Kudos to Ken Santema for making the drive out to Ipswich for Monday's District 23 GOP House candidates forum. His summary of the candidates' responses to audience questions is a useful guide for voters in the sparse but sprawling north central district.

Of all the instructive policy statements staked out by the candidates, Mr. Powers chooses to focus on the vague partisan snark issued by Democratic Party apostate Dale Hargens. District 23 voters frankly don't care about that. They want to know which of the five candidates can best represent their views on property taxes, education, and social issues.

Santema notes that all five candidates—Hargens of Miller, Michelle Harrison of Mobridge, Gene Toennies of Cresbard, Larry Nielson of Tulare, and incumbent Rep. Justin Cronin of Gettysburg—appear to view economic development as a priority for government. Hargens said his departure from the Democratic Party came because of a "surge to the left" by our party, but I remain fascinated at supposedly free-market Republicans' ongoing surge toward leftist government intervention in the economy.

On education, all five candidates appear to defer the question of education funding to local control... because legislators would hate to be responsible for advocating the tax increases necessary for schools to end South Dakota's humiliation of teachers with the lowest salaries in the nation.

Santema reports some predictable fuss and feathers about Common Core. But someone phrased the Common Core question perfectly, asking the candidates what they thought would happen if there suddenly were no standards in public education. Harrison, Toennies, and Hargens gave the right answer: teachers would go right on teaching, proving there is no need for top-down standards and political reform movements like Common Core and No Child Left Behind.

On gay marriage, Nielson appears to have offered the greatest offense, saying (in Santema's paraphrase) that gay marriage is "nothing but a topic brought forth to expand benefits...." Yeah, because all you non-heterosexuals aren't looking for equality or justice or respect; you just want your partner's pension, and that's just evil. We should get rid of all those greedy spousal benefits for everybody!

On the hopeful side, Harrison said gay marriage and abortion are morality issues and that (reports Santema) "she doesn’t believe the government has the right to choose these issues for people." Hey, Charlie Hoffman! Can you get your neighbors to recognize the true conservatism in that statement?

Alas, Santema notes that all five candidates said they support the Keystone XL pipeline (Hargens on the false assertion that TransCanada's export of tar sands oil to China will promote our energy independence) and that not one addressed the issue of property rights and eminent domain that ought to raise Republican ire over Keystone XL.

Thank you for that report, Ken!


The next big public forum for South Dakota's Republican U.S. Senate candidates happens Tuesday (tax day! good timing for a conservative audience!) at the Good Samaritan Jerstad Center in Sioux Falls. The Siouxland Republican Women will throw tough questions at Stace Nelson, Jason Ravnsborg, Larry Rhoden, and GOP frontrunner....

Wait, where is Mike Rounds running? An eager reader gets hold of an e-mail from the Siouxland Republican Women sent yesterday, Saturday, at about a quarter to two in the afternoon, announcing that a member of the Rounds campaign had just called and withdrawn from the forum. The SRW e-mail says Team Rounds had committed in January to attend, but "They will not be attending now due to a conflict."

Hmm... Rounds shows up for the first big joint debate among all candidates Saturday morning, and Saturday afternoon, he pulls out of the very next joint forum? Boy, that may be the clearest verdict on who didn't win yesterday's debate.


I'm so excited to see all five Republican Senate candidates get grilled by SDNA journalists tomorrow in Pierre! Here are the top ten questions I hope our Fourth Estate will pitch:

  1. Do you agree with Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley and the Department of Homeland Security that the EB-5 visa investment program should end?
  2. Name the single best and single worst specific policies of the current Farm Bill.
  3. What response to the Russia-Ukraine-Crimea conflict would best serve our national security?
  4. What role do guns play in providing daily economic security to average citizens?
  5. What's more important at Ellsworth Air Force Base: allowing the Department of Defense to reduce spending and meet its military objectives, or preserving jobs in the Rapid City?
  6. Have you paid all of your campaign staff in the past month?
  7. Do the benefits of the Keystone XL pipeline outweigh the harms of allowing a foreign company to use eminent domain against South Dakota landowners?
  8. What does it mean to be a conservative in a state that gets three dollars from Uncle Sam for every two dollars it pays?
  9. Since you began your campaign, how many judgments have been rendered against you in small claims court?
  10. What legislative response, if any, do you propose to the McCutcheon ruling?

I welcome your further submissions.


I'll say this for South Dakota Republicans: they can be pretty clever. First they get Senator Shantel Krebs to do their dirty work and pressure Secretary of State Jason Gant not to run for re-election. Krebs is so sure this work earns her the nomination for Secretary of State that she leaves her Senate seat open for young CPAC-hypnotizing Jenna Haggar.

