Plain Talk: Doug Burgum says he's still considering a presidential run

On this episode of Plain Talk, Gov. Doug Burgum reflects on a contentious legislative sessions, the bills he signed, the bills he vetoed, and his future in politics.

Doug Burgum, sporting a blue suit coat, stand next to a sign that reads "Tax relief: $515M." Other suited men stand in the background.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum speaks at a bill signing for a tax cut package on April 27, 2023. Pictured in the background, from left, are Sen. Jordan Kannianen, R-Stanley; Tax Commissioner Brian Kroshus; and Senate Majority Leader David Hogue, R-Minot.
Jeremy Turley / Forum News Service

MINOT, N.D. — "We haven't made any decisions yet about 2024," Gov. Doug Burgum said on this episode of Plain Talk. "We did have a great time in Iowa."

His answer was in response to my question about whether Burgum is going to join the race for the White House next year. Back in March, I was the first to report that Burgum had been visiting Iowa, and apparently running polling there, but Burgum hasn't said yet whether he's running.

There are two things to take away from his answer on today's podcast.

The first, obviously, is that Burgum hasn't made a decision yet. Or, at least, not one he's going to share publicly. The other is that there is a possibility that he could launch a national campaign.

Though, if he doesn't, would he run for a third term as governor? Whether he does or not, he doesn't see his past support for term limits as an obstacle.


"I think term limits work best when they work uniformly," he said. He pointed out that the term limits amendment which passed on the November ballot last year doesn't apply to state to other executive branch offices.

"Governors can get termed out but other people can stay forever," he said, adding that certain "powerful lawmakers" can also stay in office for another eight years, as the amendment only started the clock ticking for current officeholders in January. "I support it," he said of the state's term limits amendment. "I don't think there's any value in applying it retroactively."

As for the just-completed legislative session, Burgum said he's still not sure how to handle a drafting error in the Office of Management and Budget bill that led to lawmakers passing the wrong version of the bill.

He did say there will be at least one more veto from his office coming concerning a bump in the formula for spending Legacy Fund revenues from the 7% he approved in a bill passed earlier in the session to 8% passed in "the wee hours of the last morning without any hearings or actuarial work."

Burgum also expressed some frustration with lawmakers over the number of duplicative "culture war" bills they sent him that made "national news about things that may or may not be important to most North Dakotans."

"They have 80 days and they have 81," he said, referring to the use this year of "fake" legislative days, "and still most of the most important business came at the end."

But Burgum also touted a laundry list of accomplishments from this session he's proud of, including a new women's prison, progress on a new state hospital, a massive tax relief package, and end to the state's defined-benefit pension for public workers, and more.

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Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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