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North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum reportedly preparing 2024 announcement

Burgum, who won his first election in an upset, knows his chances are slim, but he thinks that’s his competitive advantage

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North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum speaks at the state Capitol on April 10, 2020, in Bismarck, N.D. Burgum is signaling a plan soon to announce a bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum speaks at the state Capitol on April 10, 2020, in Bismarck, N.D.

Mike McCleary, The Bismarck Tribune via Associated Press

North Dakota’s Republican Gov. Doug Burgum is reportedly planning to run for president.

The 66-year-old two-term governor and former software executive is preparing for an announcement early next month in Fargo, North Dakota, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Burgum would be the latest to join a small but rapidly growing Republican field led by former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who announced Wednesday and is polling a distant second.

Earlier this month, Burgum told the Forum, a North Dakota newspaper, that “there is a geographical bigotry that exists” but that he believes most Americans are an exhausted “silent majority” who are “yearning for some alternatives right now.”

He said he would have to overcome the bias against being from a state like North Dakota but said that being underestimated is an advantage.

“There’s a value to being underestimated all the time,” he said. “That’s a competitive advantage.”

Burgum wasn’t expected to win his first campaign. He won North Dakota’s 2016 Republican gubernatorial primary in an upset after finishing third in the party’s convention earlier that year. Burgum campaigned as a political outsider and praised Trump that year in much the same way, telling the Forum at the time, “voters are looking for a political outsider because the status quo isn’t working for many Americans.”

Burgum backed Trump again four years later and campaigned for Trump’s reelection in Iowa along with other Republican elected officials. Trump returned the favor, endorsing Burgum for reelection in 2020 when he faced a Republican primary challenge. In an endorsement tweet, Trump called the governor a true conservative.

Burgum graduated from North Dakota State University and received an MBA from Stanford University. In 1983 he founded Great Plains Software, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2001 for about $1.1 billion in stock. Burgum was a senior vice president at Microsoft, and later started a real estate development firm called Kilbourne Group and co-founded a venture capital firm called Arthur Ventures. He married his wife Kathryn in 2016 and he has two sons and a daughter.

As North Dakota first lady, Kathryn Burgum has worked on initiatives related to addiction and chaired an advisory council for an Office of Recovery Reinvented that was created by executive order. In 2018 she was named to the board of directors at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the addiction treatment organization and successor to the Betty Ford Center, founded by former U.S. first lady Betty Ford.

If he enters the race, Burgum could expect to find himself at the back of the pack among other 2024 hopefuls now polling in single digits. A CNN poll released this month found 1% support for Burgum, tied with former pharmaceutical executive Vivek Ramaswamy, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, and behind former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and potential candidate and former Vice President Mike Pence, who both polled at 6%, and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., at 2%.

Other polls haven’t asked about Burgum or he didn’t receive more than 1% support.