum’s story is very real, and very compelling. He has been a success as a businessman. He has created jobs and, more importantly, he’s created them right here in North Dakota in an industry people don’t typically associate with our state.
It’s inspiring. It’s what Burgum needs voters to know about him.
The question is, can Burgum get enough people to learn about the story in the 91 days until Primary Day? And when they learn about the story, will it inspire enough of them to switch allegiance from Stenehjem to Burgum?
Because the only public polling available in this race so far shows Stenehjem beating Burgum by a 59-10 margin. As I’ve pointed out before, that’s not a name recognition problem. That’s a people-are-supporting-the-other-guy problem.
I asked about the specifics of the buy behind this ad, but Mund wouldn’t share. People familiar with Burgum’s last week buy said that one was for $150,000.