McFeely: Buckle up, a North Dakotan is running for president

Doug Burgum will be an advocate in the national spotlight touting good things about the state. That's a win for a place that is often 'a large, rectangular blank spot in the nation's mind.'

Doug Burgum
Doug Burgum will announce his candidacy for president on June 7, according to reports.
Forum file photo

FARGO — I've mocked the idea of Doug Burgum running for president because it's the idea of Doug Burgum running for president. I mean, c'mon. There takes a certain level of narcissism and delusion to be a politician from North Dakota, no matter how wealthy or smart and no matter which party you're from, and believe you can be a player in the presidential race.

Ask yourself: Would Burgum beat Donald Trump in North Dakota among Republican voters?

The answer is not just "no," it is "hell, no." And if you aren't the most popular candidate in your own state among your own party's voters, you're not going to translate to Iowa or Nevada.

Although, according to his fanboys, we shouldn't bet against him. Which makes for an inspirational bumper sticker: "Doug Burgum for President: Don't Bet Against Me."

Hey, it's better than "Jeb!"


Burgum's quest for the White House begins June 7 in Fargo, where he is expected to announce his candidacy. The governor will try to become the Republican nominee to face off against Democrat Joe Biden in 2024.

Rep. Kelly Armstrong says thank you. The Republican Congressman will be the next governor of North Dakota — sorry, Drew — with Burgum running for president. The state can stop pretending the oil industry doesn't already run state government and just hire an oil guy to be governor.

There's a chance this could be a three-month thing for Burgum, unless his candidacy goes better than most everybody expects. The Republican National Committee is floating a plan that a candidate must be polling at 1% and have had at least 40,000 donors to qualify for the party's first debate, scheduled for August.

If Burgum doesn't meet that threshold, and it will be difficult, he won't make the debate stage. And that would likely be fatal.

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But in the meantime, and I mean this without snark or malice, enjoy this. Enjoy the fact a North Dakotan is running for president. It is truly historic.

North Dakota will have an advocate in the national spotlight touting good things about the state and its people. That's a win for a state that is, to use the cliched Eric Severeid quote, "a large, rectangular blank spot in the nation's mind."

For what it's worth, and it ain't much, I am genuinely excited for Burgum's announcement. Let's see where this goes. Let's have some fun. LFG, as the kid's say.

See, there's a potential upside to this for everybody, including those Americans who lean to the left.


Burgum giving Trump, Ron DeSantis, Tim Scott and all the other far-right culture warrior loons a run for their money — or, gasp, actually winning the nomination — would be a good thing for America. It would show that the Republican Party has decided to pull itself back from the cliff of insanity and support a more moderate candidate who wants to talk about real issues and not about nonexistent kitty litter boxes in schools.

I fear that lane is a dead end.

We're about to find out. And it's going to be glorious. Buckle up.

Opinion by Mike McFeely
Mike McFeely is a columnist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began working for The Forum in the 1980s while he was a student studying journalism at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He's been with The Forum full time since 1990, minus a six-year hiatus when he hosted a local radio talk-show.
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