MINOT, N.D. — There has been a lot of Sturm und Drang in recent weeks about Gov. Doug Burgum's aggressive moves in the state's primary campaigns.
So far, he's poured nearly a million dollars into a political action committee, which is supporting the campaigns of his preferred candidates in six legislative races as well as the statewide race for the treasurer's office. Several of Burgum's wealthy, out-of-state friends have also made big-dollar contributions to that committee.
There is nothing wrong with any given governor backing their preferred candidate, even in intraparty primary competitions. Still, Burgum's use of his wealth and his network of out-of-state supporters to influence hyper-local elections is a bit heavy-handed.
It's prompted no small amount of blowback against the governor from other Republicans, including U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer, who tapped his close connection to President Donald Trump to get an endorsement for treasurer candidate Dan Johnston, effectively big-footing Tom Beadle who is the Burgum-backed candidate in that competition.
Burgum is not doing this how I would do it.
But then, I also didn't think Burgum would win the Republican gubernatorial endorsement in 2016, so what do I know?
I do think there's some critical perspective that's been missing in much of the criticism of Burgum's moves: He's mostly backing candidates who have the endorsement of the NDGOP's local committees.
Robbie Lauf, one of the organizers behind the Burgum-backed Dakota Leadership PAC, told me his organization would be getting involved in six legislative district primaries in addition to the race for treasurer.
In five of those districts, Burgum and his PAC are backing the candidates endorsed at the local Republican party convention, including in District 8, where long-time incumbent, Burgum antagonizer, and powerful House appropriator Jeff Delzer did not receive the endorsement of his local party.
It's only in District 28, where Burgum is backing Rep. Jim Gruenrich (an incumbent from another district who moved into 28) over incumbent Rep. Jeff Magrum, that a challenger, instead of an endorsed candidate, is enjoying the governor's largesse.
Since the NDGOP opted to cancel their state convention this year, because of the COVID-19 outbreak, there is no endorsed candidate in the treasurer's race.
The popular narrative from Burgum's critics is that he's somehow trying to reshape the party in his image. I've heard some accuse him of machine politics, as though he were trying to build a new Tammany Hall on the prairie.
Yet, as a practical matter, he's mostly just backing the candidates local Republicans chose for themselves.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at email@example.com.