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Politico Overtags Nepotism “Charges” Against Brendan Johnson

I saw the Politico headline "Nepotism Charges Follow Son of Senator Before Possible Run" and thought "That can't be good."

But I read the article and found "nepotism charges" are apparently mostly Republicans firing up the fog machine:

“They don’t like a sense of entitlement. They don’t like the whole dynasty concept. They don’t like too much power in one or few persons’ hands,” GOP Sen. John Thune said of voters in his state. “There’s a real independence streak that goes through our state” [James Hohmann and Manu Raju, "Nepotism Charges Follow Son of Senator Before Possible Run," Politico, 2013.03.05].

Yes, which is why Mark Mickelson won a District 13 House seat.

Republican state chairman Craig Lawrence predicted the nepotism charges would cost Johnson 6 to 8 points.

“It’s nothing against Brendan Johnson personally,” he said. “It’s simply against the concept of United States Senate seats being part of your family estate” [Hohmann and Raju, 2013.03.05].

The only discussion of anything like nepotism comes on page 2, where the authors summarize the brief snitty eyebrow-raising in 2009 when Senator Johnson inquired about the delay in the approval of his son's nomination as U.S. Attorney, then mention the public perception a candidate Brendan Johnson would have to overcome.

But nothing in the article details real nepotism. The article mostly fuels speculation about a possible tussle between Brendan Johnson and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin for the Democratic Senate nomination in 2014 (and Brendan, Stephanie, don't go there; let's sit down, have lunch, and put together a team game plan for keeping Tim's seat and winning the big chair in Pierre).

The perception of nepotism or dynastic ascension is quite real. If Brendan runs, he'll have to deal with it, just as Stephanie did in 2002, by laying out his positions and his skills.

But all this squawkery raises a question: what is the talented and ambitious son of a talented and ambitious public figure supposed to do? We love it when Nick Prostrollo takes over the family business that was handed to him by Pat, who had it handed to him by Jerry. Brendan won't get the Senate job handed to him; he'll have to earn it from the public.

We don't tell young men and women who grow up in car-dealing or farming families that they can't go into their parents' businesses. Can we impose such a restriction on the talented young people who grow up seeing their parents doing the people's work in government and who think, "Yeah, I'd like to make a difference that way, too"?


  1. Matt Groce 2013.03.06

    This is of course why South Dakota voted for Gore and Kerry.

  2. Dougal 2013.03.06

    Does Craig Lawrence have a clue how dumb he sounds commenting on what was clearly not nepotism when Mike Rounds is the GOP candidate waiting in the wings?

  3. Troy Jones 2013.03.06

    Nepotism is defined as: patronage bestowed or favoritism shown on the basis of family relationship, as in business and politics.

    I think it is clear that Sen. Johnson favored his son for the US Attorney which fits the nepotism charge. He intends to exercise the same favoritism if he has a primary and a general election.

    The question is whether or not Sen. Johnson's influence is significant in an election. My guess is he will have more influence in a primary or general election. The point Lawrence is making is he thinks it will be a net negative. It is why we have elections. We will find out.

    This said, your statement with regard to Mark Mickelson is ludicrous. His father is not only no longer in office but has been dead for 20 years. So, unless Gov. Mickelson is exerting influence from Heaven, nepotism can not and does not apply to Mark.

    Personally, I don't like the word nepotism with regard to elected offices. It does apply with regard to appointed office. Anybody who asserts Brendan got the job and had no real opposition but for his father is wholly unrealistic. His prior experience in law and prosecuting is clearly the least in decades and his management experience was minimal. This said, I do not assert he has not been a productive US Attorney. I actually have insufficient information to make that judgment. People I know and trust that know generally have positive views of him, especially as a person.

    I do agree with your comments though politics has become their "family business." In whole, I think this is a positive. Families which breath politics and policy at the family table are well-suited for service. They aren't surprised by the negatives (personal attacks or impact on family). They have a broad view of issues. And, just as heirs to a business, heirs to a "family political business" must prove themselves worthy or it can be lost.

    But back to the thrust of Lawrence's comments, from a political perspective, my gut is the ties to his father and the President are net positives in a primary. But, those same ties hurt him in a general election.

    And, I believe in the aggregate are by themselves sufficient to insure he will not be elected to national office, not to mention the reality he will have a proven previously elected statewide opponent.

  4. Rorschach 2013.03.06

    Websters New World definition of Nepotism: "favoritism shown to relatives, esp. in appointment to desirable positions."

