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No Clear Tea Party Win: KELO’s Dunsmoor Powerless Before Gordon Howie’s Hogwash

Yesterday I contended that Gordon Howie's "campaign" for Christian conservatives was irrelevant to the outcome of Tuesday's Republican Legislative primaries across South Dakota. KELO's Ben Dunsmoor gives Gordon Howie time on television to claim that his campaign made a difference.

Now I want you to compare my post with Ben Dunsmoor's story. Dunsmoor cherry-picks three races—Begalka vs. Rausch, Ewing vs. Nelson, and Otten vs. Abdallah—in which candidates Howie "promoted" won. I look at the full list of 27 candidates that Howie "promoted" in 22 races across the state and find that only 12 of them won.

Dunsmoor offers no analysis of what Howie's "promotion" of candidates entailed. I look at Howie's actual activites, which seem have gone no farther than issuing a pack of skewed candidate evaluations. I then analyze the scores issued on those evaluations and find a negative correlation between the strength of Howie's support for those candidates and those candidates' percentage of the primary vote.

In other words, Gordon Howie shouldn't be on TV taking credit for his favored candidates' victories. Dunsmoor should be pressing Howie to admit that he picked more losers than winners.

But Dunsmoor doesn't do that. He just lets Howie spout utter bull:

"If you keep score - I would never do that - but some people are keeping score and they're saying the governor lost this round; conservatives won," Howie said [Ben Dunsmoor, "Fmr. Lawmaker Says Primary a Win for Conservatives,", 2012.06.06].

...Howie never keeps score? Then what the heck are all those bogus scorecards he keep issuing? Why does the headline say Howie is claiming a win?

Howie uses a classic lie here, ascribing to unnamed others the contentious claim that he wants to make. He did the same thing with his fake poll last December, claiming a "near unanimous consensus" behind his political agenda. Wow: if 44% of my candidates winning constitutes "near unanimous consensus," then the Democrats who hold 44% of the seats in Congress must constitute a ruling majority.

Professional journalist Dunsmoor fails to analyze any of the claims Howie makes. I guess that duty falls to us bloggers on the couch... and to House Majority Leader David Lust, who fields Dunsmoor's obligatory quote-from-the-other-side-so-I-look-impartial call:

However, House Majority Leader David Lust doesn't view the results as a major movement of ultra-conservative candidates in South Dakota.

"When you look at each race individually the dynamics of how hard a candidate worked, the money involved, the community dynamics, I'm really hesitant to draw with a broad brush and make sweeping pronouncements as to the results and what they mean," Lust said [Dunsmoor, 2012.06.06].

Lust is blowing a little smoke here, too, but I can grudgingly synthesize some truth from both Howie's and Lust's statements (and this is still more work than Dunsmoor does on company time): Governor Daugaard did suffer a net loss with his failed primary endorsements. However, no opposing group or movement "won," not Howie's, not Unruh's, not anyone's.

Again, watch the KELO story, then read the blogosphere's coverage of Tuesday's primary. Then tell me where you learn more.

p.s.: Howie plays Kristi-Noem coy with Dunsmoor:

Howie stops short of calling it a Tea Party movement but sees Begalka's win over the Speaker of the House as one of the biggest victories on primary night [Dunsmoor, 2012.06.06].

Howie's Tea pal Ed Randazzo must be furious: just like Congresswoman Noem, Howie is running away from the Tea Party brand that he embraced just two years ago when he ran for Governor.


  1. Barry Smith 2012.06.07

    Hilarious - Howie never keeps score- I guess except when he is producing SCORECARDS,. But he would never do THAT!

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.07

    Now, Bill, let's not make Ed any more bitter.

    Barry, watch the video. Watch the smirk on Gordon's face as he says that.

  3. Stace Nelson 2012.06.07

    I got a chuckle out of David Lust's comments. Kind of like a squad leader that leads troops into battle and ends up being the only one that comes walking out without a scratch, while the whole squad suffers myseterious wounds from the rear. Nope, wasn't his "leadership" or lack thereof that had anything to do with these losses. Say it enough times and he might be able to convince a new crop of legislators that he is a true leader by giving them all campaign contributions like last time.

    I think Dunsmoor and Mr. "H" are both wrong. They are both making the mistake of lumping everyone into the ranks of TEA Party when it is actually mostly old fashioned conservative South Dakotans that deserve the credit/blame for these election results. Never underestimate South Dakotans, and their will to get something done, especially when they see something clearly wrong. Also, never underestimate the old prairie coffee table grapevine. I lost count of how many angry voters in this area that said they have relatives up North that they were going to call about Rausch. As pointed out by Bob Mercer, some even sent money.

    Congratulations Senator Tim Begalka, and the voters of Dist #4.

  4. Steve Sibson 2012.06.07

    "I lost count of how many angry voters in this area that said they have relatives up North that they were going to call about Rausch."

