North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum ended his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination on Monday despite a stronger-than-expected showing fueled by a gift card-for-campaign donation gimmick that helped get him on the debate stage. Burgum, a second-term governor and wealthy software entrepreneur, was little known nationally when he launched his 2024 presidential campaign in June, touting his priorities of energy, the economy, and national security, as well as his small-town roots and leadership of the sparsely populated state, per the AP.
Burgum participated in the first two Republican debates, meeting donor requirements of the Republican National Committee by offering $20 "Biden Relief Cards"—a jab at rising inflation rates during President Biden's term—in exchange for $1 donations. The tactic drew skepticism over its legality, though Burgum's campaign said its legal advisers had reviewed and approved the method. He failed to qualify for the third debate, however, after coming up short on the polling requirements, and it appeared that he would also not qualify for the fourth debate, which is being held Wednesday in Alabama.
Indeed, Burgum blamed the RNC, which sets qualifications for the debates, for "nationalizing the primary process and taking the power of democracy away from the engaged, thoughtful citizens of Iowa and New Hampshire." Ultimately, he was unable to gain much traction against his rivals in a contest dominated by former President Trump. He joins former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, radio show host Larry Elder, businessman Perry Johnson, former Texas Rep. Will Hurd, and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez in ending his bid.
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Burgum injected millions of his own money into the race, accounting for $12.2 million of the $15.1 million raised by his campaign from March through September, according to Federal Election Commission filings. A super PAC supporting his bid raised over $11 million in the first six months of this year, according to filings. Burgum was a political newcomer in 2016 when he staged an upset over the longtime attorney general in North Dakota's Republican gubernatorial primary. He's now in his second term as governor and is eligible for a third in 2024, though he hasn't indicated whether he plans to run again.
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