Doug Burgum's Running Mate Was Critical Of Him In Email, Calling Him An "IT Socialist" And "Not Very Business Friendly"


UPDATE: The Stenehjem campaign sends along the video clips above which are outtakes from scenes Sanford recorded for them. They say they were recorded on March 19, about a week before Sanford emailed Streyle.

Today Fargo businessman Doug Burgum, who will be seeking the NDGOP nomination for governor on the June primary ballot, announced a running mate.

It’s Watford City Mayor Brent Sanford.

It’s an interesting pick. Especially since Sanford didn’t seem sold on Burgum at all, and was describing himself as “all in for Wayne”, as recently as 12 days ago.

In a March 26 email to state Rep. Roscoe Streyle, an outspoken supporter of Burgum opponent Wayne Stenehjem, Sanford described the guy he’s now running with as an “IT socialist.”

Which is sort of ironic since Burgum is spending a lot of money on advertising to brand himself as a fiscal conservative.

In the email, which Streyle provided to me this morning and which you can read in full below, Sanford compliments the Minot lawmaker for a March 23 letter to the editor in which he criticizes Burgum for being willing to “say anything and spend any amount of money to win, even if it means tearing down Republicans and helping Democrats win this fall.”

“Nice letter on Burgum’s inconsistency,” Sanford writes in the email. “There are no grounds to proclaim a Chicken Little budget situation when reduction of the one time spending alone can wipe out the deficit for next biennium.”

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]”The IT socialist platform is less surprising, but not very business friendly if you are an arch fiscal conservative,” he wrote.[/mks_pullquote]

Burgum has blasted the state’s fiscal situation in his campaign ads, criticizing “run away spending,” but Sanford says the state’s financial situation “looks pretty brilliant now.”

“We still have money in the bank and are having an infrastructure construction blitz to be closer able to handle the long term effects of the Bakken impact,” Sanford wrote.

He also wrote that Burgum doesn’t seem to understand western North Dakota needs. “The lack of understanding of the Surge was not surprising,” Sanford wrote, referring to a raft of spending on western oil impacts passed early in the 2015 legislative session.

Sanford may have been referring to comments from Burgum on Chris Berg’s Valley News Live program in early March in which he seemed to claim that western North Dakota communities got too much money.

He goes on to describe Burgum, who made millions after selling his software company to Microsoft, as an “IT socialist.”

“The IT socialist platform is less surprising, but not very business friendly if you are an arch fiscal conservative,” he wrote.

That runs contrary to what Sanford is saying now. “I strongly believe North Dakotans are ready to send a business leader to Bismarck,” the mayor is quoted as saying in a press release sent out by the Burgum campaign this morning announcing his addition to the ticket.

Sanford ended the March 26 email saying he is “all in for Wayne” and that people shouldn’t “get enamored with Burgum’s star power without addressing the policy inconsistencies.”

Sanford certainly seemed to be a Stenehjem supporter at the NDGOP convention. He appeared in a video supporting Stenehjem which was played for delegates. You can see it posted here on the Stenehjem for Governor Facebook page.

I reached out to the Burgum campaign. Here’s their statement about Sanford’s comments, blaming them on Sanford being misinformed:

One of the keys to Doug’s success has always been to create a team that brings different points of view to problem solving. That’s how you build a business and how you bring innovation to government. Doug and Brent are courageous leaders that make decisions based on data and facts, and they strongly agree that government operates best when decisions are made closest to the people. Brent’s email was in regard to misinformation he was given about Doug. Brent feels strongly that Doug is the best choice for governor and is the best choice for the future of North Dakota.

And here’s the response from Sanford himself:

I sat down with Doug, and he shared his vision for North Dakota moving from good to exceptional, and he walked me through an evidenced-based analysis of our state’s financial situation. I was let down by the misinformation, cynicism, and whisper campaigns and realized Doug is the best choice. I’m proud to join Doug Burgum – an experienced, conservative business leader who understands the problems facing North Dakota.

Here’s the full email:

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