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Kierra Frazier

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum drops presidential bid after failing to qualify for fourth debate

Doug Burgum ran a mostly self-funded campaign, thanks to his prior career as a software entrepreneur. | Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum dropped his bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination on Monday after repeatedly polling in the single digits and failing to qualify for the third and fourth GOP debates.

Burgum is the latest candidate to drop out of the race, following former South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, Vice President Mike Pence, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, former Rep. Will Hurd and businessperson Perry Johnson.

In his statement, Burgum criticized the Republican National Committee's "clubhouse debate requirements" that kept him from qualifying for November and December debates.

"The RNC’s mission is to win elections. It is not their mission to reduce competition and restrict fresh ideas by ‘narrowing the field’ months before the Iowa caucuses or the first in the nation New Hampshire primary," he said in a statement.

"This effort to nationalize the primary system is unhealthy for the future of the party, especially for a party that proclaims to value leadership from outside of Washington," he continued in the statement.

Burgum ran a mostly self-funded campaign, thanks to his prior career as a software entrepreneur. Burgum’s company, Great Plains Software, sold in 2001 to Microsoft for $1.1 billion.

Burgum contributed over $12 million from his personal fortune to his campaign, according to campaign filings, including on television ads in Iowa and New Hampshire. He saw $19.2 million in total ad support from his campaign and the Best of America PAC as of September, according to analysis from AdImpact. The campaign itself spent an additional $6 million on advertising.

The two-term governor made it to the debate stage twice, gaining some name recognition when he became the first candidate to offer $20 gift cards to those who contributed $1 to his campaign in an effort to hit the RNC’s qualifying rules that candidates must reach 40,000 individual donors.

The strategy eventually helped him land a spot in the first two Republican debates in August and, but he saw an eventful lead-up to the match when he injured his leg in a pickup basketball game the day before. Burgum ultimately took the stage wearing a boot and stood for the two-hour debate, though he only got about eight minutes of airtime.

In an attempt to make it to the second debate, the Best of America PAC launched a $4 million national TV ad campaign. Burgum qualified for the second debate at the last minute but later complained about not getting enough talking time after moderator Dana Perino shut him down for interrupting another candidate.

He again offered gift cards to those who donated to his campaign in an attempt to reach the debate stage for a third time, to no avail. The governor has criticized the RNC’s presidential debate participation threshold as “clubhouse rules.”

Burgum, 67, launched his campaign in June with goals to help fix the economy and speak less on culture issues but struggled to gain steam in both national and early nominating state polls. An October Morning Consult poll found that only 1 percent of likely Republican primary voters surveyed supported him. And an October NBC/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll found that of likely Republican caucus-goers, 3 percent supported Burgum.

Burgum is used to not being a household name. Burgum first ran for governor in 2016, winning in a major upset when he defeated North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem by more than 20 points. Prior to being governor, Burgum had never held a public office.

While in office, Burgum has cut taxes, rolled back transgender rights and signed a law banning almost all abortions in the state. As a candidate, Burgum said he would not sign a nationwide ban on abortion.

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