Early in my career, my wife and I attended a church in California with a notable American who famously said, “Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.” Meeting Reagan and his wife many Sundays after church inspired my interest in conservative ideas. Much later in life, Reagan and his ideas continue to inspire me.
I’m Paul Sorum. I’m running for the Republican nomination for Governor of North Dakota and I’m asking for your vote on Tuesday, June 14. I am running because I believe that North Dakota has a great future if we take this opportunity to elect a conservative Governor. We have tremendous resources – our people, our minerals and our agriculture are unequalled. But we also face some challenges which we must meet. We must re-establish accountability within our government and our leading industries. Our education system is badly broken and we owe it to our young people to rehabilitate our institutions of higher learning as well as K-12. We need to more effectively diversify our economy while we have the advantage of our other economic assets. We need to right-size our government and reduce waste, which will allow us to cut taxes. Lastly, we need to protect our liberty by enforcing the tenth amendment.
We have a lot at stake in our energy industries. We must have accountability in our oil industry. There is evidence of widespread abuse of our laws in North Dakota. This is a very serious concern for all North Dakotans because if we demonstrate that we are not capable of monitoring and managing or own environment and obeying our own laws, we will be inviting the EPA to do it for us. If we allow oil companies to disobey our laws and create hazards in our state, public sentiment and the federal government will descend on our oil industry and attempt to shut it down. If we act responsibly and enforce our laws we can prevent this. If we do not, if we continue down the path we are on under the current administration, we face the consequence of federal intervention. As your Governor I will immediately call for a performance audit of the Oil and Gas Division to ensure that our laws are followed to the letter – no exceptions! The EPA and other federal agencies would love to make the case that we cannot manage our own resources and we are ruining the environment. We must not let them do this.
Our Attorney General has been looking the other way and putting North Dakota and our vital oil industry at risk. I am the only candidate in this contest with actual work experience in the oil industry. Our oil industry is not only crucial to our economy in North Dakota, but essential to our nation’s well being. I know what these problems are and I will solve them.
Education in North Dakota is in need of reform across the board starting with higher education. According to US News & World Report (2011), our college students leave college with the highest student debt in the nation at an average in excess of $45,000. No one should begin their career with this burden. I propose to cut in state tuition in half.
I am also the only candidate for governor that has teaching experience. I taught early in my career at the University of Southern California. I know why our education system is in a state of disarray. Our two major institutions have a 4-year graduation rate of 22% — a complete failure. The first step to improving higher education is to make the student the customer and change higher education’s focus to quality teaching.
We are spending approximately $57 million a year subsidizing out-of-state tuition. North Dakota spends more than $64 million a year on cronyism – handouts to non-government organizations and businesses. We should stop these two expenditures, eliminate excessive non-teaching positions and use the savings to lower tuition in our university system.
If we had the best quality teaching in the country, out of state students would be willing to pay out-of-state tuition. In fact, we would have way more out-of-state students enrolled in out university system than we do now and our in-state students would graduate with minimal debt. Shouldn’t our own students — our children — deserve to be the priority in North Dakota rather than out-of-state special interests and the cronies of the powers that be?
In K-12 education, we also need to change the focus to quality teaching. To do this, we need to repeal the one-size-fits-all Common Core and end North Dakota’s membership in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Currently, North Dakota student assessment results show that just 40% of our students are proficient in Math and only 46% are proficient in English. We all know that the more individualized the instruction, the better the educational outcome. We need to once again trust teachers to teach and parents must have a primary role in deciding how our students are educated.
As governor, I will fully fund K-12 education as is mandated by our state constitution. North Dakota is prohibited from using property taxes to fund its legal obligations. By fully funding K-12 education, we will lower property taxes by 30% to 40% for everyone.
These reforms will serve to keep our brightest and best students here in state. When they graduate from college in four years, they will attract businesses to the state and they will also start their own new businesses. Along with lower property taxes, an education system that boasts the best teaching quality available will be a huge attraction for growing the economy in North Dakota.
