Former Mitchell Daily Republic assistant editor Tom Lawrence is taking up blogging. Under the Prairie Perspective masthead, Lawrence opens with commentary on Montana Senator Max Baucus's addition to the proliferation of open Senate seats in 2014.
Within that article, Lawrence offers an interesting glancing observation. As he lists the departing Senate veterans, he says South Dakota's Tim Johnson was "sidelined by ill health and the grim state of his state party."
Grim state... I understand what he means: less money than the Republicans, inability to win statewide races or hold effective opposition minorities in the Legislature, thinner bench of willing and able candidates.
But I must have missed the press release where Senator Johnson said, "Because the South Dakota Democratic Party is so weak, I'm going to make them weaker by retiring." If anything, I was worried that a lack of propsects for the SDDP might have induced Senator Johnson to run for Senate one more time, thinking that even with his health concerns, his incumbency, record, and war chest might have made him the Dems' best hope in 2014.
Maybe Lawrence is saying that deep down, Johnson saw his status as the only statewide elected Democrat in South Dakota as a burden, and that leading a party that hasn't been able to back him up with other election victories just isn't worth the effort any more. I haven't heard Johnson or anyone else say that... but Lawrence has pretty good ears.
I invite you, dear readers, to offer your observations on how the SDDP's "grim state" may have contributed to the end of the Johnson era. 6 comments
This is piddly stuff. It's not even worth lying about. But Pat Power lies about it.
The South Dakota Democratic Party tweets thus:
This statement is accurate. McGovern Day features keynote speaker Senator Heidi Heitkamp from North Dakota and guest speaker Senator Tim Johnson. Heitkamp announced her support for marriage equality last week. Johnson came out for marriage equality Monday.
But Powers, apparently lacking red meat, throws some soy filler to his baying hounds. He looks at the McGovern Day program, sees Matt Varilek listed as emcee, and runs this headline:
Dems say all their speakers support gay marriage. Except the one that doesn’t.
The Dems did not say that. But in Pat's world, a snappy headline is more important than the truth. 8 comments
Does Jeff Barth have a point. In response to news that various South Dakota Democratic Party county chairs are endorsing Brendan Johnson for Senate, Barth tweets that said party officials ought to resign for endorsing a candidate before the primary.
Having run in a primary against an opponent openly favored by the leading lights of the party, Barth is understandably sensitive to party interference in the primary process.
The SDDP constitution, Article 11, Section 1 reads thus:
Neither the State Central Committee, the State Executive Board nor any County Central Committee shall finance or endorse the candidacy of any person seeking the nomination of the Party in a contested Primary Election.
Hmm... does that language tell local party honchos to keep their endorsements to themselves until the June voters have spoken?
Experienced county party chair Robert Klein of Brookings offers some cover from Article 11 for eager official endorsers:
This has never been construed to prohibit individuals from endorsing candidates.
Their endorsement, however, should not be construed as an endorsement by the County Central Committee [Robert Klein, comment, Political Smokeout, 2013.04.03].
The committees themselves cannot endorse, but members thereof retain their First Amendment right to say whom they like.
And let's keep in mind: the only place a contested primary election currently exists is in the fervid hopes of bloggers and plotters on both sides of the aisle. 20 comments
Lest anyone get too excited about Stephanie Herseth Sandlin's strong showing in the Madville Times Easter poll on potential South Dakota Senate candidates, here's a reminder that SHS's Blue Doggery still sticks in the craw of some members of the Democratic base:
Blue Dogs like to say they're "just" fiscal conservatives. They are fiscal conservatives and almost always vote against economic justice, against the interests of working families and in the interests of the Wall Street banksters and corporations that subsidize their cushy careers. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin was a 3 term Rep from South Dakota and Blue Dog chairman until she was defeated, 48.1% to 45.9%, in the Great Blue Dog Apocalypse of 2010. She managed to amass one of the most right-wing voting records of any Democrat in Congress -- and not just on fiscal conservatism. She could almost always be counted on to back the Republicans on nearly their entire reactionary agenda. Let's take LGBT equality, since it's so much in the news lately. She's wasn't just against equality. There is no other way to describe Stephanie Herseth Sandlin than as a vicious homophobic bigot and hatemonger and dedicated, gratuitous enemy of LGBT families [Howie Klein, "Far Right Democrat Stephanie Herseth Sandlin Is Lusting for a DC Comeback," Down with Tyranny, 2013.03.29].
I would not use such vicious language to describe Zach's mom. This language comes from Howie Klein, strong liberal activist and blogger from Los Angeles. In his Friday post, he points to Herseth Sandlin's 2004 vote for a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Klein expresses further left-wing angst with Herseth Sandlin's 2009 votes against the American Clean Energy and Security Act (which included a cap-and-trade provision for carbon emissions) and against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and her acceptance of significant donations from the National Rifle Association. Given this record, Klein declares our gal Stephanie "unqualified to run for office as a Democrat."
