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Adelstein’s Ticket to Beat Daugaard in 2014: Nelson-Nesselhuf?

Kevin Woster gives Senator Stanford Adelstein (R-32/Rapid City) some ink to muse about running for governor. Senator Adelstein uses his blog (which pays good money to advertise here... as should you!) to foment further discussion of an Adelstein statewide candidacy. Intrepid reporter David Montgomery notes the Senator has taken other steps to raise his profile, suggesting a run for something could happen. And the ever-feudal Pat Powers calls the Senator a traitorous, attention-seeking good-for-nothing.

I have ad dollars but no inside information. My speculation is purely my own. And my speculation is that you will not see Adelstein on a statewide ballot next year. The Senator himself says he'd prefer a different attack on the unsatisfactory status quo:

And maybe even running for governor? Adelstein downplays the possibility, without rejecting it.

"I would rather find a younger man or young woman who wanted to be governor," he said. "But I'm really not pleased with what's going on these days. Running for governor would give me a statewide platform to discuss those issues" [Kevin Woster, "Could Rapid City's Stan Adelstein Still Run for Governor?" Rapid City Journal, 2013.02.24].

Senator Adelstein has the confidence and cash to say and do whatever he wants. But he doesn't want to run for Governor. He wants someone younger to run for governor and lead longer-lasting change in the direction of the moderate policies Adelstein favors.

But where will he find such a candidate who can viably challenge Governor Daugaard in 2014? A successful challenger would have to capitalize on the disgruntled but apparently shrinking Democrat base as well as the energetic arch-conservatives who are willing to unseat Governor Daugaard for his unconservative crony capitalism. It might take more money that Stan and God put together could muster to get Democratic chairman Ben Nesselhuf and Republican gadfly (is gad-elephant a word?) Stace Nelson onto the same ticket... but that seems to be the kind of monster it would take to wage a successful anti-Daugaard campaign in 2014.

The Dems tried a fusion ticket of sorts in 2010 with Democrat Scott Heidepriem picking former Republican Ben Arndt as his running mate. Their tack toward the center, though, didn't help them distinguish themselves from the safe Republican choice. Maybe a Nelson-Nesselhuf ticket, rich with open conflict and dichotomy but united in a desire to change the power equation in Pierre, is just what Senator Adelstein needs to find a way forward for South Dakota while keeping himself happily ensconced in his Black Hills digs.


  1. joelie hicks 2013.02.26

    I am happy there is a conversation about challenging G. Daugaard.

  2. Charlie Johnson 2013.02.26

    So am I, Joelie. His so called term as a Governor has been a total disaster.

  3. larry kurtz 2013.02.26

    Can a Democratic governor elected in 2014 appoint a replacement for Senator Johnson should he choose to step down sometime after re-election?

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.02.26

    Larry, under SDCL Chapter 12-11, the Governor makes a temporary appointment to a vacated Senate seat. That appointment would stand until the next general election. Interestingly, we hold a special election for a House vacancy within 90 days of said vacancy, unless the general election is within six months.

  5. grudznick 2013.02.26

    Mr. Stan should run in the primary now. Previously I thought Mr. Nelson should run for one of the other offices like Lands Secretary or Secretary of Treasurer to get more state recognition for a Governeratoral run in 2018 and tomorrow I will still be thinking this and now some of you will too.

    Mr. Stan would be just the man to hold down that job for Nelson for 4 years. Do not run the insane hybrid beast of insaner liberalism Nesselhuff combined with Nelson's staunch independence unless it's a caped and masked tag-team in a contest decided by MMA smacking downs.

  6. larry kurtz 2013.02.26

    Hey grud: help us render the lard from GOP posteriors into feedstock.

  7. grudznick 2013.02.26

    From the insaner posteriors, Mr. Kurtz.

  8. grudznick 2013.02.26

    Remember way back when we used to just bust a gut out by the lake reminising about standing at the Tilford exit with those fake witch noses and cardboard signs that said "Homeless Hungry and Evil"? Those were the days man.

  9. larry kurtz 2013.02.26

    just like pp does with his myriad sock puppets do all day: right, grud?

  10. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.02.26

    Grudz: statewide recognition as public lands commissioner or treasurer? Surely you jest. Stace Nelson's skill set doesn't align with those offices. If he must wait, he should wait in the Legislature, where he can build much more public support than from one of those dismal executive offices.

