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Burgum defeats Stenehjem in GOP Governor primary

Courtesy Bonnie Amistadi, KFGO/Fargo

Fargo businessman Doug Burgum is the Republican candidate for Governor.

Burgum defeated the GOP Convention nominee, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, in Tuesday's primary. Although Burgum's name was placed before convention-goers, he had said from the start of his campaign he was aiming to win the nomination in the primary.

With all precincts reporting, Burgum received 59% of the vote, with 67,450. Stenehjem received 39%, or 43,800. Paul Sorum received 2%, at 2,139.

The race was spirited -- and at times, nasty. But in his acceptance speech, Burgum hit a conciliatory tone.

"But now with the primary completed, it's time for us to come together as Republicans," said Burgum. "And I'm committed to unifying our party."

Burgum said he plans to start meeting with Gov. Jack Dalrymple and Legislative leaders, to begin what he called a "collaborative dialogue about how to best-serve the citizens of North Dakota."

"We're fortunate in North Dakota to have dedicated and committed citizen Legislators," Burgum told the crowd at Fargo's Ecce Gallery. "They share our desire for efficient and effective delivery of government services. Brent (Sanford, the Lieutenant Governor candidate) and I look forward to learning from them and working with them to deal with the fiscal challenges we currently face."

In his concession speech, Stenehjem said he's proud of the campaign he ran.

"We can hold our heads up high, because we gave it our best," Stenehjem told supporters at the Bismarck Municipal Country Club. "And we are committed to my belief that, no matter what, there's never been a better time to live in the state of North Dakota than right here, right now."

Stenehjem will have two years left on his term as Attorney General. And he said he has a number of issues he will be working on -- such as opioid abuse, prison reform and reducing human sex trafficking.

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