Brookings residents looking for a warm cup of coffee on a cold South Dakota morning already know to stop by Cottonwood Bistro, but this particular snowy Thursday brought something extra to Brookings' morning routine with a visit from Corinna Robinson.

Robinson is the Democrat running to claim the seat that our current U.S. Representative, Republican Kristi Noem, all too often leaves vacant of both her physical presence and of any sort of accomplishment or influence on behalf of South Dakotans. Robinson, a retired Army veteran and lifelong public servant, used the public event to explain how her experience would translate to governing in Washington and to build momentum for a campaign against a well-known incumbent who's better at getting her face on Fox News than at getting legislation on the docket.

Brookings residents enjoying their morning cup of joe [no, not THAT Morning Joe] also get to enjoy interacting with Corinna Robinson, Democratic candidate for U.S. Representative from South Dakota. Photo courtesy of Brookings County Democrats Chairperson [and my former journalism professor] Mary Perpich, whose camera phone is at least one notch better than mine!

Brookings residents enjoying their morning cup of joe also get to enjoy interacting with Corinna Robinson, Democratic candidate for US Representative from South Dakota. [Photo courtesy of Brookings County Democrats Chairperson Mary Perpich, whose camera phone is at least one notch better than mine!]

"I'm racing to catch up for lost time," Robinson told the crowd of a couple dozen people gathered to hear her speak at the local coffee shop. That characterization of her campaign subtly acknowledges the time gaps between the first October rumblings about Robinson's candidacy, an announced-but-delayed Veterans Day kickoff, and this week's more official statewide roll-out. But it also says that she's ready for some hard work to get around the state and make her case to South Dakota voters.

Over the weekend, this very blog called on Robinson to make that case by "opening fire on Noem's fecklessness," and Robinson's campaigning this week shows the beginnings of exactly that kind of fire. Take this from her Monday press release:

"It is time to bring Kristi Noem home. For almost four years now, South Dakota has effectively not had a voice in the U.S. House. Instead, Kristi Noem regularly and almost exclusively puts her own political interests ahead of the interests of all South Dakotans," the Rapid City native Robinson said [Corinna for SD, press release, 2014.01.27]

Or take her brief presentation to this morning's political kaffeeklatsch. Robinson works to preempt the crowing we all know we'll be hearing out of the Noem camp if the Farm Bill really, truly, finally does pass:

"[The Farm Bill is] nowhere near as comprehensive as when Dole. and McGovern got it passed. ... I know Kristi is going to try to take a lot of credit for getting that [Farm Bill] passed. The question still remains: why did it expire in the first place?" [Corinna Robinson, campaign speech, Brookings, SD, 2014.01.30]

In addition to criticizing the partisanship that seems the most obvious point of blame for Congressional inaction (she cites the government shutdown last fall as the "pivot point" for deciding to leave the military and seek election to public office), Robinson implies that a possible answer to why the Farm Bill expired is the failure of House committees and committee members to show up and do their job (hmm ... that criticism sounds familiar).

Robinson also did the stuff of good nuts-and-bolts campaigning, shaking hands, taking questions, circulating her nominating petition (as well as those of fellow Democrats Rick Weiland and Joe Lowe ... how's that for party unity?), and collecting donations by literally passing the hat** (what looked to me like a military-style boonie hat as one more reminder of Robinson's service). She talked about getting out on the road to towns all over the state (how does 311 towns sound, Corinna? You and Rick could be a carpooling, barnstorming dynamic duo!). She also mentioned an impending announcement about a new campaign adviser who's likely to rev up some more interest her run.


A snow-swept SUV is the requisite ride for be-bopping across South Dakota this time of year. Keep safe as you're putting on those campaign miles, Corinna!

Robinson may have some catching up to do, but she seems ready and able to run the race at full speed.

Bonus blog shout-out: Corinna says she reads the Madville Times every morning, including at 6:30 a.m. today before her snowy drive through Brookings. Good to know we've got a candidate who recognizes the importance of the blogosphere (even if we offer a little campaign kibbitzing here and there)!

**Clarification 2014.01.30, 23:37 CST DWC gets bent out of joint at my mention of "passing the hat." Rest assured that all the contributions I saw collected in Robinson's military-style chapeau were first placed in a properly attributed "Corinna for SD" envelope. I apologize for not properly documenting each step of the donation process. No need to waste your time investigating campaign finance laws, PP. I'm sure you can put your resources to better use crafting more unnecessarily long and inflammatory-bordering-on-libelous blog post headlines.