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Krebs, GOP Press Gant out of 2014 Election; Immediate Resignation Still Preferable

"Embattled" (that's David Montgomery's first word) Secretary of State Jason Gant goes LBJ and tells us today he won't for a second term. This announcement comes after a clear vote of no confidence from his own party as Senator Shantel Krebs (R-10/Renner) declared Gant had violated the integrity of the office and began lobbying SDGOP delegates to support her in a convention challenge to Gant's renomination (as substantiated first here on the Madville Times last Thursday).

But Gant can't just leave without firing up the manure spreader again:

Gant insisted Krebs' challenge didn't play a role in his decision not to run.

"I'm confident, had I decided to run for another temr, I would have been successful in both the primary and the general," Gant said [David Montgomery, "Secretary of State Gant Won't Seek Second Term," that Sioux Falls paper, 2013.09.11].

Yeah, sure: and the Vikings would have won the Super Bowl if they had made it to the big game last year. Ba-loney!

As far as I can tell, Gant is the first South Dakota Secretary of State not to seek a second term since incumbent Republican Essie Wiedenman chose not to re-up in 1964. (Hey, historians! Anyone got documents on Essie's story?)* Gant flusterbluffs about the party's obvious pressure to remove his embarrassing blot from their roster and declares his failed tenure a success:

He said the reason he wasn't running was because he had accomplished his goals, including improving the secretary of state's online presence and promoting vote centers, where citizens can vote anywhere in their jurisdiction rather than just at a particular precinct [Montgomery, 2013.09.11].

Bob Mercer agrees that Gant managed (broken-clockily, I'll contend) to get some things right, but, as that Sioux Falls paper did last month, Mercer duly catalogs Gant's failures in maintaining the public trust:

For this reporter, Jason Gant was difficult to fully understand. He accomplished some notable changes for more-open government and he seemed to be on the right track with the vote-centers concept as a way to make voting more convenient, yet he allowed his top aide to engage in side business as a campaign consultant and campaign supplier; got crossways with Sen. Adelstein because that top aide, Pat Powers, had relentlessly mocked Adelstein during Powers’ earlier blogging; went through an Adelstein-requested official investigation by state Attorney General Marty Jackley that found no evidence of criminal violations but happened to coincide with Powers’ exit back to blogging and real estate; went through staff at a rapid-fire pace; took his own car on state trips so he reportedly could smoke while using a state-paid driver; didn’t keep his office’s website up to date at times; disdained the state Board of Elections even though he was its leader; and perhaps worst of all, violated a basic sense of fairness when he, as the state’s chief of elections, nonetheless got involved in a Republican legislative primary with a public endorsement last year. Some people thought I was too tough on him, but I actually thought he had great promise after he won the office in 2010 and only through his repeated missteps did another impression form [Bob Mercer, "Are S.D. Republicans Policing Themselves?" Pure Pierre Politics, 2013.09.11].

Excuse me: who out there ever got the impression Mercer was being too tough on Gant? Mercer fails to mention, as does Gant, the Secretary of State's dodging of responsibility and his persistent, sneaky suppression of the Indian vote, which the ACLU part of a "disturbing, persistent pattern of discrimination throughout Indian Country."

Gant has harmed his office and embarrassed South Dakota. His decision not to run again to run the public trust further into the ground past 2014 is small relief for citizens who care about fairness in the administration of elections and defense of voting rights. Gant would still serve his state and possibly even his party better by resigning now and allowing Governor Dennis Daugaard to appoint a competent replacement.

Update 18:36 CDT: An eager and intelligent reader reminds me that back in Essie's day, Secretaries of State and other constitutional officers, served two-year terms. I'm writing up a full post on the subject and will link it here shortly!


  1. Roger Cornelius 2013.09.11

    The only term Jason Gant should have is a prison term

  2. Rorschach 2013.09.11

    Seems to me that today's announcement is designed to undercut the effort to push him out early. He's saying, "o.k. I'm putting it out there that I'll leave voluntarily, but I'm serving out my term." That takes the heat off. I still wouldn't be surprised to see him leave early for the private sector if he gets a job lined up. I'm guessing with Avera or back with DakotaCare where he worked before.

    Why would Mr. Gant leave early? His SOS salary isn't that great for a statewide elected official. Maybe he could do better in the private sector. And it would get back at that pesky Sen. Krebs. The governor can't appoint a sitting legislator to a vacancy (same was true for School and Public Lands) so Sen. Krebs would have to sit on the sidelines watching while somebody else serves out the rest of Mr. Gant's term.

  3. Rorschach 2013.09.11

    I can't help but think that if Mr. Gant had resolved from the beginning to play it straight and put the public interest first rather than to function as the tip of the GOP partisan spear he would have been much more successful as SOS. Had he done this, he would have been a shoo-in for re-election and "coulda been a contenda" for some higher office (which has always been his goal).

  4. interested party 2013.09.11

    Does Krebs have to leave her seat to run and will she resign so DD can appoint her successor?

