Stenehjem says he'll support GOP presidential nominee, but doesn't name Trump
BISMARCK - Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Friday he will support the Republican Party's nominee for president but stopped short of endorsing -- or even mentioning -- presumptive nominee Donald Trump. Meanwhile, his main opponent for the GO...
BISMARCK – Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Friday he will support the Republican Party’s nominee for president but stopped short of endorsing -- or even mentioning -- presumptive nominee Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, his main opponent for the GOP nomination for governor, Fargo businessman Doug Burgum, clarified on Friday that he is endorsing Trump but not necessarily his behavior.
Burgum released a statement Thursday night declaring his support for Trump, prompting requests for comment from Stenehjem, who issued an emailed statement around noon Friday.
“As I have always done, both at the state and federal level, I will support the candidate nominated by our party’s convention. North Dakota cannot afford Hillary Clinton,” Stenehjem said. “She is a threat to our oil, coal, and agriculture industries. And worse, she will tilt the balance of the Supreme Court to reflect her liberal agenda for a generation to come.”
In his statement Thursday night, Burgum said Trump has effectively secured the GOP nomination and it’s time for Republicans to support his candidacy.
With Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich suspending their campaigns this week, Trump is considered the presumptive nominee but still needs the votes of 1,237 delegates at the party’s national convention in July to clinch the nomination. After his primary win in Indiana on Tuesday, he had 1,053 delegates, with 514 still available.
Organizers announced Wednesday that Trump will be the keynote speaker May 26 at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck.
Burgum, who like Trump is portraying himself as an outsider, said Trump’s success is a result of voters’ frustration with “career politicians and the status quo” -- terms Burgum frequently uses to characterize Stenehjem, the party’s endorsed candidate and a state legislator for 24 years before first being elected attorney general in 2000.
Burgum’s statement on Trump didn’t include the word “endorse,” but he clarified in an interview Friday that he’s comfortable with his support being described as an endorsement, “because I don’t see the difference.”
He said Trump would be better for North Dakota’s economy than Clinton, who he sees as “anti-energy,” and that his endorsement of Trump “does not mean that I would endorse all of his comments or approaches or policies.”
“I can endorse who’s good for North Dakota. That doesn’t mean I endorse his behavior,” he said.
Spokesmen for Gov. Jack Dalrymple and U.S. Sen John Hoeven, R-N.D., were specific this week in saying that the governor and senator would not formally endorse a candidate for president but will support Trump if he becomes the party’s nominee.
That drew criticism Thursday from Hoeven’s Democratic opponent in the November election, state Rep. Eliot Glassheim of Grand Forks.
“Hoeven either supports Donald Trump or he doesn’t – but he can’t have it both ways,” Glassheim said in a statement Thursday.
Along with Stenehjem and Burgum, Bismarck resident Paul Sorum also is running for governor as a Republican in the June 14 primary. Democrats endorsed state Rep. Marvin Nelson of Rolla, while Fargo businessman Marty Riske is the Libertarian Party’s candidate.