I suggested last week that South Dakotans should ask their local legislators if they planned to attend the American Legislative Exchange Council's 40th annual pro-corporate brainwashing in Chicago.

This August 8 open letter from ALEC, which the corporate lobbyist group composed during its convention to cry that asking organizations whether they belong to ALEC and where they stand on important legislation constitutes intimidation, indicates that South Dakota legislators did attend the ALEC convention. Here are the South Dakota signatures (written by hand, not submitted electronically) in the order they appear on the letter:

  • Rep. Manny Steele (R-12/Sioux Falls)
  • Rep. Leslie Heinemann (R-8/Flandreau)
  • Rep. Hal Wick (R-12/Sioux Falls)
  • Rep. Hal G. Wick (R-12/Sioux Falls)
  • Rep. Jim Stalzer (R-11/Sioux Falls)
  • Sen. Dan Lederman (R-16/Dakota Dunes)
  • Sen. Ryan Maher (R-28/Isabel)

Yes, Rep. Wick was one of 35 duplicate signatures on the document. We'd better watch Wick to make sure he doesn't file twice for reimbursement for his ALEC trip.


South Dakota turns 125 next year! Whoo-hoo! To organize quasquicentennial activities (activity #1: drilling South Dakotans on spelling and etymology of quasquicentennial), Governor Dennis Daugaard has appointed a nine-member 125th Anniversary of Statehood Commission.

Members include Rep. Bernie Hunhoff (D-18/Yankton), whose long experience writing and publishing stories about South Dakota make him an excellent resource for planning historical celebrations, and Rep. Leslie Heinemann (R-8/Flandreau), who pulls teeth. Expect several quasquicentennial commemorations of brave dentists in South Dakota history.

Governor Daugaard assures us that no tax dollars will be harmed in the making of this quasquicentennial. He also invites us to submit our ideas for 125th-anniversary observation ideas through the new South Dakota quasquicentennial website. Hey, how about a South Dakota blogathon? First blogger to write 125 posts about South Dakota in 2014 gets a t-shirt?


I managed to watch the final District 8 Legislative candidates' forum this weekend, courtesy of KJAM's diligent election videography.

Here's what I learned:

  1. Charlie Johnson could have become a lawyer. In his introduction, Johnson said he was accepted into USD's law school but turned that down to work as a small-farm advocate.
  2. The man Johnson wants to replace, Senator Russell Olson, doesn't understand the disconnect between what he says and what he does on education. He says he's deeply concerned about raising teacher pay. He says he opposes Initiated Measure 15 because it doesn't guarantee that the new revenue goes to teachers. He says he supports Referred Law 16 because it is the first time he and his fellow legislators have made an effort to pay great teachers more. But Russ, if paying teachers more is such a priority for you, why didn't you get around to it until the sixth year of your time in Pierre?
  3. Leslie Heinemann isn't a complete GOP tool. Instead of the vague, evidenceless claims that Senator Olson and fellow House candidate Gene Kroger make for Governor Daugaard's education agenda, Heinemann admits his reservations about the bonus program for teachers. He says he can "discriminate" in his small business and pay more to the employees he thinks are working hard. He recognizes, however, that it's difficult to impose the private business model on public schools.
  4. Charlie Johnson sums up Referred Law 16's merit pay plank best: "I don't cultivate, fertilize, and harvest only 20% of my acres. I take care of all my acres. That's the way we have to do education, take care of all of education." He says Russ and the Governor are using Referred Law 16 as a "diversion tactic" to keep us from focusing on the real problem if their neglect of K-12 education funding.
  5. Amendment M is not going to pass, and even Russ Olson doesn't care. He says the amendment on corporate voting and regulation would create a more business-friendly climate in South Dakota—and when Russ says "business-friendly," he means crony-capitalist. But Russ acknowledges that there hasn't been much effort to educate the public on the merits of M, so he appears to shrug at its prospects, as did most other candidates at the podium.
  6. As I expected, Gene Kroger is least equipped to deal with policy issues. On Initiated Measure 15, while the other candidates addressed the regressive nature of the sales tax, the size of the proposed increase (excellent rebuttal from Roy Lindsay, explaining that IM15 is not the largest tax increase in South Dakota history), and the merits of spending the money on K-12 education and Medicaid, Kroger reverted to his Grumpy Old Party talk about inflation and how he has to pay twice as much for his pork and beans. Note to Gene: under President Barack Obama, monthly inflation has averaged 1.6%. Under President George W. Bush, it was 2.8%. From 1914 to 2008, it was 3.4%.
  7. Asked about rising student debt, Kroger again shrugged his grumpy old shoulders and said students have to "decide if this is what I want to do and do I want to pay the price to do it." He asserted that South Dakota tuition is lower and students have less debt than in other states, which is GOP code for "Quit your bellyaching." It's also only one-third true. South Dakota graduates have the median student debt in the country, which happens to be less than the national average. But South Dakota has the second-highest percentage (76%) of students graduating with debt. And given that our wages are the second-lowest in the nation, those students have an even harder time paying off their debt.
  8. All six candidates expressed their eagerness to use government to create jobs by protecting and expanding Dakota State University. Senator Olson confirmed that he is hoping to arrange for the state to acquire the current Madison Community Hospital property when that organization builds its new facility on the south side of Madison.
  9. While Russ Olson thinks getting DSU more land and buildings will help the university, Charlie Johnson says that if we want students to fill those buildings, we need to find more state support to keep tuition affordable. 

