Governor Doug Burgum Runs Afoul of State Senate’s Prohibition on Wearing Jeans

Doug Burgum appears in a cowboy hat in one of his 2016 campaign ads.

Of course, right after I write a post about how well Governor Doug Burgum and lawmakers are working together, the former runs afoul of the latter’s dress code.

Burgum is, rather famously, a sort of dress-down kind of guy. Earlier this legislative session there was some grumbling among lawmakers about the way Burgum and Lt. Governor Brent Sanford were dressing.

Today Burgum got pinged by the Senate’s Sgt.-at-Arms about being on the floor of the Senate in jeans.

When I contacted Burgum spokesman Mike Nowatzki he was unaware of the incident, but Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) confirmed it to me.

“There was no scene or anything like that,” he added, going on to say that the Governor “knows he shouldn’t” wear jeans on the Senate floor “because we’ve been kind of trying to enforce that rule.”

The Sgt.-at-arms “asked him to step off” the Senate floor, Wardner told me.

“There was no scene or anything like that,” he added, going on to say that the Governor “knows he shouldn’t” wear jeans on the Senate floor “because we’ve been kind of trying to enforce that rule.”

Wardner made clear that the incident “wasn’t confrontational.”

It sounds like it was handled graciously by all involved.

UPDATE: Nowatzki called me this evening with some additional context from the Governor. Apparently he’d been standing outside the Senate chamber when he ran into some school students who wanted a picture. A Senate lawmaker invited the group down onto the Senate floor to take the picture, and afterward on his way out Burgum stopped to talk with someone else. After that conversation the Sgt.-at-Arms approached Burgum about being on the Senate floor in jeans.

If my two cents are worth anything, it seems like maybe we can relax some of these dress codes. I get that the legislature is attending to the business of the people, and that’s a serious process deserving of respect, but c’mon.

It’s 2017.

On a related note, I once got a dressing down from the House Sgt.-at-Arms, but my sin wasn’t wearing jeans (which I was) but touching one of the chamber’s brass rails.

It wasn’t a pleasant experience.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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