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Jarding Signs on with Corinna for SD; Staff Moves Show Campaign’s Savvy, Substance

Corinna Robinson continues her work to build momentum as the Democratic challenger to U.S. Representative Kristi Noem (R-SD), announcing today that she's drafted a campaign team that includes tough campaigner and strategist Steve Jarding as General Campaign Consultant to Corinna for SD.

Announcing the additions of political activist and former West River legislator Tom Katus as Campaign Manager, Deanna Dowlin as Media Director, and Sam Khoroosi as Campaign Treasurer, today's press release also confirms campaign staff changes noted in the lead-up to last week's statewide kickoff. Robinson's highlight of her campaign team also mentions John Gossom as having been with the campaign since November, though it lists no formal campaign title for Gossom.

Robinson continues to make the case that she's going to put up a strong challenge to Noem:

"I often say, ‘One team, one fight,’” Robinson said. “With the team that I have gathered so far, it’s going to be one heck of a fight. My team’s combined talents -- Jarding’s extensive national and international campaign experience, Katus’ grassroots organizing skills, Dowlin’s high-tech knowledge, Khoroosi’s legal and financial expertise, and Gossom’s research savvy – come together perfectly and establish a force to be reckoned with. Together we will bring Noem home.” [Corinna for SD, press release, 2014.02.04]

This news puts questions about Jarding's allegiances for the fall to rest and comes after a busy campaign week for Robinson, who initially announced her office-seeking intentions last fall and started her formal campaign kickoff January 27. The new team's political acumen brings additional cachet to the political newcomer Robinson's campaign.

Jarding, currently a Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and one of two principals at political consulting firm SJB Strategies International, had generated some online buzz encouraging him to run for office in South Dakota himself this cycle (though which office to run for was an elusive question). The South Dakota native and veteran campaigner, who ran U.S. Senator Tim Johnson's (D-SD) last re-election race in 2008 and worked for former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), disappointed the non-directive but passionate "People for Steve Jarding" last week when he announced that he would not run for political office in 2014.

Now, Robinson seems to believe she can capture the excitement of Jarding's supporters by making their guy a key part of her campaign. To achieve that, Robinson's next step should be to apply the transitive property of political support to say loudly and clearly that if "People" are "for Steve Jarding" (A = B) and being "for Steve Jarding" is being "for Corinna Robinson" (B = C), then those same "People" are "for Corinna Robinson."**

Jarding's affiliation with the Robinson campaign might answer this blog's questions about why the facebook announcement of his intent to sit out as a candidate didn't include any information about his thoughts on other Democratic candidates in the 2014 cycle. If you're working on a formal relationship with a specific campaign, you say as little as you need to for yourself in order to make sure your later public statements on behalf of your candidate bolster her cause as much as possible without wading into other campaign waters.

And, should Cory's worries about Jarding's individual reluctance to throw his support behind the whole Democratic slate still cast any shadow on Corinna for SD's new General Campaign Consultant, Corinna's visit to Brookings on Thursday indicated the candidate herself is a team player working to help Democratic office-seekers in every major race.

It's good news for Robinson that she has recruited a campaign team with experience helping Democrats win statewide office in South Dakota (Jarding literally wrote the book on how Democrats can win in conservative rural areas), but it might be even better news for her that Jarding was a senior adviser to Jim Webb's successful U.S. Senate campaign in 2006. Running against an incumbent Republican (then-U.S. Senator George Allen [R-VA]), Webb was a first-time candidate coming off a career in the military that stretched from his teenage days through high-level work in the Department of Defense. Sound familiar?

Political campaigns are not wholly adherent to the transitive property (Candidate A is never completely equal to Candidate B, so the campaigns can't be equal, either). However, Jarding's experience should translate well for the Robinson campaign. More important than her new team's campaign know-how, though, are the political savvy Robinson shows in seeking Jarding as an ally and the legitimacy she gains by successfully convincing a consultant of Jarding's prestige that she has what it takes to be a viable candidate. Robinson sends the message that she means business:

“I have stated from the beginning of this campaign that I intend to win, so that I can give all the people of South Dakota a new independent voice in Congress,” Robinson said. ... “Hiring a core staff that has great political leadership and tremendous, extensive knowledge of our state is a sign of my commitment and of my ability to attract the best talent to my team.” [Corinna for SD, press release, 2014.02.04]

One campaign staffing press release may not be a game-changer, but in this case it seems to signal a move toward a Corinna for SD campaign that's ready to play the game on a higher level.

**More fun with the transitive property: If one accepts that being "for Corinna Robinson" is being "for SD" (C = D) and that the aforementioned "People" who are "for Steve Jarding" (A = B) are also "for Corinna Robinson," (A = C), then those same people are also "for SD" (A = D). Woo-hoo!


