On Burgum, Nelson, Stenehjem, At Least We Know We’re Getting a Norwegian

Because most of us have already made up our minds about the Presidential race to make America grate again, let’s shift over to the intraparty contest for the Republican gubernatorial nod. For full disclosure, once upon a time in the west, I served for eight years with Wayne Stenehjem in the North Dakota state senate. We served together on the Senate Judiciary Committee. I have never met Doug Burgum. The primary battle is an interesting experiment by Burgum. Burgum is on record as being in favor of term limits. He can’t do that alone as Governor. Furthermore, it is unlikely that the North Dakota house and senate will vote to limit their own terms. Term limits could only be imposed upon the North Dakota state legislature by way of a petition drive to bring the issue to the vote of the people. Burgum could promote such a measure whether he wins or loses the gubernatorial race. If he is elected, the term limitation issue will not endear him to the state legislators. A significant number of them have served multiple terms and thus, would be thrown out on their ears if term limits passed. Very few legislators regard Cincinatus as their historical role model.

Burgum wants to break up the good old boy network in Bismarck. With every statewide office holder and super-majorities in each house of the legislature being Republican, that is synonymous with breaking up the Republican party. That is a very out of the box position for a Republican to have taken. Burgum wants to run the state of North Dakota like a business. That is much easier in business than in government. In business, one usually gets to pick one’s own board of directors. Those pesky voters sometimes don’t offer that same luxury to the governor of North Dakota. I recall former Governor Bud Sinner telling me that the most interesting thing about being governor when speaking to the joint session of the legislature was that he was speaking to 147 other governors, all of whom thought they could do a better job than him.

Could there be a correlation between the roughly one billion dollars in tax cuts our current legislature has passed and the roughly one billion dollar current budget deficit? Meanwhile, Stenehjem seems to be arguing that notwithstanding the billion dollar deficit, things are just fine in North Dakota. With farm and energy prices down roughly two-thirds, it will be interesting to see what the voters think of that argument.

It will also be interesting to see what Republican primary voters think about the Republican “establishment” which has endorsed Stenehjem. How many voters could name who their state senator and two house members are in their respective legislative districts? If they do know who they are, are they impressed? If the voters were impressed at one time, are they still impressed after a one billion dollar oops?

Which is worse, a candidate who is rich enough to self-fund, or a traditional candidate who needs to accept contributions from the very industries he is obligated to oversee? Which is worse, someone with forty years of government experience, or someone with none? Only one thing is sure, both Burgum and Stenehjem, as well as Democratic candidate Marvin Nelson, are all Norwegians. What were the odds of that happening?

Jim Maxson

One comment on “On Burgum, Nelson, Stenehjem, At Least We Know We’re Getting a Norwegian

Daniel Haglund

I hate to rain on his article, but Doug Burgum is not Norwegian by descent. Most of his Burgum ancestors were English. I traced his family tree and the following are his great-great-grandparents: William Burgum and Edith Bowery (both born in England), Aaron Bradley and Elizabeth Harper (both born in England), Phillip Slaughter and Harriet Castleman (born in Virginia and Kentucky, respectively), Gen. Charles Warfel and Mary Boyd (born in Pennsylvania and Ohio, respectively), Dr. Henry Kilbourn and Fanny Briggs (both born in Vermont), Amasa Feltt and Elizabeth Young (both born in Vermont), James Conwell and Harriet Conner (born in Delaware and Indiana, respectively), and finally James Higgins and Lucinda Craig (born in Pennsylvania and Ohio, respectively). None of these names ring Norwegian, and the beginnings of Norwegian emigration to the United States didn’t start trickling in until the 1820s-1840s, after most of these people were born.

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