I don't think Rep. Stace Nelson (R-19/Fulton) has formed an official Congressional exploratory committee yet (first he might need a legal defense fund!), but he's pounding on M. Michael Rounds harder than this liberal blog. Kevin Woster gives the Fulton Republican a chance to blast Rounds in Sunday's Rapid City Journal. Here's the part pro-Rounds people don't want you to read:

Nelson rejects Rounds' contention that the former governor has strong support from conservatives.

"I can't name one real conservative in the state of South Dakota who is in Rounds' camp," Nelson said. "He's trying to recreate himself."

Nelson said Rounds had "an atrocious record" while governor, allowing government to expand, ballooning a structural budget deficit that topped $100 million and readily relying on federal stimulus dollars that conservatives abhorred.

"The fact that he needs $9 million to run in South Dakota should tell you that he knows his record is poor and he needs all that money to distract South Dakotans from his record," Nelson said.

Nelson hasn't yet decided if he will run for the U.S. Senate, but he is considering it. He said he has been contacted by the Tea Party Express, the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservative Fund [Kevin Woster, "Rounds Prepares for Conservative GOP Challenge," Rapid City Journal, 2013.06.23].

Woster also gets Northern State political guru Jon Schaff to declare Nelson a greater threat to Rounds than us Dems:

Schaff said a candidate like Nelson might energize conservatives and attract substantial support from out-of-state groups.

"I'd say Stace Nelson has a better chance of beating Mike Rounds than Rick Weiland (the announced Democratic candidate) does," Schaff said [Woster, 2013.06.23].

In the "enemy of my enemy is my friend" department, check out who visited Stace Nelson Saturday in Mitchell:

Potential GOP Senate candidates Dr. Annette Bosworth and Rep. Stace Nelson, Mitchell, SD 2013.06.23 (photo from Facebook)

Potential GOP Senate candidates Dr. Annette Bosworth and Rep. Stace Nelson, Mitchell, SD 2013.06.23 (photo from Facebook)

(Boy, that Nelson guy hangs out with all the characters, doesn't he?)

...or could Bosworth and Nelson sink each other?

But more than one primary challenger from the hard right would split the hard-right vote and weaken the impact of all, [Schaff] said.

"If the people in that wing of the party are serious, then they better settle on somebody," Schaff said. "Because if they've got three people running, Mike Rounds wins for sure. One person with a lot of focus and some outside money might make something happen" [Woster, 2013.06.23].

Schaff's point is solid: If Bosworth and Nelson compete for the conservative primary vote, Rounds walks away with the nomination of the unified mainstreamers. Nelson would need every vote he could get, and even the inattentive or drunk 5% who would vote for no-chance Bosworth would damage his chances in the uphill battle against Rounds. If Nelson is smart, he told Bosworth Saturday to run for House against Kristi Noem... and if Bosworth is smart, she'll take Nelson's advice, tackle an empty-boots incumbent against whom she'd be better matched, and enjoy the synergy of an outsider challenger campaign with Nelson as an ally, not an opponent.