Corinna Robinson continues her work to build momentum as the Democratic challenger to U.S. Representative Kristi Noem (R-SD), announcing today that she's drafted a campaign team that includes tough campaigner and strategist Steve Jarding as General Campaign Consultant to Corinna for SD.
Announcing the additions of political activist and former West River legislator Tom Katus as Campaign Manager, Deanna Dowlin as Media Director, and Sam Khoroosi as Campaign Treasurer, today's press release also confirms campaign staff changes noted in the lead-up to last week's statewide kickoff. Robinson's highlight of her campaign team also mentions John Gossom as having been with the campaign since November, though it lists no formal campaign title for Gossom.
Robinson continues to make the case that she's going to put up a strong challenge to Noem:
"I often say, ‘One team, one fight,’” Robinson said. “With the team that I have gathered so far, it’s going to be one heck of a fight. My team’s combined talents -- Jarding’s extensive national and international campaign experience, Katus’ grassroots organizing skills, Dowlin’s high-tech knowledge, Khoroosi’s legal and financial expertise, and Gossom’s research savvy – come together perfectly and establish a force to be reckoned with. Together we will bring Noem home.” [Corinna for SD, press release, 2014.02.04]
This news puts questions about Jarding's allegiances for the fall to rest and comes after a busy campaign week for Robinson, who initially announced her office-seeking intentions last fall and started her formal campaign kickoff January 27. The new team's political acumen brings additional cachet to the political newcomer Robinson's campaign.
Jarding, currently a Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and one of two principals at political consulting firm SJB Strategies International, had generated some online buzz encouraging him to run for office in South Dakota himself this cycle (though which office to run for was an elusive question). The South Dakota native and veteran campaigner, who ran U.S. Senator Tim Johnson's (D-SD) last re-election race in 2008 and worked for former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), disappointed the non-directive but passionate "People for Steve Jarding" last week when he announced that he would not run for political office in 2014.
Now, Robinson seems to believe she can capture the excitement of Jarding's supporters by making their guy a key part of her campaign. To achieve that, Robinson's next step should be to apply the transitive property of political support to say loudly and clearly that if "People" are "for Steve Jarding" (A = B) and being "for Steve Jarding" is being "for Corinna Robinson" (B = C), then those same "People" are "for Corinna Robinson."**
Jarding's affiliation with the Robinson campaign might answer this blog's questions about why the facebook announcement of his intent to sit out as a candidate didn't include any information about his thoughts on other Democratic candidates in the 2014 cycle. If you're working on a formal relationship with a specific campaign, you say as little as you need to for yourself in order to make sure your later public statements on behalf of your candidate bolster her cause as much as possible without wading into other campaign waters.
And, should Cory's worries about Jarding's individual reluctance to throw his support behind the whole Democratic slate still cast any shadow on Corinna for SD's new General Campaign Consultant, Corinna's visit to Brookings on Thursday indicated the candidate herself is a team player working to help Democratic office-seekers in every major race.
It's good news for Robinson that she has recruited a campaign team with experience helping Democrats win statewide office in South Dakota (Jarding literally wrote the book on how Democrats can win in conservative rural areas), but it might be even better news for her that Jarding was a senior adviser to Jim Webb's successful U.S. Senate campaign in 2006. Running against an incumbent Republican (then-U.S. Senator George Allen [R-VA]), Webb was a first-time candidate coming off a career in the military that stretched from his teenage days through high-level work in the Department of Defense. Sound familiar?
Political campaigns are not wholly adherent to the transitive property (Candidate A is never completely equal to Candidate B, so the campaigns can't be equal, either). However, Jarding's experience should translate well for the Robinson campaign. More important than her new team's campaign know-how, though, are the political savvy Robinson shows in seeking Jarding as an ally and the legitimacy she gains by successfully convincing a consultant of Jarding's prestige that she has what it takes to be a viable candidate. Robinson sends the message that she means business:
“I have stated from the beginning of this campaign that I intend to win, so that I can give all the people of South Dakota a new independent voice in Congress,” Robinson said. ... “Hiring a core staff that has great political leadership and tremendous, extensive knowledge of our state is a sign of my commitment and of my ability to attract the best talent to my team.” [Corinna for SD, press release, 2014.02.04]
One campaign staffing press release may not be a game-changer, but in this case it seems to signal a move toward a Corinna for SD campaign that's ready to play the game on a higher level.
**More fun with the transitive property: If one accepts that being "for Corinna Robinson" is being "for SD" (C = D) and that the aforementioned "People" who are "for Steve Jarding" (A = B) are also "for Corinna Robinson," (A = C), then those same people are also "for SD" (A = D). Woo-hoo!