NDGOP Accuses Burgum Of Lying About NRA Endorsement

North Dakota gubernatorial candidates Wayne Stenehjem, left, and Doug Burgum debate at the North Dakota Newspaper Association convention Saturday, May 7, 2016, in Crosby. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service

“Only one candidate is NRA-endorsed: Wayne Stenehjem”

That’s the subject line of an email from the North Dakota Republican Party which just dropped in my inbox this early afternoon.

“We know it won’t surprise you at all that Doug Burgum is running ads touting his NRA rating and that he isn’t telling the whole truth,” the email states. “Here is the only fact you need to know: Only Wayne Stenehjem is the NRA-endorsed candidate.”

The include a screenshot from the NRA website which shows both Stenehjem and Burgum with an “A” rating from the gun rights group, but Stenehjem is denoted as the endorsed candidate.

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I haven’t heard the ad the NDGOP is referencing so I can’t say if their characterization of it is accurate. I’m working on getting the audio from the Burgum campaign. If the ad does tout Burgum as “endorsed” by the NRA it seems clear that would be inaccurate. UPDATE: The ad does not say Burgum is the endorsed candidate. Audio below.

As I explained previously, while both Burgum and Stenehjem got a top rating from the group, Burgum’s was a rating given to non-incumbents who do not have a track record of governing. Burgum hasn’t held political office before so he has no policy making history on run rights for the NRA to evaluate.

“What did Doug Burgum do? He filled out a questionnaire with all the right answers,” the NDGOP email states.

“But has Burgum ever been a public advocate for the 2nd Amendment?  Nope. He has never pushed a policy. Never written a letter to the editor. Nadda,” the email continues.

I think it’s fair to say that Burgum’s position on guns is entirely rhetorical at this point, whereas Stenehjem has a verifiable track record. I’m not sure it’s fair to say that Burgum has never been a public advocate for the 2nd amendment.  He clearly has been during this gubernatorial campaign. Whether or not voters believe him is another matter entirely.

I’ll update the post when/if I get the audio of the ad from the Burgum campaign.

If you’re wondering why this is coming from the NDGOP, since Burgum is a Republican too like Stenehjem, the party backs the candidate who was endorsed at their convention. Burgum came in third place at the NDGOP’s endorsing convention but gathered 300 signatures to put himself on the June primary ballot anyway. But the party stands behind the candidate endorsed by convention delegates.

Even given that, seems odd that this would come from the party and not the Stenehjem campaign itself, given that the NDGOP would be in the awkward position of making nice with Burgum should he win the June primary. Which is very much a possibility.

UPDATE: Here’s the audio of the ad in question:

I’m not sure I’m seeing the NDGOP’s problem with the ad. Not once does it say that Burgum is the endorsed candidate, and while he does mention the NRA’s rating, it is clearly described as the highest rating a non-elected official can receive.

Burgum isn’t saying anything untrue in this ad at all.

UPDATE: Here’s a statement from the Burgum campaign:

It’s unfortunate Wayne’s allies are misrepresenting what is in our ad. That’s what people dislike about the good ol’ boy network and is what career politicians do when they’ve run out of their own ideas and are afraid they will lose. Doug received the highest possible rating for a non-politician and is proud of it. North Dakota Republicans should be too.

Here’s the full NDGOP email:

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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