Burgum eyes next steps while vowing to finish strong in North Dakota 

Courtesy: Doug Burgum
Courtesy: Doug Burgum

(Bismarck, ND) -- North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum appears to have many options for his next job, but says he remains committed to finishing strong in North Dakota. 

Burgum, after announcing January 22nd in Bismarck that he would step down when his term ends in December, made a campaign appearance later that night for Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump.  It was a busy and long day, but not his first such adventure.  

“Well, we have a lot of weeks like this, so it’s not that much different, but yes it was great to be with President Trump in New Hampshire last week and this week. And of course, it was a big and tough decision about not running for a third term because it’s been such an honor for Kathryn and I to serve the state that we love so much with so many positive things going, and so much more to accomplish. But we have a lot of good candidates that are interested in filling those shoes, so the Republican Party is strong and the state's heading in the right direction.”

At press time, only one person, Congressman Kelly Armstrong, has announced a run to fill the governor’s seat when Burgum’s term ends.  Former State Senator Tom Campbell had earlier told AM1100 The Flag that he would run for Governor, but on Friday January 26th declared that he had switched his focus to running for Congress.  

Burgum says, in the meantime, he’s determined to serve not just the state but the entire country when possible.  He’s backing that up with a decision to support Texas Governor Greg Abbott, joining more than two dozen fellow Republican governors in Abbott’s fight with the federal government to secure the southern border.

The Supreme Court, on January 22nd, issued a ruling allowing the Biden Administration to continue removing razor wire installed by the Texas National Guard to keep people from crossing the Rio Grande River into Texas.

In an interview with AM1100 The Flag, Burgum said, “I think it's absolutely crazy what the administration is doing. It's hard to fathom. The official number is 8 million people that have come into this country illegally under Joe Biden. I mean, that's every man, woman, and child in the state of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Joe Biden's home state of Delaware, and then throw in the entire state of Montana. That's 8 million people. Then there are the known “Gotaways” which is another million or 2, so the number could be over 10 million.  We're losing this battle in our country. 300,000 people have died in the three years under Joe Biden from overdose death, so we've lost six Vietnams since Joe Biden took office.  We can't survive another four years under Joe Biden.  I've been down at the border more than Joe Biden, more than Vice President Harris, and those communities are just completely being overrun. You can't have 10 million people coming through the states of Texas and Arizona. You can't have them coming through your state without them having an impact on everything from local supplies to water to diapers, to community health services to transportation. It's a huge burden that's happening.  And the Biden administration is quietly funding non-governmental organizations with big checks who then are shipping these illegal immigrants all over the country, and now finally even the bluest of cities like New York City are saying, ‘Hey, we can't take it anymore.’  We can't afford to have all these people show up. And if you think about just December, December was, was more than Fargo, Grand Forks, and Bismarck combined; that's how many people came. It's like the three cities just showed up. And we plop them into the U.S. and then provide services for them. So of course, we stand with Texas. I'm friends with Governor Abbott and every other Republican governor that signed onto that list. I mean, I haven't had one person in the Biden administration explain to me why this policy is good for America. I don't know why they're continuing to pursue it. The border is going to be a big issue this year.  Donald Trump's going to win because the border is about national security and public safety.”

Burgum chose his attacks against Trump carefully in the campaign, and since dropping out has become a full-throated advocate for the former president to gain a second term in the White House.

“I supported President Trump in 2016 even when I was still in the primary phase running for my first office at the same time even though people weren't taking him seriously when he ran.  In 2020, I supported him. But I'll tell you, the group that he's got around him right now is the best campaign operation in the country. And that's why you're seeing the dominating historic win that he had in Iowa, and this huge victory that he had in New Hampshire. That's a reflection of the team that he's built around him. And having spent time with him the last couple weeks, I can tell you the guy is working literally around the clock.  I saw him working until 2:30 in the morning once without even taking a stop.  I mean, the night after he won the Iowa election, there was no celebration. He was right back to work, getting ready to do the next thing. So, he's got the work ethic, he's got the team, he's got the passion to do this, and the primary race is over. That's terrifying the Democrats because this is the earliest anybody would've wrapped up a primary win in recent history.  So now we can get the Republican party united and focused.”

Part of that process will include selecting a Vice Presidential running mate that the party can coalesce behind.  Burgum himself has been mentioned as a strong candidate for the second spot on the ticket.  Trump has said he has a short list of VP candidates, and after initially telling reporters that he had selected his VP, has now said he hasn’t identified anyone specifically.  Burgum, after initially saying he was not interested in a cabinet position, has softened his stance and has left those possibilities open.  This comes amid favorable comments from the former President and an outright statement that he would like Burgum to play a role in a possible Trump administration.