  11. Jim 2013.02.26

    I'm surprised we haven't heard more from Stacey this session considering how quick he was last session to engage just about anyone anytime. Maybe he is learning that sometimes less is more.

  12. Winston 2013.02.26

    Assuming Daugaard was to survive an Adelstein challenge, such a challenge would weaken him for the fall, but not as much as a unsuccessful right wing challenge would from someone like Howie.

    If the Democrats want to beat Daugaard in 2014, they must pray Howie or one of his surrogates runs in the Republican gubernatorial primary against Daugaard. Alienating the right through a Daugaard primary victory will do more to keep a substantial number of Republicans at home and not voting in the general election, than an Adelstein faction could ever foster.

    In fact, I would allege most Adelstein Republicans are already able and willing to support a credible Democratic candidate for Governor in South Dakota next year versus Daugaard, but a primary defeated Howie crowd would stay home and skew the numbers in favor of the Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.02.27

    Winston, I'm not sure about your thesis. If we believe in the power of money in politics, then I wonder: from which sector does Daugaard get most of his money? Does he have big rightwing backers who would abandon him in favor of Howie and then sit on their wallets in the general? Or does < ahref="">most of his big money come from mainstream GOP backers who are more likely to be peeled away by a moderate Adelstein challenge than a radical Howie challenge?

  14. joelie hicks 2013.02.27

    I don't think of Daugaard as a conservative at all. Gordon Howie is without a doubt conservative.
    As for Stace being quiet this session, consider the notion that he was not the diva last year. He was perhaps reacting to the divas.

  15. mike 2013.02.27

    Right now the verdict is still out whether Ben Nesselhuf has the skill set to run the SDDP let alone the state of SD.

  16. Brett 2013.02.27

    Cory--the sitting Governor isn't going to have any trouble raising money against either Adelstein or Howie. And either challenger would have to run a relatively shoe-string campaign and hope to gain traction without big advertising buys. I think Winston is right that Howie has a better chance of accomplishing that because the right wing of the republican party has shown itself repeatedly to be willing to cut off its nose to spite its face. Being obviously incompetent is not an impediment to significant Tea Party-esque support. Just think how scary a potential Stephanie Strong candidacy was to the Noem campaign.

    Still, either insurgent candidacy is just extremely far-fetched. Daugaard has governed as a hard right republican and his base likes him, and he is a relatively charasmatic politician. I'd suggest he would trounce almost anyone in a primary, and will likely go on to win re-election relatively easily. Until school budgets are cut to the point of eliminating football or basketball, no one cares.

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.02.27

    Dang it, Brett! You're so rational. But is it hopeless for Dems as well? Do we redo Thune 2010 and save our resources for other races?

  18. joelie hicks 2013.02.27

    Daugaard is not a conservative. Not even close. He has alienated many of the conservatives, the small to midsize farmers, the teachers, some of the gun people and veterans. Who is left to support him? The big ag industry who can wield money but not too many votes. I would say that GDD is very vulnerable, especially with the spotlight directed on him via 1060,1048 and150. I voted for Daugaard last time. Never again. I am not the only one who feels betrayed.

  19. Brett 2013.02.28

    Joelie--you may not think he is conservative, but the large majority of self-identified conservatives do. He cuts budgets and is socially conservative, which essentially meets the basic definition. True, educatators don't like him, but then again, they didn't vote for him in 2010 either, so it's not like he is losing a lot of support there. Maybe I'm wrong (wouldn't be the first time!) but I just don't see a primary scenario.

    Cory--I do think we should challenge Daugaard, but we shouldn't have any illusions that it would be an easy race. If Herseth-Sandlin got in, she would be a strong challenger. But almost any other candidate I can think of has an uphill battle. On the other hand, running no candidate is bad for the party and for democratic values generally. Even longshot candidates do sometimes win when things go their way.

  20. joelie hicks 2013.02.28

    Real conservatives, and I am one, do not believe a budget cutter alone makes a conservative. Especially if that person steals from Peter to pay Paul. And if they keep trying to exercise state muscle over local governments, that is even more egregious. A conservative will no more fund a french cheese plant or roads for cafos than anything else. A conservative would expect them to be able to get by on their own steam and if they cannot, try, try again. I know a lot of people who are politically conservative and none of them approve of what Daugaard has done in his first term.

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