FARGO, ND (KXNET) — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum formally joined a growing field of political contenders today after he officially announced he is running for the Republican presidential nomination.

In his comments, Burgum focused on small-town life and values. “People helping people” was a key theme.

“Big cities could use more values and ideas from small towns right now,” he told the approving crowd.

“Unlimited opportunity exists everywhere in America,” Burgum said, pointing to his work in creating Great Plains Software and building it from the ground up into a profitable venture that was later acquired by Microsoft.

“We need a leader who understands the real work people do every day,” Burgum added.

Burgum says the next president needs to focus on three things:

  • Economy — “Focus on innovation and tax cuts.”
  • Energy — “We need to stop buying energy from our enemies and start selling to our friends and allies.”
  • National Security — “Restore America as a leader of the free world.”

“Our enemies aren’t our neighbors down the street. It’s nations that want to destroy us,” said Burgum.”

“If you want more small town common sense in Washington, we’ll make that happen,” Burgum added.

“When we take the time to look, we can see we are surrounded by the best of America,” Burgum told the crowd.

Burgum is joining a field of candidates that include:

  • Former president Donald Trump
  • Florida Governor Ron DeSantis
  • Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley
  • Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson
  • Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
  • South Carolina Senator Time Scott
  • Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy
  • Former Vice President Mike Pence
  • Talk radio host Larry Elder
  • Businessman Perry Johnson

The eventual GOP nominee is expected to face Democratic President Joe Biden in November 2024.

On Monday, Burgum posted a YouTube video touting his rise from a small town boy to a self-made software entrepreneur and a successful governor who has cut red tape and taxes.

The 3 1/2-minute video, with breathtaking vistas from across North Dakota, promotes Burgum as “a new leader for a changing economy.”

“Anger, yelling, infighting, that’s not going to cut it anymore. Let’s get things done,” he said. “In North Dakota, we listen with respect, and we talk things out. That’s how we can get America back on track.”

The North Dakota Democratic-NPL is apparently unimpressed by Burgum’s aspirations for the White House. In a statement issued today at the time of Burgum’s campaign announcement, North Dakota Democratic-NPL Chair Adam Goldwyn said, “The last thing the country needs is another bored billionaire whose need for attention is greater than his commitment to the American people as the President of the greatest country in the world. Burgum’s Presidential campaign will be short, but the harm he has done to North Dakotans will last generations.”

On the national stage, Burgum will likely face opposition and challenges based on several new laws he signed this year in North Dakota that restrict abortion rights and the rights of transgender people. One law bans schools and government agencies from requiring their employees to refer to transgender people by the pronouns they use. Another law — among the strictest in the nation — bans abortions throughout pregnancy with only slim exceptions up to six weeks’ gestation.

Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota was quick to point out those issues in a news release issued after Burgum’s presidential announcement.

North Dakota State Director Katie Christensen said, “People across the nation have made it clear time and time again that private medical decisions stay between a patient and their provider. And yet Gov. Burgum signed an extreme abortion ban into law just a few weeks ago. He cannot be trusted with the health care of North Dakotans, let alone the health and wellbeing of all people in our country. I want to warn everyone – Burgum’s extreme agenda has decimated health care in North Dakota. He will bring his same agenda to D.C. if given the chance.”

Burgum was first elected governor in 2016, reelected in 2020 and is eligible to run for governor again in 2024. In 1983, he founded Great Plains Software, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2011, and Burgum stayed on as a Microsoft vice president until 2007. He grew up in Arthur, an eastern North Dakota town of about 300 people, 25 miles northwest of Fargo.

Burgum is the first sitting North Dakota governor to run for the presidency.

Other North Dakotans have run for the White House under third-party banners:

  • In 2012 and 2016, Minot-born Gary Johnson, who served two terms as New Mexico’s governor from 1995 to 2003, was the Libertarian Party candidate for president.
  • In 1936, North Dakota Congressman William Lemke ran for the presidency under the short-lived Union Party banner.