The South Dakota Libertarian Party doesn't have to nominate a con-artist or a socialist French teacher for attorney general. The SDLP can choose to nominate no one. That's the question I turn over to you, dear readers: given a choice between Chad Haber and Cory Allen Heidelberger, whom should the SDLP nominate? Or in that situation, should the SDLP nominate no one, and let AG Marty Jackley ascend to a second term unopposed?

*   *   *
Chad Haber has finally poked his head out from under his shell and handed the press his jobless, degree-less résumé to support his effort to distract from his wife's impending conviction. The putative (the Spanish would use a shorter word) candidate for the Libertarian nomination for attorney general asserts that he will help the Libertarian Party by being a viable candidate:

"This'll be a real candidacy. We know how to raise money," Haber said [David Montgomery, "S.D. Politics: Libertarians Looking to Fill Gap," that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.07.21].

The thunder you hear is unpaid employees, raffle ticket holders, and the folks who loaned Haber and his wife an RV to winter in all laughing.

Haber also feigns largesse by saying he'll defer to a candidate who satisfies his criteria for "more qualified":

But he said he was hoping to find another lawyer to run against Jackley, and is still willing to "step aside" if "someone more qualified steps up."

Haber said his standards for "more qualified" primarily are based on a candidate being willing to "stand up" to Jackley [Montgomery, 2014.07.21].

O.K., Chad. I'm your man.

I've been calling out Marty Jackley for dereliction of duty and the state of South Dakota in general for corporate cronyism and oppression since before Chad and Annette fled his failing mortgage scam in Utah (which, by the way, Pat Powers finally gets around to throwing in Haber's face now that Chad is attacking Pat's pal Marty... more than a full year after I brought you that story and Raymond Paul Morris's accusation that Haber ran the mortgage-Ponzi scheme that sent half a dozen people to federal prison).

So Chad, you can already drop your candidacy, because a better candidate has come along: Cory Allen Heidelberger, honest and dedicated stander-upper to Marty Jackley.

Not that the South Dakota Libertarian Party needs convincing, since every Libertarian who has spoken publicly about the Haber candidacy has rejected it, but I made this case Friday to Bob Newland and other Libertarians that I'm a better candidate for their party. Look at all the qualities I can bring to the ticket that Chad Haber cannot:

  1. Lots of Democratic voters.
  2. The highest vote total ever received by a Libertarian nominee in South Dakota.
  3. Proven rhetorical skills (read Chad's writing, especially when he tries to get technical: you need to communicate more coherently than that to campaign, not to mention produce legal opinions and speak for the state of South Dakota).
  4. No one in my immediate family distracting with felony charges.
  5. Firm grasp of South Dakota legal and political issues, including EB-5.
  6. Proven record of reporting corruption in South Dakota, including the Taliaferro/Schwab case, which I covered two years before Chad Haber ever mentioned it.
  7. An honest dedication to truth, justice, and South Dakota, not self-promotion.

Plus, I've established that I can accept at least 52% of the Libertarian platform. Haber has offered no such detailed analysis of his political views.

Libertarians should not be fooled by Chad's only other claim to qualification for candidacy, his and his wife's purported ability to raise money. Sure, on paper, they raised more money for the GOP Senate primary than everyone else except Mike Rounds (and they outdid him in April and May). But every penny documented so far covered paid Base Connect and its associates to get those donations. That money didn't promote a political agenda. It enriched clever direct mail companies and bought Annette some Starbucks. That money also came mostly from out-of-state hot-button donors who won't give a rat's toejam about an in-state AG's race.

Translation: Chad won't bring you Libertarians any money. I can promote the Libertarian agenda better with a couple speeches and a few good blog posts.

But here's the big question for the South Dakota Libertarian Party: do you want either of us?

Suppose those lawyers Emmett Reistroffer is jawboning all back out. Suppose the Libertarian Party is stuck with just two candidates for attorney general: Haber and me. We both can get press for the party, but we neither one are lawyers, meaning we neither one can carry out the primary statutory duty of the attorney general: representing South Dakota in court. The question may not be who's the better candidate; it may be which one is less of a joke?


