Governor Doug Burgum Probably Isn’t Going to Run for the U.S. Senate


Doug Burgum addresses the crowd after winning the office of governor Tuesday night, Nov. 8, 2016, at the Sanctuary Events Center in Fargo. Brent Sanford, at right in the photo, is the new Lt. Governor Dave Wallis / The Forum

UPDATE: Governor Burgum has responded to my request for comment. He said there is “no truth whatsoever” to the rumors.

Speculation and rumor mongering about North Dakota’s 2018 U.S. Senate race is in high gear, all the more so because incumbent Democrat Heidi Heitkamp announced her re-election campaign officially this week.

There are lots and lots of people who are, and seem to want to, run for the Senate this year. Republican state Senator Tom Campbell is in the race and has already launched no fewer than four television ads with more than 400 days to go until election day. Congressman Kevin Cramer, businesswomen Kathy Neset and Tammy Miller, and state Rep. Rick Becker are all considering a run for Senate as well.

Even the Democrats have more than one candidate. A firefighter named Dustin Peyer is challenging Heitkamp for their party’s nomination.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]”It’s very rare that someone would be head of a state and then want come down here and be one of 100,” a NRSC aid, speaking on background, told me this morning.[/mks_pullquote]

But one hot rumor about Governor Doug Burgum being interested in a run caught my attention this week. As you might imagine I hear a lot of rumors, and most of them aren’t true, but this rumor I heard a lot and from some serious people in state politics to boot.

So I checked it out.

I reached out to Burgum, but he hasn’t responded. The folks the National Republican Senatorial Committee (the national arm of the Republican party which oversees Senate elections) poo-pooed the idea.

“It’s very rare that someone would be head of a state and then want come down here and be one of 100,” a NRSC aid, speaking on background, told me this morning.

Former Governor John Hoeven did that, though. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010, just two years after winning a third term as Governor in 2008. But that was Hoeven leaving part way through his third term, not part way through his first as Burgum would be. A much different situation.

“I wouldn’t put any stock in it,” my NRSC source told me.

That sounds about right to me.

Friends and acquaintances of Burgum have told me that he was interested in possibly running for Senate in years past, before he campaigned for and won the gubernatorial position. So maybe it is an office he’s interested in. But I have to think that Team Burgum would recognize how off-putting it would be for North Dakota voters to see a man they just elected Governor campaign for the Senate without even finishing even one term.

Chalk this rumor up to an overactive rumor mill ahead of what promises to be a very exciting race.