Yesterday Rep. Kristi Noem and the U.S. House voted for the tenth time to usurp executive authority and force immediate federal approval of the Canadian tar sands pipeline and eminent domain land grab known as Keystone XL.

Rep. Noem retreads this excuse for her vote:

Delaying Keystone is depriving South Dakota of good jobs, millions of dollars in revenue for cash-strapped counties, and relief for the roads and rails that are currently crowded with oil transit. Moreover, the White House has released more than 20,000 pages of reviews showing Keystone is in the best interest of our environment and our national economy – even admitting in a State Department report that the pipeline would support approximately 42,100 jobs.

In the time that it’s taken to approve Keystone, 10,000 miles of pipeline have been laid in the U.S. – that’s equal to eight Keystone XL Pipelines. We’ve debated Keystone long enough; now is the time to build it [Rep. Kristi Noem, e-mail to supporters, 2015.01.09].

Rick Weiland says Rep. Noem and the House are confused by Big Oil and Big Money:

There isn’t a more egregious example of the stranglehold that ‘big money’ has on our Congress and elected officials than this effort to build the Keystone pipeline.

As I stated throughout my campaign for the United States Senate, this is all about greed -- billions of dollars of it every year.

Early on, the perpetrators of this con, TransCanada, a foreign oil corporation and their ‘big money’ investors, boasted about creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and making America more energy secure. They began their ‘big money’ television campaign and commenced convincing the people of South Dakota and around the country that this was a good thing.

In fact, during the last weeks of the campaign, there was a ‘big money’ effort to tie the rail car shortage and grain problem South Dakota is experiencing, as another reason to build Keystone. The lie was if you build the pipeline, it would move oil so that the rail system would be freed up to move grain.

Fact is, there are no real jobs -- thirty-five permanent jobs according to the GAO and another 1800 temporary jobs for the entire project.

Fact is, Keystone XL is an export pipeline. Most of the oil is moving from the tar sands of Canada to the state of Texas for export to China. We get very little of the oil, so where is the ‘energy security’? We are nothing more than a pass through, taking on the risk for no reward.

With regard to relieving the problem of the inability of our railway system to ship grain, fact is, the oil coming out of the Bakken fields in ND, not Canada, ties up the rail system. These producers have very little interest in using Keystone. They want the flexibility to move their product by rail and truck to markets here in the United States.

In fact, I cannot think of one reason to build this pipeline other than to placate ‘big oil’ and their ‘big money’. I can think of lots of reasons not to. Did you know, TransCanada, a foreign oil corporation, can take South Dakota farm and ranch land without landowner permission through ‘eminent domain’?

Did you know that Keystone One, built in 2010, leaks on a regular basis -- some big leaks too, and that Keystone XL is going to be built over the Ogallala Aquifer, a vital source of water for our region.

And did you know, that the energy it takes to extract the tar sand oil, liquefying it for transport, refining and shipping it overseas for sale, will dump 100 million tons of additional carbon into the atmosphere.

When the threat of climate change has 99% of the scientists in the world seriously worried about the future of the planet and the human race, this greed is inexcusable and needs to be exposed and rejected. We should be transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy, not doubling down on Keystone [Rick Weiland, press release, 2015.01.09].

On the same day the House repeated its mistake, the Nebraska Supreme Court came one vote shy of requiring pipeliner TransCanada to draw a new route for Keystone XL through Nebraska. Pipeline opponents needed five judges out of the seven to agree with a lower court that a state law giving the governor authority to approve the pipeline route instead of the Nebraska Public Service Commission violated the state constitution. Four judges agreed, but three avoided the issue and said the plaintiffs lacked standing.

(O.K., new rule: from now on, before any lawsuit proceeds, we get a clear ruling from the court on who has standing and who doesn't. Or better yet, on Keystone XL, where we have Congressmen from Minnesota and Ohio voting for a pipeline that doesn't cross their state because they say all Americans will benefit from shipping Canadian oil to China, all Americans get standing!)

The Indigenous Environmental Network and Dakota Rural Action say their fight to block Keystone XL in South Dakota will continue. They encourage President Barack Obama to help them out:

“The Nebraska State Supreme Court decision does not change the facts on the matter. The Keystone XL pipeline still remains a threat to the livelihoods of America's farmers, ranchers, tribal nations, and individual landowners. And the fact remains that TransCanada cannot build Keystone XL in South Dakota.

