Time for Anna Madsen and other prominent Brendan-backers to switch gears. Instead of reading Brendan Johnson's tea leaves for signs of progressivism, South Dakota Dems looking for a party standard-bearer have a declared U.S. Senate candidate: Rick Weiland!

Here are quick reasons Dems can fire up about Rick's announcement:

  1. Rick's from Madison. We all know Madison guys are smart. (For the record, Russ Olson is an Egan guy.)
  2. The Republican spin machine moans that Weiland isn't interesting... but that's only because his declaration throws all their diligently hyped Johnson-vs.-Herseth Sandlin hogwash out the window. Pat Powers is stuck wishing he could just recycle his tired anti-Stephanie propaganda. With nothing prepared to say about Weiland, Powers can only regurgitate Weiland's 2002 post-primary endorsement of the gal to whom he finished second.
  3. In further narrative dashing, we can also chuck the kerfuffly stuff about the DSCC trying to boss around the South Dakota grassroots.
  4. Rick spent the last ten years working for the International Code Council, where, among other achievements, he helped develop the nation's first green construction code. That practical policy work speaks in Rick's favor. It will also draw the Agenda 21 sustainability-equals-Stalin gooneybirds out of their holes to make the Republicans look crazy and drive Independents to Weiland.
  5. An experienced candidate in the Senate slot takes the pressure off Stephanie to serve the party in Washington. She can now focus her deliberations on the campaign and the job that better suits her family ties and moderate politics: a run for Governor!
  6. Maybe Rick will inspire his brother Dr. Kevin Weiland to run for office in 2014, too. Hmm... run Rick for Senate, Kevin for House... they could save money on signs! Heck, pull Ted Weiland to run against Russ Olson, and the Weiland brothers could get three times their money's worth with billboards in District 8!
  7. With Weiland already drawing cheers from Tom Daschle and Heartland America PACker Mike Chapman, South Dakota Dems may well have a strong progressive candidate who can draw the out-state enthusiasm (i.e., cash) we need to hold that Senate seat.

I do not endorse tonight; I reserve the right vote for any other Democrat who may throw in for the Senate primary and can better tickle my Wellstonian fancy. (Hey, Jeff Barth! Up for another walk at Great Bear?) But at this point, I greet Rick Weiland's entry into the race with enthusiasm. He's definitely a step toward building a winning Dem ticket. And if he's not the best Dem, he represents a step toward an energizing primary.