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DSU Parade Draws Weiland, Rhoden, Nelson Campaigns; More Parades Next Weekend

We're a week into meteorological fall, and there are plenty of reminders of what I think of as "South Dakota Fall": crisp air, bonfires, sweatshirts, Friday high school football and Saturday college football, and homecoming parades.

I took the quick ride down to Madison this morning to enjoy that last-listed facet of South Dakota Fall, taking in the DSU Trojan Days Parade with my dad. I got to chat with a few Madville Times loyalists (after introducing myself as the new guy on the blog) and noted that, while we're still a year away from a fall election, there was campaigning afoot on Egan Avenue.

DSU's parade drew the attention of two of the four declared Republican candidates for U.S. Senate. I saw a sleek black sedan sporting the campaign logo for State Senator Larry Rhoden (R-29/Union Center) driving around town, and the candidate himself was shaking hands along the boulevard in the parade, accompanied by a truck and a crew of supporters. State Representative Stace Nelson (R-19/Fulton), who would, I believe, be harder to miss than Rhoden, didn't appear to be at the parade in person, but an eager supporter made sure to get a "Nelson U.S. Senate" pen in my hand and the hands of nearly every nearby spectator. The other half of the quartet of Republican Senate hopefuls was nowhere to be seen, either in person or by proxy (maybe Smilin' Mike is confident enough to think he can sit out a parade opportunity, but c'mon, Annette! Let's see some in-person campaign hustle!!).

Rick Weiland, as one might expect, was highly visible in a literal homecoming (not that he's been away that long). In addition to a stop for photos with family (full disclosure: the chunk of boulevard in front of Weiland Funeral Chapel is the traditional Uecker vantage point for the parade, both for the opportunity of good conversation—this year with business owners Ted and Kathy as well as with visiting Weiland brother Ken—and for the hospitality of a coffee warm-up while awaiting the parade's start), Rick shook hands and chatted all along the parade route and reminded Madison-ites of his campaign raison d'être to "Take it back!"

The parade also provided supporters of the statewide effort to put a minimum wage hike on the 2014 ballot a chance to keep collecting those signatures! I talked to one signature gatherer; no stickers and slogans like the candidates, but good policy points about the importance of helping out our lowest-paid workers by setting a minimum wage that's closer to a living wage.

The only real decision for the campaigns this weekend was whether to get out and work the parade route or sit back and enjoy some cider. Next Saturday offers active campaigners a whole bunch of options, with four of the state's six state universities hosting homecoming parades:

Which fall parade tradition will draw which candidate(s)? Which event should candidates make sure not to pass up? How should campaigns try to spread their message, while accepting that their candidate can really only choose one in-person visit? All good questions. With this much going on and spread so broadly across the state, the only truly bad answer from a campaign perspective would seem to be "none of the above."

Correction/Update 19:50 CDT: Commenter TG catches my faulty vehicle memory to point out the Rhoden-logo-decked sedan wasn't actually in the parade and helps confirm for me that it was indeed Larry himself I saw walking the parade route. I've corrected the article above to reflect those clarifications.


  1. TG 2013.09.28

    Actually, need to give a correction. Rhoden's wife and family are from Madison (MHS and DSU alums) and the black car you saw was not the one used in the parade but he did have five other walkers and five more in the truck! Beautiful day for a parade!

  2. twuecker Post author | 2013.09.28

    Thanks for the quick correction, TG. Made the change reflecting my vehicle-identification error and to update with confirmation of what's implied in your comment about "five OTHER walkers" [emphasis mine] that Larry was indeed one of the walkers himself. I'll let readers catch the info about Larry's family in your comment, as that part really isn't a correction of anything I wrote but is rather just the sort of great additional info that the comment threads are for!

