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Trump Needs An Unusually Likable Running Mate Like Doug Burgum

Doug Burgum interview
Image CreditABC News/Youtube

With a cowboy hat on at his cattle ranch and a small-town success story, Burgum radiates genuine likability.


I am a longtime Doug Burgum fan, but it’s a lonely club. The loneliness is alleviated somewhat by the social media scene’s appreciation of Burgum memes, given that Gov. Burgum never polled above single digits in any primary poll.

Now our time in the sun has returned as the North Dakota governor is the latest front-runner to be former President Trump’s vice president. His appearance at the Trump rally in New Jersey cemented his status on the shortlist and catapulted him into new media opportunities.

The betting odds reflect it, too. According to, Burgum has the best odds to win the VP spot, followed by Tim Scott, J.D. Vance, and Marco Rubio.

Coinciding with the newfound press is a surge of interest in the governor. His time on the campaign trail was short, and despite strong debate appearances he remains relatively unknown (outside the online Burgumentum jokes.) A dive into his past, however, reveals exactly why Trump is favoring him for VP.

Doug Burgum has quietly built a principled and successful record in North Dakota. He prioritized economic growth, supporting the state’s oil and gas industry, enacting historic tax relief, and has held the unemployment rate significantly below the U.S. average for his entire time in office.

Though he is not the staunchest conservative in Republican politics, he has championed the broader conservative causes well. Burgum signed one of the strictest abortion bans in the country, signed a ban on trans athletes in women’s sports, and declared North Dakota a Second Amendment sanctuary state.

Beyond his strong conservative record, he’s also a small-town American success story. After college in North Dakota, a successful chimney-sweeping business, and business school at Stanford, Burgum built a billion-dollar software company, in North Dakota of all places.

Burgum sold his company, Great Plains Software, to Microsoft in 2001 and worked at Microsoft for several years after. His time in tech has given him a powerful network of donors and supporters. Scott McNealy, co-founder of Java programming language creator Sun Microsystems; Rob Walton, of the Walmart family fortune and owner of the Denver Broncos football team; and Jeffery Hildebrand, billionaire CEO of an oil and gas company are just a few of the powerful donors in Burgum’s network. On top of his own wealth, potentially north of $1 billion, Burgum’s network would be a boon for a Trump campaign up against the Democrat fundraising machine.

His conservative record, respectable as it is, is not why Trump is considering him for VP. Doug’s most powerful strength is simply his likability. With a cowboy hat on at his cattle ranch and a small-town success story, Burgum radiates genuine likability. He has done unthinkable things — like vetoing a bill that would hand him a political victory because it’s bad policy — that give him an air of principle and likability Trump is severely lacking.

As any good governor does, Doug Burgum made the choices he believed were best for his state. Some will disagree with his support for carbon capture, though it’s a financial boon for North Dakota and provides cover for oil and gas expansion in the Bakken oil field. Some people are wary of his ties to Bill Gates, despite his long history in tech. These criticisms mean little in the end.

Burgum is broadly palatable, has tremendous fundraising potential, holds electable positions, and, yes, has a strong conservative record. He’s genuine and tries to do the right thing, which is precisely why he isn’t the perfect politician. On the short list for vice president, however, he is the best choice.

Trump needs a likable VP who can assist with enacting his agenda in an approachable and drama-free manner. J.D. Vance is not that Republican. Marco Rubio is not that Republican.

We need to avoid the infighting and avoid taking political cues from unsuccessful platforms. Further, the biggest critics of Trump on the right are not the ones who decide who will be VP. That responsibility belongs to Trump, and right now he’s leaning Burgum.

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