Republican sources tell me that state Rep. Vicky Steiner – a Republican from District 37 in Dickinson – is being considered as a running mate by gubernatorial candidate Doug Burgum.
I reached out to Steiner yesterday evening and asked her about the rumors. She told me initially via text message she had “No comment at this time.”
I followed up with Steiner this morning and she told me that she hadn’t been asked to be Burgum’s running mate, but she did acknowledge that she’s had conversations.
“I have had conversations with some of the candidates, but I’m not at liberty to speak about them because I promised confidentiality,” Steiner told me.
I asked Steiner if she’s had a conversation with Burgum about being his running mate. “Burgum’s campaign is talking to a lot of people,” she said.
Steiner did say she’d be interested in the job. “I have not been asked to be Lt. Governor,” she said. “If they picked me I would be honored to serve. Who wouldn’t be honored to serve as Lt. Governor of the state?”
Steiner had been on a list of 81 state lawmakers supporting Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. After the Stenehjem campaign released that list Burgum complained that it was invalid because the names had been collected before he was in the race.
Steiner told me that she had pulled herself off the list over concerns about who Stenehjem will choose as a running mate.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]”I have had conversations with some of the candidates, but I’m not at liberty to speak about them because I promised confidentiality,” Steiner told me.[/mks_pullquote]
“I had a conversation with Wayne during the last legislative session, and I didn’t want him to pick someone who was inexperienced,” Steiner told me. “A Bismarck legislator gave me a list of name of people who were a possibility and I thought some of them were inexperienced.”
“I want an experienced Lt. Governor coming in,” she added. “I don’t want someone who just helps you getting votes.”
I also asked Burgum campaign manager Kate Mund about any conversations with Steiner about being a running mate, and they were as coy as Steiner was about it. “We are going through a thoughtful, thorough, and confidential process on lieutenant governor candidates and haven’t made a final decision,” was all she would tell me.
Steiner would be a solid choice for Burgum in a lot of ways.
Geographically, she’s from western North Dakota. Burgum isn’t terribly well-known outside of Fargo, and there’s always that undercurrent of friction between Fargo and the rest of the state. Steiner counteracts some of that.
Politically she makes sense too. According to our ranking of lawmakers in the 2015 legislative session, Steiner scored as about a middle-of-the-pack conservative.
Burgum is perceived as being pretty far to the left, for a Republican, and has been spending a lot of money on messaging to move the perception voters have of him to the right. Steiner can probably help there, too.
Especially on an important issue area. There is a lot of anxiety among western North Dakotans about Burgum’s stand on energy issues. Steiner has a solid track record on supporting North Dakota’s oil, gas, and coal industries. She’s the executive director of the North Dakota Association of Oil and Gas Producing Counties and the North Dakota Coal Conversion Counties Association.
And, while I detest identity politics, there’s no questioning that it is a factor in how people cast their ballots. Having a woman on the ticket is going to increase Burgum’s appeal among a pretty large demographic of voters. People should vote based on things like gender or skin color, but they do.
I haven’t heard a thing about potential running mates for Becker.
For Stenehjem, the most persistent rumor for a running mate is state Senator Nicole Poolman of District 7 (Bismarck).
I reached out to Poolman, and she says she hasn’t even spoken to any of the candidates about being on the ticket.
“I, too, have heard the rumors, but I have not been asked by any of the candidates, so I have not had to consider it,” she told me.