|Intro||33rd governor of North Dakota|
|Is||Politician Businessperson Investor Financial professional|
|From||United States of America|
|Field||Business Finance Politics|
|Birth||1 August 1956, Arthur, Cass County, North Dakota, USA|
Douglas James Burgum (born August 1, 1956) is an American businessman, investor, philanthropist, and politician serving since 2016 as the 33rd governor of North Dakota. A member of the Republican Party, Burgum was the president of Great Plains Software and is a candidate in the 2024 United States presidential election.
Burgum was born and raised in the small town of Arthur, North Dakota. He mortgaged his inherited farmland after graduating from college in 1983 to invest in Great Plains Software. Becoming the company's president in 1984, he grew Great Plains into a successful large software company. Burgum sold the company to Microsoft for $1.1 billion in 2001. While working at Microsoft, he managed Microsoft Business Solutions. He has served as board chairman for Atlassian and SuccessFactors. Burgum is the founder of Kilbourne Group, a Fargo-based real-estate development firm, and also is the co-founder of Arthur Ventures, a software venture capital group.
A lifelong resident of North Dakota, Burgum entered the Republican primary in the 2016 North Dakota gubernatorial election with no political experience. He upset longtime Attorney General and Republican-endorsed candidate Wayne Stenehjem in the primary election, and defeated Democratic nominee Marvin Nelson by a landslide in the general election. He was reelected by a wide margin in 2020. In June 2023, Burgum filed to run for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Early life and education
Burgum was born on August 1, 1956, in Arthur, North Dakota, where his grandfather had founded a grain elevator in 1906. He is the son of Katherine (née Kilbourne) and Joseph Boyd Burgum. He attended North Dakota State University (NDSU) to earn his undergraduate degree in 1978. During his senior year at NDSU, he applied to the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He also started a chimney-sweeping business. "The newspaper wrote a story about me as a chimney sweep", he later recalled; it "ran a photo of me sitting on top of an icy chimney in below-freezing weather in Fargo. The story made the AP wire service. I was later told it caused quite a stir in the Stanford admissions office: 'Hey, there's a chimney sweep from North Dakota who's applied.'"
He was accepted to study business at Stanford. While there, he befriended Steve Ballmer, who would later be CEO of Microsoft. During his last year at Stanford, Burgum "spent the whole final quarter on a project team with Ballmer." He received his MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business in 1980. He later received honorary doctorates from North Dakota State in 2000 and from the University of Mary in 2006.
Following his graduation from Stanford GSB, Burgum moved to Chicago to become a management consultant with McKinsey & Company. Soon afterward, he mortgaged $250,000 of farmland to provide the seed capital for the accounting software company Great Plains Software in Fargo, North Dakota. He joined the company in 1983 and became its president in 1984 after leading a small investment group composed of family members in buying out the rest of the company.
Great Plains Software
During the 1980s, Fortune magazine often ranked Great Plains Software among the top 100 companies to work for in the United States. Burgum grew the company to about 250 employees by 1989 and led the company to about $300 million in annual sales and a 1997 IPO, after using the Internet to help it expand beyond North Dakota. In 2001 he sold Great Plains Software to Microsoft for $1.1 billion. Burgum has said he built the company in Fargo because of its proximity to North Dakota State University, which acted as a feeder school in order to employ its stream of engineering students.
After the sale, Burgum was named Senior Vice President of Microsoft Business Solutions Group, the offshoot created from merging Great Plains into the corporation. He stayed with Microsoft until 2007 and was responsible for making enterprise apps a priority for Microsoft during this tenure. Satya Nadella, current CEO of Microsoft, has credited Burgum with "inspiring him to find the soul of Microsoft".
Burgum has served on the advisory board for Stanford Graduate School of Business and was on the board of SuccessFactors during the 2000s, becoming its chairman from 2007 till the 2011 sale of the company to SAP. In 2012 he became the first chairman of the board for Atlassian, after it expanded from its initial board of three members (none of whom served as the official chair). During 2011 and 2014, he twice spent several months as the interim CEO of Intelligent InSites, a company for which he has served as the executive chairman of the board since 2008. That year he also became a member of Avalara's board of directors.
Burgum is an active investor. He is the founder of the Kilbourne Group, a real-estate development firm focused on Downtown Fargo. In 2013 he created plans to build the tallest building in Fargo—a 23-story mixed-use building—to be named either Block 9 or Dakota Place. The company has also advocated for a convention center to be built in Downtown Fargo. It has acquired and renovated many Fargo properties, including the former St. Mark's Lutheran Church and the former Woodrow Wilson alternative high school. Burgum co-founded Arthur Ventures, a venture capital company. Several of the companies he has invested in are in Fargo.
Burgum is an ardent philanthropist and has supported philanthropic causes such as the Plains Art Museum. In 2001 he donated a refurbished school building he had acquired in 2000 to North Dakota State University. It was named Renaissance Hall and became home to the university's visual arts department, major components of the architecture and landscape architecture department and the Tri-College University office. In 2008 Burgum started the Doug Burgum Family Fund, which focuses its charitable giving on youth, education and health.
Governor of North Dakota
In 2016, Burgum announced his intent to run for governor of North Dakota as a Republican. With no formal political experience, Burgum lost the state Republican party's gubernatorial endorsement contest to longtime Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem at the party convention in April. Nevertheless, he defeated Stenehjem handily in the primary election two months later to claim the nomination. Burgum faced Democrat Marvin Nelson and Libertarian Marty Riske in the November general election and won with over 75% of the vote.
