"If Gov. Burgum's people win it will be a huge blow to conservatism," state Rep. Rick Becker said on this episode of Plain Talk.
Becker is a Republican lawmaker from Bismarck and a founder of the Bastiat Caucus of conservatives in the Legislature. He was responding to a question about Gov. Doug Burgum's involvement in the NDGOP primary season.
Burgum has backed several candidates in contested legislative primaries across the state, as well a state Rep. Thomas Beadle in the NDGOP's nomination race for Treasurer, and he's put about $2 million of his own money behind the effort.
Though Burgum is backing mostly candidates endorsed by the local NDGOP districts — incumbent Rep. Jeff Magrum in District 28 is the lone exception — Becker sees problems if Burgum gets his way.
"His remaking of the Legislature in his own image is not good for the Republican party. It's not good for the state," Becker said.
"I think it's unseemly," he added.
"We know he doesn't care about the local party or the process," Becker said, addressing the fact that Burgum is mostly backing NDGOP-endorsed candidates. In 2016, Burgum himself failed to receive the NDGOP's endorsement but campaigned for and won the gubernatorial nomination on the June ballot anyway.
Has Burgum been a good governor? "I don't think he's been horrible," Becker responded, damning the incumbent with some faint praise. Becker says he's liked Burgum's pursuit of efficiencies in the executive branch, and he also liked that Burgum challenged what he described as the "coronation" of Republican Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem as governor in 2016. He doesn't like Burgum's leadership during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as his support of spending projects such as the Teddy Roosevelt presidential library in Medora.
Given Burgum's use of his personal wealth in the 2020 primary campaigns, does Becker think North Dakota needs more restrictions on political money?
"I think what he's doing is crap," Becker responded, "but I don't think we need knee-jerk legislative intervention."
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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.