    The term does not apply to someone running for the US Senate. It arguably applies to Brendan's appointment to US Attorney over more experienced and more qualified persons (many of whom simply gave up on the job knowing that Brendan getting the job was a foregone conclusion). The term nepotism clearly applies to Gov. Daugaard hiring his young and inexperienced son-in-law for a high paid position in state government.

    But I choose to think of it like this: What father or mother in a position to advance their son or daughter's career wouldn't do it?

    Many parents aren't in a position to help their child's career. And their child may be competing against someone else with powerful parents. The one with powerful parents is at an advantage because besides just the powerful parents, there are friends of the powerful parents willing to help the child along and open doors for that person. That's Brendan's lot in life. You can't blame him, or Tim Johnson for that. Now, thinking about myself, I don't have those advantages that Brendan Johnson has. But maybe my kids will. That's what we all strive for - to help our kids reach their potential.

  5. larry kurtz 2013.03.06

    Mike Rounds --> Tim Rounds: any questions?

  6. larry kurtz 2013.03.06

    Mike Rounds -->Randy Brich: should i continue?

  7. Dougal 2013.03.06

    I realize that the objective is for Democrats to spend a lot of time denying the "observations" and "guessing" from the GOP. Best cure for stopping the little stinky lie is to smash it now before it turns into the oft-repeated big fat lie.

  8. Vincent Gormley 2013.03.06

    Troy your comment is ludicrous. How many ways are you trying to have it? From Tim favoring his son (for a position where he is not the person making the appointment) to defending Mark Mikelson. Your gut gets to vote? Like Sibby you tend to be long winded and short on support for your many positions.

  9. mike 2013.03.06

    This Nepotism thing is all perception. Scott Brown used it successfully to just label the Democrat who was endorsed by the late senator Ted Kennedy.

    Politics is perception. The problem for Brendan Johnson isn't that he isn't a stud of a candidate it's that he would be running against Mike Rounds. Rounds is not a weak candidate or an unknown. He's a two term Governor who left office with approval ratings in the 60-65% range.

    South Dakotan's do not know Brendan Johnson like they know a Mike Rounds or Stephanie Herseth. So Rounds could really go to town labeling him with the nepotism charge. And trust me it would stick. Brendan is seeing it at the top of headlines now and he hasn't said a word about running publicly. Imagine what happens when the local media and $30Million starts coming after him. Voters have an opinion of Rounds and Brendan would not only have to change that opinion to a negative but defend the attack against himself. Not an easy task.

    Voters don't have as positive impression of Kristi Noem. Some of it is her own fault and some of it isn't. First she became known statewide by criticizing a popular incumbent and winning in her first race so 50% of the voters are lukewarm to her (or were). Secondly her work ethic has been brought into question and left a mark on her. Much of that was her own fault for not responding to the press or attending those committees (maybe she had too much on her plate but perception is what matters). Thirdly congress in general is a dysfunctional mess. She has not accomplished a thing since being there. It's not her fault but she gets lumped in by enough voters to make it matter. Lastly non of her former opponents ran a good campaign. SHS wasn't anywhere in 2010 and Varilek was really weak and really liberal. Neither had a reservation turnout. Looking at previous results from 2012 it is clear that Noem has not taken over the large eastern counties like she needed to do. Brendan could get the votes out in bigger numbers in Brown, Minnehaha, Brookings, Clay, Yankton, and all the reservation counties. I think he makes this race close.

    Herseth is the strongest candidate to run for US Senate because voters already have a positive opinion of her. They know her. Much like Rounds they like that less partisan attitude that she gives off.

    Noem was chosen when SD wanted a fighter. Now we have dysfunction. At some point it grates on voters because voters are fickle. She's still not going to be a push over but Brendan could win a congressional race. There is absolutely no way in the world he beats Mike Rounds in a US Senate race with everything the GOP has coming after him.

    Politics is perception. Brendan could run as the nice guy, tough on crime person who wants to work across the aisle in congress, who wants to get something done for the people instead of just fighting. For Senate he's the son who is handed a seat from his father. If Noem were to use that against him for US Attorney she'd need some Dems who wanted the seat to come out against him and claim nepotism because let's face it he has done a good job in this position for 4 years. She better have something other than Nepotism to go after him with. And if she just makes allegation he can turn them on her and say "this is exactly what's wrong with DC".

    I say he gets smoked for Senate but could win for congress.

