Gubernatorial Update: Campbell Probably Out, Burgum Still Mulling A Run


State Senator Tom Campbell, a Republican from Grafton, has been contemplating a run for governor for weeks now.

According to a press release he sent out yesterday (see below) he plans to finally announce his intentions in a press conference in Bismarck on Monday. Opinions in the political rumor mill are unanimous in saying that Campbell will not be running for governor.

If that’s true it wouldn’t be terribly surprising. When I spoke with Campbell about a possible campaign back in September he was quick to tell me how much he admires Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and he seemed hesitant to position himself as challenging Stenehjem for the nomination.

With Stenehjem all but officially in the 2016 race – he’s formed a campaign committee and isn’t giving back tens of thousands in contributions he’s received already – Campbell’s exit from a race he was never really in seems a foregone conclusion.

Meanwhile the only candidate Republican, Democrat or otherwise to get into this race officially so far is state Rep. Rick Becker of Bismarck. Becker announced a campaign leadership team this last week which included five lawmakers from around the state.

Treasurer Kelly Schmidt told me in early September that she was considering a run, but all has been quiet on that front since.

Meanwhile Fargo businessman Doug Burgum is still seriously considering a run. He has been shopping around political circles for potential campaign staff, but doesn’t seem to have made a definitive decision yet.

It does seem likely at this point that, should he run, he’ll do so seeking the Republican nomination and not as an independent.

Which would be sensible. An independent candidate possessed of Burgum’s resources might hope to influence the outcome of a race, more than likely splitting votes with the Republican candidate and catapulting the Democrat candidate into a position of competitiveness if not outright victory, but I don’t see a path to victory in North Dakota for an independent candidate this year.

And I suspect that if Burgum runs he wants to win. He strikes me as a man who wants to govern, not make some symbolic point with a vanity campaign.

Campbell Press Conference