On the whole, if you have to pick a Republican in District 8. He at least shows signs of critical thinking that go beyond what Fox News or Governor Daugaard tell him to think.

But the joy of living in District 8 is that you do not have to pick a Republican. You have a full slate of Democratic candidates. Charlie Johnson, Scott Parsley, and Roy Lindsay will legislate with more concern for the common good and sensible, evidence-based policy than their Republican counterparts.

Comments Off on District 8 Legislative Candidates’ Forum: What They Said

Friday, October 26 was the deadline for all South Dakota candidates to submit their pre-general election campaign finance reports to the Secretary of State's office. Here's the data for the District 8 Senate and House candidates:

District 8 Pre-general campaign finance 2012

(click to enlarge!)

The Senate race is a swamper: Heartland Consumer Power District's permanent lobbyist Russell Olson outpaces farmer Charlie Johnson 13 to 1 in campaign contributions, 6 to 1 in ad spending, 9 to 1 in total expenditures, and 104 to 1 in cash on hand. Charlie, you have a lot of knocking and handshaking to do this week!

The House race is tighter in dollar terms. I can't give a complete report yet, since Roy Lindsay's report is not yet available (there's a paper copy in the mail, right, Roy?). I'll update that as soon as Sec. Gant does. But from the reports in the hopper, we see that while Scott Parsley has raised $4,800 more than Leslie Heinemann, Heinemann has out-advertised Parsley by $12,800. Yet Parsley's cash-on-hand advantage is just $2,600.

Where has Parsley's money gone? In a sign of either Democrat selflessness or self-confidence, Parsley has given $14,100 to other candidates around South Dakota, $4,000 more than he has spent on himself:

Campaign/Committee receiving donations from Parsley for House campaign Date Amount Type
BILL ANTONIDES FOR HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 10/01/2012 $500.00 SD House of Representatives
HAUSMAN FOR HOUSE 10/01/2012 $500.00 SD House of Representatives
HAWKS FOR HOUSE 10/01/2012 $750.00 SD House of Representatives
KLOUCEK FOR SENATE COMMITTEE 10/01/2012 $100.00 SD Senate
MAYNARD J. KONECHNE 10/01/2012 $500.00 SD House of Representatives
SOUTH DAKOTA DEMOCRATIC PARTY 10/01/2012 $11,750.90 Political Party

Meanwhile, Heinemann has kicked a hundred bucks toward 8-mate Kroger's campaign.

