Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Could It Be Doug Burgum?

Yesterday, The New York Times had a long article about Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND) and the small boomlet relating to his chance of becoming Donald Trump's running mate. He ran against Trump initially, but once he dropped out, he became a solid Trump supporter, possibly because he saw the #2 spot this time leading to the #1 spot in 2028, assuming there will be an election in 2028.

Burgum is not well known, but he comes with a list of positives and negatives. First the positives. Because he is not well known, he would get lots of media attention. That is generally good for a candidate. He is intelligent and can handle interviews. Sarah Palin he is not. Second, he has run for office in North Dakota twice and won both times, so he has a rough idea of how things work. Third, he has executive experience and would be a plausible president if it came to that. No one will panic if he suddenly became president. In fact, many people would be relieved. Fourth, he is a pleasant person and no one's idea of a firebrand. Fifth, he is a billionaire and could pour serious money into the campaign, although with fundraising going through the roof post-Trump-conviction, that is less of an issue. Still, more money is always welcome. Sixth, he has close ties to the oil, gas, and coal industries. He might be able to cajole them into ponying up even more money with promises of a pro-fossil fuel administration. He was the one who orchestrated the infamous dinner at Mar-a-Lago where Trump asked the fossil-fuel executives to contribute $1 billion to his campaign.

Seventh, and very controversial, is that he could run as an environmentalist. He supports a plan to build a $5 billion pipeline in North Dakota to collect emissions from 57 ethanol plants in four states and store them in a cavern in North Dakota. Since the emissions would have to stay there forever for the plan to help, no serious scientists support the plan. Earthquakes or other geologic activity could allow the emissions to seep out eventually. "Forever" is a long time. Many people say that the plan is a $5 billion giveaway to the pipeline companies, potentially in addition to government benefits from the Inflation Reduction Act.

Of course, there are negatives, too. First, Burgum is a billionaire (due to selling his software company to Microsoft for $1 billion). Just imagine the Democratic ads talking about one ticket with two billionaires and one ticket with two ordinary Americans. Whose taxes do you think they will cut? Economic issues often hit home. Second, Burgum's connections to the fossil-fuel industries are not going to go over well with young voters who see climate change as their top priority, even more than abortion or Gaza. Third, Burgum's pipeline scheme will come under more attacks than anything since Ronald Reagan's Star Wars anti-missile program. It will be ridiculed as a massive corporate giveaway and won't even work if built. Fourth, Burgum hasn't really been tested on the national stage yet. His campaign went nowhere. Even someone as experienced and well-positioned as Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) blew it entirely when the big microscope focused on him. Fifth, the veep is supposed to be the attack dog. Burgum probably doesn't have that in him the way Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) does. But, of course, Trump is totally unpredictable, and the boomlet could be an intentional diversionary tactic orchestrated by his campaign to heighten the excitement. (V)

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