  10. Chris E. 2013.03.06

    If Lisa Murkowski can win in Alaska as a write-in candidate despite the nepotism charges levied against her (she was initially appointed by her father - a man so corrupt that they preferred a certain Sarah Palin over him), its more than possible for Brendan Johnson to pick up the torch despite having the extra disadvantage of the Democratic brand in South Dakota.

    That being said, I'm putting my chips down on SHS should she decide to run. If Brendan Johnson wants a US Senate seat, he'll have a prime opportunity in 2016.

  11. mike 2013.03.06

    Herseth could run a very competitive campaign against Rounds.

    I wouldn't be surprised if it was polling at 46%-46% or 46%-44%. I'm sure she is in the margin of error.

  12. Troy Jones 2013.03.06

    Vince, I defended Brendan as I did Mark. It is their "family business." The difference is BJ's dad is able to influence results to BJ's benefit (and detriment). MM's dad is not able to influence anything. That is the definition of nepotism.

    I intended to be clear but must not have been. The "family business" component is not a net negative. People raised in politics have certain skills and experiences that enhance their service.

    I think though you are reacting to my view, in light of perception of his father's performance and Obama's lack of popularity in SD, the ties are a net negative in a general election.

  13. owen reitzel 2013.03.06

    "“They don’t like a sense of entitlement. They don’t like the whole dynasty concept. They don’t like too much power in one or few persons’ hands,” GOP Sen. John Thune said of voters in his state. “There’s a real independence streak that goes through our state” [James Hohmann and Manu Raju, "Nepotism Charges Follow Son of Senator Before Possible Run," Politico, 2013.03.05]."

    How about the Bush family Thune? And there's another one setting himself up for a run in 2016. Using Thune's logic the state will vote Democart in 2016

  14. larry kurtz 2013.03.06

    Any Democrat that doesn't embrace the President is an idiot. When we need advice on how to lose South Dakota, Troy: we'll give you a call.

  15. mike 2013.03.06

    Chris E,

    Murkowski was a Republican in a very red state. Brendan is a Dem in a very red state. Big difference. Bush was on a national level.

    If Brendan Johnson want's to be a US Senator he should take the Evan Bayh route instead. Bayh was SOS, Gov, Sen in indianan. His father was US Senator in Indiana once also.

  16. Rick 2013.03.06

    2013.03.06 at 08:12
    Websters New World definition of Nepotism: "favoritism shown to relatives, esp. in appointment to desirable positions."

    The term does not apply to someone running for the US Senate. It arguably applies to Brendan's appointment to US Attorney over more experienced and more qualified persons (many of whom simply gave up on the job knowing that Brendan getting the job was a foregone conclusion)."
    Regarding Brendan's appointment to be US Attorney, President Obama nominated him, not Sen. Tim Johnson. Not sure I agree that nepotism applies here.

  17. larry kurtz 2013.03.06

    We need the governor's chair or we'll continue to wander in the wilderness. The tribes are the future for our party and it's clear that a strong relationship be established between our gub candidate because the state is the enemy to Indian Country.

    Connect the dots.

  18. larry kurtz 2013.03.06

    SHS has the best shot at the seat Thune warms: she has to run for the House. Tim Johnson is perfectly capable of being South Dakota's senior Senator.

  19. larry kurtz 2013.03.06

    A Democratic governor can appoint an interim Senator should Sen. Johnson decide to step down after he is re-elected.

  20. larry kurtz 2013.03.06

    And some yacho will run against Rounds in a primary forcing him into the teazone. The GOP is toast.

  21. larry kurtz 2013.03.06

    Watch if DD vetoes the embedded school shooter bill.

  22. Rorschach 2013.03.06

    Bingo, Mike. I can't add anything to your analysis about Brendan. The house race against Noem is winnable for him. A senate race against Rounds is not. Even though putting one's name on the ballot and winning an election is the opposite of nepotism, Brendan will still have to deal with arguments that he has been eased into his current appointed job because of his father, and that he would never have been in the running for that job if his father wasn't a senator. With 4 years of good performance, he can overcome that argument against a less popular incumbent like Noem, but not against a popular nice guy former governor who is free of any (Noem) stigma of being a do-nothing attack dog in a do-nothing congress.

    But Larry is right also. Democrats need a Governor to emerge from the wilderness. Stephanie is the best, and only, chance Democrats have of winning that seat in 2014. She can beat Daugaard, who just hasn't inspired anybody. I can't think of any reason to re-elect Daugaard other than the R by his name, which won't be enough if Stephanie runs. A ticket of Stephanie/Bernie Hunhoff would be a powerful combination, and could pull some down ticket races to the Democratic column as well.