“Well, a lot of flattering words have been said, and that's very kind of the president to say that.  But of course, he'll pick a vice president; an excellent vice president.  He'll pick the one that helps him win in the fall, which is what he needs to do, and he'll do that at the time of his choosing.  When I was running for president, I said I wasn't running for vice president, and I wasn't running for a cabinet position.  But with President Trump winning, there's going to be thousands of qualified people wanting to fill these cabinet positions. It's going to be very different than 2016 or 2020. I think it's going to be the best administration he's ever put together.  Trump knows that in 2016 they were not ready to come in and fill 4,000 jobs.  And some of those didn't happen. The deep state that he was fighting from 2016 to 2020 was people that got appointed by Obama that had been there and some of them never left. They're still there under Biden. So, we’ve got people that have people serving their fourth term under Biden as an unelected bureaucrat. And President Trump's not going to let that happen again. When he's elected in November, there's going to be a wholesale shift with the 4,000 appointments that are going out and 4,000 people coming in. But there'll be tens of thousands of people that want to serve in those jobs. So, I think there are plenty of people that care deeply about America and he's going to have the best talent pool he has ever had.  And that’s very exciting.”

Burgum says Trump’s campaign approach has been different than when he first ran for President.

“As far as having other people on the stage with him, people have observed that's a new thing. I mean, in 2016 he wasn't sharing the podium with people, and now he's got local officials, former rivals, and of course, I was honored as the first of the presidential candidates to endorse him, and it’s fun to see Tim Scott follow suit on that after me. But it's good to see this unification happening and there'll be more endorsements happening. And we saw Ron DeSantis last week endorsing.  He’s got the party unified, because we've got to focus our energy on Joe Biden, and not on these inter-party squabbles.”

Burgum says staying on as North Dakota’s governor would have been very easy to do.  

“We've got the strongest and best cabinet team we've ever had. The team has been through so much together in terms of natural disasters, The Dakota Access Pipeline, and all the other things we’ve had to go through as a state. And so you feel like you’ve got your team; a championship team, and you’re winning the Super Bowl.  It's like the Bison. Why do you want to leave the Bison when you've won championships? There's a little bit of that where I feel like with everything that is going on in the state of North Dakota, we are just crushing it right now. So, it's hard to step away when things are going so good and you can keep on delivering wins for the people of North Dakota.”

But he won’t miss the incessant battles with the federal government. 

“Just thinking about this week, chairing the state’s industrial commission for five hours on Wednesday and chairing the land board yesterday for three hours, at every one of these meetings we've got a section of time talking about all the federal regulations that are being jammed down from the Biden administration against North Dakota and what we are doing to push back on those.  And it's things like the “Waters of the USA” which affects every farmer, the methane rule which is trying to basically outlaw the oil and gas industry, this new mercury rule that they've got which is completely ridiculous. I mean, it sounds horrible. It doesn't do anything for the health of Americans, but it does help crush the coal industry, which is what Obama and Biden have been about.  I mean, let's remember Joe Biden issued an executive order when he took office, asking every agency to do whatever they could to try to stop the use of fossil fuels in our country. I mean, it is an order from the top to hurt American consumers. It empowers our foreign dictators. It’s starting wars is what it's actually doing. And then when we start these wars, Iran, Russia, Venezuela; all of our enemies are all making more money than they've ever made because now the sanctions on oil. So essentially, Joe Biden's energy policies are funding the people that are funding the terrorism and the wars against us. And then guess what, in the end, it doesn't help the environment because the U.S. produces energy cleaner, safer, and smarter than anybody else in the world. So, there's nothing about these policies that are good for America or even good for the world. That's why I was running for president and I'm not going to stop just because I stepped out running for president. I'm going to keep fighting because it's the right thing for North Dakota.”

As for what comes next in legislative priorities in his final year in office, Burgum points to school choice as a main focus.

“We've got to keep driving forward on that front. We know K-12 education is important. We've got people doing great things in education in our state, but people always perform better, whether you're a high school sports team or a leader running for office, when competition is great. We've got to introduce more competition. We’ve got to put parents in charge of making choices about where and how their kids get educated. And any state that's done this, it's benefited. And it's all about the students. It's all about outcomes. And that's what we've got to keep focusing on. We know that competition works because competition drives innovation.”