Lawmakers Upset About the Way Doug Burgum Dresses Should Get Over It

New North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum speaks with cabinet members on his first day of office Thursday morning at the state Captiol in Bismarck. There are 17 cabinet positions with Burgum replacing a few of the postions with new members or with people filling in for the interim during the transition from former Gov. Jack Dalrymple's administration. Photo by Bismarck Tribune

In North Dakota state lawmakers are expected to dress up. The rules for the chambers require that male lawmakers wear a suit, coat, and tie (I’m not sure off hand what the specific requirements are for women.

Sometimes the dress code even applies to visitors. I remember years ago a group of teenagers on a field trip inspired the ire of one of the Sgt.-at-Arms at the Legislature because they weren’t dressed appropriately.

Anyway, our new Governor Doug Burgum is sort of known for not liking to dress up, and according to the Associated Press that has some lawmakers upset:

Gov. Burgum may not yet be comfortable as the state’s chief executive, but it’s not because of his clothes.

Burgum’s preference for jeans and sweaters has spurred much grumbling at the Capitol among many male lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, who wear suit and tie while the Legislature is in session.

Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford has followed his boss’s lead and is often seen in similar attire.

Burgum, at his inauguration last week, also wore jeans, when other governors in recent years donned tuxedos or a suit.

My advice to the lawmakers upset by Burgum’s dress?

Get over it.

I think voters expect state officials to dress professionally when going about their official business, but what is and is not appropriate can be a subjective thing. Especially today when standards for workplace attire have been relaxed.

If our Governor wants to eschew a suit and a tie for something more comfortable, who cares. It’s a petty thing to be upset about. But if voters want to cast their ballots against Burgum because he and/or his Lt. Governor don’t dress up, that’s their right.

Personally, I wouldn’t care if Burgum came to work dressed as Bozo the Clown as long as he’s promoting sound public policy.

It sounds like make some of the lawmakers should try dressing more comfortably. Maybe they’d be a little less uptight as a result.

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 1-2pm weekdays.

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