  23. Rorschach 2013.03.06

    So if Brendan runs for the house (as he should) and Stephanie runs for Governor (as she should), I think they can both win. But who should be the Democratic senate candidate against Mike Rounds?

    I'm not sure any Dem other than Stephanie could beat Rounds, and that race would be a toss up decided by who runs the better campaign & turns out the voters. Still I don't think two Democrats can win a US House and a US Senate seat in SD in the same election. But Democrats can't give Republicans a second consecutive free pass to the US Senate. They have to run somebody credible to make Rounds work and spend his money. Is there a wealthy self-funder out there who might make a go of it? Maybe an independent conservative candidate to siphon votes from Rounds? Dems have 2013 to figure this out.

  24. owen reitzel 2013.03.06

    Rorschach, I tend to agree with you except for Rounds. I think he's beatable.
    When Daugaard became governor he said there was a "structual deficit" and he cut education. that deficit can and should be put on Rounds and on the republicans in general.
    Do we want Rounds as a senator when he blew it as governor?

  25. Douglas Wiken 2013.03.06

    Rounds has fleas from sleeping with the insurance dogs.

  26. Dave 2013.03.06

    Report by the AP, October 2009:

    It turns out Brendan Johnson wasn't the only South Dakotan who wanted to be the state's next U.S. attorney.
    Beadle County State's Attorney Michael Moore also applied for the job.

    Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Johnson's nomination and sent it to the Senate floor.

    Moore says he thinks it was a fair process. He applied in February and says he was told in June that the Obama administration would recommend Johnson, son of U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson. Moore says Johnson's Senate office helped him as he sought the job. He says the White House told him he was considered.

    A spokeswoman for Senator Johnson, Julianne Fisher, says her boss last week asked the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman for a status update on the U.S. attorney position. Both that job and the U.S. marshal's position are pending, and Fisher says the senator had an obligation to make sure they get through the Senate and are filled.

    Wonder why no one (PP) at Dakota War College, whose minions constantly complain about the reporting of the Argus Leader, never take time to give Michael Moore a call for a statement?

  27. Troy Jones 2013.03.06

    The Democrat party doesn't have the infrastructure to beat an unknown Republican state-wide. You shot that wad focusing on the Governor's Economic Development and Education bills last year and chasing some PUC races. You then will have to deal with the reality Obama will be a millstone in SD. Heck, the sequester didn't even cut enough to cover the new first year shortfall on Obamacare projections.

    Rounds, Noem, and Daugaard are beyond your capacity. The sooner you realize it the sooner your party might become a viable alternative in SD.

  28. Steve Sibson 2013.03.06

    Troy, the reason why Dems have no viable alternative is that they joined the SDGOP.

  29. Rorschach 2013.03.06

    Just keep on thinking the Republan party is invincible, Troy. Tell all of your friends that, and have them tell all of their friends. I want every Republan to believe you.

  30. Anne 2013.03.06

    I thought sob Sr. Jones had permanently withdrawn to the royster cloister at SDWC where the sisters show what mean girls really are. The pope resigned. Can Sr. Jones emulate that eminence and stay with his order?

  31. Troy Jones 2013.03.06

    I agree one of us in the dreamworld.

  32. Rorschach 2013.03.06

    SDWC used to be the #1 political blog in SD. Now it's #2. It went from PP to poo poo.

  33. LK 2013.03.06

    I am a Protestant by temperament and tradition, so I don't have much use for cloisters. Quite frankly I welcome the chance to eavesdrop on Trappist monks talking with Kentucky snake handlers, Native shamans, and renegade atheists

    I wish Troy were wrong, but the Democrats in SD don't have the party structure to win. Even if SHS or Brendan Johnson win because they have the family connections that will give them funding, that doesn't mean that the SD Democratic Party has party apparatus in place to challenge Republicans in statewide races. It merely means that those two young people have the personality and connections to get elected.

    I want two parties in this state as much as anyone, but as long as a sober person has a better chance of seeing a unicorn than a Democrat not named Heidelberger west of the Missouri, there's little chance of Democrats winning another US Senate, US House, or governorship.

  34. SLHart 2013.03.06

    I agree with Rorschach on the Daugaard/Tony Venhuizen issue and have always wondered why there were no screams of nepotism on that one. We voters did not have a chance to voice our opinion as we potentially will on a Brendan Johnson run.

  35. owen reitzel 2013.03.06

    "Troy, the reason why Dems have no viable alternative is that they joined the SDGOP."

    BS Steve! Tired of the false-equalivancy.

