North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum took another step toward entering the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, posting a YouTube video on Monday touting his rise from a small town boy to a self-made software entrepreneur and a successful governor who has cut red tape and taxes.
Although the video doesn’t mention it, Burgum has signed several new laws this year that restrict abortion rights and the rights of transgender people. One law bans schools and government agencies from requiring their employees to refer to transgender people by the pronouns they use. Another law — among the strictest in the nation — bans abortions throughout pregnancy with only slim exceptions up to six weeks’ gestation.
Burgum is expected to announce his candidacy on Wednesday at a midday event in Fargo, two GOP operatives who had knowledge of Burgum’s plans told The Associated Press last month. The 66-year-old would enter an increasingly crowded field dominated by ex-President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Former Vice President Mike Pence filed paperwork declaring his campaign on Monday.
The 3 1/2-minute video, with breathtaking vistas from across North Dakota, doesn’t specifically mention the presidential race. But it’s titled “Announcement Preview: Change.” It promotes Burgum as “a new leader for a changing economy.” Without naming any other candidates, it also touches subtly on the culture war issues that DeSantis has highlighted and the increasing rancor of American politics, suggesting a contrast with Trump.
“I grew up in a tiny town in North Dakota,” Burgum said. “Woke was what you did at 5 a.m. to start the day.”
Amid the bitter war of words between Trump and DeSantis, Burgum suggested in the video that he offers an alternative to tumult.
“Anger, yelling, infighting, that’s not going to cut it anymore. Let’s get things done,” he said. “In North Dakota, we listen with respect, and we talk things out. That’s how we can get America back on track.”
Burgum was first elected in 2016, reelected in 2020 and is eligible to run for governor again in 2024. In 1983, he founded Great Plains Software, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2011, and Burgum stayed on as a Microsoft vice president until 2007. He grew up in Arthur, an eastern North Dakota town of about 300 people, 25 miles (40 kilometers) northwest of Fargo.
The GOP nominee is expected to face Democratic President Joe Biden in November 2024.
Associated Press reporter Thomas Beaumont contributed to this story from Des Moines, Iowa.