We South Dakota pipeline fighters stand strong in our commitment to see the Keystone XL permit rejected by our state's Public Utilities Commission and by President Obama.

The President has all the information he needs to act and reject Keystone XL today. This pipeline fails the President's climate test. We encourage him to make the right choice to the benefit of us all" [Indigenous Environmental Network and Dakota Rural Action, press release, 2015.01.09].

President Obama has said he will veto the Keystone XL bill that Congress will shortly send him. Remember that his veto will not stop Keystone XL; it will only reject Congress's effort to force approval. The President will still render his own decision on TransCanada's permit application to the U.S. State Department. But remember, President Obama has been playing a coy but clever waiting game. He appears to be letting the clock run to give other forces—the Nebraska Supreme Court, the South Dakota PUC, and now the plunging price of oil, which may not kill tar sands but does change the politics—to stop the pipeline for him.

But President Obama's waiting game is about to run up against its own deadline. Hillary Clinton has only a few months to announce whether she's running for President or not. If she runs, she will run clearly center. She has already been dodging the Keystone XL issue with groups who'd like her to plug tar sands opposition into her pro-environment rhetoric. Clinton's ties to tar sands lobbyists suggest she knows who butters her bread and will advocate the Keystone XL pipeline to win votes from the moderate middle.

That gives President Obama two reasons to take Keystone XL off the table before Clinton's Presidential aspiration becomes official:

  1. Reading P&R Miscellany, the President knows that Keystone XL could split the Dem base. He can take the issue off the table, take the heat as a lame duck, and help Hillary focus on keeping Dems together.
  2. If the Obama–Clinton feud is real, and if the President knows his former Secretary of State supports Keystone XL, he'll want to knock this leg out from under her before the campaign really gets going. President Obama won't go for a direct, distracting confrontation with Clinton during her campaign, because he, unlike Harry Reid, would put winning before personal grudges. But he will take a chance to do what's right, block the pipeline, and force Clinton to campaign on other issues.

Expect Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds to jump on the Keystone XL bandwagon again next week. Expect the President to veto Congress's latest maneuvering, but then watch for a proper Presidential decision some time this year, before Hillary Clinton dclares her candidacy.

Rick Weiland, at coffee shop campaign stop, Madison, South Dakota, 2013.07.16

Rick Weiland

Sorry, Meade County Dems: Rick Weiland does not want to chair the South Dakota Democratic Party. We can now focus on debating the relative merits of Ann Tornberg and Jeff Barth as to who can best redirect and rebuild the party.

Whomever Dems pick as their practical leader, they should look for someone who can align with Weiland's philosophical leadership. Consider this passage from Weiland's message to supporters yesterday, which sounds more like a call to arms than a demurral:

But in 2014 our Democratic Party has become almost as hogtied by big money as the other party and ridding our political system of it’s influence became the cornerstone of my campaign for the United States Senate.

It is past time for another injection of common sense from the prairie.

We need a new declaration of independence, a declaration of independence from big money [Rick Weiland, e-mail, 2014.12.04].

Weiland is saying the same thing here that he consistently said during his 18 months on the Senate campaign trail: plutocracy is bad for democracy, and even his own Democratic Party needs to do more to reclaim democracy from its rich hijackers. It sounds an awful lot like what many progressive commentators are saying Democrats need to do to win back their base.

David Dayen says the working class and the middle class are mad that the wealthy have rigged the system in their own favor, and the only thing they are hearing from most Democrats is the same free-market bushwa they get from Republicans:

This is not the Democratic Party of your great-grandfather’s New Deal or your grandfather’s Great Society. The takeover of the party by more business-friendly interests — which ironically (or perhaps not) dates back to right around 1973, when wages decoupled from productivity — necessarily impoverishes the imagination around issues of economic security and prosperity [David Dayen, "The So-So Society: Democrats Have Forgotten What Made Them Great," Fiscal Times, 2014.11.14].

William Greider says we can't campaign on the Obama recovery because the near-18K Dow isn't lifting the masses' boats, and Dems look as pro-Wall Street as the GOP:

Barack Obama kept telling folks to brighten up: the economy is coming back, he said, and prosperity is just around the corner.

