Toby and I are both keenly interested in the outcome of the Democratic gubernatorial primary. The Joe Lowe–Suasn Wismer contest is perhaps the most competitive and interesting statewide race on Tuesday's ballot. The candidates offer clear differences in personality and style that may gauge the philosophy and direction of the South Dakota Democratic Party.

Plus, we have no idea which way the race will go. Two Madville Times polls have given Joe Lowe a growing lead (up to 73% to 27% in the most recent) with readers here. Back-spot this blog 20 to 25 percentage points for optimism and blog-drama bias (remember our Barth-Varilek polling in 2012?), and you quite possibly get a dead heat between Lowe and Wismer.

So what do the tea leaves say about Lowe and Wismer? Two leaves available are the pre-primary campaign finance reports.

  • Joe Lowe's pre-primary report shows $23,350 from 28 donors and the Brule County Democrats (Hey, Brule! You guys endorsing before the primary? Watch out!). Add $6,573 in unitemized small donations and $1,250 that was already on the board in December, and Lowe has raised a total of $31,123.
  • Susan Wismer's donation report shows $20,333.27 from 41 individual donors, plus a mess of spare change from ActBlue clickers. Secretary Gant's link to Wismer's pre-primary report doesn't load, so I can't see the itemized donations (Jason! Fix it!). But add two more donations reported Tuesday, and Wismer writes $21,333.27 on her income line.

Pending access to the unitemized donations number for Wismer, we see Lowe with what appears to be a fundraising edge: more cash, but fewer donors. That plays in Lowe's favor if that cash buys name recognition with roadtrips and ads. The campaign finance data plays in Wismer's favor if the number of donors translates into numbers who show up to vote.

And tonight we'll see in whose favor a head-to-head debate plays. Lowe and Wismer face off on South Dakota Public Television in Vermillion, tonight, 8 p.m. Central, 7 p.m. Mountain. Watch on TV or online tonight on SDPB, the only major media in the state offering the candidates and voters this kind of opportunity for face-to-face discussion of South Dakota issues and comparison of candidates.