Klein says "normal" South Dakota Democrats are pushing for U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson to run for Senate. Funny: Johnson has done good equal rights work in his current job, but I haven't heard him issue policy statements (and I wouldn't expect him to, not as U.S. Attorney) on gay marriage, cap and trade, ObamaCare, or the NRA that would put left-wing-celebratory daylight between himself and SHS.
Klein's language may be extreme, but his point matters: to Democratic observers outside South Dakota, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin looks like a Republican. Maybe we don't cotton to out-staters interfering in our politics (and there are a bunch of Republicans hoping to heck that out-state conservatives don't get involved in a Senate primary against that darned conservative faker M. Michael Rounds). But frankly, South Dakota Democrats can use all the help they can get. Rep. Kristi Noem had enough GOP cred to get out-of-state Republicans to send her over $1.3 million to help her beat Matt Varilek in 2012. If South Dakota Dems want to keep their Senate seat and win back the House, they might do well to find candidates who can fire up the base here and abroad.
Klein's commentary reminds us that Stephanie Herseth Sandlin will still have some trouble lighting that fire. The big question will be whether she or any South Dakota willing to run can win enough dollars and votes from the middle to succeed without tapping the pool of avid progressive supporters. 30 comments
Kevin Woster says we liberals are a nuisance for Stephanie Herseth Sandlin:
Herseth Sandlin often comes off as guarded and self protective, in part because you get that way trying to survive as a statewide-elected Democratic in a Republican-leaning state. She's been there, done that, and knows how dicey it is.
She is, however, very bright, and she also has an astute sense of politics, even though she lost touch with a liberal wing that had grown unreasonable in its expectations.
SHS also has a history of winning. And her general political philosophy - close on most issues to most South Dakotans - makes her a candidate with a strong reach across independents and into moderate Republicans.
If she can hold on to those pesky liberals in her own party [Kevin Woster, "Is it a Johnson-Herseth war or a figment of Republican imagination?" Mount Blogmore, 2013.03.06].
Unreasonable... because we expected her to live up to signals she'd sent in past years, stand up to the GOP lie machine, and vote for the best health care reform package President Obama and the Democratic Congress could muster? Pesky... because some of us thought a primary conversation would be a fine opportunity to hold Herseth Sandlin accountable for her rightward tilt?
I'd love to see Herseth Sandlin run for one of the top-ticket offices available next year (my preference at the moment: governor... and bring Max's lobbying skills to Pierre). But I'd also like to see her throw a little of her well-known caution and calculation to the wind and find her voice as a fighter for the Democratic brand. 22 comments
Brenda Wade Schmidt answers Pat Powers's question about Clarity Polling's recent calls around the state. It appears they have a client interested in the 2014 gubernatorial campaign:
The first question was whether I had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Daugaard, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, Mike Huether and Scott Heidepriem. From there, the survey asked various questions in which I was asked how I would vote if Daugaard ran against each of the Democrats. Press one for Daugaard, two for the other candidate, the automated poll directed.
The poll was clearly only about the governor’s race but did include questions about abortion, taxes, gun control and gay marriage. It also asked how often I attended church, whether I had cable TV and if there were any guns in my house [Brenda Wade Schmidt, "Press One for Dennis Daugaard, Two for the Democrat," Got Opinions? 2013.02.26].
From Wade Schmidt's description, the poll doesn't appear to have done head-to-head on the possible Dems. But when Clarity processes the data, here's how they'll find a primary would break:
- Herseth Sandlin: 75%
- Huether: 15%
- Heidepriem: 10%
I give Huether an edge over Heidepriem based on Heidepriem's inability to break the low glass ceiling for Dems in 2010 and lack of any evidence that he's building a better hammer for 2014. Given a choice between those two men, a slight majority of Dems would lean toward trying something different... although some of us will get excited about rained-on Alpo before we vote to put a former Premier BankCard usury exec in charge of our state.
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin
But that choice is academic if SHS enters the ring. She has a combination of experience, connections, fundraising potential, likability, and star power that outpace the other two H's and give Dems the most feasible shot at unseating Dennis Daugaard in 2014. 13 comments
Rep. Kristi Noem's press office chants the same tired and hypocritical slogan about President Obama's failure to address out-of-control spending.
Rep. Noem again speaks of fantasy, not reality. Economist Mark Thoma points out that, under President Obama, the amount of money we spend per person on government has actually decreased:
Translation: For the first time in my lifetime, or Kristi's lifetime, the amount each one of us Americans is spending on government is going down. And this is happening under a Democrat President whom some brand a socialist.
Notice the President with the lowest rate of increase in per capita government spending was also a Democrat. Go figure. 16 comments
Rep. Stace Nelson (R-19/Fulton) continues to play unpredictable GOP gadfly. You'd think his strong conservatism would have him holding the line on any increased spending. But he tells Kevin Woster that Governor Daugaard's proposed 3% increase to K-12 funding is not enough given the hard cuts imposed by the Governor's "new norm."
The Democratic delegation in Pierre is too small to wage effective opposition to the Republican agenda in Pierre. But if they can leverage the contrariness of rebel Republicans like Stace Nelson, we may see something like two-party rule and real checks and balances in our state government. 14 comments