"Embattled" (that's David Montgomery's first word) Secretary of State Jason Gant goes LBJ and tells us today he won't for a second term. This announcement comes after a clear vote of no confidence from his own party as Senator Shantel Krebs (R-10/Renner) declared Gant had violated the integrity of the office and began lobbying SDGOP delegates to support her in a convention challenge to Gant's renomination (as substantiated first here on the Madville Times last Thursday).
But Gant can't just leave without firing up the manure spreader again:
Gant insisted Krebs' challenge didn't play a role in his decision not to run.
"I'm confident, had I decided to run for another temr, I would have been successful in both the primary and the general," Gant said [David Montgomery, "Secretary of State Gant Won't Seek Second Term," that Sioux Falls paper, 2013.09.11].
Yeah, sure: and the Vikings would have won the Super Bowl if they had made it to the big game last year. Ba-loney!
As far as I can tell, Gant is the first South Dakota Secretary of State not to seek a second term since incumbent Republican Essie Wiedenman chose not to re-up in 1964. (Hey, historians! Anyone got documents on Essie's story?)* Gant flusterbluffs about the party's obvious pressure to remove his embarrassing blot from their roster and declares his failed tenure a success:
He said the reason he wasn't running was because he had accomplished his goals, including improving the secretary of state's online presence and promoting vote centers, where citizens can vote anywhere in their jurisdiction rather than just at a particular precinct [Montgomery, 2013.09.11].
Bob Mercer agrees that Gant managed (broken-clockily, I'll contend) to get some things right, but, as that Sioux Falls paper did last month, Mercer duly catalogs Gant's failures in maintaining the public trust:
For this reporter, Jason Gant was difficult to fully understand. He accomplished some notable changes for more-open government and he seemed to be on the right track with the vote-centers concept as a way to make voting more convenient, yet he allowed his top aide to engage in side business as a campaign consultant and campaign supplier; got crossways with Sen. Adelstein because that top aide, Pat Powers, had relentlessly mocked Adelstein during Powers’ earlier blogging; went through an Adelstein-requested official investigation by state Attorney General Marty Jackley that found no evidence of criminal violations but happened to coincide with Powers’ exit back to blogging and real estate; went through staff at a rapid-fire pace; took his own car on state trips so he reportedly could smoke while using a state-paid driver; didn’t keep his office’s website up to date at times; disdained the state Board of Elections even though he was its leader; and perhaps worst of all, violated a basic sense of fairness when he, as the state’s chief of elections, nonetheless got involved in a Republican legislative primary with a public endorsement last year. Some people thought I was too tough on him, but I actually thought he had great promise after he won the office in 2010 and only through his repeated missteps did another impression form [Bob Mercer, "Are S.D. Republicans Policing Themselves?" Pure Pierre Politics, 2013.09.11].
Excuse me: who out there ever got the impression Mercer was being too tough on Gant? Mercer fails to mention, as does Gant, the Secretary of State's dodging of responsibility and his persistent, sneaky suppression of the Indian vote, which the ACLU part of a "disturbing, persistent pattern of discrimination throughout Indian Country."
Gant has harmed his office and embarrassed South Dakota. His decision not to run again to run the public trust further into the ground past 2014 is small relief for citizens who care about fairness in the administration of elections and defense of voting rights. Gant would still serve his state and possibly even his party better by resigning now and allowing Governor Dennis Daugaard to appoint a competent replacement.
Update 18:36 CDT: An eager and intelligent reader reminds me that back in Essie's day, Secretaries of State and other constitutional officers, served two-year terms. I'm writing up a full post on the subject and will link it here shortly!