A party truly connected to the people would never have dared to make such a claim. In the real world of voters, human experience trumps macroeconomics and the slowly declining official unemployment rate. An official at the AFL-CIO culled the following insights from what voters said about themselves on Election Day: 54 percent suffered a decline in household income during the past year. Sixty-three percent feel the economy is fundamentally unfair. Fifty-five percent agree strongly (and another 25 percent agree somewhat) that both political parties are too focused on helping Wall Street and not enough on helping ordinary people [William Greider, "How the Democratic Party Lost Its Soul," The Nation, 2014.11.11].

Dave Johnson of the Campaign for America's Future says Democrats' "New Coke" response to the GOP's pro-business Pepsi has driven voters away:

As Democrats embraced neoliberal “market solution” arguments and moved away from representing the interests of working-class and middle-class voters, many of those voters had nowhere left to turn and simply stopped voting [Dave Johnson, "Is the Democratic Party Relevant Anymore?" Truthout, 2014.12.03].

The Nation says voters see the Democratic Party "too close to corporate funders" and calls for a progressive challenger to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential primary. Richard R.J. Eskow says Democrats must rekindle a "passionate commitment to core progressive values" to restore their party's soul. Greider calls for outright populist-progressive insurrection to reclaim the party:

What we need is a rump formation of dissenters who will break free of the Democratic Party’s confines and set a new agenda that will build the good society rather than feed bloated wealth, disloyal corporations and absurd foreign wars. This is the politics the country needs: purposeful insurrection inside and outside party bounds, and a willingness to disrupt the regular order [Greider, 2014.11.11].

Is Weiland reading these thinkers? Are these thinkers reading Weiland? Whichever the case may be, Weiland may be positioning himself to lead just such a progressive-populist fight for the soul of his party. Weiland writes in his December 4 e-mail that he will do everything in his power "to assist the new Chairperson," but by keeping himself out of the elected party leadership, he keeps the freedom to advocate and criticize his party to push them toward his populist values.

As the South Dakota Democrat to emerge from the unpleasant midterms with the largest, most active base, Weiland doesn't need an official title to lead the party in the right direction. Dems, and next Dem chair, you should strongly consider following Weiland in the fight against plutocracy.


In political trivia, Democrat Corinna Robinson netted a meager $3,765 in the final two weeks of her Congressional campaign.

Robinson received 6.6% of that couch-cushion change from her Rapid City neighbor Robert Van Norman, who donated $250 on October 17.

That amount really is couch-cushion change for Van Norman. On August 21 and September 11, Van Norman's law firm received $50,000 from the Senate campaign fund of Annette Bosworth to represent the fake and failed GOP primary candidate in her February perjury trial.

We may conclude that Van Norman is a chivalrous gentleman, willing to help damsels in the greatest distress.

While Bosworth was pretending to witness signatures from Hutterites, Van Norman was supporting Rick Weiland for Senate. On March 14, Van Norman sent the Weiland campaign $1,000.


Union County Democrat Ann Tornberg shares a letter she has sent to Democratic Party county officers statewide before Thanksgiving to convince them to pick her as the state party's next chair. At the top she makes clear that she will yield the chair to former Senate candidate Rick Weiland if he says he wants the post.

Commenters here complained that Tornberg's press release on her candidacy spoke of progress the party had made but did not itemize that progress. Tornberg offers more detail in her pitch to the voters:

  1. Tornberg organized the Young Elected Legislative Leader program with Ryan Cwach (another high school debate alumnus! My confidence grows!), doubled participation from 2013 to 2014, and thus started building a pool of future Dem leaders.
  2. Tornberg forced GOP noisemaker Dan Lederman to spend $75,000 to keep his seat.
  3. Tornberg claims credit for adding $6000 in annual commitment in one day to the Founder's Club, the circle of donors who pledge ongoing monthly contributions. Tornberg says the Founder's Club is key to sustaining staff and volunteers who can do some of the things others have been hollering about, like rebuilding county parties, supporting tribal organizers, recruiting and training candidates, and registering voters.

