Friday, September 02, 2016

Race of the Day- North Dakota Governor

66 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Open
2012 Presidential Result: Red State (Midwest)

Outlook: Likely Republican

The GOP will almost certainly maintain the Governorship of North Dakota, and likely in a blowout, but it is an open race without any polling that can be found, and thus an abundance of caution will lead me to classify it as "Likely Republican."

No Democrat has won the Governorship of this state since 1988, and in recent years, Republican Governors have had among the highest job approval numbers and largest electoral wins in the nation, as the state enjoyed an energy sector based economic boon. Now, times may have shifted a bit in regards to the economy, but Republicans are still in the driver's seat. Nonetheless, incumbent Governor Jack Dalrymple. who took over the job at the end of 2010, when his predecessor was elected to the U.S. Senate, declined to seek a second full term.

At this point, Democrats in the state hoped that well-liked U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, who had sought the Governorship before, would run, and while she would have been able to appoint a successor in the Senate, who may have had a hard time holding the seat on Capitol Hill, the thought was she was the only Democrat capable of winning a statewide Gubernatorial election. Heitkamp said no however, much to the relief of national Democrats, but pretty much subjecting state Democrats to another loss. The party rallied around State Representative Marvin Nelson as its nominee for Governor. He is running alongside State Senator Joan Heckman, who is seeking the position of Lt. Governor.

With Dalrymple out of the race, many Republicans looked into moving up to become Governor. Lt. Governor Drew Wrigley, who might have been a favorite, stood alongside his wife at a press conference and admitted to an extra-martial affair, but said he still was interested in running for Governor. Within a month though, he must have seen his chances vanish as he pulled himself out of the running. Instead, the establishment choice looked to be state Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. In April, he and his running-mate received the official endorsement of the party, which under traditional circumstances might have been tantamount to a nomination win, but this year, a wealthy primary challenger insisted on running in the June primary anyways.

Former software company CEO Doug Burgum easily pulled off what was once considered a major upset in the Republican primary, winning 59 percent of the vote. His running-mate, along for the primary victory, is Watford City Mayor Brent Sanford. With just over 6,700 residents, Watford City is the 12th largest in North Dakota. Interestingly, Burgum and the man he defeated for the nomination go back many years. The eventual winner's late brother, was Stenehjem's college roommate.

In a situation very similar to Montana, Republican primary voters in North Dakota opted for a political outsider, who had never sought office before, from the high-tech industry. The GOP candidate in Montana faces a tougher battle against an incumbent, but there is no reason to believe that Nelson will pose too big of a threat here, and thus, Doug Burgum with a huge advantage in financial resources and Republican identification in his state, is on the cusp of becoming Governor.

Burgum campaign link:

Governor races predicted thus far: 6 D (1 Safe, 3 Leans, 2 Tossup), 1 R (1 Likely)
Overall predicted thus far: 17 D, 28 R


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