In not quite news, Steve Jarding is not running for Governor or Congress in 2014:

...in light of my other commitments and responsibilities, specifically my teaching and international and national business commitments, I came to the decision that now it not the right time for me to run for political office. Instead, I pledge to continue to speak out and fight for our state and our citizens and to assist others who have stepped forward into the political arena this cycle who believe as I do that we can and must do better at giving hope and opportunity to all of our citizens [statement attributed to Steve Jarding, Facebook post on "People for Steve Jarding," 2014.01.24].

That offer to "assist others who have stepped forward in the political arena this cycle" could have been worded a bit more directly to provide some actual assistance. Jarding doesn't mention the other candidates by name. He doesn't say, "I'm going to help Corinna Robinson and Joe Lowe, the candidates who have stepped to run for the offices I was considering, because they are great candidates." He says earlier in his statement that "both of the current occupants of those offices are beatable," but he doesn't say, "Corinna and Joe can beat Kristi and Dennis, and I'll help Corinna and Joe beat Kristi and Dennis."

Jarding doesn't mention Robinson or Lowe in his reasons for not running. He could have combined his demurral with praise for the other candidates: "I have a lot on my plate. I'd lead the fight if I had to, but knowing Corinna and Joe can lead the fight for our ideals takes the pressure off me, and I'm happy to yield the floor to these two great candidates."

Jarding left out one tiny word that strikes me as significant. Compare one of his sentences above with one slight alteration (#1 is his; #2 is mine):

  1. "...I pledge to continue to speak out and fight for our state and our citizens and to assist others who have stepped forward into the political arena this cycle who believe as I do that we can and must do better at giving hope and opportunity to all of our citizens."
  2. "...I pledge to continue to speak out and fight for our state and our citizens and to assist the others who have stepped forward into the political arena this cycle who believe as I do that we can and must do better at giving hope and opportunity to all of our citizens."

Did you catch the difference?

We have others. Robinson and Lowe are the others. Jarding does not say that they are the candidates who share his values. Jarding says he will support candidates who share his values. He offers his supporters no direction to get behind the candidates.

And his supporters, the still-unnamed "People for Steve Jarding," make no move in any direction toward the candidates. Their response to Jarding's quit is still all about Jarding:

People for Steve Jarding would like to take a moment to thank Steve Jarding for allowing us to share his ideas and thoughts about the future of South Dakota in recent months. Even though he has chosen not to run in 2014, he has continued to impact the political dialogue in this state, and we are very grateful for his time and his deep consideration.

We, in this volunteer effort, are dedicated to ensuring that South Dakota experiences a Steve Jarding candidacy soon. If he's open to it, in 2016, we will be right back to build more support for him to run in this great state which he calls home. This has been the first online effort to build his support, and we consider it a great start [someone claiming to be "People for Steve Jarding," Facebook post, 2014.01.24].

Last May, when Brendan Johnson decided not to run for U.S. Senate, his backers immediately pivoted to support the announced candidate Rick Weiland and exhort signatories to the "Draft Brendan Johnson" movement to do the same. Jarding's draft movement brags about building support, but they don't signal that they want to do anything with that support other than wait to push Jarding to run next time.

A prominent non-candidate who tried to bank some political capital to unseat the powers that be in 2014 might consider passing that capital to the candidates who are actually taking up that daunting challenge. Jarding's withdrawal announcement does not do so.