Summoning her Glengarry Glen Ross Alec Baldwin (actually, Tornberg may have coached Baldwin), the chair candidate closes her ask for the job with an ask for money. She urges every party leader reading the letter to write a check to the Founder's Club, write a bigger check to the Founder's Club, or recruit a new member to write a check to the Founder's Club.

Here is the full text of Tornberg's letter to county officers, who can vote as members of the South Dakota Democratic Committee on December 13:

Thanks for taking the time to read this letter and giving me an opportunity to introduce myself.

I’m seeking to serve as the next Chair of the South Dakota Democratic Party. I hope to have your support when we gather at the Cedar Shores in Oacoma for Central Committee on Sat. Dec. 13th. I want you to know upfront that I have spoken to Rick Weiland who is presently considering running for State Chair. If he decides to do this, I will withdraw and run as Vice Chair. Either way, I hope you’ll consider my candidacy. I have a lot to offer our state party.

I’m a retired educator having spent 31 years in the classroom as a high school English teacher, speech and debate coach. I taught in Beresford, Sioux Falls Lincoln, and then was elected President of the Sioux Falls Education Association, the largest professional association in the state of South Dakota. I was raised on a farm and 38 years ago married Mike Tornberg, a third generation SD dairy farmer. We raised two daughters who were Beresford grads. One is a doctor and the other is a teacher. Both are married to farmers. We are blessed with five very cute grandkids!

I have the background and passion to promote education and agriculture, as well as other core issues important to South Dakota Democrats. There are several reasons why I believe I will be the right leader at the right time for our Party.

Democratic Party Leader

With Jay Williams from Yankton, I served as co-chair of the 2014 State Convention. Serving as Union County Chair since 2010, I’ve been active on the Central Committee and also serve on the Executive Board.

Grooming Leadership for our Future

Along with Ryan Cwach from Yankton, we organized the YELL (Young Elected Legislative Leader) program, a student legislature for young Democrats across South Dakota. Originating in 2013, we doubled the number of participants to close to 50 students in 2014. In addition to organizing and participating, I was a primary financial sponsor of these leadership events. The YELL Fellows program (which trained young Democrats to work with candidates on legislative races) followed next. We’re building some incredible leaders for our future! I’ll be organizing a similar event for 2015 and we hope to build on our past success.

Experienced Legislative Candidate

I know what it’s like to run a campaign, and what Democrats are up against. I worked hard at candidate recruitment and have a strong working relationship with the staff at the state party. While there are 2,800 more Republicans than Democrats in District 16 where I ran, I narrowly lost the House in 2012 by 124 votes out of 11,000 total cast. In 2014, I gave incumbent State Senator Dan Lederman a run for his money! (He spent $75,000 to defeat me despite his huge GOP registration advantage).

Valued Member of the Democratic Caucus in Pierre

After narrowly losing the District 16 House seat in 2012, I went to Pierre as a volunteer. I worked each day of the 2013 Session as a legislative aide. In 2014, I was hired by LRC as House Secretary for the Democrats. I will return to Pierre as Senate Secretary in 2015. Please ask any of our state legislators for a reference. I believe they will tell you they have witnessed first-hand how hard I work and how dedicated I am to the issues which define the beliefs and values of SD Democrats.

Successful Fundraiser for Democratic Causes

While working in Pierre, I was the primary organizer for the Majority Project’s Lobbyist Party.

The Majority Project uses funds raised on legislative races. If elected as your State Chair, recruiting candidates and helping to fund elections will be my highest priority. The job of the State Chair is to diligently work to raise funds. I have the ability and experience to fulfill that role.

That’s why the back of this letter is the MOST IMPORTANT PART YOU WILL READ……

Founder’s Club Member and Supporter

I have been a member of the Founder’s Club for many years and will actively work to grow our membership. I spoke at the 2014 McGovern Day Luncheon to promote the Founder’s Club. We were able in that one day to increase our donations by another $500 per month and now bring in a total of over $6,000 per month. This exceeds the goal we set in early 2014 to expand the Founder’s Club.

Why the Founder’s Club is so important

While we appreciate all donations to the SDDP, the Founder’s Club represents a sustaining contribution given monthly. Our current donations range from $3 dollars per month to $300 dollars per month. (I personally donate $100 per month and have done so for the past four years). This on-going type of donation sustains our party’s most basic organization needs (our 3-person staff, their benefits, our rent and utilities, etc.).

