BISMARCK — Critics of North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum have gotten approval to circulate a petition to recall the Republican officeholder just eight months after he won reelection by a landslide margin.
North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger announced Wednesday, June 23, his office authorized the format of a petition to recall Burgum and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford.
Leading the recall charge is Michael Coachman, an ultra-conservative former gubernatorial candidate who lost to Burgum in the Republican primary last year by an 80-point margin. Burgum and Sanford went on to beat Democratic-NPL nominees Shelley Lenz and Ben Vig by a 40-point margin in November to earn a second term.
Coachman and his supporters face a tall task to force Burgum and Sanford into a recall election. Over the next year, the group will need to gather 89,464 signatures — equal to a quarter of the voters in November's gubernatorial race — to put Burgum and Sanford back on the ballot.
Coachman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The former candidate has railed against Burgum's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying business restrictions and a state-issued mask mandate violated residents' personal liberties. The Larimore resident also helped send a group of about 40 North Dakotans to former President Donald Trump's Jan. 6 rally in Washington, though he said he did not think any participated in the violence at the Capitol.
Burgum campaign spokesman Dawson Schefter said the recall effort is "ill-considered and destined to fail." The North Dakota Republican Party also condemned the action.
"North Dakota voters resoundingly re-elected Governor Burgum — and rejected the recall’s sponsors — less than one year ago, by nearly the largest margin of any candidate for governor in the nation," Schefter said in an email.