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Port: Gov. Doug Burgum sure seems to have a favorite in Fargo's mayoral race

Burgum urged NDGOP convention attendees to back Shannon Roers Jones and her campaign to be mayor of Fargo.

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Rep. Shannon Roers Jones, R-Fargo, presents a bill to the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 16, 2021.
Jeremy Turley / Forum News Service
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Bismarck, N.D. — I'm in Bismarck attending the North Dakota Republican Party's state convention, and the mood here on Friday night (if you'll pardon me for working in cliche) is definitely "calm before the storm."

As I've written before , tomorrow's work, which is scheduled to include the endorsement for the U.S. Senate, is expected to be a procedural nightmare as the warring factions of the NDGOP grapple over arcane procedural gimmicks intended to block incumbent Sen. John Hoeven from seeking the approval of voters at the June ballot should he lose to state Rep. Rick Becker.

Becker postures himself as an ardent populist, which doesn't exactly square well with his push to disenfranchise the tens of thousands of Republicans who vote in the June election in favor of the couple of thousand who showed up at the convention.

But I'll be lighting up plenty of pixels about that nonsense in the coming days. For now, let us turn our attention to Fargo's mayoral race, because it sure seems like Gov. Doug Burgum has weighed in, and a lot of the convention attendees were buzzing about it.

On the agenda for the convention tonight was the Governor's Reception and Dinner at which the governor spoke, as you might expect. And, like any good politician, a big part of his speech was mentioning every noteworthy person in the room.

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Burgum was running down the list of lawmakers in attendance and initially seemed to make an omission. He didn't mention state Rep. Shannon Roers Jones, a Republican who has served Fargo's District 46 since 2017.

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He omitted her until the end, that is, at which point he urged the audience to support her candidacy for mayor of Fargo which she announced back in January.

But here's the kicker which makes this nugget of news just a bit juicier: Also in attendance was incumbent Mayor Tim Mahoney.

I wasn't on hand to see his reaction to Burgum's very overt call for support for Roers Jones, but those who were told me he looked a bit flummoxed.

Why was Mahoney, who, though his position is ostensibly nonpartisan is widely known to be a Democrat in his politics, at a Republican convention?

That's a good question. Being in good with Republicans doesn't hurt in a state like North Dakota. Yes, yes, Fargo is North Dakota's liberal city. Except, really, Fargo is only liberal by North Dakota standards. In any other state, Fargo's a Republican town.

But I digress.

It sure seems like Burgum has a favorite in the mayoral race which, as I write this, has a half-dozen candidates including Mahoney and Roers Jones (the deadline for filing is April 11).

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The backing of the governor, who is well known to give generously to the candidates he supports, could be a difference-maker when the ballots are cast in June.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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