Most importantly, it is the only way we can reliably sustain growth and plan for our future. If we know there is money coming in on a regular basis, as a Central Committee, we are able to help manage it to grow our party. What could that growth look like? Perhaps it could mean more staff and trained volunteers dedicated to...

  • Grassroots organizing of the county parties
  • Tribal Organizers who work on issues vital to the Native Community (including but not limited to just voter registration and turnout)
  • Legislative Candidate Recruiters and trainers who starts NOW for 2016
  • Connecting Democratic State Legislators to the State Central Committee
  • Voter Registration
  • Initiatives and Referrals vital to Democratic Core Values

As your State Party Chair, I will work to expand the Founder’s Club as a means to a successful strategy to move Democrats forward in South Dakota. That’s why I challenge all 138 individuals receiving this letter to join the Founder’s Club if you’re not a member; increase your monthly donation is you are already a member; or recruit one new member from your county.

Bring the enclosed Founder’s Club form with you to Chamberlain on Dec. 13 or mail it into the office.

Tell them “Ann Sent Me” and win or lose in the State Chair race, we’ll all WIN by working together to grow a stronger Democratic Party in this great state we call home.

Hope to see you in Chamberlain on Dec. 13th. I would appreciate your support [Ann Tornberg, letter to South Dakota Democratic Party county officials, 2014.11.24].


The South Dakota Democratic Party needs to channel Elizabeth Warren and adopt an unapologetic populist progressivism in defense of the working class. Rick Weiland speaks that Warrenesque language.

Rick Weiland also got beat 50–30 in the Senate election.

Down with Tyranny took a shine to Rick Weiland early in the Senate campaign. Sometime Weiland consultant and former McGovern/Abourwzk/Daschle chief of staff Peter Stavrianos takes to that blogs pages to tell Warren warriors like me to reread Weiland's 20-point deficit as a two-point near-miss for Weiland's message:

This conclusion is not wishful progressive thinking. It is based on a PPP tracking poll completed just two days before the election.

That astonishing survey showed Weiland trailed Rounds by just 2% in a race without Pressler, and was the second choice of the overwhelming majority of Pressler voters.

This was hardly surprising since the independent Pressler ran as a liberal reform candidate, loudly proclaiming he had voted for Obama twice, supported Obamacare, gay marriage, and had marched with Martin Luther King.

In a race without Pressler, Weiland and his message were 30-40% closer to victory than his ballot mate Democratic candidates for Governor and Congress [Peter Stavrianos, "Dead Armadillos? An Analysis Of The 2014 South Dakota Senate Race," Down with Tyranny, 2014.11.21].

I want to believe... but I can't, not this explanation. Here's why:

  1. I am unclear why anyone is still talking about hypotheticals. There was no such thing as a race without Pressler.
  2. What PPP tracking poll? I haven't seen any PPP tracking poll. Have you?
  3. If there was such a tracking poll two days prior to the election, it still makes little sense to parse that data when we have real election results to tell us the real story.
  4. Even if we give Weiland every one of Pressler's 47,741 votes (and that's absurd, because you know there were Republicans who picked Pressler to keep their conscience clean of Rounds's corruption but would still never vote for a Democrat), we still only wish Weiland to within 3.6 points of Rounds (within margin of error for our guesswork here, but Stavrianos should label that near-miss as within four points, not two).
  5. Update 20:49 CST [from a reader!]: And if we're playing fantasy one-on-one, aren't we obliged to reassign Gordon Howie's 3% as well? If Weiland gets every Pressler vote, Rounds gets every Howie vote, and by Stav's logic, we up to a seven-point "near-miss". [Update renumbers subsequent points!]
  6. Pressler did not loudly proclaim a liberal reform agenda. At no time did he align himself with Elizabeth Warren. His support for ObamaCare amounted to pragmatic resistance to repeal and never anything like Weiland's expansion of Medicare to a public option. Gay marriage and MLK Jr. were mentions, not centerpieces. Pressler fumbled abortion rights, for which he was hammered by Weiland backers. Pressler attacked the Keystone XL mythology but proposed hijacking it as part of his multi-pipe Bakken oil plan. To the end, Pressler talked centrism.
  7. The press agrees with me. None of the three papers that endorsed Pressler said, "He's got Rick's message plus special sauce!" The Sioux Falls, Rapid City, and Mitchell papers all endorsed Pressler on experience and breaking gridlock, not on liberal ideology. The Sioux Falls paper called Pressler "moderately conservative."
  8. And as plausible counter-hypothesis, I contend that voters didn't vote for message. Voters voted for faces (Rounds was Governor for eight years; Pressler served us in Washington for 22) and the big shiny "R" with the flag, the gun, and the cross hanging on it.

