Anti-Establishment and Anti-Status Quo Sentiment Shakes Up North Dakota Landscape The conservative insurgency movement in North Dakota has been at wo

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Anti-Establishment and Anti-Status Quo Sentiment Shakes Up North Dakota Landscape

The conservative insurgency movement in North Dakota has been at work for a decade now. Yesterday, state and local incumbent felt the wrath of the voters who are tired of the same old talking points.

June 15th, 2016

It's been a very long time coming, but conservatives in North Dakota can now say that the era of Big Government Republicanism is nearing an end in North Dakota. Nearing, because we will not be sure until we see whether Doug Burgum will be elected in the fall and will govern as he ran - as a hardline conservative - which was a different than his reputation previous to this race.

As someone who have been in this fight since 2006 when Duane Sand and Former Governor Ed Schafer hired me at the North Dakota chapter of Americans for Prosperity - I can tell you it has been a long and difficult fight. But the fact is that Doug Burgum's message was not that different than the messages of those of us that were called radical and extreme conservatives by the media and the Republican insiders.

It will now be up to those of us that have been fighting these battles for years to make sure that the guy that won on our message stays true to that message. So the job is not over for conservatives.

Democrats Did Not Push Burgum Over The Top

Normally, we try to avoid political analysis, but we are also about using data and facts - and there are already some myths that are being touted that minimize the power of the conservative message in yesterday's win by Doug Burgum.

The big myth is that Democrats stole the election by crossing over to vote for Burgum. This is a political talking point not based in the numbers but in a general feeling by some.

Burgum Stat Comparison Graphic

Looking at the results for Doug Burgum, compared to results in the 2012 and 2014 Primary, it does not look like Democrats had as much of a role as they would like to think or that the NDGOP insiders would like to think. Doug Burgum got 410 fewer votes against Wayne Stenehjem than Rick Berg got against Duane Sand in 2012.

In 2012, the general belief was that Democrats wanted Sand to win because he was the easier target than Berg. Also in 2012, Brian Kalk was the Republican Convention-endorsed candidate and he got 1,615 more votes against Kevin Cramer than Wayne Stenehjem had against Burgum. Then if you look at a low turn-out year in 2014, you see that when there was no primary contest, Kevin Cramer got 50,188 votes and George Sinner got 30,102 votes - in a low turnout year. Compare that to Marvin Nelson's vote count of 17,126 and you can see where the hard-core Democrats are vs. the casual Democrats.

Even if you assume that an equal number of Democrats crossed over as voted for Marvin Nelson, 17,000 fewer votes for Burgum still would not flip the race back to Stenehjem. So no, I do not think there is a statistically provable case that Democrats crossing over were solely at fault for the Stenehjem loss. (See graphic above for source numbers.)

Bismarck Results Show Unhappy Voters

Bismarck Burleigh Results

In Bismarck and Burleigh County where policies like Tax Increment Financing, Renaissance Zone tax breaks, and questionable city finance decisions have been the talk of town the last few months - the local officials who voted on the side of taxpayers won re-election - while those who voted against taxpayer interests were defeated.

At the Bismarck City Commission - Steve Marquart who voted against the corporate welfare give-aways was re-elected, while Parrell Grossman was defeated badly for sticking byMayor Mike Seminary's anti-taxpayer policy proposals.

On the Bismarck School Board, board President Lawrence King, who was the deciding vote on the Renaissance Zone renewal for the city was defeated badly by a newcomer.

On the Burleigh County Commission, both incumbents who voted to protect taxpayers from the city's renewal plans for the Renaissance Zone were re-elected handily.

Being pro-taxpayer in Bismarck was a successful strategy for elected officials.

Being pro-government spending and pro-corporate welfare program was a losing strategy.

It's Not Over

Gains have been made for taxpayers at the state and local level - but the job is not done yet. The public needs to stay engaged and hold their officials accountable for what they have promised. That goes for Doug Burgum on down to every local official in the state.

The taxpayers have spoken and they are not happy.


Dustin Gawrylow, Managing Director

North Dakota Watchdog Network

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