Then, as a thank you, they tell Krebs, "Sit down. We're nominating Pat Miller."

Many Republicans statewide had encouraged Miller to run, and offered their support. Former State GOP Vice Chair, and sister to Governor George S. Mickelson, Patricia Adam noted “Over the years I’ve known Pat in many different capacities; with Easter Seals South Dakota and the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation. Under her leadership and executive management, these non-profits became strong and financially sound organizations. As life-long Republicans, my husband and I have supported the Republican Party and Republican candidates for many years. Pat Miller has the proven experience needed as the state’s chief elections officer.”

“Pat Miller for Secretary of State? Excellent Idea! Excellent Choice!” noted former Secretary of State Joyce Hazeltine and her husband Dave. “We have known Pat for a lifetime and believe she is the right person for the position of Secretary of State! Her many years of political and business experience will be a great asset for the Secretary of State’s office” [Pat Miller, press release, 2014.04.03].

If I were Krebs, I'd feel a bit put out. Leading voices of the party appear to be boxing her out in favor of a stronger, more experienced candidate.

Now, I wonder if Pat and Jason are having any differences of opinion as they review the Bosworth petitions....


An eager reader waves at me Alan Guebert's column on surprises in the Farm Bill and asks what I think. I think I'd like to hear an explanation from Rep. Kristi Noem.

Guebert notes that Republicans in Congress are upset that the Farm Bill they passed a year and a half late doesn't really save the money on Food Stamps on which they had so eagerly, cold-heartedly, and class-warriorly grandstood. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack responded that states are simply working hard to make sure their citizens know and sign up for all the federal benefits for which they are eligible.

Oddly, the Republicans grilling Secretary Vilsack didn't sound upset about USDA working hard to educate corporate farmers about the Farm Bill handouts available to them:

Also on this issue, later in the hearing, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D., Conn.) noted that, “In light of the education commentary that we’ve heard here today, it’s interesting to note that FSA — these are news releases from FSA which come out regularly — 'USDA reminds producers of approaching deadline on CRP general sign-up.' 'SURE disaster program deadline approaches for 2011 crops.' 'Farmers and ranchers are reminded that the sign-up period for supplemental revenue assistance payments for 2009 losses has opened.' 'Enrollment reminder for direct and countercyclical payments and other FSA programs.'

"My God, if we can be getting notices out for all of these other efforts, we sure ought to be able to get notices out and education out to our farmers about dealing with their participating in the food stamp program" ["House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Agriculture- Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request: Highlights," FarmPolicy.com, 2014.03.15].

Confronted with the conflict of their war on the poor with their handouts for the high and mighty, Iowa Republican Rep. Tom Latham exhibits contemporary conservative know-nothingness:

With the hot air in his balloons gone, Latham retreated to the safety of his own mind. “I know what I know,” he told the secretary.

Which, it seems, is not to be altered by facts, reality or reason.

Little wonder why Congress got the farm bill math wrong: it knows what it knows and everyone else can just shut up.

Try using that logic next time the boss asks why the cows aren’t fed and the corn isn’t planted [Alan Guebert, "'I Know What I Know': Hot Air Still Flying with Farm Bill," Mitchell Daily Republic, 2015.03.27].

South Dakota's clueless Congresswoman fits this pattern of constructing her own talking-point reality perfectly. She knows darn well food stamps do good. She knows darn well food stamps is essential to getting the urban majority in Congress to give a hoot about subsidizing our state's agriculture industry. So she signs on to a Farm Bill that makes it look like she's a crusading conservative but which allows states to continue drawing about as much food aid as before her and her fellow Republicans' two-year tantrum.

I know what I know: Rep. Noem didn't achieve the big ideological Farm Bill goal that she'll be out telling conservative voters she did achieve. Image over substance, imagination over reality... and talking points over practical problem solving. That's the Republican Congress that we need to change.


Here I thought Shantel Krebs was the South Dakota Republican Party's hero, or at least their dutiful heavy, for uprooting the scandalously incompetent Jason Gant from the 2014 candidates' garden. But now some Republicans sound like they want to throw her back in the dirt and run someone with experience for the job: Deputy Secretary of State Patricia Miller.

Miller, the wife of former governor Walter Dale Miller, joined Gant's office in 2012 to clean up the mess left by Gant and his less-capable pals. The Miller SoS office has been relatively trouble-free compared to the first two years of Gant's machinations.

Rumblings of discontent with Krebs's grab for the big chair and an effort to draft Pat Miller to run for full-bird Secretary come from the Dakota War College comment section. I lend little credence to what I read there, but DWC author Pat Powers takes his own comments seriously enough to post a response from SDGOP chairman Craig Lawrence that further fans the former First Lady's flames:

I talked with Pat Miller several times both before and after the dinner. She is, obviously, considering running for SOS, and asked my opinion. I also enjoyed talking with Walter Dale, a great statesman and ambassador for West River.

