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Democrat Reads Progressivism in Brendan Johnson’s Tea Leaves; SHS Not Welcome

Last updated on 2013.04.18

South Dakota Democrat and freelance theologian (that's interesting!) Anna Madsen takes to the Daily Kos-waves to explain why she wants Brendan Johnson to run for his dad's Senate seat in 2014. Madsen's urge to draft Brendan is very much about her desire not to see Stephanie Herseth Sandlin try to take that seat. Madsen doesn't hit SHS with quite the harsh language I've heard from strong Left out-state observers, but she calls SHS a "Trojan-horse Republican":

After receiving our avid and assorted support, she decided to vote against Obamacare (and right proudly too, making her vote central to her [losing] re-election bid). She voted against legislation to curb global warming. She voted for legislation containing tax breaks for “Big Oil” companies. She voted for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. She signed onto a letter to Nancy Pelosi which advocated that the Bush tax breaks for the crazy-wealthy be extended.

For many of us in the State Party, these choices marked a deep betrayal of who we thought we knew her to be [Anna Madsen, "Know Brendan?" Daily Kos, 2013.04.17].

Madsen admits that we can 't know for sure if Brendan Johnson is any better on the issues, largely because his job as U.S. Attorney keeps him from jumping on the stump and making political speeches. But she asserts the following "soft" knowledge of Brendan's more progressive bent from his record and from friends of friends:

Brendan was chosen “Prosecutor of the Year” last month by the South Dakota Domestic Violence Coordinating Committee.

His confirmation to his present position was unanimous in the US Senate.

AG Eric Holder placed him as chair of the Native American Issues Subcommittee, as well as on Holder’s Advisory Committee.

He initiated the first ever Tribal Listening Station in 2010, attended by 200-some tribal leaders and representatives from state and federal law enforcement.

He seeks to equip people with information and confidence, as seen in his hosting of a Civil Rights’ Conference last year.

He is U.S. Senator Tim Johnson’s son.

His father opposed every single one of Congresswoman Herseth Sandlin’s positions that I named above [Madsen, 2013.04.17].

If Brendan runs, I hope he'll confirm the progressive hopes Madsen and others pin upon him. But I'm in no rush to endorse. Whatever Dems may offer to carry the party banner in our marquee Senate race (and we have a year; who knows who may pop up and say "Pick me!"), I'll wait to hear their progressive beliefs straight from their mouths before I get excited.

I also hope the Draft Brendan movement isn't just one machine's maneuvering to box out another machine. If Stephanie wants to run, for Senate or any other big office, I'll welcome her entrance to the field and her effort to make the case that her pale-Blue brand of Democratic politics is in South Dakota's best interest.


  1. joeboo 2013.04.17

    Brendan is a good politician and I think he has a bright future, but any democrat with a brain wants SHS to run for this Senate seat. She polls neck and neck with Rounds right now. Is she as liberal as Brendan? No, but she is pro-choice, and a democrat, the most important vote is for the majority leader, and you need that vote.

  2. Jerry 2013.04.18

    A Blue Dog gets fleas, but sometimes you can control them. In the House right now, we have a Rabid dog with another in the Senate (I am talking about you Johnny Cakes). That is as close to a pack as South Dakota can allow. I agree with you joeboo that SHS would be the best choice on this and the polls prove that.

  3. Rorschach 2013.04.18

    Even if everything Anna Madsen says is true, Stephanie is still the strongest candidate for the senate race, and still better than Marion Rounds. I continue to believe that Stephanie should run for governor.

  4. mike 2013.04.18

    I would warn liberals to not get to caught up in how progressive Brendan Johnson is during an election.

    This is South Dakota after all and sooner or later he will differ with the base on issues out of necessity and desire to get elected.

    (It's clear to me that if SHS hadn't lost in 2010 she might be the frontrunner for senate right now. If she were in the senate she'd be able to vote more progressive than the House.)

  5. Gee Gee 2013.04.18

    Cory, regarding your comment, "I also hope the Draft Brendan movement isn't just one machine's maneuvering to box out another machine."

    As David Montgomery pointed out tongue-in-cheek on "100 eyes on South Dakota" (Argus Leader) on Tuesday, the Johnson machine is busy at work for Brendan using former staffers as cut-outs. It is dishonest of them to fend innocence in my opinion. Whether Stephanie's people are orchestrating things too is less apparent.