I am a “Reagan” conservative. I believe in the potential of the individual, not the power of government. I agree with Reagan that the “most dreaded nine words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” A common theme throughout my business career has been business planning and budgeting. My opponents claim that we need big government subsidies and grants to make entrepreneurial projects work. That is not true. Business startups need an environment where a well-educated work force is available and eager to work; they need flexible financing such as our Pace loans and Flex-Pace loans from the Bank of North Dakota, and they need a low-tax, low-regulation environment.
I am the only candidate in this race that has experience developing projects in rural North Dakota. I understand the economic challenges of rural communities and how to overcome them. As governor, I will personally recruit companies to come to North Dakota and I will ensure we have all of the tools in place to be successful including a great educational system.
Some talk as if the state’s spending problems are a matter of concern. If we reduced state budget numbers to an amount slightly larger than the 2011 budget levels, we would eliminate the state’s spending deficit. North Dakota does not have a tax revenue problem; it has a spending problem. In the 2011 session, state spending had already increased significantly over the previous bienniums:
- 2003-2005 $1,816.9 Million
- 2005-2007 $2,000.5 Million 10.1% Increase
- 2007-2009 $2,574.3 Million 28.7% Increase
- 2009-2011 $3,249.4 Million 26.2% Increase
- 2011-2013 $4,297.0 Million 32.2 % Increase
When reviewing the state’s budget increases over the last 13 years, it is difficult to imagine any sacrifice will be needed to return to the 2011 levels of spending.
Within the last week, conservative Brad Friesen, of the Dakota Network, has endorsed me. Here, in part, is his statement:
“I am personally recommending a vote for Paul Sorum for governor . . After Rick Becker dropped out of the race, there has not been strong Network support for Stenejhem or Burgum. Paul’s platform is conservative, and his website says all the right things about “Right to Life” and “Traditional Marriage”. Paul does have a somewhat maverick political history, but I think at this point in time that can also be an advantage. I didn’t even know he was running until recently, but was able to contact him and we had a good talk. I encourage you to vote for him. This is a uniquely well-suited race for Conservatives to run up the middle and elect a Dark Horse into office who is:
- unencumbered by decades of being a part of the old boy network,
- has strong values not determined by the bottom line,
- understands what is going in the world at a deeper level, and
- has a vision for what ND should do about it.”
I have stated many times that I am the only true conservative in this race and I will support the Republican platform across the board. No other candidate for Governor can say this. I believe in smaller government, accountability in government, and greater freedom for individuals to achieve their full potential. I am unabashedly pro-life. Others have claimed to be, but the record reveals something else. I am the only candidate for Governor that supports traditional marriage defined as being between one man and one woman. All the other candidates in this race favor same sex marriage.
The socially conservative North Dakota Family Alliance conducted a survey of the 2016 gubernatorial candidates and this is their report: “Overall based on the responses received and the interviews, Wayne Stenehjem’s responses are in closer alignment with NDFA views than Doug Burgum’s, with Paul Sorum’s responses in direct alignment with NDFA.”
I believe in the good sense of the people of North Dakota and I will defend your right to initiatives and referendums. I will never interfere with these processes as governor as it would be a violation of our corrupt practices laws. We have seen this in North Dakota where public officials have campaigned for or against initiated measures. We must not tolerate this from our elected officials or those funded in part by our tax dollars. I will always protect your Constitutional rights even if your ideology is different mine. We are a nation of laws designed to protect your rights by preventing injustice. This is the only true function of government — to protect your rights by preventing injustice.
I learned first hand the Ronald Reagan had an unshakable faith in God and it was a key to his success against what seemed like insurmountable odds. I too have an unshakable faith in God. This means I am not afraid of anything or anyone except God. You can trust me to have a steady hand and to govern with Christian values and principles.
There have not been any polls published by candidates in this race recently. This is because the race for the Republican nomination for Governor is a very close three-way race. My two opponents will split the moderate Republican vote which is roughly 62% to 64% of the Primary votes. If you want to join me in making North Dakota that shining city on the hill that the country is missing today, vote for me on June 14 and I will win.