Fargo entrepreneur Doug Burgum, who shocked the comfortable Republican establishment by winning a primary landslide over the party's endorsed candidate, will bring new ideas and a fresh vision to the North Dakota governor's office. He's the right choice to usher in an era of change and innovation that can strengthen and diversify the state's economy and modernize the way state government meets its mandates.
Democratic Rep. Marvin Nelson, D-Rolla, and Libertarian Party businessman Martin Riske of Fargo are men of ideas and commitment. Nelson has a passion for the people of his state that drives his candidacy. His philosophy that public policy should first help people in need is on point. Riske is a serious student of government and policy. He has developed informed and thoughtful notions of government's role within the Libertarian framework. Burgum would do well to seek both men's counsel after the election.
Burgum has a demonstrated private-sector record of success, much of which, but not all, can be applied to good governance. His campaign was one of the most energetic and focused in recent political history. His agenda, as revealed during the primary tilt, resonated across the state-east to west, urban to rural. His win revealed a hunger for change from status quo supermajority leadership that seems locked in the context of the state's historical two-horse economy: energy and agriculture.
Burgum understands that energy and agriculture are and will remain the largest sectors of the state's economy. He also understands that those economic drivers are subject to the whims and currents of global markets, over which North Dakota has no control. Diversification of the economy does not diminish ag or oil, but can foster economic resilience so the state can better weather downturns in oil country and on the farm. Modern agribusiness and value-added agriculture that employ the right technologies are natural elements in diversification. Burgum, a farm kid from Arthur, recognizes that potential strength.
His task will be to learn how to work in government, which is not the same as the corporate suite. North Dakota government was designed to invest most power in the Legislature. By most states' standards, North Dakota has a "weak" governor. Grasping the subtleties of the legislative/executive dynamic will be essential if Burgum is to advance his visionary ideas.
He's the right man at the right time. He has an agenda that is as exciting as it is evolutionary. North Dakotans should make him their new governor.
Editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper's Editorial Board.