Way back in May, we published a very unscientific Facebook poll in which we asked who participants would vote for if State Auditor Josh Gallion were to challenge incumbent Doug Burgum for the Republican nomination for Governor of North Dakota.
As you can see, the results overwhelmingly favored Gallion. At the time, the State Auditor was a hot political topic. The North Dakota Legislature had just put their stamp of approval on a late-session conference committee amendment that had been slipped in to strip Josh Gallion of his authority to initiate performance audits— a move that Governor Doug Burgum himself signed off on.
Whether it was a state representative admitting that there were some of his colleagues who wanted to “reel in” Gallion, Burgum saying something really dumb to the media about the situation, or conflicting statements from Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner about it, it seemed Josh Gallion’s popularity was at an all-time high with the electorate.
Stemming out of all this was a referral effort that ultimately failed— for reasons I wrote about here. In the aftermath of it all, Gallion has determined to move forward with “business as usual” and he continues to do what he’s done since he was elected— bring transparency to state government. It’s that very thing that makes him a rising star of sorts with the people.
Because of his popularity, it’s not uncommon for me to hear people suggest that Josh Gallion should challenge Doug Burgum for the Republican nomination in 2020. While I’ve never shied away from my praise of our State Auditor, I think such a move would be a mistake.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I think Josh Gallion would be a very good governor. But my personal feelings, that it would be unwise to take on Governor Burgum, are because of the following reasons:
- Burgum is very popular himself. As covered here by Say Anything Blog just two months ago, the governor enjoys a 60% favorable rating. Heck, even a majority of Democrats like the guy. Beating an incumbent with numbers like that is a tall order.
- Money. Like it or not, political success at this level requires a lot of greenbacks. And Burgum not only has plenty of them himself, but fundraising won’t be an issue for the governor either.
- The primary is what matters. I actually think Gallion could make things very interesting in a State Convention matchup. But even if he pulled off the upset there, he’d have to win the primary. Not only because the primary technically determines the NDGOP’s nominee, but because Burgum wouldn’t honor the results of a convention if he lost. Remember, just three and a half years ago, Burgum lost to Wayne Stenehjem, but came back to hammer the Attorney General in the primary. Oh, and don’t forget— Democrats can crossover and vote Republican in the primary.
- We need Gallion where he’s at. At this point, Josh Gallion is way too valuable as State Auditor. The reality is that he’s doing things in his current office that he could never accomplish as Governor of North Dakota.
Perhaps the time will come in which Josh Gallion should consider looking at a run to inhabit the governor’s mansion. I just don’t think that time is now. Simply put, we don’t need him jumping ship — for any reason — at this stage in the game.
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