North Dakota’s last hurrah in the national spotlight came in 2018, when Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp was sent packing by the state’s rapidly reddening electorate. But that doesn’t mean its 2024 contests will be as plain as North Dakota’s regional moniker suggests. Though it won’t host much action next November, there’s widespread agreement that several Republican primaries could turn the state’s quintessentially polite politicians into bare-knuckled brawlers. Whether or not that occurs is almost entirely a function of whether Doug Burgum — currently in the throes of a quixotic presidential campaign — decides to call his current quest quits and return home to the heartland for another term as governor.

Governor

Solid Republican. Though North Dakota’s infamously harsh winter has yet to set in, its gubernatorial race has been frozen for months. The dark horse presidential campaign of billionaire software executive and two-term Republican Burgum may not be dominating national headlines, but it’s the talk of the town among the state’s political class. That’s because the fate of Burgum’s campaign could have massive reverberations up and down the ballot.

Burgum entered

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