The results from Tuesday night’s Primary Election in North Dakota could have serious consequences going forward. And make no mistake about it, much of it hinges on the message Governor Doug Burgum sent to conservatives in the Republican Party.
Earlier today, Rep. Rick Becker (R – District 7) explained in a guest post how Burgum “has shown a pattern of a willingness to say what is needed to win – at any cost.” Between the donations to his Dakota Leadership PAC and those he made directly to candidates, Governor Burgum dropped over $2 Million into the primary to beat conservatives.
While certainly not the only targets on Burgum’s primary radar, Rep. Jeff Delzer (R – District 8) and State Treasurer candidate Dan Johnston seemed to be the top two— and both of them lost. These candidates were blasted over and over and over again in the days leading up to the election.
In the case of Delzer, even former Governor Ed Schafer expressed his displeasure with the lies Burgum’s PAC was floating out there about the longtime incumbent. When it came to Johnston, the PAC inundated mailboxes with one mailer after another that contained gross distortions about the man and his record.
Perhaps worse than the money itself is the fact that a majority of voters fell for Burgum’s con job. The potential consequences of this could be very problematic for years to come. Consider this:
- How will the legislature respond to Governor Burgum’s victories? The fact that Doug Burgum was able to successfully use his fortune to defeat Rep. Delzer is chilling. Remember, as long-time Chair of the Appropriations Committee, Delzer was thought by many to be one of the most powerful people in the State Legislature. He crossed Burgum and was taken out. How many will dare to do the same going forward?
- Will conservatives even bother running for the legislature or state offices in the future? The message sent by the defeat of Delzer and Johnston is clear— not only does the governor not like being crossed, but he doesn’t care for principled conservatives either. And he’s willing to say and spend just about anything to defeat those he has a problem with. In this type of political environment, how many conservatives will dare even attempt being political newcomers? After all, how many of us have millions laying around to fight an onslaught from Burgum?
A less conservative government doesn’t bode well for the future of North Dakota. But from the looks of it, that may be exactly what we get. All because far too many fell for the con job of Doug Burgum and his Dakota Leadership PAC.
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