Oh, you crazy readers! The latest Madville Times polls asked you to vote for your favorites in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, the Republican Senate primary, and the Republican gubernatorial primary. I asked the questions in that order, and I present the answers in that order... which I also believe reflects the ascending order of unlikelihood:

Democrats for Governor:

  1. Joe Lowe: 73% (165 votes)
  2. Susan Wismer: 27% (62)

Republicans for Senate:

  1. Larry Rhoden: 46% (179)
  2. Stace Nelson: 35% (135)
  3. Mike Rounds: 8% (30)
  4. Jason Ravnsborg: 7% (29)
  5. Annette Bosworth: 4% (14)

Republicans for Governor:

  1. Lora Hubbel: 63% (210)
  2. Dennis Daugaard: 37% (125)

Lowe, Rhoden, and Hubbel—we do love the underdogs here (which shows I'm reaching my intended audience). How do we explain these results (other than saying, "It's a blog! Har de har har!)?

Lowe is the least under of the dogs. Against Susan Wismer's inherent advantage as an experienced party establishment candidate, he has mounted a vigorous and credible statewide campaign with smart advisors and straight talk. He wins an advantage here perhaps in part because we haven't heard much in response from Wismer, who only started campaigning in earnest after tax season ended.

----------Update 08:50 MDT: Lowe's Black Hills neighbor John Tsitrian contends that Lowe should beat Wismer on specifity over reticence.--------------

Rhoden again showed he has a lot of followers online willing to turn out and click his name when offered the opportunity, even on a liberal website. Recall that in December, Rhoden finished second behind Nelson among readers here. Rhoden actually pulled the same number of votes this time, but fewer folks showed up to click for Nelson. Remember that Rhoden and this blog share connections to Madison, so that Madison audience could be turning out big for the West River rancher (watch for Lake County to be an island of western turquoise for Rhoden amidst a electoral checkerboard of Nelson red and Rounds blue on June 3).

Rounds is clueless about the Internet, so we wouldn't expect them to show up in representative numbers here. Rounds is still the favorite. Nelson has made the hardest pitch for the anti-Rounds vote, assembling what appears to be the largest grassroots campaign and the strongest visibility of anyone not named Mike. But South Dakotans have a timid streak, and Nelson makes enough people mad that, if they are looking for a Rounds alternative, they might default to the safe, clean, and manly Rhoden.

And then there's Lora Hubbel. Readers may have turned out strong for Hubbel in part because she has been willing to share her views on a variety of issues with this blog, despite the fact that I've swung the Tea-Party-crazy club at her. She's shown that even amidst our disagreement, we can find common ground on important issues... and I get the impression that's as important to you, dear readers, as it is to me.

I doubt, alas, that that goodwill has gotten out much beyond these pages and various Tea Party meetings. Hubbel doesn't have as large of a ground game as Dennis Daugaard. Hubbel will win a protest vote from Republicans who get a bad taste in their mouths from the Rounds-Daugaard administration's GOED/EB-5 errors. She'll get votes from two thirds of the folks who vote for Nelson. But a strong majority will still nominate Daugaard.

Thank you, dear readers, for casting your votes! As always, I invite your interpretation of the results. Now don't forget to vote in the real primary June 3!


Vote now in the latest Madville Times polls... and this time, it's a triple play! With two weeks until the South Dakota primary, I ask you who gets your vote in the Democratic primary for Governor and the Republican primaries for Governor and U.S. Senate! Your choices:

Democrat for Governor:

Republican for Senate:

Republican for Governor:

Now let's take a shot at making this poll as honest as possible. Stick with the polls you can actually vote in. Dems and Indies, you can cast ballots in ballots in the Democratic primary between Wismer and Lowe. Republicans (yes, you know you're reading, and I'm glad you are!), click on your Republican choices for Senate and Governor. And while you're not obliged, you're certainly welcome to explain your vote in the comment section below.

These polls are open until breakfast time Thursday, at which time we'll all play swami and speculate as to the bellwetherliness of Madville Times readers. Vote now, bring your friends, and spread the word!


The Republican candidates for South Dakota's U.S. Senate seat debated on South Dakota Public TV last night. Click on SDPB 's archived video, and you can watch Stace Nelson, Mike Rounds, Larry Rhoden, and Jason Ravnsborg all spending 90 minutes saying that government is bad! We need less government!... except when we want more government for military spending, veterans' health care, crop insurance, livestock disaster relief....

