As a potential Republican candidate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Former Vice President Mike Pence And South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott As the GOP moves closer to announcing their entry into the presidential race, another potential candidate is also likely to throw his hat in the ring.
CBS News has learned that North Dakota Gov. Doug Bergum is close to deciding to launch a dark-horse bid for the White House, and has begun hiring political consultants who advised previous Republican presidential campaigns, according to GOP sources familiar with the plan.
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Although there have been whispers in Republican circles in recent weeks about a possible Bergum candidacy after representatives of the North Dakota governor contacted multiple GOP consultants, the potential decision to move forward with a campaign came after the North Dakota legislative session ended. months
In a meeting with the editorial board of a North Dakota newspaper, the Republican governor, who easily won re-election in 2020, admitted that the presidential race is on his mind.
“It will be next, thinking about 2024,” Burgum said at the forum earlier this week.
“There’s always a price to be underestimated,” Burgum said, referring to the steep uphill climb he faces in his first gubernatorial race, according to the newspaper. “It’s a competitive advantage.”
Burgum, a former software company CEO, first ran for governor in 2016 as a political neophyte and only had 10% support in local elections. Although he faced a tough primary opponent in North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who at the time was backed by establishment Republicans, Burgum won by 20 points, due to his outsider position in an election cycle. Seen Donald Trump win the presidency, and his ability to self-fund his gubernatorial campaign — elements that could help him run the White House.
Bergum grew his small business, Great Plains Software, into a $1 billion software company that was eventually acquired by Microsoft. According to his advisers, the North Dakotan remained as senior vice president after the corporation retained his company’s employees in North Dakota. As was true of his gubernatorial campaign, Bergum will rely on his extensive personal wealth and financial network in the presidential campaign, according to Republican sources. Financially, he would sit at the top of the emerging Republican field as the richest Republican contender with former President Trump and former biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.
Burgum also touted his conservative record as governor of North Dakota, following the model of another potential presidential candidate, Florida’s DeSantis.
Last month, Burgum signed into law one of the nation’s strictest anti-abortion laws, an abortion ban that allows for limited exceptions up to six weeks into pregnancy and only for medical emergencies at any other time during pregnancy. After signing the bill, he said the legislation “reaffirmed North Dakota as a pro-life state.”
Like DeSantis, Burgum also has Signed legislation to limit transgender rightsincluding a transgender athlete ban, and a measure that would make it a crime to provide gender-affirming care to minors.
“Doug Burgum initially ran on a platform supporting anti-discrimination legislation, but the far-right has taken the wheel within the national Republican Party. It’s no wonder he’s turned his back on LGBTQ+ North Dakotans as he now desperately tries to make a national name for himself. ,” North Dakota Democratic Party Chairman Patrick Hart said after signing the bill into law.
But his advisers say he will focus his potential campaign on energy and the economy. Burgum, who is chairman of the bipartisan Western Governors Association, could also appeal to fiscal hawks. As governor, he balanced the state budget without raising taxes in North Dakota and cut state spending by $1.7 billion. He also enacted the largest tax cut in North Dakota history.
Despite his conservative record as governor, Bergum will likely launch a presidential bid at the back of the GOP pack. In recent polls, Trump leads his closest challenger, DeSantis, by a wide double-digit margin, while the rest of the field nets just single digits in national surveys of Republican voters. And Burgum’s name isn’t one that immediately registers with many Republicans.
In his meeting with the Forum editorial board, Bergum said he believes the 60% of American voters are a tired “silent majority” who are only offered options at the ends of the political spectrum.
“Right now all the engagement is happening at the edge,” he said. “Now there’s definitely a desire for some alternatives.”
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