In the ‘cycle of the outsider,’ North Dakota Republicans got a rude – but not entirely unexpected – awakening on Tuesday when Fargo business executive Doug Burgum soundly defeated state Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem in the gubernatorial primary. Burgum beat the GOP’s long-serving, convention-endorsed establishment pick by 21.4 points and is now the strong favorite to win the governorship in November against Democratic-NPL nominee Marvin Nelson. Although Burgum notched a clear and convincing victory, it was actually the most closely decided GOP primary in the state for the office over the last 12 cycles since 1972 – a period which saw each of the last eight Republican gubernatorial nominees run uncontested in the primary.

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