While raising just 38% of Senator Olson's obscene haul, Parsley has spread 58% more green love to his party and fellow candidates. Here's how Olson has thrown his love around so far this fall:

Campaign/Committee receiving contributions from Olson for Senate campaign Date Amount Type
CHICOINE FOR SENATE 10/04/2012 $500.00 SD Senate
CHRISTINE ERICKSON FOR HOUSE 06/14/2012 $250.00 SD House of Representatives
FRIENDS OF DAN LEDERMAN 10/04/2012 $1,000.00 SD Senate
FRIENDS OF KENT JUHNKE 10/04/2012 $1,000.00 SD Senate
GENE KROGER FOR HOUSE 09/18/2012 $500.00 SD House of Representatives
JOHN S MEYER FOR SENATE DIST 21 10/04/2012 $500.00 SD Senate
OMDAHL FOR STATE SENATE 09/17/2012 $500.00 SD Senate
OTTEN FOR SENATE 09/17/2012 $500.00 SD Senate
ROMNEY FOR PRESIDENT, INC. 09/25/2012 $1,000.00 Other Committees
RUSHMORE PAC 10/04/2012 $500.00 Political Action Committee
RUSHMORE PAC 10/13/2011 $50.00 Other Committees
SHANTEL KREBS FOR SENATE 10/04/2012 $500.00 SD Senate
SOHOLT FOR DISTRICT 14 SENATE 09/17/2012 $500.00 SD Senate
SOUTH DAKOTA RETAILERS ASSOCIATION PAC 09/28/2012 $125.00 Political Action Committee
VAN GERPEN FOR STATE SENATE 10/04/2012 $1,000.00 SD Senate
VOTERS FOR MILES 10/04/2012 $500.00 SD Senate

Both Parsley and Olson are working to build their party as well as their own political fortunes. But the amount Olson is spending on himself suggests that he perceives a much greater threat to his continued grip on power than Charlie Johnson's bankroll would suggest.

But wait! Russell Olson makes up that love-spreading gap with his Leading South Dakota PAC. Check out these contributions:

Campaign/Committee receiving contributions from Russell Olson's PAC Date Amount Type
CHRIS NELSON FOR PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION 09/01/2012 $250.00 Public Utilities Commission
DEB PETERS FOR SENATE 05/21/2012 $1,000.00 SD Senate
FRIENDS OF BRUCE RAMPELBERG FOR SENATE 05/21/2012 $1,000.00 Political Action Committee
GENE KROGER FOR HOUSE 09/01/2012 $500.00 SD House of Representatives
HEINEMANN FOR SD HOUSE 10/01/2012 $500.00 SD House of Representatives
KRISTI FOR CONGRESS 09/01/2012 $500.00 Other Committees
KRISTIE FIEGEN FOR SOUTH DAKOTA 09/01/2012 $250.00 Public Utilities Commission
MARK JOHNSTON FOR DISTRICT 12 SENATE 05/21/2012 $1,000.00 SD Senate
MICKELSON FOR DISTRICT 13 HOUSE 06/01/2012 $250.00 SD House of Representatives
PETER NORBECK PAC 09/01/2012 $5,000.00 Political Action Committee
SOHOLT FOR DISTRICT 14 SENATE 09/01/2012 $500.00 SD Senate
TOM NELSON CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE 05/21/2012 $1,000.00 SD Senate
WESTRA FOR DISTRICT 13 HOUSE 10/12/2012 $250.00 SD House of Representatives

The $5000 contribution to Mike Rounds's Peter Norbeck PAC gets me scratching my head. Mike Rounds gave Olson's PAC $1,000 last December; his PAC gave RussPAC another $3,000 in August. I'm sure this money-go-round makes sense to someone in Russ's office... but maybe such bookkeeping machinations are why Russ has burned up $2200 in mere administrative expenses.


Hang in there, Carthage: Dr. Heinemann is on his way!

I went to the F&M to get an oil change this morning and met Dr. Leslie Heinemann, Flandreau dentist and (at the moment) sole Republican candidate for District 8 House. He said he was on his way to Carthage to participate in the Straw Bale Days parade when his tire blew out.

"What time's the parade start?" I asked.

"Ten o'clock," said Dr. Heinemann, glancing at the clock above Nick Abraham, which read 10:30. Ouch!

Straining mightily against the metaphoric pressure, I assured Dr. Heinemann that I had nothing to do with his flat tire, though I would continue to poke holes in his campaign.

Democrats Scott Parsley and Roy Lindsay have likely already reached the end of the Carthage parade route (which can't be more than a couple blocks from the start). But Dr. Heinemann should make it in time for the 11-1 brats and pork loin lunch. (Mmmm... can I have pork loin on my brat?)