  5. twuecker 2013.09.11

    SDWC posts Gant's facebook statement indicating his decision not to run for another term:

    Worth noting is a passage that's even more flusterbluffy than the quote you pull from Montgomery:

    "My proudest accomplishment has been the creation and implementation of vote centers. This revolutionary change to our election system is breaking down barriers, while cutting costs. Creating the opportunity for people to vote anywhere allows for greater participation in our democratic process while increasing the security of our ballot" ["Gant announces that he's decline to run in 2014 for second term as SOS," South Dakota War College, 2013.09.11, link above].

    So the vote centers are his proudest accomplishment ... Jason just loooooves breaking down barriers and creating the opportunity for people to vote anywhere.

    Unless, of course, those people reside in Wanblee, Eagle Butte, or Fort Thompson. Then, he bridles his passion for revolutionary change and waits for a non-existent (OK, not non-existent; just not filled to quorum and legally unable to take action) federal committee to share the enfranchisement love in his stead.

    Gant can still do an awful lot of damage to the reputation of the SOS Office in a year. It might be in the Republicans' best and interest (and most certainly would be in the best interest of the State of South Dakota) for Gant to just call it a day and leave his still-to-come promises of election apps, innovative military voting (what, are the ballots delivered by drone?), and "promot(ing) South Dakota as open for business" [SDWC, 2013.09.11, link above], whatever that means, to a more competent successor

  6. Election Official 2013.09.11

    "I would have been successful in both the primary and the general" Really?? Mr. Gant should realize as the State election guru that he wouldn't be running in the Primary -

  7. Roger Cornelius 2013.09.11

    Interestingly, this story dominates the Argus Leader's website, it is barely a blurb on the Rapid City Journal's site.

  8. Jerry 2013.09.11

    Roger, you must understand that the Rapid City Journal is not a newspaper. It is a propaganda device for the right wing. Gnat was a favorite of these guys, by forging notary documents and the like. Always remember that Gnat put there guy back in the drivers seat in Pierre, so they are now wearing black armbands at the journal in mourning. Boo hoo, someone swatted the Gnat.

  9. Rorschach 2013.09.11

    On Mountain time, the Rapid City Journal is one hour behind, Roger (-;

  10. oldguy 2013.09.11

    I wa really hoping he would run again so I could vote against him along with at less 50% of the public

  11. Winston 2013.09.11

    I want to know more about Wiedenmen. Maybe Wiedenmen was a victim of the Perfumo Scandal (?)

  12. Mary Perpich 2013.09.11

    Gant should never have been elected in the first place. If Ben Nesselhuf had won we would be better off as a state and could have kept Ben from leaving the state former job opportunities.

  13. Roger Cornelius 2013.09.11

    It is my duty in life to antagonize the Journal and their teaparty readers on the comment sections of their editorials and political (am missing Kevin over at the now defunct Mt. Blogmore).

    The problem is, when I tell the truth about Republicans, with out cussing, they only publish about half my comments.

  14. mike 2013.09.11

    Cory's headline says it all. If this was Stephanie Strong sending out a letter Gant would cruise to the nomination but Shantel Krebs is not the kind of challenge he could withstand. She is easy for GOP delegates to support because she will win a general election and is a strong candidate connected in politics.

    The perfect storm was aligning and you have to respect her for taking the high road and giving Gant time to get out before taking the gloves off. Gant can now ride off into the sunset and it 2 years no one will remember this saga.

  15. Rick 2013.09.11

    Shantel's policies will not be an improvement over Gant's as far as voter suppression and retaliation against Dems and minorities. She's a shrewd, hardball, political operative, but smarter than Gant. If she appointed before the election, however, there is a conflict issue involving Rounds' press operative who is employed and a spokesman for the Rounds campaign.

    Hopefully, Gant will remain in office to remind voters just how manipulative and brazen the power clic in Pierre has become.

  16. interested party 2013.09.11

    Krebs is Catholic: expect no changes if she is elected to SOS.

  17. Wayne Pauli 2013.09.11

    Too sad...I really wanted to see him go down

  18. Rorschach 2013.09.11

    Catholic has nothing to do with anything, interested party. In case you haven't heard, there are Catholics in both major parties and holding as wide a variety of political opinions as those held by non-Catholics. But you're wrong about Krebs's religious affiliation too. She's Lutheran.

  19. interested party 2013.09.11

    Get a grip, R: the Church is colluding with the legislature to hide crimes.

  20. interested party 2013.09.11

    Curious that an anonymous poster would defend four centuries of crimes against indigenous people.

  21. interested party 2013.09.11

    So, DD will appoint her replacement, right?