  36. mike 2013.03.06

    The Nepotism arguement is dead if BJ runs for House. Is Noem going to want newspapers writing stories about Tony Venhuizen's cush job? How about Chris Daugaard, How about Mike Rounds hiring his family?

    Daugaard's inner circle (Argus Leader July 15, 2012):

    Tony Venhuizen

    Title: Director of policy and communications

    Gov. Dennis Daugaard almost refused to give Tony Venhuizen, his director of policy and communications, a job in his administration.
    Venhuizen’s near-fatal flaw was the same fact that had helped him rise to become Daugaard’s campaign manager years before his 30th birthday: his marriage to Sara Daugaard, the governor’s daughter.
    That marriage helped Venhuizen, a lawyer who served as a student representative on the state Board of Regents for five years and helped elect Mike Rounds to two terms as governor, enter Daugaard’s inner circle. By late 2010, Venhuizen was the man managing Daugaard’s campaign, and he was hoping to keep working for Daugaard after his boss won.
    But Daugaard worried about appearances.
    “Linda and I talked about it, and I changed my mind,” Daugaard said. “I’m very glad I did, because Tony’s been outstanding.”

  37. mike 2013.03.06

    I also have to think that if Noem is attacking Brendan Johnson on nepotism then SHS is going to go after Rounds for nepotism and the issue is dead for both.

  38. mike 2013.03.06

    Rorshach is right that if the Dems want to build the party for decades they need the governor's office. Having the governors office would insulate a dem from the liberal DC. Most likely a dem governor will have a republican house and senate to deal with. Meaning the Dem would be moderate/conservative by nature of wanting to get things past.

    Most likely that Dem would be to the right of the Rounds era.

    I don't think Daugaard is vulnerable to a loss in 2014. Sure he might not have run the cleanest administration when it comes to issues but I don't think he is out of touch with SD voters in most aspects. The education bill was rejected so was his economic development expansion but he also made 10% cuts to a budget Rounds doubled in the previous 8 years. So the pain wasn't that harsh. Daugaard is also a ferocious campaigner and people person. Where Rounds was not a man amongst the people Daugaard has filled that gap completely. He is at everything. Voters have a personal connection to him. (maybe Daugaard's biggest flaw is that he's got a really sensitive staff (and he might be sensitive also) that goes after those who oppose him)

    If the Dems want to win the Governor's mansion I suggest the run SHS for Senate and Brendan for Congress. If Brendan wins against Noem he's in prime position to run for Gov in '18 against Jackley or whomever lesser known candidate the GOP puts forth.

    Both SHS and Brendan Johnson eat into the GOP's rich donor base in SF. I think if they were to run for Governor and be the front runner many rich donors would back them in an open race. I doubt they would abandon Denny in 2014. Plus SHS would get so much more money nationally running for US Senate than Governor.

    SHS has been polling the Gov and Senate races so she knows if Daugaard is vulnerable or not. Maybe he is and we just assume he isn't.

    No dem wins in 2014 if there aren't 2 strong dems running at once. Because this will cause voters to split votes here and there.

  39. mike 2013.03.06

    Also if SHS wanted to run against Daugaard in '14 she would need to show Max Sandlin is in SD also. Not lobbying in DC.

  40. Joan 2013.03.06

    The Republicans are fine ones to talk about nepotism, do the names Ron Paul/Rand Paul ring a bell, and I am sure there are others. Sometimes all it takes is a familiar name, like Bush, Mickelson, and probably others. As far as that goes, didn't Rounds have several family members working in state jobs and doesn't Daugaard have at least one family member working in state government?

  41. mike 2013.03.06

    My advice ticket for the Dems in 2014:

    US Senate: Stephanie Herseth Sandlin 50/50 race
    US Congress: Brendan Johnson 50/50 race
    Governor: Bryce Healy/Nancy Turbak Berry 55/45 race
    Sec of State: Julie Bartling (she probably beats Gant)

    Bryce is a guy the Dems should be courting. Sure he'd lose but he would be a credible guy that isn't a bomb thrower or a left wing loon who will drag the ticket down. He'd help the Dems look like a good team. He lost his last bid in '06 for reelection to School and Public Lands but it was really close and the Republicans poured a lot of money into that seat.(If memory serves me right Healy didn't campaign hard)

    Following the education bills rejection Healy would be able to discuss many of his thoughts because he is Executive Director of the SD Education Association.

