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Stenehjem or Burgum? Here is what you need to know about the North Dakota Governor race

Stanley – The race for the North Dakota Governor seat is a hitting full swing. You’ve likely seen the negative ads, here is what you need to know about the election on June 14th.

Voter turnout is expected to be heavy in Fargo

Normally turnouts for primaries are pretty low, but Fargo has a competitive city council race going on that should boost voter turnout in the city.

Why is this important? Fargo is noticeably more liberal than a majority of western North Dakota. A higher voter turnout in Fargo will probably favor a social-liberal candidate like Doug Burgum, many people speculated that Burgum might run as either a Democrat or as an Independent due to his liberal stances on many issues.

Burgum’s campaign is truly unprecedented 

The Burgum campaign made a calculated decision very early on that they needed to paint Doug as a conservative candidate, something that has been jokingly touted as the “million dollar makeover”.  The campaign made another early decision to distance itself from many of his liberal stances, choosing instead to “pivot” away from questions about hot button social issues.

Many have also questioned how a candidate that spends millions of dollars trying to rip apart Wayne Stenehjem (someone who Burgum has supported in the past) can simultaneously run as a “fiscal conservative”.  It is difficult to run on a platform of responsible spending when your campaign has been anything but that.

Burgum’s campaign has shattered two records:

First, most money spent on a primary run in North Dakota history (he holds this record by a long shot).

Second, most money spent on negative campaign ads during a primary run (also a record he holds by a mile).

Maybe the most remarkable part about the Burgum campaign is that they have spent millions of dollars so far and almost nothing is known about where Burgum actually stands on any issues. His campaign must have felt that their money was better spent running attack ads than getting out their own candidate’s message. A risky move for a candidate that wasn’t well know in the western half of the state.

High stakes primary

This is a very high stakes primary, the winner will almost certainly become the next governor of North Dakota. Burgum will likely have an advantage in the more liberal areas of the state. Stenehjem will have an edge with the more conservative voters.

The election will come down to how gullible the voters in North Dakota really are.  Voters have been bombarded with negative campaign ads from the Burgum campaign for months and for some of the less educated voters it is possible that they had some influence.

I’m guessing most voters don’t really believe that Wayne Stenehjem “supports” Obamacare like the attack ad says but unfortunately there are some voters who are gullible to fall for such a cheap ploy.

Career politicians in North Dakota?

If you own a television you have probably seen the ad by the Burgum campaign attacking the “career politicians” in North Dakota. Most people with even a little bit of an understanding of North Dakota state politics will dismiss this ad as a joke. By definition a career politician is someone who has never had a career outside of politics, this doesn’t really apply to anyone in North Dakota.

North Dakota has a citizen legislature, the legislature meets for four months every other year. It is pretty tough to call that a “career”.  Stenehjem served in the citizen legislature for a long time, this should hardly be viewed as a negative. He has also been a very popular Attorney General, re-elected by the citizens of North Dakota by an overwhelming margin. His track record of fighting against overreach by the Obama administration and the EPA has helped boost his popularity with voters in North Dakota. Stenehjem was successful outside of politics, and his experience in the legislature and as an Attorney General should be viewed as a positive.

Bottom line:

Burgum has spent a record amount of money on this primary trying to convince the state that he is conservative while bashing Stenehjem. I’m guessing that most of the voters in the western part of the state weren’t impressed with the negative campaign and also that they aren’t gullible enough to fall for the cheap tactics.

Burgum has a huge advantage over Stenehjem with liberal voters and cross-over democrats from Fargo, but this alone won’t be enough to win him the election. This is likely why he has spent the last few months and millions of dollars trying to reinvent himself and convince voters that he is conservative.

Make sure that you get out and vote, allow your voice to be heard. Voters can cast their ballot early (absentee ballot) or on June 14th.

Make sure to check out the Stanley Gazette for more Stanley, ND news.

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