Republican pastor Scott Craig is running for one of the House seats in District 33, which covers a swath of North Rapid City, reaches north to Black Hawk and Summerset, and reaches west into the Hills to Lakes Sheridan and Pactola. He's a newcomer to South Dakota, saying he's still acclimating to the climate here after moving from Hawaii a couple years ago. His newcomer status probably won't affect his electability as much as the big R behind his name: Democrats face an uphill climb anywhere west of Ellsworth Air Force Base, and only one Democrat, Robin Page, is challenging Craig and incumbent Republican Jackie Sly for the two District 33 House seats.
However, eleven other letters could drag down Craig's vote total: G-O-R-D-O-N H-O-W-I-E. Craig worked for Gordon Howie's doomed 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Pastor Craig spoke for the self-declared Tea Party champion in ads and on the campaign trail. He backed Howie's exhortation of pastors to break the law by endorsing his holy candidacy from the pulpit (although I don't think we ever got Craig or any other pastors on the record actually endorsing Howie mid-sermon). Even after Howie's trouncing in the primary, Craig contributed essays and sermons to Howie's Potemkin blogroll urging the unhealthy and unChristian ingling of church and state.
I assumed that Craig's candidacy was part of the great conservative Christian revolution that Howie fantasizes he is leading. So, apparently, have a number of other folks. Pastor Craig says that as he's out campaigning, folks will say, "Oh yeah, you're pals with Gordon, aren't you?"
Scott Craig wants you to know that's no longer the case. We chatted last night on the phone, and he said he is not a Gordon Howie guy. He says he cut himself off from Howie not long after Howie's 2010 primary defeat. If Craig views Howie as a force of any sort in West River politics, it is only as a negative force, one whose reputation only drags down candidates who risk associating with him. Craig's politics are still conservative, but they are his own, not Gordon Howie's.
Scott Craig just wants you to know that. Feel free to discuss Pastor Craig's disavowal of Gordon Howie today's "Liberty Lunch."