Rick Weiland's populist, progressive message did not win the 2014 Senate election. It did not come close. That doesn't mean Warren progressivism is the wrong message. Far from it: Warren and Weiland both have the right message, the one worth fighting for.

Rick and I and other faithful Democrats just can't take Larry Pressler's showing on November 4, 2014, as a validation of that message. We still have lots of work to do to educate voters in 2016, 2018, and beyond.


Following Minnehaha County Commissioner Jeff Barth's announcement that he'd like to chair the South Dakota Democratic Party, the Meade County Democrats are spending money to promote a different candidate:

Meade County Democrats, sponsored Facebook post promoting Rick Weiland for SDDP chair, screen cap 2014.11.24

Meade County Democrats, sponsored Facebook post, screen cap 2014.11.23

A lot of People for Rick Weiland want him to be the next Chairman of the South Dakota Democratic Party, and we want it too. D.C. Democrats let us down in 2014, not SD Dems. Rick is the best person to present our populist message over the next few years... and to help prevent the Keystone XL pipeline from crossing Meade County! [Meade County Democrats, sponsored Facebook post, downloaded 2014.11.23]

I see no official report that Weiland is seeking to chair the SDDP. The State Central Committee will elect a new chair at its next meeting on December 13.


Independent-Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders is awfully popular among progressives. He may run for President in 2016. Our modern Eugene V. Debs tells NPR that Democrats could get their traction back by rediscovering the working class:

...people look out and they say, "Gee, the wealthiest people are doing phenomenally well." And where are the Democrats? Do people see the Democratic Party standing up to Wall Street? Any of these guys going to jail? Not really. The average person is working longer hours, lower wages, and they do not see any political party standing up and fighting for their rights. What they see is a Republican Party becoming extremely right wing, controlled by folks like the Koch brothers. But they do not see a party representing the working class of this country [Bernie Sanders, interview with Steve Inskeep, "Sen. Bernie Sanders on How Democrats Lost White Votes," NPR: It's All Politics, 2014.11.19].

Senator Sanders sounds an awful lot like our own Rick Weiland. Does that make Weiland a socialist... or just the right man to lead the South Dakota Democratic Party back to its mission and electoral success?

Senator Sanders recommends the sort of socialism that South Dakotans of both parties love—big federal investment in infrastructure:

...whether you're white or black or Hispanic or Asian, if you are in the working class, you are struggling to keep your heads above water. You're worried about your kids. What should the Democratic Party be talking about, Steve? What they should be talking about is a massive federal jobs program. There was once a time when our nation's infrastructure — roads, bridges, water systems, rail — were the envy of the world. Today that's no longer the case [Sanders, 2014.11.19].

Roads, bridges, water systems—we could be building real public goods that would put millions of Americans to work and serve the national interest, but a majority of Senators in the pocket of Big Oil think it's more important to authorize a private foreign oil pipeline that would hurt the U.S. economy and the working class.

Senator Sanders likely won't derail the Clinton nomination. But his exhortation to working-class politics could point Rick Weiland and South Dakota Democrats the route toward votes in 2016.


John Thune is running for President. How else can we explain our soon-to-be-senior Senator's seemingly sensible statement on climate change on Fox News Sunday?

Asked about the overwhelming agreement among experts on the cause and trajectory of global warming, Thune began with a familiar GOP climate-change dodge: “Climate change is occurring, it’s always occurring.” But then he said this: “There are a number of factors that contribute to that, including human activity. The question is, what are we going to do about it and at what cost?” [Stephen Stromberg, "Top Republican Bows to Scientists on Climate Change," Washington Post, 2014.11.17]

Amidst a science- and fact-averse Republican Party, Stromberg takes Thune's seemingly innocuous and wide-wiggly phrase as a "glimmer of hope." We should take it as a sign that he's thinking about how he sounds to people outside South Dakota. Democrats should take it as a sign that there's going to be another open Senate seat for which to contend in 2016.