The opinion I have offered to Pat is that I encourage her to run because as Republicans we should be gratified when we have two such qualified and respected candidates. My job is to encourage debate and healthy competition [Craig Lawrence, quoted in Pat Powers, "State Party Chair Weighs in on [another four-line headline that demonstrates Pat's continued incapacity for succinctity]," Dakota War College, 2014.03.24].

Debate and healthy competition: I'm all for that too, Chairman Lawrence! Pat Miller offers the strongest alternative that anyone could to a Krebs candidacy. The Deputy Secretary can appeal to Republicans who may recall that things didn't work out so well the last time they picked an aspiring legislator over an experienced elections officer for Secretary of State. Miller could soothe Republicans' jitters, offering a break from Gant yet continuity with operations and with party history. As frosting to drown the taste of Krebs's perhaps bitter intra-party challenge to Gant, she gives GOP convention delegates a chance to vote for a nice older lady and tip their hats to that nice old codger Walter Dale.

If I were Krebs, I'd be intensely lobbying delegates to not draft Miller, because Miller poses a serious threat to Krebs' statewide ascension.


Last week, Democrats had 12 candidates filed for seats in the South Dakota Legislature. This week, with just six days left until the March 25 deadline, we have sixteen. Eight in the Senate, eight in the House—89 slots left to fill. Nervous yet?

Since last week, the Dems have added one Senate candidate, Aberdeen city councilman Mark Remily challenging GOP chamber-crosser David Novstrup in District 3. Remily made news last summer offering a hard, honest critique of Aberdeen policeman and Rep. Dan Kaiser's effort to exclude same-sex couples from domestic violence protections. (Rep. Kaiser voted for such protection in this year's successful Senate Bill 7.) Remily and District 28's Oren Lesmeister are the only wholly non-incumbent Dems running for Senate so far (incumbent Rep. Scott Parsley is seeking to cross chambers from to Senate in District 8).

In the House, Rep. Kathy Tyler now has Democratic company on the District 4 ticket, thanks to Revillo nurse Peggy Schuelke. District 15 Rep. Karen Soli filed her papers last week for another two years in Pierre, as did District 27 Rep. Kevin Killer.

Meanwhile, the Republicans have candidates for 23 out of 35 Senate seats (including two fighting for District 29's spot! Yay, primaries!) and 38 out of 70 House seats. District 29 has more Republican candidates than seats in both races (Rep. Gary Cammack and Susan Cheshier duking it out for Larry Rhoden's Senate seat; Rep. Dean Wink, Wanda Blair, and Tammy Basel fighting for two House seats), so they get two primary races (what fun!). Republicans have 42% of the Legislative slate to fill, Democrats 85%.

Democrats, if you haven't picked up your petitions yet, you'd better do so. Find the nearest gathering of Dems in your district, find where the Weiland, Robinson, Lowe, and Wismer volunteers are circulating, and double up on petition time!


All you nice out-state Republicans getting post cards from Base Connect, pay attention....

Pat Powers continues to dismiss my investigation and criticism of fake Senate candidate Annette Bosworth as hysterical sexism. He'll have a harder time dismissing prominent Republican Lee Schoenbeck, who dismisses Bosworth in language easily as harsh as mine.

Powers reports that Bosworth has responded to the revelation of a campaign worker who quit over legal and ethical concerns and who is still owed back wages (a claim backed up by Bosworth's last FEC filing, page 119, Debts and Obligations: Ethan Crisp, $2,000) with evasive meme-nuttiness:

This is the repeating story of America. Have you ever read the book Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand?  I feel like Dagny Taggert [Annette Bosworth, quoted by Pat Powers, "The Experience of a Lifetime, or Lesson for a Lifetime: Crisp Unpaid, Atlas Shrugs," Dakota War College, 2014.03.09].

Lee Schoenbeck, Republican candidate for District 5 House and leading light within the South Dakota GOP, flunks Bosworth on literature and politics:

Well I have read Atlas Shrugged, and Dr Bosworth, you’re no Dagny Taggert. You are the kind of fraud that caused Atlas to Shrug [Lee Schoenbeck, comment, Dakota War College, 2014.03.09].

Ayn Rand was a fraud, too (see also here, here, and here), but that's not the point!

Like Lee, I've read Atlas Shrugged. Like Lee, I know Dagny Taggart was an honest, successful businesswoman who paid her employees. Like Lee, I know Annette Bosworth is none of those things.

And like Lee, I describe Annette Bosworth with the word fraud.


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