  22. Stan Adelstein 2013.09.11

    The Sec'y should be forced to resign immediately, no reason for another 16 months of his shenanigans. He should be told to resign voluntarily, or be taken to court and forced to leave as a result of his misdemeanor established in a judgement by Judge Barnett, a former Republican Attorney General! Here are a few excerpts from letter that I distributed during the last session"

    "In reply to our discussion these are specific legal references to the situation regarding the Malfeasance of Secretary of State Gant. His incompetence is one thing, his violation of the law is another. The Dems can honestly claim the the GOP protects "it's own" against their ignoring the law. It is only a matter of time or some unfortunate occurrence in our Republican Administration.

    § 3. Officers subject to impeachment--Grounds--Removal from office--Criminal prosecution. The Governor and other state and judicial officers, except county judges, justices of the peace and police magistrates, shall be liable to impeachment for drunkenness, crimes, corrupt conduct, or malfeasance or misdemeanor in office, but judgment in such cases shall not extend further than to removal from office and disqualification to hold any office of trust or profit under the state. The person accused whether convicted or acquitted shall nevertheless be liable to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment according to law.

    3-16-1. Willful failure to perform official duty as misdemeanor. Where any duty is or shall be enjoined by law upon any public officer, or upon any person holding any public trust or employment, every intentional omission to perform such duty, where no special provision shall have been made for the punishment of such delinquency, is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

    Excerpt from Judge Barnett Decision October 22, 2012
    “The court finds that the Secretary of State did not comply with,SDCL 12-13-23, which creates a ministerial duty to compile and publish a “Con” statement from an opponent “if any can be identified.”

    Stan Adelstein, State Senator District 32

  23. Jana 2013.09.11

    Gant holds up voting centers as an accomplishment. Isn't that just creating super voting centers that take precincts out of neighborhoods where people can walk to vote with their neighbors?

    Hey, eliminate minor costs and alienate disadvantaged voters without transportation...what a great idea! Because we all know that the GOP is all for ensuring that everyone can be a part of our great democracy.

    The real bonus is in reminding people that once elections are bought and paid for by the GOP that we stop worrying about democracy and go full on being a republic form of government where the people in office, who were bought and paid for, can do whatever they want.

    Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

  24. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.09.12

    Senator Adelstein, I assume that Secretary Gant's announcement serves in part to tamp down any momentum that may be building to impeach him. Would most of your colleagues say (as R suggests above), "He'll be gone in a year, no need to rock the boat or slow down the session by impeaching him"? Or would there be enough legislators who recognize the harm Gant will continue to do to the public trust for another year to remove him and put someone else in charge of the big statewide election?

  25. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.09.12

    Larry, if I'm reading the right rules, Article 3 Section 12 of the SD Constitution appears to say that the Governor can't replace Gant with Krebs before 2015:

    "...nor shall any member receive any civil appointment from the Governor, the Governor and senate, or from the Legislature during the term for which he shall have been elected,..."

    Of course, that clause doesn't say anything about she....

  26. interested party 2013.09.12

    My comment was more about replacing Krebs in the Legislature. Monty reminded me that Noem didn't resign from her seat to run for Congress.

  27. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.09.12

    Ah, yes, correct. Same for Stace, Larry, Mark Venner... and hey, last time, weren't Gant and Nesselhuf both sitting legislators?

  28. Rorschach 2013.09.12

    Sorry Sen. Stan, but Gant's announcement is like a pin to your impeachment balloon. He's essentially saying he's going to be a good team player by removing himself from what would be a nasty convention fight and making it unnecessary for the party power structure to impugn one of its own - thereby weakening the party. Krebs's letter claiming the office needs a restoration of integrity and public trust was a shot across the bow to Gant saying things are going to get real nasty, real quick. Once that became public he had to do something - and he did. Now the party will let him go gently into that good night as he has offered to do. The local GOP bunnies are now free to "fart rainbows" as Cory would say, rather than going all Donner Party on SOS Gant.

  29. DEEANN 2013.09.13

    Off-topic, perhaps: In the Aberdeen paper, it is reported that "Krebs said "the biggest risk to the GOP goal of winning every statewide office was the secretary of state race". I know it's not news that the Republicans want every office (and every legislative seat, too) but this kind of statement still alarms me. My god, when is enough enough for them?

  30. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.09.14

    Actually, Krebs's letter (which the Aberdeen paper read here first!) is quite germane to this discussion. The concern Krebs expressed in her letter was primarily about how Gant imperiled the GOP's chances of holding on to total domination. The fact that he has damaged the integrity of his office is viewed with alarm only in light of its political ramifications. The quote to which you point is part of the evidence that Krebs wants the job for political reasons, not from a burning desire to reform the office and do justice for South Dakota voters. She'll suppress Indian voting rights as vigorously as her fellow Miss South Dakota Sara Frankenstein.

  31. interested party 2013.09.17

    "Just two years ago, parents and school districts faced a bill of $59,448.62 to compensate the defense after losing a lawsuit against state government over South Dakota’s schoolfunding system. State Attorney General Marty Jackley waived the collection of costs, in return for the parents and schools ending the lawsuit and promising they wouldn’t bring another school-funding lawsuit for 10 years."

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