Instead of going to the Franklin and gambling my life savings (that would have taken about ten minutes), I gambled my life and went to the Lawrence County Lincoln Day Dinner at the Spearfish Holiday Inn. Checking... no bullet holes, no signs of dioxin... heck, even my trusty Beetle made it out of the parking lot with its Democrat bumper stickers intact.
Actually, the Republicans, with just one exception, were as cordial as we would expect of any South Dakota neighbor. Their speeches were mostly cordial, too, and as distinctive as the chicken cutlets and steamed vegetables they are being served at conference hall after conference hall this primary season.
One line from the speeches that caught my attention came from U.S. Senate candidate Jason Ravnsborg, who is angling for the squeaky clean image. He said that the other candidates all have scandals—EB-5, petitions, being thrown out of caucus—that we devilishly clever and effective Democrats will use to defeat them and propel Rick Weiland to victory. He didn't mention his own lawyering for a child-porn user, because hey! that's not a scandal Democrats would exploit, only his fellow Republicans.
But what about Larry Rhoden? Ravnsborg didn't hang a scandal on the handsomest man in Union Center. What's the worst thing Larry Rhoden's ever done? What would Democrats do to kick him around? In some crazy universe where Mike Rounds is content sitting home on the porch drinking hooch with his brothers, where Stace Nelson is busy solidifying his power as Speaker of the House, and where Ravnsborg and Rhoden are the only two candidates on the GOP primary ballot, Rhoden beats Ravnsborg because Rhoden is at least as clean, has infinitely more political experience, and has livestock available as campaign props.
But even if Ravnsborg had some scandal on Rhoden, it makes sense that he doesn't attack Rhoden:
- Larry'd punch your lights out (don't mess with ranchers!).
- In the only poll around, and a pushy one at that, Ravnsborg is dead last and needs to attack frontrunner Rounds, leading challenger Nelson, and that lady sucking up easy campaign contributions from gullible out-state donors, in that order (actually, Jason, while I appreciate the acknowledgment, you could skip the third, because I've already made that sale for you).
- Everything sounds better in threes, which even Ravnsborg acknowledged by saying at the top, "I'm going to make three points." (Speech coach note: Jason didn't roadmap those three points, but at least he said he had three points.) Adding a fourth scandal with which to ding Rhoden would be rhetorically clunky.
I look forward to hearing Ravnsborg elaborate further on the scandals he sees bringing the other candidates down, especially EB-5, in which we find the very integrity of state government at stake.