The inevitability of the Romney nomination brings me mild relief... especially when I review the list of Santorum delegates from South Dakota (as posted on Secretary of State Jason Gant's Facebook page):

2012 South Dakota Republican delegates for Rick Santorum

2012 South Dakota Republican delegates for Rick Santorum

That our Secretary of State's office is in the hands of Santorum backers (Gant, Lorenzen, Powers) makes me queasy, as does the sight of a nice girl like Meredith Powers supporting a man who thinks the proper response to rape is to accept what God has given her.

District 8 voters ought to pay attention: making the list with right-wingers like the Unruhs, Rep. Lora Hubbel, and Ed Randazzo is Flandreau dentist and District 8 House candidate Leslie Heinemann. Roy, Scott, talk some sense to the voters and take this guy down in November.

Newt Gingrich still has some hangers-on:

2012 South Dakota Republican delegates for Newt Gingrich

2012 South Dakota Republican delegates for Newt Gingrich

Lake Herman isn't all socialists: my west-shore neighbor Gene Kroger makes the Gingrich roster. So does former Governor Walter Dale Miller.

Now let's look at the kids voted least likely to win seats in Tampa Bay or any other national Republican convention, the Ron Paul delegates:

2012 South Dakota Republican delegates for Ron Paul

2012 South Dakota Republican delegates for Ron Paul

I suppose backing Ron Paul is the least harm my cousin Aaron can do. Carry on, kids.

Meanwhile, here's the roster of good soldiers marching glumly to the Establishment's drummer:

2012 South Dakota Republican delegates for Mitt Romney

2012 South Dakota Republican delegates for Mitt Romney

I'm speculating #16 is Madison's kind and gentle State's Attorney, Republican and Mormon Ken Meyer. These folks get to travel with Rep. Charlie Hoffman, who I'm betting is a hoot and a half on a roadtrip. Better make the most of Tampa Bay, Charlie: it'll be all downhill from there.


For the first time since 2008, District 8 Republicans have a nice Chamber of Commerce candidate to vote for in the race for State House. Flandreau dentist Leslie Heinemann has declared his candidacy for a District 8 House seat. In his initial public statement, he offers no policy vision or indication of what he would do better than either of the incumbents, his Flandreau neighbor Rep. Mitch Fargen or Winfred's Rep. Patricia Stricherz. If I stretch, I might find a hint of blog fodder in this statement:

I look forward to meeting the voters of District 8 to listen to their ideas and concerns in the coming months leading up to the primary and general election in November [Leslie Heinemann, quoted in Chuck Clement, "Heinemann Announces Dist. 8 Candidacy," Madison Daily Leader, 2012.01.20].

Heinemann mentions the primary. Hmm... he's the only declared candidate so far. District 8 has just one Republican representative, the striving Rep. Stricherz. Does Heinemann know of another Republican candidate eager to displace Stricherz from her seat? Is the local Republican machine recruiting a second Republican more to its big-money liking? Heinemann certainly fits that bill: unlike Stricherz, he has cash to burn with campaign donations. According to OpenSecrets.org, Heinemann gave $1500 to the Republican Central Committee last year, and he and his wife gave Rep. Kristi Noem $1250 in 2010. Heinemann also pops up with a hundred bucks here, a hundred bucks there on District 8 Senator Russell Olson's campaign donor lists.

* * *

Heinemann isn't on the Secretary of State's official candidates list yet, but a handful of early circulators are. My current abode of District 31 already has a full slate of Republican candidates for Legislature: Spearfish tow-truck driver and Lawrence County Commission chair Bob Ewing wants to take Tom Nelson's seat in the Senate; Spearfish's Fred Romkema wants to go back to the House, and Lead lawyer Timothy R. Johns wants to join him. Term limits mean Rep. Chuck Turbiville can't run for House; no word yet on whether he'll wrestle with Ewing for Senate. Dems, where are you?

Statewide we find one Dem already on the candidates' list: Kathy Tyler from Big Stone City wants to serve in the District 4 House. Tyler is currently vice-president of the Milbank school board. I wonder how she feels about merit bonuses for her teachers....


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