    (From Argus) "The National Education Association contributed almost $525,000 to the vote No on 16 campaign, and another $200,000 in support of Initiated Measure 15. Sanford Health, Avera Health and Rapid City Regional Hospital have, combined, contributed almost $900,000 to Moving South Dakota Forward, the group supporting Initiated Measure 15."

    Look at the money education advocates poured into SD last year. Now imagine if they put some of that into Bryce Healy? 70% of the voters agreed with Healy NOT Daugaard. He's also young where Hunhoff and other also rans are past their prime.

    Healy might have an organized group of teachers who would be excited to campaign for him. (As a bonus isn't Healy friends with Pat Powers?)

  42. Jana 2013.03.06

    Keloland takes the call from new GOP leader and largest advertiser Lawrence and runs a story on Brendon running...imagine that.

    I think the GOP is going to be exposed for their hypocrisy any way you slice it!

    Here's what sticks to them:
    -Gant's total politicization of the SoS
    -Rounds/Daugaard budget cuts crippling schools
    -The crazy bills out of Pierre - keep a list!
    -The crazy people of the GOP - secession anyone?
    -Calling voters stupid and lazy...and then having the nerve to go back and repackage what the people of SD said no too is hubris that won't be forgiven.
    -Cronyism personified!
    -The national self destruction of the GOP

    It'll be a fight as they have all the power and money...but then how many people really like domineering, self-interested jerks?

  43. Winston 2013.03.06

    Troy, your father does not have to be alive in order for a off-spring to benefit from nepotism. Inheriting a father's political network itself suffices for the requirements of a nepotism definition. Come to think of it, was not Mark's grandfather Governor of South Dakota as well?

    If the Republicans in South Dakota have a problem with Brendan Johnson, then one must assume they have problems with a Jeb Bush Presidential run in 2016 as well, and let me guess...they never supported "Dubya" in the past.... hey, right.

  44. grudznick 2013.03.06

    Like my friend Larry says. This is the likely end of Tim Johnson's political career. He should have delivered more.

  45. mike 2013.03.06

    How about Hillary Clinton? Americans don't dislike nepotism just because it's nepotism.

    American's vote for the best candidate. Same with South Dakotan's. That's why Brendan Johnson will lose by double digits to Mike Rounds. Rounds is not old or disliked. He is younger than Daugaard.

    All of Brendan Johnson's talents pale to Rounds. He will lose to Rounds because he is not established yet as a great candidate. He is darn good though and on his way to being great.

    Close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades. What good does it do Brendan to run for an office he cannot win?

  46. Rorschach 2013.03.06

    Mike, now there's a name I didn't think of. Nancy Turbak Berry. She lost her state senate seat, but nobody's smarter or a better speaker. She could be a rock star. Either the senate or governor race would suit her.

    Unfortunately, Bryce Healy can't win, doesn't campaign, and comes off as if he just doesn't care. We don't need Bob Samuelson II for Governor. He couldn't break 30% in a governor's race, and would be a drag on everyone else on the ticket. Just because he's the second to last Democrat to win a statewide race for a Pierre office doesn't mean the Democrats should throw away a real opportunity to beat a GOP governor.

    Stephanie for governor, Brendan for US house, Nancy Turbak Berry for US Senate.

  47. Rorschach 2013.03.06

    Regardless of who wins the 2014 Governor's race, the 2018 race will be a free for all on the GOP side with at least a couple of power players. Marty Jackley vs. Mark Mickelson. Who wins that primary? If Dems don't pick off Daugaard in 2014, they will probably be locked out of the governorship until 2026.

  48. Winston 2013.03.06

    There is no doubt we have become tribal as a nation and a state in many ways. The Kennedys, the Bushs, the Clintons, the Doles, the Udalls, the Mickelsons, the Johnsons, and even the Herseths are all symbolic of what we have become in someways. It challenges the efficacy of our democratic institutions and its intended purposes. But when it comes to state politics the charge of nepotism against a Democrat in a Republican state is base less. Only if a Democratic governor in a Red state were to appoint the Democratic son of a sitting Democratic senator to replace him could nepotism be claimed by the electorate as a whole. In a Red state, like South Dakota, the voters will have the final say. Claiming nepotism in South Dakota against a potential Democratic candidate is only a credible argument if it is alleged from within the Democratic Party nominating selection process itself. However, in the case of Brendan Johnson, with the alternative Democratic senate candidate being SHS, herself a member of a prominent South Dakota Democratic family, the issue becomes moot. Only if a lesser known Democrat were to run for the 2014 South Dakota Democratic nomination for the US Senate could an argument of nepotism be alleged against Brendan Johnson, but this scenario will most likely never happen, at least not in 2014.

