Earlier today Fargo businessman Doug Burgum announced that he’s seeking the NDGOP nomination for governor, but the manner he’s going about it is a bit unusual.
Burgum told a crowd in Fargo today (video here) that he would attend the NDGOP’s convention this spring and campaign “vigorously” for the endorsement of the delegates there, but that he fully expects to lose and will take his campaign to the statewide primary vote in June whatever the convention’s choice.
For those of you who are unaware, the parties don’t have the power to pick their nominees at their endorsing conventions. Rather the public gets to vote on the nominees in a primary vote held in June where anyone can show up, claim to be a Republican or a Democrat, and vote on the candidates.
Burgum seems to be trying to ingratiate himself with Republicans by saying he’ll attend their convention, but he also wants the opportunity to leverage the mountain of money he can bring to his campaign by seeking the nomination in June whatever the convention decides.
In other words, he wants his cake and he wants to eat it too. And now Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem is calling him out on it, as Mike Nowtazki reports:
Stenehjem said he welcomes Burgum to the race and looks forward to a competitive convention and campaign but criticized his opponent’s plan to push forward to the primary.
“I am disappointed that he said he will come to the convention and ask for the support of the delegates but then ignore their wishes and run in the primary anyway,” he said.
It does seem disingenuous, doesn’t it? Burgum defends his choice by posturing himself as a political outsider, which doesn’t ring quite true when you consider how often he’s chaired campaign committees for people like Governor Jack Dalrymple and Senator John Hoeven in the past, not to mention his frequent appearances at NDGOP conventions as a speaker.
This same sort of thing was a controversy among Republicans back in 2012 when the party had a crowded field of candidates for the U.S. House race. One of those candidates, our current Congressman Kevin Cramer, opted to skip the convention entirely and go straight to the June primary. But the difference between what Cramer did and what Burgum is doing is that Cramer didn’t campaign for the delegate votes. He attended the convention, but he didn’t seek the endorsement.
Burgum plans to seek the endorsement of NDGOP delegates, but also go to the June primary. Which isn’t exactly going to endear him to most Republicans.
But then, maybe Burgum doesn’t care. The primary vote is wide open, with no voter registration required. One need not be a Republican to help choose the Republican candidate, and I suspect Burgum plans to take full advantage.