Who Is Doug Burgum? North Dakota Governor May Be Biggest Unknown In GOP Debate


Doug Burgum, the 67-year-old North Dakota governor and wealthy businessman comes into Wednesday’s debate with the least fanfare and worst name-recognition among Republicans—and hopes to change that.

Key Facts

Burgum, the two-term governor of North Dakota, is running for president on a platform of controlling inflation, cutting taxes, making the U.S. energy independent, reducing the cost of living and unifying the country’s foreign policy against China and Russia.

Burgum is one of eight Republican presidential candidates eligible for tonight’s debate in Milwaukee after attracting over 40,000 unique donors to his campaign.

Burgum controversially pledged $20 gift cards—which he called “Biden Economic Relief” cards—to 50,000 people who donated $1 to his campaign, even though candidates are not allowed to reimburse donors for contributions.

90% of Republican or Republican-leaning people polled by Quinnipiac University said they had not heard enough about Burgum shortly after he announced his candidacy on June 7.

Polling from FiveThirtyEight shows support for Burgum among Republican voters at 0.4%.

Burgum’s presidential campaign has spent over $8.1 million since launching in June, according to campaign finance data from Ballotpedia.

Crucial Quote

“I’ve played lots of pick-up games in my day! This isn’t the first time one has sent me to the ER. Appreciate all the well-wishes,” Burgum posted Wednesday on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, after it was reported he was injured in a pickup basketball game.

Key Background

Some highlights of Burgum’s time as his home state’s governor include, as his campaign boasts, cutting state spending by 27% and instituting the state’s largest tax cut, among other actions related to North Dakota’s economy, development and public safety. Burgum has also made a series of controversial moves as governor, including prohibiting transgender people from using bathrooms that align with their chosen genders and banning nearly all abortions in the state with the exception of rape and incest after the first six weeks of pregnancy.


Burgum is from Arthur, North Dakota, the youngest of three siblings to a father who passed away his freshman year of high school and a mother who worked as the dean of the college of home economics for what would be his alma mater, North Dakota State University. Burgum attended Dakota High School, where he played point guard on the school’s basketball team. He stresses his small-town upbringing, work ethic and education in his campaign through two defining stories: his first business—a shoe shine—at a very young age, and working as a chimney sweeper to get through college. He also stresses his experience as a business leader in his campaign. Burgum, who earned an MBA from Stanford in 1980, got his start “betting the farm” to provide seed capital for Great Plains Software, an accounting software firm where he later served as president and CEO. Microsoft purchased Great Plains Software for $1.1 billion in 2000, and Burgum served as Microsoft's senior vice president from 2001-2007. Burgum also co-founded venture capital firm Arthur Ventures, founded real estate company Kilbourne Development Group and served as chairman of software company Atlassian before becoming governor of North Dakota.

Further Readings

Great Plains Presidential Dark Horse — Doug Burgum (Forbes)

GOP Debate May Lose Another Candidate After Basketball Injury, Report Says (Forbes)

North Dakota Allows Student Teachers To Lead Classrooms—The Latest Effort Nationwide To Counter A Precarious Teacher Shortage (Forbes)

North Dakota Bars Transgender People From Certain Bathrooms (Forbes)

North Dakota Governor Signs Legislation Banning Nearly All Abortions (Forbes)

GOP’s Burgum Dishing Out $20 To Anyone Making $1 Presidential Campaign Donation (Yes, Really) (Forbes)

Trump-Carlson Interview Will Air At Same Time As GOP Debate Tonight (Forbes)