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Larry Rhoden: Once and Future Rick Weiland Voter?

In a day sure to be filled with statistics (Nielsen ratings, beer sales, third-meow conversions...), my attention turns to electoral data that may connect U.S. Senate candidates Larry Rhoden and Rick Weiland.

Back in 1996, the dark days when Larry Rhoden was a Jimmy Carter Democrat in Bill Clinton's America, South Dakota Democrats had a primary. Four Democrats—yes, four!—wanted to take over for the aspiring Tim Johnson in the U.S. House of Representatives. Taking his first swing at elected office, Rick Weiland faced Jim Abbott, Linda Stensland, and Dennis Jones. Weiland won the state and Larry Rhoden's Meade County:

1996 SD Democratic Primary
U.S. House Results
Rick Weiland 42.0% 44.1%
Jim Abbott 27.9% 25.4%
Dennis Jones 17.4% 13.6%
Linda Stensland 12.7% 16.9%

A friend of the blog finds records showing that Larry Rhoden did indeed vote in the 1996 primary. Since he was registered as a Democrat at that time, he had to have voted in the Democratic primary. There was no other Democratic primary race (not for President, Senate, or Legislature) on Meade County's 1996 ballot, so we may assume that Rhoden voted for one of those four candidates. Without other information, we may posit that there is a 44% chance that Larry Rhoden voted for the man he wants to challenge in November for our open U.S. Senate.

Only 792 of Meade County's 4,146 registered Democrats at the time bothered to vote in that primary. Larry Rhoden was thus part of a small minority, just 19%, of Meade County Democrats who were fired up enough about the 1996 primary to show up and vote. Rhoden's party fervor lasted just two more years; after the mixed results of the 1998 general election (Daschle, Butler, Curt Johnson, and Burg won statewide for Dems; Thune, Janklow, and Hazeltine won for the GOP), Rhoden decided to seek his political fortune with the Republicans.

But who knows? When the GOP rejects Rhoden during this primary in favor of Mike Rounds or Stace Nelson, Rhoden will come home and avail himself of another opportunity to vote for Rick Weiland.


  1. grudznick 2014.02.02

    How do we know Mr. Rhoden did not intentionally overmark his ballot thus to invalidate it in protest of the insaner quartet the Dems put on the ballot that year?

    Or perhaps he wrote a nasty note to the Meade County Democrats on the bottom of his ballot. I'm just sayin...

  2. Deb Geelsdottir/ 2014.02.02

    Give it up Grudz. If Rhoden voted, it was for a member of the Democratic Party.

  3. grudznick 2014.02.02

    Ms. Geelsdottir/, we don't know that he didn't write a spiteful note on the bottom of his ballot telling the Meade county Democratic party to stuff it and he was leaving the party...

    But if all you can fester yourself up about these days is who Mr. Rhoden might have voted for 20 or 30 years ago when he was young and dumb, then go for it.

  4. Roger Cornelius 2014.02.02

    Rhoden might have been young and dumb 20 or 30 years ago, well guess what grudz? He is still dumb, just older

  5. Bree S. 2014.02.03

    I expect politicians to put the best spin on their bio, and I don't expect Republicans I might support to agree with my viewpoint on every issue. I don't care if Republicans used to be Democrats, as long such conversion is honest. But there's a difference between presentation and spin, and blatantly lying to the public. I am a practical person, but that practicality exists within certain bounds of integrity. I imagine my definition of "RINO" is more forgiving than some other Republicans. So it is disappointing to me that out of a field of five GOP Senate candidates, only one of them qualifies as a supportable Republican by my estimation.

  6. TG 2014.02.05

    Wow!!! I appreciate being thought of while on vaca (amongst other things in life) even though you didn't know. :-)

    Cory - were there NO other measures on the ballot at that time?

  7. TG 2014.02.05

    And DD - I'm not choking whatsoever, much to your dismay, I'm sure. Try to stay positive in life!!

  8. TG 2014.02.05

    And RC - call him what you will, but the man is not 'dumb'. You don't get to be whip, majority leader, VP and current Pres of a national AG committee, appointed chair of State of Affairs, etc. by being 'dumb'. All of these by vote by peers. Give credit where credit is due even if you don't like him... he must have something. Not to mention top five Senator of voting party line (yes, R party)for years (not important on a D blog, I know). And yet, able to work with others. A good quality in my opinion. Wait, I said MY... :-)

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.02.05

    TG: we're talking about a primary. The ballot measures (two constitutional amendments and one initiative) only appeared on the general election ballot in November. There was no legislative primary in Rhoden's district in 1996. Were there any county commission candidates or other locals in the primary?

  10. TG 2014.02.05

    DD - I like to base things on facts, not hearsay and assumptions that is all. No apology needed here.

    CAH - I also meant to include other positions as you mention so I assumed you already knew the answer to this "Were there any county commission candidates or other locals in the primary?" I suspect whomever has the time on their hands to be looking this up would have told you that or you would've asked that question as it's a pretty obvious reason someone would vote. I sometimes go to vote for only one item and that's it. Not that I'm concerned about this as I am much more interested in what has happened in the more recent years but if we're going to throw stones, let's have all the facts.

  11. grudznick 2014.02.05

    Maybe Mr. Rhoden back in his youthful dumb days, we all had them but mine were longer ago than yours I might add, was engaging in the practice spouted by some of you where you want to register Republican just to mess up the primary and then vote for whoever you really want in the general voting.

    That's why Mr. H is such a huge Nelson fan, as are most of the libbies on this page. It's their best chance to mess up the primary and get an easy killing in the general vote.

    Maybe Mr. Rhoden came up with that idea before you all. I'm just sayin...

  12. interested party 2014.02.05

    Your appearances here are so ordered, grud: always around 5:00. Did you stay in South Dakota this winter"

  13. grudznick 2014.02.05

    You know I'm washing dishes and volunteering at my old folks home, Mr. Kurtz, and can't use my granddaughters computer until she's home from work to let me in.

  14. TG 2014.02.05

    DD - was there nothing on that ballot but just the one item? Nothing is proven by this as you so boldly claim.

    And to my knowledge, I have never heard Rhoden comment at all on the Nelson campaign; this or any other topic. I doubt he cares what they say...

    However, since you bring up apologies, if anyone should be apologizing for more relevant and recent topics, I would think it should be Nelson, et al for the downgrading of SDNG on SDWC on Veteran's Day!!

  15. Nick Nemec 2014.02.05

    What did that Perennial Propagator of disrespect to our veterans do to SDNG?

  16. TG 2014.02.05

    NN - lots but the bottomline was that they don't deserve to stand when someone asks anyone who has served or worn a uniform or if a veteran to stand to be recognized.

Comments are closed.