Now to the heart of the matter: the blogosphere erupted yesterday with the story of a coordinated robocall, postcard and e-mail attack on the Republican leadership of the South Dakota leadership. The postcard I received, addressed to "Cory Allen Heidelberger, Madville Times," used the N-word, niggard, twice to describe how House Majority "Leader" (their quote marks) Rep. David Lust, Assistant Majority "Leader" Rep. Justin Cronin, and Speaker Pro-Tem Rep. Brian Gosch have treated soldiers and veterans. The robocall reportedly included Senate Majority Leader (no report on whether the recorded juvenile caller made air-quotes there) Russell Olson. Apparently the postcard designers only had room for three photos and left Senator Olson off (come on, guys, use Russ's indigestion-at-committee photo... or my high-quality Paint-up of Russ as Josey Wales!).
For the second time in 24 hours, South Dakota's chief election official, Secretary of State Jason Gant, can't confidently answer a simple question about the legality of certain electioneering activities. Good grief, Jason! Did you spend you first year and a half in office playing computer games with Pat? Or did you study any of the laws the voters have entrusted you to enforce?
While we wait for Sec. Gant to find someone to read campaign finance law to him, let's ask main political questions: who launched these attacks, and why?
Who sent them is pretty clear: attacking the Republican leadership for not being Republican enough has been the modus operandi of Gordon Howie's fantasy-insurgency minions all year. Lee Schoenbeck says it was left-wingers, but he must just be poking those GOP insurgents whom he so dislikes in the eye. The former Republican Senate leader must know that lefties gain little from campaigning on Republican ground against Republican leaders, especially against Justin Cronin, who doesn't have a Democratic challenger for his District 23 seat. The people behind these attacks are conservatives.
So what are those conservatives after? The right-wingers I know won't commit to saying the GOP is so far beyond repair that they are willing to help Democrats win (well, wait: Sibby did endorse Burg!). The anonymous right-wingers have no candidates on the November ballot to challenge Lust, Cronin, Gosch, and Olson. They are staking out more territory in their intra-party battle to win leadership positions in the caucus that will happen after the election. The targets of this campaign are not the voters who received the calls and cards and who will fill in ovals on November 6. The targets of this campaign are the few dozen legislators who will meet after November 6 to decide who gets the big chairs and offices in the Capitol. Whichever of Gordon Howie's henchmen hit "Send" is making a statement to Republican legislators: "We've got money, we've got brass knuckles, and we'll use them. Join us after November 6... and pick Lance Russell for Speaker and Tim Begalka for Majority Leader."
p.s.: Just how many people received these calls and cards, anyway? Was this a mass mailing? Or did the organizers simply call and mail the handful of reporters, bloggers, and politicos who would amplify the message for them?
pp.s.: If this campaign focuses on the majority leadership vote after November 6 and not the general election, does that make all campaign finance requirements irrelevant?