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North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum enters GOP primary

The former chimney sweep turned Microsoft executive turned governor launched his long-shot White House bid during a speech in Fargo.

FARGO, N.D. (CN) — Another GOP presidential hopeful is off to the races, with North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum kicking off his campaign Wednesday by touting himself as a candidate of Midwest values and traditional Republican policy.

“To unlock the best of America, we need a leader who’s clearly focused on three things: economy, energy and national security,” Burgum said during a speech in Fargo. “And that is why today I’m officially announcing I’m running for the president of the United States of America.”

The announcement showcased Burgum speaking at length about the small-town life that shaped his values.  

“Big cities could use more ideas and more values from small towns right now,” the governor said, giving shoutouts to his hometown of Arthur, North Dakota, home to only about 400 people.

Burgum, 66, was elected governor in 2016 after he knocked out GOP favorite Wayne Stenehjem in the primary and went on to expectedly crush Democrat Marvin Nelson with nearly 77% of the vote. Burgum won another landside victory in his 2020 reelection campaign.

GOP primaries are where the real competition happens in North Dakota, with the Democrats being unable to deliver a gubernatorial win since the late 1980s.  

On Wednesday, Burgum relished in highlighting an old fashioned Midwest work ethic – from shoveling rotten grain bins, a job that small-town farm kids in the area know all too well, to being a chimney sweep, to which Burgum joked about the “opportunity to move up fast and always stay in the black.”

Moving up from dirty jobs to tech-focused businessman, Burgum led Great Plains Software, which was bought out by Microsoft for $1.1 billion in 2001. Burgum worked as senior vice president with Microsoft until 2007.  

The governor’s campaign released a teaser in the days leading up to the announcement. While Burgum did not explicitly state a presidential run in the teaser, he did allude to several presidential hopeful talking points, including the need for new national leadership. 

Both the teaser and the official announcement promised a return to normalcy and placed energy and economy among the top issues.

While national politics are often shaped by culture wars, Burgum has so far not focused as hard on cultural issues compared to Republican frontrunners former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. But the North Dakotan’s teaser message was not without a buzzword or two.

“I grew up in a tiny town in North Dakota. ‘Woke’ is what you did at 5 a.m. to start the day,” Burgum said in the 3 1/2-minute teaser, rife with imagery of the wide open western wilds of the state, saddles, cattle and fence-fixing.

Burgum enters the race alongside nine other GOP presidential hopefuls including Trump, DeSantis, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, right-wing political commentator and talk radio host Larry Elder, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Vice President Mike Pence, who also announced his Oval Office bid on Wednesday. Christie made his announcement Tuesday night.

The North Dakotan governor has a lot of ground to cover if he hopes to catch Trump. The former president currently leads the next top contender, DeSantis, by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, according to recent Rasmussen polling.

Categories / Government, National, Politics

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