    However, Mr. Lawrence has chosen to define Brendan Johnson from day one as the product of nepotism. In ignoring the South Dakota Republican history with the Bushs and the Mickelsons, Mr. Lawrence has licensed himself with the classic attempt, which Republicans often do, to tell half of the story of our political history. It is the same audacity which in the past empowered Republicans to claim that "Dubya" kept America safe, while never reminding the electorate that 9/11 actually happen under "Dubya's" watch and not Clinton's.

    But with that all said, Mr. Lawrence like other South Dakota Republican leaders have painted themselves in the corner as far as the 2014 senate race is concerned. When they put former Governor Rounds out front as a 2014 senate candidate what they really did is severely lessen the changes that Senator Tim Johnson would run. If they had only encouraged Rep. Noem instead, most likely Senator Johnson would have stayed in the race and even Noem could have beat Senator Johnson much the way the weakest Republican candidate in 1980, Jim Abdnor, beat George McGovern in that year. But now most likely, with Senator Tim Johnson out of the way, South Dakota Republicans have encouraged a more viable candidacy either in the name of Brendan or Stephanie. Now, almost two years until election, South Dakota Republicans are trying to define and destroy the possible senate candidacy of Brendan Johnson through a nepotism charge. If they succeed to weaken Brendan before he is even out of the gate they will only inform and enlighten national and state Democrats to encourage SHS over Brendan - and everyone knows SHS is the strongest Democratic candidate for the US Senate in 2014.... Keep up the good work SD GOP your playing your cards wrong... before long if you have your way, South Dakota Democrats will have their strongest candidate for the senate running in 2014 and then beating your flagship candidate for the US Senate, former governor Mike Rounds. Mr. Lawrence and the SD GOP really need to go back to school and retake "Polly Sci 101" all over again.

  49. Troy 2013.03.06

    Winston and everyone else:

    Do you have a dictionary? Look up the definition of nepotism. It really is true. The inbreeding on this site is dropping you iq's.

  50. Winston 2013.03.06


    This is what my computer dictionary says about "nepotism."

    nepotism |ˈnepəˌtizəm|
    the practice among those with power or influence of favoring relatives or friends, esp. by giving them jobs.

    This definition is germane and not contradictory to any of the points that I have made on this issue. The absence of a political father does not destroy his political network - a network which is further empowered through the promotion of the off-spring of the established past political parent and its brand-name .

    Since the Politico piece never mentioned the District Attorney appointment, and Mr. Lawrence chose to speak to the Senate seat only, does not Cory's initial reference about the Mickelsons find itself case on point with the political controversy over this alleged nepotism?

    If the Johnsons are fair game on nepotism, then the Mickelsons and the Bushs are as well based on the definition I hereby submit and the realities of past Republican Party histories.

    In terms of inbreeding, thanks for the slam, but personally I prefer facts ... where's your definition?

  51. Rorschach 2013.03.07

    I know someone with a little cocker spaniel named Winston. I just can't get that out of my head. Time for all of us to roll over.

  52. Brett 2013.03.07

    It's great that Republicans are really trying to help out the South Dakota Democratic Party by giving electoral advice about which candidates have the best chance of winning offce. No reason to be suspicious at all of their totally sincere advice.

  53. Winston 2013.03.07

    Is the dog smart or does it suffer from inbreeding?

  54. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.03.07

    Inbreeding? When we can so quickly name the influential parents and grandparents of so many SD politicos involved in this discussion on both sides, the word "inbreeding" applies more to the whole political field, not this comment section.

    Thune said we don't like dynasties. I offer the Mickelsons as counterexample. Nothing ludicrous there.

    R and Mike, I would suggest not burning up any strong Dem on the Lt. Gov. slot. Bernie and Nancy. Let's put their star power to work winning columns of their own. Let the Dem gubernatorial nominee pick Stan Adelstein as Bidenesque bulldog and fundraiser in chief.

    Bernie, Nancy, and Bryce: whom could they beat?

  55. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.03.07

    (Winston proves we have the smartest comment section in the state by using two schwas.)

  56. Justin 2013.03.07

    "The inbreeding on this sight is dropping you iqs".

    So elegant, yet so sophisticated. Remember the days when Troy was too indignant to post. Then even before that when he hadn't feigned it.

  57. mike 2013.03.07

    Rorshach is right Turbak Berry should be a high level recruit for the Dems for Gov or Senate if Brendan runs for congress. I don't understand why we don't hear her name anymore.

