Hey, whose phone is that ringing? Ah, Senator Tidemann....

Ad released by South Dakota Democratic Party, 2014.09.15

Ad released by South Dakota Democratic Party, 2014.09.15

The South Dakota Democratic Party is placing the above ad in Senator Larry Tidemann's local newspaper encouraging his constituents to contact him and demand that he subpoena the folks who could answer the vital questions about Mike Rounds's promotion of Northern Beef Packers and other economic development projects with EB-5 investment. The copy I got did not include the footnotes, but one may refer to the following supporting texts:

  1. "repeatedly broke the law": start with conflict of interest, then unauthorized lawyering, sprinkle Board of Regents policy, and top it off with a scoop of possible tax evasion.
  2. "millions of dollars of potential liability": that's here... and maybe here.
  3. "refuses to bring in...": see Tidemann's willingness to settle for unsworn written testimony here.

Senator Tidemann has proven himself able to change his mind before. Perhaps some civic participation will convince him to change his mind again and acknowledge that the Legislature and the public should hear from Rounds and his GOED/NBP/EB-5 collaborators in person.


Ah, high school debate, that joyous season when ninth graders stand and deliver more public debates in one weekend than Mike Rounds will during the entire general election season.

Looking at contemporary public political discourse through my high school debate judging paradigm is generally a bad idea, since it insults high school debate. But let's imagine South Dakota's Democrats and Republicans are high school debaters and see who won this week.

When I judge a high school debate, I take notes called a flow. First the Affirmative team speaks and puts points on the flow to prove some point. Then the Negative team speaks to put responses on the flow. Usually, after two speeches by decent debaters, my flow looks like this:
Sample FlowAff lays out arguments, and Neg responds to each one, point by point. Even if Point III is bogus, Neg takes a moment to explain why Point III is bogus before moving on to IV, V, etc. (And Neg does this in eight minutes or less—smart kids!) That's good clash (and good fun!).

South Dakota Democrats are on Affirmative, arguing that Mike Rounds is corrupt and unfit for U.S. Senate. This week, Democrats put a lot of arguments on the flow. And how did Team Rounds and the SDGOP—the Negative team—respond?Bollen-Rounds corruption flow Clash? What clash?

Against seven well-evidenced Aff points that show Mike Rounds rewarding the corrupt double-dealing and deceit of state employee Joop Bollen, Neg launches two ad hominem attacks at the bottom of the flow, tacks one diversionary non-response to one point, and leaves the rest of the flow blank. Mike Rounds, Dick Wadhams, and the rest of the GOP team have not challenged...

  1. the existence of Joop Bollen's contract with himself;
  2. the illegal conflict of interest created by such a contract;
  3. Bollen's violation of Board of Regents policy;
  4. Bollen's concealment of his unauthorized legal pleading on behalf of the state;
  5. Bollen's subjection of the state to legal liability;
  6. Kathy Tyler's specific math or her general charge that Bollen diverted money from state coffers;
  7. Rounds's rewarding of this rogue state employee with a no-bid contract.

In a high school debate round, I can just glance at the flow, see all that white space in Neg's column, and know that Aff is winning the debate. The SDGOP's inability to come up with direct responses to these questions about Mike Rounds's management of economic development shows they weren't ready for this corruption to be exposed and don't know how to spin pretty black-and-white evidence that Mike Rounds should not be our next Senator.

Of course, Republicans have more than eight minutes to respond. But every day they leave the flow blank is a day when Democrats can shout "Drop! Pull!", and tell voters to draw the arrows and vote Aff. Keep piling on, Dems!


Oh, those crazy kids—er, young voters age 18 to 34. The September 3–7 Survey USA poll finds South Dakota's youngest voters not doing what you might expect.

They aren't supporting Democrats, at least in any notably greater numbers than other age groups.