With their slogan-policy schizophrenia, perhaps our GOP candidates are simply struggling to realign themselves with the worldview of younger voters. A new survey (yes, by a Democratic polling firm; add the grains of salt you deem necessary) of 2,000 Americans age 18 to 33 finds 72% of these "Millennials" support greater government involvement.

Results of Harstad Strategic Research survey of 2,000 voters age 18 to 33, March-April 2014; graphic by Governing

Results of Harstad Strategic Research survey of 2,000 Americans age 18 to 33, March-April 2014; graphic by Governing

On every major issue—college costs, welfare, civil rights, health care—the youngest voting bloc says greater government involvement is fine. This result seems to challenge Cody Hausman's assessment that his generation is deeply suspicious of government. The survey may support Ryan Casey's thesis that Millennials are civic problem solvers who won't let political ideals or slogans stop them from using government to get things done.

The Millennials' values will jar Republicans as much as their policy preferences. HSR asked respondents to identify their two most important values. The most popular choices? Equality and opportunity (hey! Cody Hausman was right about equality!). The least important values: patriotism and competition (curse all that cooperative learning in school, right, Sibby?).

But the He-Man Government-Haters Club on parade at last night's debate need not sweat too much. Millennials can answer all the surveys they want, but they aren't showing up to vote yet:

The survey also reported a one cause for concern: They’ll be a sharp drop in Millennial turnout this November, with only 28 percent reporting they’ll definitely vote in the midterm elections. For the 2016 presidential election, 55 percent said they definitely planned to vote.

A separate poll by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics published a few weeks ago found conservative Millennials are more enthusiastic about voting in November [Mike Maciag, "How to Appeal to Millennial Voters," Governing, 2014.05.16].

Rick Weiland doesn't need to win the message war with the youth. He needs to put absentee ballots in their hands and get them to vote on their values.

Bonus Rick Booster: HSR finds that 71% of young respondents believe "The system is rigged in favor of the rich."


Bob Mercer reports that Democrats continue to abandon ship in South Dakota. But they aren't abandoning Rick Weiland. A new Public Policy Polling Survey finds that the Democratic candidate for South Dakota's open Senate seat is just ten percentage points behind GOP frontrunner Marion Michael Rounds.

According to PPP, an election held today would produce these results:

  • Mike Rounds: 38%
  • Rick Weiland: 28%
  • Larry Pressler: 15%
  • Gordon Howie: 4%

PPP's survey differs markedly from the survey conducted by Nielson Brothers Polling in June 2013. Then, NBP found Rounds had 92% name recognition while Weiland had just 50%. PPP now puts Rounds's recognition at 87% and Weiland's at 67%. A 17% boost in name recognition isn't a bad payoff for one trip to every town in South Dakota. Doing that trip again this summer, in beautiful sunny door-knocking and parade-marching weather, plus the inevitable increased media coverage, should bring Weiland to parity with Rounds.

Now let's combine those rising recognition numbers with the 15% of undecided voters above. According to PPP, Weiland leads Rounds (say it again, enjoy it: Weiland leads Rounds!) 38 to 36 among people who know Weiland's name. Weiland draws a better favorable/unfavorable ratio than Rounds (36 to 30 vs. 41 to 41). And to splop ice cream on top of Weiland's pie, PPP found that telling voters about the issues wins Rick votes:

On several issues that will be key in this race, voters side with Weiland’s view over Rounds’ by a wide margin. After being read a description of each candidate’s views on Medicare, South Dakotans say they agree more with Weiland’s position by a 15 point margin, 45/30. And when it comes to the Ryan budget 53% of voters say they side more with Weiland’s point of view, compared to only 29% who go with Rounds.

On both of the issues the independent voters who will be key to Weiland’s campaign overwhelmingly side with his perspective- 53/26 on the Medicare issue and 62/20 on the Ryan budget one [Tom Jensen, "Rounds Stuck Under 40%, Issues Play Well for Weiland," Public Policy Polling, 2014.05.07].

When voters get to know Weiland, they pick him over Rounds. When voters get to know Weiland's policies, they pick him over Rounds. And Weiland's policies on Medicare and the Ryan budget are straight-up Democratic policies, not apologetic Blue-Doggery. Weiland's daylight is to keep doing exactly what he's doing, but more! Run to daylight, Rick... and keep singing!