  3. TG 2013.09.29

    You got it twuecker! The only inaccurate comment was (and very miniscule at that) about the vehicle but I 'heard' it was only him walking the parade and we had MANY so I probably pointed out his family is from Madison as well because we usually don't comment on numbers, etc. In fact, at the DSU inauguration of the new DSU President the night before, his mother-in-law was honored out of the blue (she, her four daughters and one son-in-law were DSU Outstanding Alums in 2004) and she was awarded a pin along with one other. It was a VERY exciting family weekend so just wanted to make it correct as possible. And in hindsight, I wish I was smart enough to have remembered to look for Kenny whom I'm friends with as I would've like Larry and Rick to have met since they're both very good guys... Next event!

  4. caheidelberger 2013.09.29

    Simple math says Hobo Day! No parade and game will draw more people/voters, will it? Besides, Brookings has better places to eat after the parade.

  5. twuecker Post author | 2013.09.29

    I love Hobo Day as much as anyone (and am distraught that a conference takes me to Providence instead of Brookings next weekend), but I'm not totally sure that the simple math is the only consideration. Isn't there some value to being the only candidate getting face-time at given event, making for some reasonable gamble to head to one of the other events?


    Let's say, for example, that going to Hobo Day gets you X voter contacts, but that being one among many candidates means you only get 1/3X Positive Impression Points (you see a whole ton of people, but so do your opponents; based on the randomness of human interaction, you make better-than-your-opponents connections with just a fraction of the people you actually see). Maybe checking out D-Days in Vermillion only gets you 2/3X contacts (and I'm not even sure the difference between SDSU draw and USD draw is that large), but you wind up as the only candidate at D-Days because everyone else did the simple math and went to Hobo Day. Absent the candidate clutter up north, you can leave Vermillion with 2/3 of the contacts you made thinking you're pretty awesome (you're still gambling, but when you're the only one in town, you attract more positive vibes by lack of comparison). 2/3 of the 2/3X people you saw gives you 4/9X Positive Impression Points, making Vermillion the better choice.

    Plus, maybe your research tells you you've already got Brookings and Vermillion locked up, but you're fighting a close-but-uphill battle in the Hills. You know everybody's ignoring Spearfish (which I know from your own hospitality, cahiedelberger, has plenty of nice post-parade dining options), so you might gain significant ground by Swarming at BHSU.

    So, yeah, I think the easy answer is Hobo Days--hard to go wrong with the self-declared "Biggest One Day Event in the Dakotas." But a candidate with a little bravery or polling to back them up might make some gains by confounding conventional wisdom.

  6. caheidelberger 2013.09.29

    Fun calculus, T!

    For Weiland, the competition for attention with other candidates doesn't matter. With no Dems to wrestle yet, he can go for straight numbers. Find the strongest Dem base, Brookings or Vermillion, and go make contacts now that can be used next spring, summer, and fall.

    For the Republicans, your calculus is more applicable. I'd love to see some updated data on where Rounds is strong now and where he isn't. If we look back at 2002 primary results, we find that of the four parading counties under consideration, Brookings gave Rounds his highest percentage in the June 2002 three-man primary, 57%. Rounds won Clay and Brown with 43%. Rounds lost Lawrence to Steve Kirby 35% to 33%, with the remaining 32% going to Barnett. That was eleven years ago... but in the absence of other available data, does that make BHSU the place to parade right now to reach the largest possible contingent of anti-Rounds primary voters?

  7. Stace Nelson 2013.09.29

    Sorry folks, I was a pall bearer for my Grandma Gerlach in Plankinton that morning. We had some great support in Madison and we were the only campaign represented at the DWU Homecoming Parade in Mitchell. We also ran the board at the Parkston, Tripp, Hayti, Delmont, and Harrisburg parades last week. Thank you to all the folks so kind as to represent the campaign.

  8. interested party 2013.09.29

    Sorry, folks: I was celebrating New Mexico's Very Large Array.

  9. interested party 2013.09.29

    Don Gerlach was principal of Elkton High School when dinosaurs still roamed East River and napalm was transforming Vietnam into Marine heaven.

  10. grudznick 2013.09.29

    I am very much looking forward to when Mr. Nelson is in the Hobos Day parade next weekend and I do want one of those pens.

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