U.S. Senate All 18-34 35-49 50-64 65+ 18-49 50+
Mike Rounds (R) 39% 40% 43% 39% 35% 42% 37%
Rick Weiland (D) 28% 30% 14% 33% 32% 20% 33%
Larry Pressler (I) 25% 13% 34% 24% 26% 25% 25%
Gordon Howie (I) 3% 6% 1% 2% 2% 3% 2%
Undecided 5% 12% 7% 2% 4% 9% 3%


U.S. House All 18-34 35-49 50-64 65+ 18-49 50+
Kristi Noem (R) 53% 56% 55% 53% 51% 55% 52%
Corinna Robinson (D) 40% 36% 37% 42% 43% 36% 42%
Undecided 6% 8% 9% 5% 5% 8% 5%


S.D. Governor All 18-34 35-49 50-64 65+ 18-49 50+
Dennis Daugaard (R) 54% 52% 53% 55% 54% 52% 54%
Susan Wismer (D) 34% 33% 32% 37% 32% 33% 35%
Michael Myers (I) 6% 7% 7% 3% 9% 7% 6%
Undecided 7% 8% 8% 5% 6% 8% 6%

None of the Democrats enjoys an advantage among voters age 18–34. Dems' support among younger voters does not differ from their support among older voters by more than the margin of error, meaning you're as likely to spill your drink on a Weiland or Wismer voter at bingo night as you are at the Icon Lounge.

Perhaps those numbers support David Newquist's thesis that lots of young Democrats leave South Dakota, leaving behind a young cohort that votes pretty much like everyone else.

One twitch among the not quite as young as we used to be voters: check out the Weiland–Pressler numbers in the 35–49 set. That group tanks for Weiland, just 14%, but peaks for Pressler at 34%, better than the numbers Pressler scores in the over-50 crowd. Hmmm... we 35-to-49ers are the teenagers of the Reagan-Pressler years. Maybe we are more subject to nostalgia than we want to admit (Larry! Start playing the 80s mix tape at your campaign events! Journey! The Bangles!).

On the issues, the youngest voters place their highest priority on the economy/economic development.  At the state level, they are more interested in same-sex marriage than other age groups, but they give significantly less of a darn about Medicaid. Survey USA didn't ask about the importance of environmental issues in general, but the one specific environmental issue they mentioned, uranium mining in the Black Hills, hardly pinged on anyone's radar. Neither did EB-5—nertz!

The youngsters throw us one more curveball on the minimum wage:

IM18: Raise Minimum Wage  All 18-34 35-49 50-64 65+ 18-49 50+
Yes 61% 41% 59% 67% 66% 52% 66%
No 22% 41% 20% 17% 18% 29% 17%
Not Certain 18% 18% 21% 17% 16% 20% 16%

The conventional wisdom says that young people are more likely to make minimum wage and thus should be more likely to support an increase. But while IM 18 gets overwhelming support from the other three age groups, the 18–34 crowd is evenly split, 41% to 41%. It looks like we need to give these young voters some remedial classes in productivity and economic justice.


Mr. Powers perpetuates his obsession with picking on Angelia Schultz by rolling in the dead-fish rumors people feed him about the supposed withdrawal of Democrat Schultz from the race for Secretary of State. Team Schultz says hold the phone, she's on her way:

The American News contacted Schultz about the status of her campaign. In a phone interview Wednesday afternoon, Schultz' campaign strategist Bajun Mavalwalla said Schultz has been assembling a team and they're finalizing their strategy to find the best and most efficient way to get her message out across the state.

"As far as my candidate, she's not missing, and she's not pulling out," Mavalwalla said. "Right now, what Angelia recognizes is what we have in South Dakota is a core group of voters who need to know what she's all about. That's why we are making sure when we put everything out that the message is synchronized and right on time" [Elisa Sand, "Secretary of State Candidate Assembling Campaign Team," Aberdeen American News, 2014.08.27].