Team Rounds this week touted some paid polling that says South Dakotans think Marion Michael Rounds is just swell. Glen Bolger's Public Opinion Strategies finds that if Republicans had voted on April 8–10, they'd have picked Rounds by 61%. State Rep. Stace Nelson is the clear second-place choice, but even if he took all the votes currently distributed among Larry Rhoden, Jason Ravnsborg, and the 17% confused and undecided, he'd still take a South Dakota Democrat-sized beating.

That said, consider the timing of the poll. Bolger called South Dakotans before the SDNA debate on April 12, the first event at which King Mike deigned to answer questions on a stage next to Stace Nelson and the other challengers. King Mike took a pounding and immediately withdrew from the next debate.

Consider also the wording of the questions in Bolger's poll... or don't, since POS doesn't release the questions. Last week, RMA Research told us exactly how they were able to boost Corinna Robinson's numbers and deflate Rep. Kristi Noem's. Bolger just hands us the numbers and butters Rounds with words like stellar! and commanding! and encouragingly! and impressive! Hmm... was that Glen Bolger or Glen Blogger?

If we can set Bolger's boss-stroking descriptors aside and take his numbers at face value, the most disappointing finding is the Tea Party's surrender to Rounds. I'd like to think I could count on allies in the Tea Party (Gordon? Maybe?) to fight the encroachments of crony capitalism on our liberty. Yet Bolger says 65% of those who have a favorable opinion of the Tea Party also support crony capitalist par excellence Mike Rounds.

Bolger's numbers make it sounds as if the GOP primary will be about as exciting as this year's Super Bowl blow-out. Stace Nelson has five weeks to prove Bolger wrong.


The Sioux Falls Optimist Club must be the nation's leading chapter. An extensive Gallup survey finds Sioux Falls is the most optimistic city in the country. Specifically, Gallup asked folks if they feel the city in which they live is "getting better". 77.7% (a lucky number!) of Sioux Falls respondents said, "You betcha!"

Here are the ten most optimistic and most pessimistic cities Gallup identifies:

Gallup-Optimistic Cities 2012-2013

Nobody from Minnesota in the top ten! Join me and Joel Rosenthal in saying whoo-hoo, Sioux Falls!

Of course, our neighbors in the Twin Cities could contend they don't need to worry about whether their town is getting better, because they are already plenty satisfied. The Gallup data show Prince's people ranking 17th in metro-satisfaction, while Sioux Falls ranks 36th. The percentages are 91 and 89.4, respectively, so in a hundred random conversations, you'll only find one or two more cranky people dissing their town at the Empire Mall than at the Mall of America.


In October 2010, RMA Research of Sioux Falls released a poll stating that Scott Heidepriem was within six percentage points of Dennis Daugaard in the gubernatorial race. Heidepriem was not.

Yesterday, RMA Research released a poll stating that Corinna Robinson is nineteen percentage points behind Rep. Kristi Noem (43% to 24%) in the race for South Dakota's lone House seat. RMA also contends that if you tell the right stories and ask the right questions, you can get likely voters to favor Robinson over Noem by eight points (44% to 36%).

Pay close attention, Robinson rooters: these optimistic numbers don't say Robinson is winning; they say she can win, if she can get people to know her (only 17% of the 302 telephoned respondents said they are familiar with Robinson) and dim Noem's horsey-girl image with facts about her rotten record. Here's how RMA drove that Robinson shift:

  • Give voters biographies of both candidates. 82% of respondents found Robinson's résumé makes her an appealing candidate. 61% said the same of Noem's CV.
  • Talk about Noem's votes. RMA told voters Rep. Noem voted "to shut down the government in 2013, ...[voted] no on a farm bill and...  [voted] to cut Social Security and Medicare by 25%." 57% said those issues made them less likely to vote to re-elect our Congresswoman.

Like the hopeful Heidepriem poll in 2010, RMA's finding doesn't tell Robinson is ahead; it tells her what she could do to get ahead. Follow Whirlwind Weiland around the state, tell everyone she meets about her own service in the military and Rep. Noem's lack of achievement in Congress, and land some big donors to put that message in every newspaper, on every radio station, and in every commercial break on the Big News at 6.


Poll: SDLP A.G. Nomination

Lib AG: H H or 0
If no one else runs, whom should the SD Libertarian Party nominate for attorney general?

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