Kevin Woster brings us a political conversation that KELO-TV never would have otherwise. He gets former Republican state senator Don Frankenfeld to tell us what he really thinks of U.S. Senate candidate Marion Michael Rounds:

I agree that Mike Rounds is the front runner, but he has not yet established himself as the likely winner. He is a decent guy who more or less lucked into his first victory (I voted for him because I was so disgusted with the Barnett-Kirby fiasco) and has never faced a serious elective challenge. As a public speaker, he is kind of boring. By reputation he is kind of a control freak, even serving as his own campaign manager when he first ran. Of course he is formidable, but he is also vulnerable, particularly if he has to tack to the right to protect his flank in a primary. And if he wins, there is every reason to expect the same old gridlock in Washington [Don Frankenfeld, quoted in Kevin Woster, "Until Abdallah Calls, Here’s What Frankenfeld Has to Say about Pressler," KELOLand.com, 2013.12.18].

Hmm... if Rounds is a control freak, what does that say about his involvement in the GOED/EB-5/NBP monkeyshines that took place under his watch?

Frankenfeld says Pressler could actually win the Senate race as an Independent. Whether or not Pressler would win, Frankenfeld believes Pressler would have a positive impact on the election:

Provided he can establish his credibility, Senator Pressler’s candidacy will dramatically change the political conversation. It will motivate both the Republican and Democrat candidates to more toward the reasonable middle. It will reduce but not eliminate the sound bytes that routinely insult a voter’s intelligence. It will create a real danger in negative campaigning. And it will make for a very interesting election, and probably a higher vote turnout than one normally expects from an off-year election [Frankenfeld, in Woster, 2013.12.18].

Remember, contrary to the flak the GOP is firing, Rick Weiland is already closer to the center than the extreme left (ask real leftists outside South Dakota). But if Pressler could pull Rounds into a more rational battle for the vast unideological middle, and if Pressler could get more people watching the campaign, reading the blogs (hee hee!), and heading to the polls, I would welcome his entry into the race. Come and get it, Larry!

p.s.: Former lawman and legislator Gene Abdallah says he'll back Pressler, too. "I’m not happy with the choices that are running now," says Republican Abdallah of the Republicans before him.

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For a moment there, I thought the Rapid City Journal had traded up. I'm not sure which columnist the Journal was replacing: Janette McIntyre (who apparently prefers Gordon Howie's Potemkin blog village, where her ill-thought, knee-jerk, but flimsy conservatism will escape most people's attention) or volatile ex-mayor Jim Shaw. But this summer, the Rapid City paper brought on columnist Don Frankenfeld, who knows a thing or two about hard-hitting rational argument. Starting August 7, Frankenfeld banged out four columns, tackling Civic Center expansion, non-partisan elections, gay rights, and education.

Alas, in line with the erection of its new paywall (that's why I can't link you Frankenfeld's columns) and its new pay-to-play letters to the editor policy, the Rapid City Journal has taken one more step to reduce intelligent public discourse: they've canned Frankenfeld. The budding columnist made the mistake of criticizing his new part-time employer in a comment on RCJ's Mount Blogmore:

I had lunch years ago with the late, great Peg Sagen, editor of the RCJ, who complained that she disliked the Internet, and particularly disliked that she was expected to compete against herself by providing free online news content for which print subscribers had to pay. I suggested that there was no reason to give Internet readers a free ride. Now the Journal is finally trying (clumsily) to do the obvious thing. I hate it when that happens! And with the RCJ charging folks for publishing political letters to the editor, I suppose the next step is to slap a heavy fine on columnists...

I am grumpy about the new policies and unsure as a reader what to do about them. Probably I will drop my subscription to the print version in favor of digital only, although I am confused about the cost of this option. And I agree that Blogmorites collectively have voluntarily contributed something of value; it irks me to think this site, already less user-friendly than before, may disappear behind a paywall.

...by forsaking reasonably interesting content, created for free and distributed for free, the Journal may put itself into a self-reinforcing negative spiral. Or maybe accelerate an existing negative spiral.

I depend on the RCJ, and will be sad if it continues its prolonged fade... [Don Frankenfeld, comment to Kevin Woster's "Pay Wall, Pay Wall, Who's Got the Pay Wall? We Do!" Mount Blogmore, September 25, 2012].

The higher-ups at the Rapid City Journal consider criticism of their business and employment thereby incompatible. In response to what they characterize as Frankenfeld's "hostility" toward the paper, RCJ will no longer publish Frankenfeld's columns.

(By the way, I hear RCJ still hasn't paid Frankenfeld for his four columns. Not that Frankenfeld's hurting for cash, but one would think that with paywall revenues now surely swelling the Lee Enterprise coffers, issuing checks for services rendered would not be a problem.)

RCJ publisher Shannon Brinker is free to hire, fire, and drive her paper into the ground as she sees fit. But she also demonstrates that even the press can place corporate control and brand management over the First Amendment.

Oops, looks like I shouldn't bother applying for that open columnist spot, either.

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Blogmore Challenge Offers Valuable Information to Undecideds

Knock on those doors, Alan and Sam! Nielson Brothers Polling has released a poll on the Rapid City mayoral runoff election, which vote takes place this coming Tuesday, June 28. The results from 461 Rapid City voters:

  • Incumbent Alan Hanks: 43%
  • Alderman Sam Kooiker: 42%
  • Undecided: 15%

Margin of error is 4.6%, so as far as we know, Hanks and Kooiker are tied. And a whole lot of voters are on the verge of flipping a coin. One call, one knock, one well-placed sign can make a big difference. Go get 'em, fellas!

Those undecideds might do well to work through the electoral exercise hosted by Kevin Woster on Mount Blogmore. He challenged Kooiker backer Don Frankenfeld (and any other interested voters) to take this challenge: say five good things and five bad things about each candidate. Frankenfeld responded with gusto and sincerity. Read his reasonable rundowns of Mayor Hanks and Alderman Kooiker.

I'm curious: how many of us could do the same? How many of us could look at any race on our ballots, local or larger, and list five pros and five cons about each candidate? In the 2012 election, will I be able to compose such a list about Rep. Kristi Noem? Snarky backhanded compliments---She very effectively dodges questions!---don't count.

Mr. Woster has laid down a fine challenge for all advocates and voters in general. I commend Mr. Frankenfeld for rising to it.

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