I'll admit, now is not the time to be assembling a campaign team. Now is the time to be dispatching the campaign team that you assembled back in June to go flood the State Fair with brightly T-shirted hand-shakers and jawboners to tell everyone that you rock, Krebs is Gant in heels, Stacey is crazy, and Emmett... well, he's just Emmett. You should also be answering the heck out of your phone and angling for every bit of free press coverage you can get.

But Schultz has Mavalwalla on the job, and his Nebula Group appears to be mobilizing in support of multiple Democratic candidates in South Dakota. Better late than never—now let's see some big push!

Related: In addition to his freshly announced work for District 12 House candidate Ellee Spawn, Mavalwalla's team has also signed on to blog favorite Robin Page's District 33 Senate campaign. No word yet on whether Page's new campaign consultants have moved her poll numbers, but they have finally launched a campaign website for Robin! Whoo-hoo!


I'm looking for the air quotes around "Brilliant":

Yes, Rep. Susan Wismer can claim victory. But Sen. Larry Tidemann played it smart today.... He declared today that he’s inviting Bollen to testify at GOAC’s next meeting scheduled for Sept. 24. Republicans took some tough hits on editorial pages for their treatment of Wismer, so the Tidemann decision today takes some of the steam out of the Democrats’ complaints claiming an EB-5 cover-up by Republicans.

...But here’s the smartest piece of Tidemann’s move. He’s essentially run an entire month off the calendar.... That takes Republicans four weeks deeper into their election campaigns [Bob Mercer, "The Persistence of Rep. Wismer and the Brilliant Move by Sen. Tidemann," Pure Pierre Politics, 2014.08.22].

Crockett and Tubbs—er, SDRC exec Joop Bollen and former Governor M. Michael Rounds

Brilliant: making sure this photo plays in every newspaper six weeks before the general election. South Dakota's EB-5 director Joop Bollen and former Governor M. Michael Rounds

I'm not sure what's so Republicanly brilliant about giving in to Democrats with a complete reversal. Last month Republicans didn't think Bollen was worth discussing. Tidemann maintained that the Government Operations and Audit Committee that he chairs had no authority and no need to ask Bollen questions.

If Senator Tidemann were "brilliant," he wouldn't have obstructed Rep. Wismer's Bollen-subpoena motion. He wouldn't have provoked statewide editorial outrage at the Republican cover-up. He wouldn't have set the stage for KELO to finally pick up my story from eight months ago showing that when the state privatized its EB-5 program, it put Bollen on commission and lowered his official salary below the legal threshold that allowed the state to issue a no-bid contract (now that contract was "brilliant"). A brilliant Tidemann would not have set the stage for Mike Rounds to get his glass EB-5 jaw hammered and Daugaard to get caught without a bucket by a Susan Wismer on fire at the Dakotafest debates. A brilliant Tidemann would not have provoked Democrats to retain formidable attorney Patrick Duffy to dig into the EB-5 documents and identify legal missteps (and Duffy won't sit silently twiddling his thumbs until September 24).

Joop Bollen, director, SDRC Inc.

Joop Bollen, SDGOP's Oliver North?

"Brilliant" (not to mention sensible, logical, responsible, practical...) would have been dragging Joop Bollen's butt before GOAC at its very first EB-5/GOED hearing on March 7 and demanding answers for the people of South Dakota. "Brilliant" would have been taking the EB-5 issue away from Dems before the primary.

"Brilliant" is the full-court press Democrats put on this week to force the SDGOP into a bad position.

Tidemann didn't shine yesterday; he surrendered... to Democrats. He scheduled a media spectacle in the heat of the campaign season. The least damaging outcome of Tidemann's delay is the GOP trotting out an arrogant and secretive foreigner as their Oliver North to declare EB-5 "a neat idea." The middle damage comes when Bollen either pleads the Fifth or declines to appear. The most damaging is Bollen smells the GOP throwing him on the fall-guy pile with Richard Benda and starts talking.

Democrats have known all along that Republicans would try to run out the clock on the EB-5 scandal to protect their candidates. But we have pressed anyway for answers, and now we may get them. Brilliant!

