Some North Dakota printers are fed up as we hit the peak of election season.
They say, every year, they count on glossy political mailers, that have been filling mailboxes for months, to fill their pockets for the year.
But this year, countless paper political ads for several Republican candidates were sent to be printed out-of-state, and local printers feel betrayed.
Many are noticing a big chunk of expected income missing this year, possibly 20 to 30%.
“Printers look forward to the election cycle. And they’ve never looked forward to it more than this year. With the pandemic, our local printers and statewide. I don’t know exactly, but I’m guessing that they’re running at about 50 to 60% of normal,” shared Republican North Dakota Rep. George Keiser.
The District 47 Representative owned Quality Printing in the Capital City for 40 years before selling just last year. He tells us, the Governor opted to send money out of state this year to print his political mailers.
“Not only did it surprise me, but it really frustrated me in all honesty,” Keiser added.
Rep. Keiser isn’t the only printer fed up. A couple of other western North Dakota print shop managers wanted to remain anonymous but told us they’ve known about this as well, saying it’s “kind of a crappy deal.”
“They have an obligation to keep this work in state, in my opinion,” Keiser said.
Although these local printers knew for sure they weren’t getting the business, it took a little more digging to find out who was instead.
In the upper right-hand corner, there is a postal permit number on each of these mailers. The ones in question all have the number 897 stamped on them. And although they were mailed from a Bismarck address, a representative with the U.S. Postal Service confirmed the number traces back to Taylor Communications, a printing service in Fridley, Minnesota.
“I do know one thing, I don’t believe that the Governor’s Main Street Initiative included towns in Minnesota,” Keiser said in response.
It’s not only the Governor’s Race. The 897 tracking number appears in support of other candidates and initiatives, including the re-election of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler, and several “Vote no to measure 1” mailers.
All of the ads were paid for by either Governor Burgum’s Campaign or the Dakota Leadership PAC, a political action campaign the Governor is the top donor to this year, to the tune of $2,989,100.
“I guess it shows you where his priorities are. He’s inconsistent,” shared Democratic candidate for Governor, Shelley Lenz.
Although the Veterinarian from Dickinson didn’t send out mailers, she says her campaign truck was wrapped by a Dickinson printing company. Lenz says only local businesses were included in her campaign.
“Here in North Dakota, we work on relationships and trust. I am committed to North Dakota. He is not,” she added.
The Governor declined an interview but his Campaign Manager had this to say: “Governor Burgum has built a campaign team that combines talented local staff and vendors, including for printing, with nationally-recognized and regional firms.”
But at the end of the day, local printers are feeling left out.
“This is just not right, and hopefully, it never happens again,” Rep. Keiser concluded.
He says this is not the first time the Governor has sent money out of state for a big project. Two years ago, the redesign of the state logo was sent to another firm outside of North Dakota.