  58. mike 2013.03.07

    Skjonsberg speaking about nepotism is funny considering he was just appointed by Daugaard to be a member of the cronyism in Pierre.

  59. mike 2013.03.07

    Cronyism and nepotism are two words that should be thrown around a lot more than they are.

  60. Steve Sibson 2013.03.07

    Mike, the supporters of SB235 need to hear "cronyism" a lot more too.

  61. Douglas Wiken 2013.03.07

    "Cronyism" is more correct in this issue than is "nepotism".

    Republicans short of issues generate issues out of think irrelevant tissue and smoke. Unfortunately, a lot of South Dakotans don't take the time to distinguish real issues and importance from phony issues and irrelevance.

  62. G-Man 2013.03.07

    The problem is that Brendan Johnson, although a great attorney, does not have the legislative experience and connections that Stephanie Herseth has.

  63. G-Man 2013.03.07

    In the end, it comes down to who has a successful record of working in Congress, has developed a deep network of connections with both parties, and the conclusion one comes to is: former Congresswoman, Stephanie Herseth. Brendan Johnson and Mike Rounds do not have these factors.

  64. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.03.07

    But G, SHS was able to stake that claim in 2010 and still got beat by a nobody with a compelling narrative and looks.

  65. mike 2013.03.07

    70 comments on this post tells me Democrats are hungry for a strong candidate and excited about 2014 and the potential they have.

    SHS Senate
    Brendan Congress
    Turbak Governor
    Bartling SOS

  66. Jana 2013.03.07

    Mike, I would only add that Democrats are hungry for good governance, statesmanship and an end to shallow, self-serving, opportunistic ideologues.

    Although I would switch the top two spots around and draft a Knudson/Weiland or Weiland/Knudson ticket for Governor.

    For SoS, I would prefer Turbak who is a good common sense attorney with a sense of decency who can see through the BS.

    Then in 2016, when Hillary Clinton cleans the clock of whoever is left standing from the GOP, SHS can take John (I oversaw the demise of the Republican Party) Thune to the cleaners.

    Just my 2 cents.

  67. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.03.08

    Jana: Which Knudson? Mike? Or do we get Dave Knudson to jump parties?

  68. Jana 2013.03.08

    Should have clarified that, I would draft Dave as an Independent.

  69. G-Man 2013.03.08

    Cory, remember Richard Nixon and everyone thought he was finished after 1960?

  70. G-Man 2013.03.08

    And do not forget that Stephanie lost by less than 2%. Not much of a defeat.

  71. G-Man 2013.03.08

    Stephanie Herseth Sandlin For US Senate 2014 :)

  72. mike 2013.03.10

    G-Man is right. SHS is the ONLY Dem who can beat Rounds.

  73. mike 2013.03.10

    Cory, What do you hear from the Dems about SHS and Brendan? I would think the word on the ground would give a pretty clear idea of what is going on in the SDDP.

    I'm tired of seeing all of the SDWC stories about how bitter SHS and Brendan are towards each other.

  74. G-Man 2013.03.10

    Mike, I just got done commenting in response to all the hyper-ventilation going on as usual with the gang at the South Dakota War College. It's basically Stephanie Herseth's decision. I believe that most of us who support know that she can defeat any opponent in any "speculative primary." Sorry to the Johnson Family: but if Stephanie decides to run, she would beat Brendan in any "speculative primary," and you secretly know that will be the case. Brendan needs to set his sights on defeating Kristi Noem for the US House, if Stephanie decides to run. Yes, most of us know Stephanie could defeat Mr. Rounds as well. Once again, let's all be patient and wait to hear from Ms. Sandlin herself.

  75. G-Man 2013.03.10

    The US Senate Race comes down to Stephanie's decision.

  76. G-Man 2013.03.10

    Stephanie apparently scares Republicans. Talk about all the hyper-ventilating that continues over at the South Dakota War College. She has not even announced any decision and they are all trying to count her out already. LOL. I did not know that one candidate could scare one political party as much as Herseth does the South Dakota Republican Party.

  77. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.03.10

    MIke, I can offer no insight to what lies in the hearts of Camps Johnson and SHS. I can only say what had better be in their hearts: a recognition that what's good for the party is good for them, and that what's good for the party is that both of them appear on the November ballot, synergizing with the other Dems vying for our votes.

    G, DWC has always been scared of SHS or any competent candidate who can highlight the inadequacy of Kristi Noem and the GOP agenda. Even Matt Varilek scared them into early negative campaigning, lest we talk about Noem's non-record.

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