Burgum ran for reelection in 2020. He was reelected with over 65% of the vote against veterinarian Shelley Lenz.
Burgum was sworn in as the 33rd governor of North Dakota on December 15, 2016, alongside running mate Brent Sanford, the 38th lieutenant governor of North Dakota.
Uniquely among Republicans, Burgum has set a goal for North Dakota to become carbon-neutral by 2030. He plans to pursue this goal while maintaining a robust fossil fuel industry, through the use of carbon capture and storage technology to capture and sequester carbon dioxide in the state's geologic formations. He supports the use of carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery, the process by which carbon dioxide is injected into depleted oil fields to boost production. He also supports agricultural practices that store carbon in soil. The announcement of the goal sparked $25 billion in private sector investment, according to remarks he made at the annual meeting of the North Dakota petroleum council.
In 2018, Burgum and the North Dakota Department of Transportation established the Vision Zero project. Since then, traffic deaths in North Dakota have reached record lows. The large increase in the reporting threshold was instrumental in assisting that drop. Reportable property damage threshold increased from $1,000 to $4,000 on August 1, 2019. On March 20, 2023, Burgum vetoed a bill to raise the state interstate speed limit to 80 mph.
On December 20, 2022, Sanford announced his resignation as lieutenant governor, effective January 3, 2023. Burgum chose Tammy Miller, his chief operating officer, to succeed Sanford.
Burgum and other North Dakota officials have threatened to sue Minnesota over a law that would require the state's electricity to come from sources that do not emit carbon dioxide. Minnesota governor Tim Walz signed the bill on February 7, 2023.
2024 presidential campaign
In March 2023, Burgum expressed interest in running for president in the 2024 United States presidential election.
On June 5, 2023, Burgum posted a video to his Twitter account teasing a "big announcement" for June 7. He formally announced his campaign in The Wall Street Journal the morning of June 7, with the launch of a campaign website and a rally in Fargo scheduled to take place later that day. After announcing, Burgum began campaigning with multiple stops in Iowa.
Burgum is reported to have spent more money on advertisements than any other presidential candidate since he began his campaign.
Burgum has expressed his support for the U.S. Supreme Court's Dobbs decision. His support derives from the belief that abortion restrictions should be left to states to decide. Burgum pledges that as president he would not sign a national abortion ban. He does not believe the president should focus on culture war issues. According to Politico, Burgum has sought to play up his stance as a hawk toward China by speaking of a cold war with China.
On July 10, 2023, Burgum began offering $20 gift cards for a donation of any amount to his primary campaign. A spokesman for Burgum acknowledged that this was an attempt to reach the threshold of individual donors required to participate in the first Republican primary debate. The scheme was successful, and on July 25, Burgum qualified for the debate after also meeting the polling threshold. Despite its success, the scheme was ridiculed on social media, with some users declaring that they had donated $1 to Burgum and $20 to Joe Biden's reelection campaign. The gift card maneuver may have been illegal, potentially violating the federal prohibition on straw donors, according to a law professor at Northwestern University.
On August 22, 2023, the day before the first Republican presidential primary debate, Burgum injured his leg during a pick-up basketball game with staffers. He was taken to a local emergency room and later discharged, leaving his participation in the debate initially uncertain, but he did ultimately appear on the debate stage.
Burgum has made critical comments about President Biden and his performance as president of the United States on Facebook and in public messages.
Burgum has been very vocal on his support for the fossil fuel industry, especially in the Bakken region of western North Dakota. But he also signed a bill to create clean energy sustainable for the state on April 26, 2021. Burgum supports the Dakota Access Pipeline.
In April 2023, Burgum signed a near-total ban on abortion in North Dakota.
Burgum has deployed the National Guard to the southern border with Mexico numerous times. In April 2022, he and 25 other governors created the American Governors’ Border Strike Force to help each other with defense on the border against illegal immigration and human trafficking. Burgum argued that energy independence is key to fending off China and Russia.
In July 2020, Burgum called the 2020 Republican platform "divisive and divisional" on LGBT issues. During the 2023 session of the North Dakota Legislative Assembly, Burgum signed numerous anti-trans laws, including a near-total ban on gender-affirming care for minors.
On November 12, 2021, Burgum signed a law banning the teaching of critical race theory in North Dakota K-12 schools.
Burgum endorsed former president Donald Trump in both 2016 and 2020. Trump also endorsed Burgum during each of his gubernatorial elections. Burgum said he would vote for Trump again, but also criticized him.
Unlike other candidates, Burgum does not talk much about the January 6 Capitol attack or any other criminal charges against Former President Trump, saying, "I believe that we have to move on to the future."
Burgum has signed numerous laws to cut taxes. During the 2023 legislative session, he signed a bill that exempts members of the North Dakota National Guard and reserve from paying income tax, and another that provides over $500 million in tax relief.
Burgum married his first wife, Karen Stoker, in 1991. They had three children before divorcing in 2003. In 2016, Burgum married Kathryn Helgaas. As first lady of North Dakota, Kathryn Burgum champions the Recovery Reinvented program on addiction and recovery.
|Republican||Doug Burgum and Brent Sanford||259,863||76.52|
|Democratic–NPL||Marvin Nelson and Joan Heckaman||65,855||19.39|
|Libertarian||Marty Riske and Joshua Voytek||13,230||3.90|
|Republican||Doug Burgum and Brent Sanford (incumbent)||235,479||65.84%|
|Democratic–NPL||Shelley Lenz and Ben Vig||90,789||25.38%|
|Libertarian||DuWayne Hendrickson and Joshua Voytek||13,853||3.87%|