Laugh Line of the Week:

Craig Lawrence, the chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party, said Democratic calls for more investigation are fruitless.

"This is probably one of the most investigated matters in the history of South Dakota," Lawrence said. "Through all this, there's no smoking gun" [David Montgomery, "GOAC to Ask Bollen to Testify Despite Refusing Subpoena," that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.08.22].


Proud blog sponsor Sioux Falls Democratic Forum invited me to speak to their noon meeting today. Thank you, friends, for having me and coming out to listen! (And thanks to an eager reader for catching some of these photos!)


Democratic candidate for governor Rep. Susan Wismer says she's still surprised when folks hand her a microphone. Forum chair and District 11 Senate candidate Tom Cool (at the podium) would agree with me, Susan: you shouldn't be surprised after Wednesday's rock-'em-sock'em Dakotafest debate! People want to hear you preach that Democratic gospel of good schools, good roads, and good government!


Wismer's running mate Susy Blake and I enjoy hearing the good news from other Democrats at today's Forum.


Former legislator Denny Pierson is excited about (a) running for state treasurer and (b) his new website, coming soon! (Denny, send me a link when it's hot!)


"I mean every word I say": I tell Susan Wismer to her face, as well as the rest of the crowd, what an awesome job she did in Wednesday's Dakotafest debate.


Susy Blake breaks the great news straight from Twitter that, in a stunning reversal, Senator Larry Tidemann has asked SDRC director Joop Bollen to speak to the Government Operations and Audit Committee about the scandalous EB-5 program. That isn't a subpoena, but it's a great step forward for all South Dakotans who want answers about how Mike Rounds, Dennis Daugaard, Joop Bollen, and others have used the state's authority and good name to promote the EB-5 program and economic development.


What, you expected me to speak without waving my arms?

Sioux Falls Democratic Forum meets every Friday at noon at the VFW on South Minnesota. They will be hosting lots of legislative candidates in the coming weeks, so come learn about and discuss the great South Dakota issues of the day with your neighbors!


Pat Powers continues to feed his desperate need to insult Rick Weiland. This morning he recycles his tired language about Weiland being an "awful" candidate. His latest attack spins around the shaky thesis that Weiland "shuns" President Obama and thus loses his Democratic base to Obama-loving Larry Pressler.

Reality check: I am Rick Weiland's liberal, Obama-loving base. I like Pressler better than Powers does (insult-addicted Powers today calls Pressler "foppish"), but there is no way Pressler pulls me from Weiland.

As "evidence" of Weiland's shunning the President, Powers says Weiland did not attend the President's visit to "a ND/SD Indian reservation." President Obama visited the North Dakota side of the Standing Rock reservation in June. I get the feeling that if Weiland had traveled to Cannon Ball, 40 miles north of the ND-SD border, Powers would have teased Rick for campaigning where no one could vote for him (and I might have, too!).

Powers the insult-fop (yeah, I can call names, too) doesn't address real policy differences between Weiland and Obama. If he did delve into policy, he'd find that where Weiland diverges from the President, Weiland is actually tacking even more strongly into the Democratic base camp.

Consider health care. Weiland affirms the merits of the Affordable Care Act, but he dings the President for not going far enough. Weiland says the President should have kept the public option on the table, and he supports creating a public option by letting anyone buy into Medicare. That's a great pitch to a Democratic base that craves gutsy Dems not accepting the GOP fear-narratives.

Or consider Keystone XL. The President has helpfully delayed the project, but he's never come out and said no to the Canadian tar-sands export project. Weiland has taken much firmer stands against the pipeline, again cheering the Democratic base.

Weiland agrees with the President on the need for net neutrality, although Rick was ahead of the President in speaking out on the issue.

Even Pat's own SDGOP handlers disagree with Pat's morning burp. The GOP calls Weiland a "loyal foot solider" of President Obama (pick a message, guys!)

