Pressler’s life has had its challenges. Like most South Dakotans in 1974, I had never heard of him when he sought the state’s First District congressional seat. That was when we had two House seats, and he ran against better-known, better-funded opponents in the GOP primary. Amazingly, he won.
He then unseated Democrat Frank Denholm, and at 32, Pressler was a congressman. It was an impressively swift rise [Tom Lawrence, "Larry Pressler Ponders a Comeback," Prairie Perspective, 2013.11.08].
Lawrence acknowledges that a Pressler comeback is unlikely, but...
But if Rounds is damaged by the still-emerging story about visas for foreign investors, if the story becomes a scandal, that could change. If one of the other three lesser-known and more-conservative Republican candidates claim the Senate nomination, and the Democratic candidate — right now it looks like Rick Weiland — doesn’t catch fire, just maybe there will be a chance for a centrist like Larry Pressler to return to the Senate.
That seems highly unlikely. But [his] winning in 1974 did, too [Lawrence, 2013.11.08].
In his last electoral outing, in 2002, Pressler lost 2-to-1 to the GOP establishment as embodied by Bill Janklow. Up against the current incarnation of that establishment, Marion Michael Rounds, Pressler seems unlikely to fare any better (expect the SDGOP to edit their anti-intellectual Varilek ads from 2012 to show Pressler globe-trotting and wearing a beret at a Left Bank café). But Pressler isn't talking about winning a primary; he's talking about playing to the growing contingent of Independent voters who don't care to associate with the tottering monolith that currently controls Pierre and the Washington Republicans who seem determined to crash the economy.
We Dems might cheer a Pressler candidacy as one more way to improve Democrat Rick Weiland's chances of winning, but remember: Pressler made this announcement in Native Sun News. He's playing up his tribal cred:
While in the Senate, Pressler was instrumental in preventing the Tribally Controlled Colleges from being placed under the jurisdiction of the state colleges. He instead saw to it that the Indian colleges were placed under the jurisdiction of the tribal governments.
When the Oglala Sioux Tribe was attempting to bring a lawsuit against the United States Government in the late 1970s and ran into a road block that would have prevented them from suing, Pressler oversaw the actions that opened the way for them to sue the Government which resulted in the Black Hills Claims Settlement.
“I’ve always tried to work with the tribal governments and in fact I made it a part of my policy to meet annually with all of the elected tribal leaders to get their input on any legislation that would impact them and their people,” Pressler said [Karin Eagle, "Former South Dakota Senator Considers Run," Native Sun News, 2013.11.07].
Pressler is angling not just for the Independent vote but also for a key contingent of the Democratic vote. Clever devil! Sciences Po didn't invite him to teach in Paris for nothing. Allez, Larry!