“What’s frustrating isn’t the money spent on the Republican primary, which, due to the fading relevance of North Dakota Democrats, will probably pick the next governor,” I write in my Sunday newspaper column today. “Rather, it’s that despite the money spent, we’ve learned little about how these candidates might govern if they win.”
I’m talking about the gubernatorial race between Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Fargo businessman Doug Burgum which has turned into a figurative knife fight of late.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]Burgum struts and postures and relentlessly attacks Stenehjem’s character. Meanwhile, Stenehjem carries on as though he’s offended that he even has to compete to move up the next rung on North Dakota’s political ladder.[/mks_pullquote]
Yesterday I told someone that this had become a competition between boring Stenehjem and disingenuous Burgum, and the more I think of it, the more I believe that’s the whole in a nut shell.
Stenehjem has been uninspiring. Lackluster. A seeming automaton making rote declarations of North Dakota’s greatness.
Burgum has been playing a role – a fictional character invented by his campaign strategists to appeal to Republican voters in North Dakota – with all the grace of a middle school thespian.
Burgum struts and postures and relentlessly attacks Stenehjem’s character. Meanwhile, Stenehjem carries on as though he’s offended that he even has to compete to move up the next rung on North Dakota’s political ladder.
It’s been a depressing spectacle, and one almost completely devoid of serious discussion of the sort of philosophy and policies that will serve our state going forward.
One of these two men will win a majority of primary voters on Tuesday, setting themselves up to be the odds-on favorite to win the general election in November.
Let’s hope that, whoever wins, their primary campaign isn’t a measure of how they’ll perform as governor.