Alternative Investment Report

Burgum’s stock rises in Trump veepstakes

Doug Burgum has emerged unexpectedly as a top choice to serve as former President Trump’s running mate, a development that comes after the North Dakota governor failed to gain traction against the former president in his White House bid.

Burgum was little known outside of his home state when he started his presidential run last year. But since endorsing Trump after suspending his campaign, he has been a top ally and close adviser to the former president.

In a sign of the governor’s growing clout, he appeared alongside Trump at a recent rally in New Jersey and attended his New York trial on Tuesday. The former president has hinted that Burgum — whose net worth has been estimated to run in the tens of millions — should expect a future in his administration regardless of whom he ultimately chooses.

“[Trump] obviously wants a partner, wants somebody he can trust, somebody who can be effective in helping him advance his agenda, somebody who can help him win, and I think Burgum checks a lot of boxes,” said Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak.

Burgum during his own presidential run in August had initially rejected the idea of serving as Trump’s running mate or in his potential Cabinet, telling CNN that he’s “happy to do lots of other things.”

But after declining to seek a third term as governor and joining Trump’s team as an adviser on energy policy, he has received growing attention and been included on reported shortlists of candidates Trump is considering. 

Not coincidentally, he has also become a more frequent presence in Trump’s orbit in recent weeks. 

Burgum addressed the crowd Saturday ahead of Trump’s rally in Wildwood, N.J., leading a chant in which he repeatedly asked, “Who are we gonna send back to the White House?” with the crowd yelling back, “Trump.” 

And the former president praised him during his speech and gave a signal that Burgum would play some role in his administration. 

“You won’t find anybody better than this gentleman in terms of his knowledge … He made his money in technology, but he probably knows more about energy than anybody I know, so get ready for something,” Trump said, addressing Burgum. “OK, just get ready.” 

One Republican strategist said Burgum performed well at the rally as he warmed up the crowd ahead of Trump. 

“He took the stage, and he didn’t just sound but he looked like a VP, and the president cares about you looking like you’re from central casting,” the strategist said. 

The governor continued his association with Trump on Tuesday as one of several surrogates in attendance at his trial for the hush-money case in which the former president is accused of falsifying business records related to an alleged payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels. 

The strategist said many may be overlooking Burgum, but he would provide “balance” to the ticket with Trump because he is practical and can “get the job done without ruffling feathers.” 

“The core Republican principles I think is what Burgum represents, of limited government, of strong national security, of having a great energy policy so that we can continue to move our economy forward,” the same strategist said. 

Burgum had never held office before first being elected governor of North Dakota in 2016. Prior to that, he led a technology company called Great Plains Software before selling it to Microsoft for more than $1 billion. 

Accordingly, he has a large personal wealth, with Forbes estimating his net worth to be at least $100 million — something that could prove useful to Trump’s campaign as he struggles with considerable legal bills. 

Trump’s fundraising committees spent nearly $50 million on legal expenses last year, and his leadership PAC has spent millions more already this year. As the Biden campaign outpaces Trump’s fundraising totals, getting some greater financial assistance would be a boon to the former president’s campaign. 

Mackowiak said Burgum’s personal wealth is a strength for him as a choice because the trial that Trump is facing has taken up time he could otherwise spend fundraising. He said that factor may not be as meaningful once the trial ends in a few weeks and Trump potentially has more time to raise money. 

GOP strategist Tyler Glick noted that Burgum loaned his own campaign millions of dollars, and his net worth would allow him to be able to spend some of his money on a Trump-Burgum campaign. 

“Obviously with all these legal bills, you also have to fund the campaign apparatus, so I think that part of the cake has moved up the priority list,” he said. 

Observers said Trump is looking for someone he gets along with well, as he has appeared to be doing with Burgum. 

Republican donor Dan Eberhart — who serves as the CEO of Canary, LLC, a drilling services company with business in North Dakota — said Burgum and Trump “get along really well” while traveling and being together. 

“Trump respects the fact that he’s a very successful businessman-turned-politician. And I also think he hits the hidden criteria of ‘won’t overshadow Trump,’” he said. 

Burgum and Trump are also in line on abortion, an issue that has been difficult territory for Republicans to navigate since the overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022. Both have said they supported the Supreme Court’s decision and allowing states to decide their abortion policies for themselves, but they would not support a national abortion ban. 

The Republican strategist noted Burgum declared his support for states’ rights on abortion early in the presidential campaign, even before Trump did just last month. 

“That’s what our whole push as a party has been for 50-odd years, and now that is the position that the president, our nominee, has taken,” the strategist said. “And so hopefully, even if he isn’t the vice-presidential nominee, the president will continue to use some of his policy positions that I think resonate a lot with a large chunk of the Republican Party.” 

Strategists said even if Trump does not choose Burgum, the governor seems to be in a strong position to be a key part of his administration. 

“I think it’s highly likely that if he’s not the VP, then he’ll be Energy secretary or Interior secretary,” Mackowiak said. “Highly likely.” 

Glick said Trump’s picks following his 2016 victory were a bit of a “wild card” because those chosen didn’t necessarily have backgrounds in the departments they led, which could happen again. 

“Who knows? You could see [Burgum] in any number of Cabinet positions if last time was an indicator,” he said.

Brett Samuels contributed reporting.