That Sioux Falls paper is telling us to vote for Varilek. That by itself should be enough to make me vote for Barth.

As I note in my May 31 South Dakota Magazine column, I thought the Democratic primary for U.S. House was over about a month after Matt Varilek launched his candidacy. In almost no time, Varilek rolled up cash and endorsements that made Jeff Barth's campaign look like a footnote.

The past month has brought some unexpected excitement to the primary race. Varilek committed an unforced error on gay marriage, taking a weak and unpopular position that turned off key supporters. Then Barth blew up the blogosphere with his brilliant YouTube walk in the woods (163,000 views in eight days -- possibly a South Dakota YouTube record). And now Barth is throwing verbal bombs on health care that thrill health-care hawks like me and scare the SDGOP into attacking the supposed underdog in the Democratic primary.

(Double Negative Warning): The past month has not convinced me that Matt Varilek cannot do the job of beating Kristi Noem and of serving as an effective Congressman.

However, the past month has convinced me that Jeff Barth can do the job.

We South Dakota Democrats (and the Independents who choose to join us at our open polls on Tuesday) thus have the pleasure of a real primary choice between two viable candidates.

On this Friday morning, four days before the primary, I am 95% certain I will vote for Jeff Barth. He's as smart as Varilek. He has ready answers to policy questions. He speaks bluntly and fearlessly. He has useful, practical experience in government, similar to Varilek. He's traveled the world... which I might suggest beats riding horse named Lexus around Hayti as a qualification for Congress.

Does Jeff Barth have the cash and clout to beat Kristi Noem? Well, that's the literal million-dollar question. Against Noem, Jeff can't piddle around not fundraising the way he has this spring. But it's a pretty sure bet that neither Jeff nor Matt will out-fundraise the Kristi Noem-Fox News glamour machine. We must expect our Democratic nominee to operate at a perpetual cash disadvantage. In the last month, Jeff Barth has successfully auditioned for the role of underdog. He's shown he can work from an almost absurd disadvantage to create, against expectations, what looks like a competitive race.

I could be wrong. My pathologically contrarian affection for Kucinichian underdogs, salted with a little blogospheric echo-chamberitis, may be blinding me to Matt Varilek's imminent 80–20 stomping of Jeff Barth... at which point I only feel more liberated to vote for the guy who's going to get stomped. Even if Barth doesn't win, a higher-than-expected Barth tally gives Team Varilek a useful jolt to adopt the smarter, tougher campaigning they'll need to unseat Noem.

Whether we pick Barth or Varilek, we Dems are getting a good candidate. I am 95% certain I will pick Barth. I am 100% certain that I won't criticize anyone for canceling me out Tuesday by picking the other guy.

And I am 120% certain that, Wednesday morning, I will line up with all of my fellow Dems behind our smart, energetic, and qualified Democratic nominee to take the hard fight to Kristi Noem on her reckless and feckless performance in Washington.