Our view: Too early to heap praise on Burgum
Herald editorial board North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has only been in office since December, but he evidently is a hit with voters. He came into office with no political background but by showcasing a fresh entrepreneurial spirit. Now, Burgum ran...
Herald editorial board
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has only been in office since December, but he evidently is a hit with voters. He came into office with no political background but by showcasing a fresh entrepreneurial spirit.
Now, Burgum ranks No. 4 on a list of the nation's most popular governors, according to the website Morning Consult. According to the survey, his approval rating is 66 percent, not far behind Charlie Baker of Massachusetts (71 percent), Larry Hogan of Maryland (68 percent) and Matt Mead of Wyoming (67 percent). Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is 22nd with 53 percent approval.
Interestingly, three of the top four are first-term governors. That makes us wonder: Do participants in these surveys show sentiment toward newcomers who haven't had time to be controversial?
That could be the case with Burgum, whose first few months in office were dominated not by his own work as much as it was the work of the Legislature, which was in session January through April.
Burgum pushed to end the protest at the Dakota Access Pipeline site. He was involved in monumental budget cuts as he and lawmakers worked to right the state's ship during a time of economic strife.
But he also has run afoul of the Legislature with a series of vetoes that likely will result in court action. Some in North Dakota may fear Burgum has an eye on closing small universities, and those with ties to education will be watching to see how he works with big universities during times of great change and tight budgets.
Three of the top four governors in the Morning Consult survey came into office from the private sector. They all seem to have a shine that has not yet been tarnished by years of politics.
Will Burgum's polish fade? Time will tell.
So far, so good-and that probably has a lot to do with his favorability rating. But what he does in the coming months will tell us more about his leadership abilities than what he has done in the past seven.
In May, the Herald asked him what his plans are now that he's not saddled with the burden of a legislative session.
"The way we are set up with this model is, you come in two weeks before the Legislature as a new governor," he said. "It's kind of like being hired as a head coach for a football team or UND hockey two weeks before the season starts. You have everybody else's players.
"Now, I have 20 months before the Legislature is back in session again. We have a lot of ideas of how we can be in a better position to drive an agenda but also to collaborate. We can do a better job of collaborating with leadership."
No doubt, Burgum has been a collaborator, and that probably endears him to voters. But his actions before the next legislative session will shape his legacy, and it will be interesting to see how voters feel about him then.