Trump doubles down on Burgum as key administration possibility

Courtesy: White House Press Team
Courtesy: White House Press Team

Speculation is growing among national political observers that North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum has a strong chance of becoming Donald Trump’s Vice-Presidential nominee.

Trump himself is fueling the speculation. 

In a rally in Wildwood, New Jersey Saturday, May 11th, one which drew an estimated 80,000 – 100,000 people, Trump lauded Burgum’s accomplishments and acumen before saying "So, get ready for something, okay? Just get ready."

Trump did not elaborate further, but Burgum and his wife Kathryn, were guests on Trump’s "Trump Force One" campaign plane.  Trump mentioned North Dakota’s First Lady, by name, to the assembled crowd before praising Burgum, saying "he probably knows more about energy than anybody I know." 

Burgum has been rumored to be on Trump’s short list for Vice President.  The 67-year-old North Dakota native is on the record as saying he would not consider a cabinet position, but political observers say a Vice Presidential nomination would likely be too attractive to pass up for someone who has designs on the nation’s highest office.

Burgum has been a strong advocate for Trump this campaign season, routinely appearing on major TV networks with some of the media’s toughest interviewers.

He also is now tied with South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, for the best odds in the VP race, according to online betting aggregator Bet Online AG.

Burgum opened the event in New Jersey with a short introduction before Trump took the stage. 

Burgum said those gathered at the rally were there because they “care deeply about this country. You care about your community. You care about your family,” he said. “You are about the future of this country. And by being here tonight, you are in the arena, and you know who’s grateful that you’re here.”

Burgum then went on to talk about the differences of working under a Trump administration versus the Biden Administration.

“Under Donald Trump, America will be strong again, and our allies will be safe, and if you want to make America affordable again, if you want to make America safe again, if you want to make America strong again, you know what to do,” he said. “You can get this country turned around and turned around fast. Let's send President Trump back to the White House and make America great again.”

Burgum has spoken often on the campaign trail about how Trump made things easy for governors while Biden imposes oppressive mandates and large overreaches.   

"Working with President Trump was like having a beautiful breeze at your back. He respects state’s rights. He cut regulation. He lowered taxes.  Working under the Biden regulatory regime is like having a gale-force wind in your face." 

Political insiders tell WDAY Radio and AM1100 The Flag that one of the factors working in Burgum’s favor is his connections to well-funded individuals who could provide financial support to the campaign.  Last weekend, Trump held a private event at the Four Seasons Hotel in Palm Beach and at his Mar-a-Lago estate with top donors and a list of "special guests." Burgum was in attendance. 

Burgum is in his second term as North Dakota Governor.  He ended his own bid for the White House in December and quickly threw his support behind Trump in the Republican primary.  He announced in January that he would not seek a third term as governor, and immediately began an ambitious schedule of public appearances supporting Trump, including joining the former president on stage during the Republican National Committee’s spring meeting in May.

Axios reports that two sources familiar with Trump’s thinking said he likes Burgum's measured demeanor, his experience as governor, and his aura as being reliable and low-drama. 

Establishment Republicans, the report goes on to say, also see Burgum as a safe choice to put on the ticket.

Burgum, since he began his primary campaign, has deftly stepped around social issue questions like abortion and LGBTQ+ rights, saying many of these matters are best handled by the states, a mantra that has also been used often by Trump.

Fundamental conservatives have pointed to Burgum’s handling of COVID-19 in the state as a possible conflict point within the party.  The Care19 app, for example, was introduced by Burgum in April of 2020 as a way to track individuals who may have had contact with people who had tested positive.  His administration also, in late 2020, temporarily required face coverings to be worn in indoor businesses and indoor public settings and limited bars and restaurants to 50 percent of their licensed seating capacity.  Burgum has responded multiple times to critics, saying at the time it was not known what the impact of COVID-19 would truly be, and pointing out that North Dakota was one of the least-regulated states when it comes to COVID-19 response.

Shortly after Burgum dropped out of the Republican primary, Trump hinted that he planned to tap Burgum for a significant role in his administration if he were to win the election, saying, "He was outstanding, but the traction is never easy, right? This guy is the most solid guy. There's no controversy whatsoever.  He's one of the best governors in our country," Trump said then. "And I hope that I'm going to be able to call on him to be a piece of the administration, a very important piece of the administration."

Burgum is considered a champion of business development in D.C. circles, and the state’s economic resume echoes that.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says, in March, North Dakota had the lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in the country, at 2.0%.

The state’s labor force participation rate (the proportion of residents 16 or older working or looking for work) was also the second highest in the nation in March, at 68.9%. That’s well above the overall U.S. rate, which was at 62.7% in April.

The Huffington Post also reports that North Dakota had the highest economic growth rate in the country in 2023, at 5.9%.

The U.S. Census Bureau shows that the state has grown in population the last three years, currently standing just over 780,000 residents.

And in late April, North Dakota’s Office of Management and Budget reported that general fund revenue was about $236 million above target as of February’s end, about 13.5% more than the state predicted for the 2023-25 budget cycle.

“Nobody has played their cards better since the primary,” Scott Jennings, a former political adviser to President George W. Bush, told Politico. “Trump is a casting director. Who looks more like a VP than Burgum?  No drama.  Won’t outshine the top but seems like a loyal guy who will work and do what’s asked of him, and (referring to South Dakota Governor Kristi Neom) as far as I know he’s not out here dying on Dog Murder Hill every day.”