Whoever Weiland may be losing to Pressler, it's not the Democratic base. Maybe it's Indies who lean left but get nervous about being called Dems. Maybe it's nostalgic old folks. Maybe it's just a figment of Powers's wishful imagination, lacking for original and accurate arguments to make. But as the campaign kicks into high gear, we'll dismiss the latter, and win over the former as they realize Weiland means business. Weiland is with the President on the good stuff, and where Weiland diverges from the President, Weiland is pushing for even stronger, gutsier Democratic positions that will be good not just for Democrats' aspiring souls but for South Dakota and the country as a whole.

Update 08:37 MDT: If any doubt as to Weiland's credibility as a candidate and a Democratic base booster, consider this announcement fresh from Team Weiland: Rick has just hired fiery Democratic consultant Steve Jarding as senior advisor and spokesman. Jarding works for winners, and he's working for Weiland. Now let's really rumble!


O.K., I've had enough. There's some crowing going around about the South Dakota Libertarian Party's "huge success" in recruiting candidates at its convention last Saturday. The Libertarians found warm bodies for six of the seven statewide slots filled directly by party convention nomination.

"Libertarians 6, Democrats 3," chortles Bob Mercer, referring to the South Dakota Democratic Party's embarrassing failure to nominate candidates for attorney general, treasurer, and commissioner of school and public lands. My friend and convention-goer Leo Kallis says the SDLP are "rightfully rejoicing." Ken Santema deems his party's achieving a status that Dems could not "somewhat notable."

You know what's notable? The South Dakota Libertarian Party nominated six candidates (the most prominent of whom, according to a check of the official state voter registration database after supper tonight is still a registered Republican and thus, under state law and per the Arndt precedent, cannot be certified as a Libertarian nominee) who didn't have to do anything more to qualify for the ballot that show up at the library and say "Why not?"

And did you notice I said they filled six of seven statewide slots? Let's not forget the one Libertarians left empty that Democrats didn't: lieutenant governor. The SDLP didn't nominate a louie-gov because they failed to get anyone to run for gov. All they needed to do was get one of those eager conventioneers to spend the winter lining up a measly 250 Libertarian signatures. The Democrats and Republicans both had two people manage that minor feat of organization and perspiration and undergo a statewide primary.

But that was too much work for the Libertarians, whose laggardliness will now cost them their status as a recognized party. SDCL 12-1-3 conditions party status on fielding a gubernatorial candidate who wins at least 2.5% of the popular vote in November. Whatever status Libertarians get from nominating more candidates at convention than Dems, on November 4, the SDLP will lose its existential status, because it couldn't put first things first.

But if we're really going to play this numbers game, let's look at all the numbers. The Libertarians have six candidates. Yay. Democrats have 70 (71, if we count Susy Blake for lieutenant governor separately). That's Weiland for Senate, Robinson for House, Wismer for Governor, Schultz for Secretary of State, Pierson for treasurer, Allen for PUC, and 64 candidates for state legislature.

That 64 still stinks, stinks, stinks considering that there are 105 seats in the Legislature, and I will be kicking in chairs and knocking tables at Democratic meetings asking why we can't fill that roster. But that 64 is (literally, mathematically) infinitely better than the big zero Libertarians have vying for Legislature. And I'm not even counting the dozens more Democrats who are running for county commissioner, sheriff, and other local offices, ballot lines from which Libertarians are also absolutely absent.

To top it off, some of our 70 Democratic candidates will win. None of the Libertarians will. Again, that's infinitely better performance by Democrats.

We South Dakota Democrats aren't rejoicing—we have lots of problems, and lots of work to do. But we Dems have far more real candidates than emerged from the SDLP's weekend pizza party. We have a far more real party.

And after Election Day, we'll still have a party, unlike the Libertarians. I'd call that somewhat notable.

p.s.: The SDLP convention also couldn't hold its quorum's interest long enough to finalize a platform. Santema reports the SDLP executive committee will paste something together later. We thus have six candidates on our statewide ballot who are unified by nothing other than a label that will become legally meaningless the day after the election.


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