    The people of Mitchell certainly can use some guidance from their conservative family members.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.07

    Stace, are you the secret agitator/kingmaker of the conservative ranks who really made a difference here? You certainly showed the other guys how to hustle in your new District 19. Did you mobilize some District 4 GOTV?

  6. Stace Nelson 2012.06.07

    Cory, I am a simple good old (scary) country-boy never meaning no harm... :-D

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.07

    Of course, but after Senator Begalka, who would have a keener interest in seeing Speaker Rausch kicked out of Pierre than the Fearsome Fightin' Fulton Freshman? (Uh oh: I'm assuming 4-F is an inappropriate nickname?)

  8. larry kurtz 2012.06.07

    Stace: give DENR sharper teeth and maybe I'll shut up (a little).

  9. grudznick 2012.06.07

    With the Mitchell recount, things could change. Senator Sibby isn't done yet.

  10. Bill Fleming 2012.06.07

    Senator Sibby is toast, grudz. Maybe even gravy taters.

  11. Charlie Hoffman 2012.06.07

    On this one my old adversary; which I have never faced in person, I applaud you for putting out the facts.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.07

    Hmm... on the first flawed count, Vehle beat Sibby 1938 to 1043. The machines miscounted perhaps 500 ballots. As of 4 p.m., they were still trying to get their ducks in a row, though Daivson County Auditor Susan Kiepke says the winners haven't changed. Hmm... time for Sibby to track down the connection between ballot-machine-maker Election Systems and Software and the Masons!

  13. grudznick 2012.06.07

    my old style arithmetic says:

    1938 minus 500 equals about 1430
    1043 plus 500 equals about 1540
    1540 is greater than 1430

    Senator Sibby could win by about 100 votes

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.07

    Alas (for those who enjoy drama and sheer chaos), no. The original story said that around 500 ballots may have been counted twice. If that is the primary error, then Vehle's vote could drop as low as 1438, or Sibby's could drop as low as 543, but under no combo could that error raise either man's vote. Sibby thus can't win from fixing this error. What he really needs to do is file a suit challenging all votes counted by the ES&S systems, which would affect Minnehaha and Pennington counties as well as Davison.

  15. Stace Nelson 2012.06.07

    @Charlie Curious, What do you think led to the demise of the majority of the candidates the governor backed and the others (Perry, Buckingham, Nelson, Rausch, Abdallah, Willadsen)? HB1133? HB 1234? Their voting records? The weather?

  16. Steve Sibson 2012.06.07

    That is right Cory. If the test ballots were included in the final count, there would be about 50/50 to each candidate. There is no way that I was robbed of a victory. I turned the results over to God well before 6/5, so there is something else more important for me to do than be a Senator for District 20 for the next 2 years.

  17. grudznick 2012.06.07

    Mr. Nelson, I'm curious what you think lead to the demise of our common friends Messrs. Sibby, Howie, my old neighbor George Ferebee, and young Ms. Wollman and Ms. Hubbel? Was it their insanity?

  18. grudznick 2012.06.07

    I think it was God who lead to their demise.

  19. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.07

    Steve, instead of turning the results over to God, you might want to recruit some folks to make calls and knock on doors right up until the vote.

    Stace, Grudz, you both ask good questions. The numbers tell me Howie's endorsements did not correlate with success. If I had a wealthy patron, I'd drive around the state and interview voters in all of these districts to find out what drove the candidates in question to victory. For now, I'll entertain responses in the comment section, which is much more fuel efficient than my Bug.

  20. Steve Sibson 2012.06.07

    I hope we all understand that it is not issues that drive election results. If they did, I would have received more than 65%. Cory is right, I needed to work much harder than I did. Unfortunately, I had problems come up that took time away from the campaign. I plan on being retired in two years, so watch out for District 20 in 2014.

  21. Troy Jones 2012.06.08

    Steve, a little advice. Getting whimper and saying the voters didn't get it doesn't isn't a way to get elected. It works the other way. You should have said, "I must not be hearing the voters very well. I will work hard to understand the voters next time."

    The way you said it sure sounds like "I would have won if the voters weren't so stupid."

  22. Troy Jones 2012.06.08

    Oops. Autocorrect typed whimper when I intended to say whumped.

  23. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.08

    I know that fallacy, Troy! Blaming rejection on the fantasy that all of your opponents simply misunderstand you is exactly what Melody Schopp and other boosters of HB 1234 are saying. Maybe she and DD should work to understand teachers, parents, and students better?

  24. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.08

    ...and whumped/whimper is another great example of auto-correct mind-reading.

  25. Stace Nelson 2012.06.08

    Grudz, looking at those races, correct me if I am wrong; however, some of them were CLEARLY at disadvantages in the area of campaign finanaces.

    While the message, voting records, issues, and person are important, if you do not reach the electorate, the candidate cannot win.

  26. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.08

    Stace, your statement has merit. So did Howie do anything to help those candidates overcome that financial disadvantage? Was he able to mobilize a network of donors and knockers and callers to help those candidates reach the electorate? Or did he just sit there in his studio pretending to be Pat Robertson?

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