McFeely: 'Doug who?' Online reaction to Burgum's possible presidential run a touch tepid

North Dakota governor appears little known as Twitter users take shots at his state

Doug Burgum
Doug Burgum.
Dave Wallis / The Forum

FARGO — If North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and his team expected a booming reaction by leaking the news to national outlets he was going to run for president, well, they had to settle for something a little less enthusiastic.

Like "tepid." Or "snarky." Or "as flat as the farmland surrounding Arthur, North Dakota."

That's Burgum's hometown, located in rural Cass County. And while there was likely excitement there for the Republican trying to nudge his way onto the biggest stage in politics, the bigger world reacted with a shrug. Or worse.

Esquire writer Charles Pierce, an admitted lefty who took the angle that the CEOs of both Dakotas (Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota being the other) could square off in "a prairie death match" for the Republican nomination, seemed skeptical Burgum was MAGA enough to attract the base. He said Noem went all-in in denying COVID's seriousness, while "Burgum, on the other hand, tried to steer a sensible middle course through the pandemic. Which, for a substantial number of his constituents, was exactly the wrong thing to do. Burgum resisted announcing a mask mandate until the state's hospitals became swamped with COVID patients. Nevertheless, the Horse Paste Caucus remained in full cry."

The Horse Paste Caucus. That's pretty good.


"Burgum has money, but no profile which, in these days when the Supreme Court has sanctified influence peddling, is infinitely preferable to the reverse," Pierce concluded. "This is America, where every child can grow up to buy the presidency."

And that was some of the nicer reaction to the one-time Great Plains Software leader dipping his fashionable cowboy boot into the big-time. We won't grace this page with online comments from the subset of right-wing loons who are linking Burgum to Microsoft chief Bill Gates, a target of several conspiracy theories about several issues including COVID vaccines and farmland.

If we can summarize the feedback from Burgum's future announcement, it comes from political reporter Josh Kraushaar for Axios and Fox News Radio.

"Doug who?" Kraushaar wrote on Twitter.

One might like to think snark like that was balanced by tweets in support of the governor, but it wasn't happening. There were a few praising Burgum's alleged political moderation, but most weighed heavily toward the "Doug who?" category.

There was a positive one from Robbie Lauf, saying, "Never bet against Doug Burgum." But Robbie is a Burgum fanboy and former employee of the governor.

The rest of America, if Twitter is any judge (and in this case it probably is), was less than enthralled with Burgum's decision.

A sample, from big-time political analysts to average people:


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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