And who better to contend for it than Rick Weiland? Weiland's latest public statement shows him swinging at the powers that be, including the Senate Democrats he wanted to join this year:

The only crock bigger than the Keystone Pipeline is Senate Democrats dumping on our environment to try to save one of their own.

Talk about business as usual, talk about midterm lessons unlearned, talk about just plain stupid!

You've already lost the Senate. Polls show that Mary Landrieu, whose runoff election you hope to influence, has absolutely no chance of winning. So what do you do, backstab your president, our Native Nations and the entire environmental community on behalf of a pipeline that will not only not create jobs or any energy security, but will pour additional billions in profits into the hands of the big money special interests who just spent a fortune to crush your party at the polls.

That's genius, DC Democrat style. And it is the reason my campaign is not over. In fact, it has just begun [Rick Weiland, campaign e-mail, 2014.11.17].

What what? Campaign not over?

For 18 months we ran for Senate with little more than my videographer son Nick, myself, a lot of shoe leather, and the help of a handful of friends with more passion and skill than common sense.

I want to keep that team together, retire our small debt, and get back into the fight, right now. If the DC Democrats selling us out on Keystone XL doesn't show why we can't wait, what will?

Please, send just a few bucks and stay tuned. We may have gotten washed over by the same wave that drowned so many Democrats. But unlike them, we're not rolling over, belly up and bloated, we're fighting on.

We are going to make South Dakota a demonstration project, and a nationwide beacon for the fight against big money.

And if you don't think that matters to you, think about this. Does Elizabeth Warren's voice matter beyond the boundaries of Massachusetts, or Bernie Sanders beyond Vermont, or did Paul Wellstone make any difference outside of Minnesota? [Weiland, 2014.11.17]

Demonstration project? Warren, Sanders, Wellstone? I said Sunday South Dakota Democrats should elect a liberal leader like Warren to chair the party back to victory, and here's my fellow Bulldog Debate alum Rick sounding very much as if he's answering that call.

Or does Weiland just sound like the Tea Party? WaPo's Dana Milbank finds a herd of liberal protestors on Senator Landrieu's front step talking a lot like Weiland and sees a no-compromise parallel:

One of the speakers, a young woman named Maria Langholz, argued that liberals must stop Democrats from “compromising on the promises they have made.” I pointed out that her message sounded like the tea party.

“I know,” Langholz said with a laugh. But she had just returned from working on the Senate race in Iowa, where Democrat Bruce Braley, “kind of middle-of-the-road,” lost to conservative Republican Joni Ernst.

“Ernst was sticking to her guns, saying, ‘This is what I stand for,’ ” Langholz concluded, “and that really inspires people” [Dana Milbank, "Purity Politics, Democrat-Style," Washington Post, 2014.11.17].

Senator Thune says today's Senate vote on Keystone XL is just a "cynical" political ploy to throw Senator Landrieu a lifeline in her December run-off election. It won't rescue Landrieu or build the pipeline. Senator Thune will still vote for the pipeline, on false pretenses, and in contradiction to his hint of concern about climate change.

And Rick Weiland says he will keep fighting Keystone XL, Big Money, and even Senate Democrats. But Milbank's column makes me wonder: are Rick and I looking for the South Dakota Democratic Party's Elizabeth Warren, or are we really looking for an SDDP Joni Ernst... or Sarah Palin?


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    Grounded in Time: One advantage of  being an elder and mostly retired is you have time for reading. Add a pandemic to it and there is a lot of time for reading. I realized the other day that I was going back and forth…

  • Teaching and Inspiring Math Educators (TIME)
    A New Normal:  Before the fall semester began, I was very apprehensive about how it would go. I was worried about contracting COVID-19 and how that would affect my family. I was dreading wearing a mask, having to u…

  • A Teacher's Writes
    Connecting A Confederacy of Dunces to its reference: I began John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces recently and while I haven’t cracked it this week, I plan to finish it. It has fallen somewhat victim to my habit of reading handfuls of books at a…

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