  6. Vincent Gormley 2013.04.18

    I would pay zero attention to the previous comments by those who lack any credibility.Anna Madsen laid out a well thought out justification for our (yes, I am an original signer) draft letter.
    SHS voted against the renewal of the ban on handguns in DC. (really big SD issue, duh!) She also voted against Clean Energy, stating it was rushed through and she did not have time to read it. False, it did not come time to a vote in the House until the Fall. It would have created jobs in SD.
    Then she told Nancy Pelosi that South Dakota voters wanted the Bush tax cuts extended. False, when she supposedly came home on break no one saw her. She repeatedly turned down invitations to speak to Democrats.
    She then not only voted against the Affordable Care Act, but she voted against the rule a very simple procedural step to allow the bill to come up for a vote. Yes she repeatedly criticized the bill but offered nothing to satisfy her concerns.
    Fool me once, fool twice, fool me three times we're done. Herseth Sandlin offers nothing to make me ever reconsider her.
    South Dakota needs to move forward into the 21st Century, but there are those who would rather hold us back. Later for them we have work to do.

  7. Les 2013.04.18

    Thank you Vincent, it is Dems like yourself who've buried and continue to pile the dirt upon your own. This is not your race to take. It is ours to give up. TJ has shot Brendan in the foot in so many ways, voters will be reminded, and, you will continue to remind us why not Sandlin.

  8. larry kurtz 2013.04.18

    You won't be the first to know when we make the decision, Les.

  9. Vincent Gormley 2013.04.18

    Les you are certainly not one of my "own", whatever that is meant to imply. You failed to add anything to the discussion.

    And Gee Gee, Montgomery doesn't know what he is jabbering about. He isn't worth reading nor is the Argus Leader.

  10. Gee Gee 2013.04.18


    I would strongly recommend you stop attacking people's character and capabilities. Stick to arguing about facts. It makes for a more informed exchange.
    Regarding Montgomery: He seems to me to be a first rate reporter who generally gets things right and confirms his sources as any good reporter should. On "100 eyes", he said that a Mr. Chapman, a former Johnson staffer, was heading up a PAC to which Senator Johnson (he speculated) could legally give the bulk of his campaign money without the contribution caps that apply to money he might give to a political campaign, Brendan's for example. Apparently Mr. Chapman has been active in the Draft Brendan movement too. Seemed like good information to me.

  11. Joseph g Thompson 2013.04.18

    What an arguement for Democrats to be having in right wing South Dakota, whose more left wing, SHS or Brendan Johnson. Because whomever is more left wing should be our candidate cause we can win with a real left winger.
    You all are right, SHS is not a real left winger, and thats why I voted for her in the past and would vote for her in the future. Not Tim Johnson's son.

  12. Richard Schriever 2013.04.18

    City councilors primary concerns are the issues relative to governing the city as a whole- not simply their own ward's concerns (secondary). Likewise, state representatives'/senators' primary duty is to the state as a whole - not to their individual districts and FEDERAL elected officals' primary duty is to the nation as a whole - NOT their states of origin. IMO - biggest single contributing factor to the dysfunction of congress is the lack of acceptance/understanding of this. The whole "be the voice FOR the state" meme is an erroneous approach to how to run a country.

  13. Jeff Barth 2013.04.18

    CH is correct in that we don't know the junior Johnson's position on anything. He has done his job well as US Atty. I am looking forward to hearing more.

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.04.18

    Vincent, would you accept SHS on the gubernatorial ticket if Brendan tackled Senate? If Madsen's divination of Brendan's politics bears out, would Stephanie's Blue Doggery be more tolerable and less damaging to the progressive cause in a state executive position, where she could focus her efforts on budgeting sensibly and vetoing hard right-wing foolishness that bubbles out of the Legislature?

  15. Les 2013.04.18

    Vincent, you can bet your bottom dollar I am not one of your own. You spent something over 160 words trying to bury Herseth and cannot comprehend my statement? I am a GOP centrist who you need to come across for any election you could hope to win in 14. Don't count on it.
    Jr is a daddy re run. Steph for Gov? Now why would she want a job with rewards similar to cleaning hotel rooms compared to the federal side she's seen?
    Getting Vincent's advice on SHS for Gov is like asking Kurtz for advice on the mayoral position in Lead. You'll get solid research to back that response.

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