  1. Jana 2014.02.04

    So what is the equation for people who think Kristi is a dim bulb?

    You don't suppose they will bring out the yada-yada-yada video of Kristi chatting with friends during an important committee hearing.

    Corrina, your biggest challenge will be getting South Dakotan's to think for themselves! Or maybe showing how Kristi can't.

    Can't wait for the first debate.

  2. Jana 2014.02.04

    Woster dives in and confirms that SD has little respect for intellect, the sacrifice of the military or anything that falls outside of blind fealty to party.

    South Dakota, time to send a message to the mean girls in the clique that we aren't really that worried if you think we are cool or not.

    Do you want someone who has proven herself in the military that guards our freedoms, achieved things that made a difference , has street and school smarts, not to mention guts...or just an empty suit pretty face with an R after their name talking on a cell phone and a middle school ability to recite GOP platitudes that mean nothing?

  3. John Tsitrian 2014.02.04

    I met Corinna and Tom K. for coffee a few days ago. I'm pretty confident that if Corinna gets on the same stage with Kristi that she'll eat Noem's lunch.

  4. Mary Perpich 2014.02.04

    This post is a slam dunk Toby. I agree with everything you say. It was clear to me last week in Brookings that Corinna has a new campaign structure that is working. Tom Katus alone is a game changer. Add her other new campaign members including Jarding and she has an unbeatable team. Norm should be worried. Now let's win this thing.

  5. rollin potter 2014.02.04

    right on Jana , The woster boy's liked to write about a few short years on there lyman county farm but that was the end of there story when they had to come up with a story about there military service to there country!!! which was zippo!!!!!! For all three of them!!! GO Corrina!!!! And thank you for giving 20 years of your life to the military!!!!

  6. Frank 2014.02.04

    If she could raise money then it could be a fight but she hasn't been able to do that or hasn't been dedicated enough to work hard enough to do it. Signing Steve Jarding doesn't change that fact. So far it seems like she likes the idea of being a candidate more than being a candidate.

  7. Frank 2014.02.04

    Also, she has admitted she's not really ready to discuss the issues. What serious candidate isn't ready to discuss the issues 3 months after announcing she is going to run? At this point I would put my money on Noem since in 2012 the Dem pafty had a serious candidate that knew the issues, could raise money, and worked hard that still came up short.

  8. John Tsitrian 2014.02.05

    One word, Frank: charisma. More words: figuring out the issues that matter to South Dakotans isn't rocket science. Figuring out how to effectively represent us when addressing those issues in Congress is the elusive goal that Congresswoman Noem has fallen far short of reaching. Read my piece to the right in The Constant Commoner on Noem's shortcomings and my conclusion that Robinson has a serious shot at winning this thing.

  9. Frank 2014.02.05

    One word, John: broke. That's what she is. She has no money. She obviously can't raise it and I would bet its bc people don't like her too much. Of course moving back just to run for Congress and expecting South Dakotans to just automatically support her without her doing any real work other than some basic meetings with great influencers like yourself doesn't help. she will be buried under a pile of money and if you think any different I have another word for you: naive.

  10. Jack 2014.02.05

    She needs to get out and meet people. Still waiting for a chance to see her since I don't live around Sioux Falls.

  11. owen reitzel 2014.02.05

    Noem hasn't talked about the issues in almost 4 years in the House Frank. Let's see she's voted over 40 times to repeal Obamacare and she voted to cut SNAP to poor South Dakotans among other issues. NOem belongs and is a solid member of the party of no.
    Corrina has to get out more and meet the people-no doubt. Steve Jarding has the contacts to raise money for her and once the seat is considered winable the money will pour in.
    Hammering NOem shouldn't be a problem

  12. Jenny 2014.02.05

    Corrina needs to get her butt out on the campaign trail. It's not that hard to hit up the media these days. Even the Argus Leader's Patrick Lalley and Jonathan Ellis are questioning her disappearance these days. It's beginning to become a negative.

  13. Les 2014.02.05

    You could be right on charisma JT. Look back at what Noem had to offer over Herseth. Few issues beyond Pelosi this or that. Herseth is possibly the most intelligent congressperson we've ever sent from SD.

  14. Roger Cornelius 2014.02.05

    I agree with John Tristan, Corinna has a real shot against Noem, I'm hearing more and more Republicans I know say they would not vote for her again.
    Saying she isn't ready to discuss issues yet, is not saying she won't discuss issues. She will and they will be with force.
    There are a lot of campaigns that start out with little or no money, but can go on to victory because the incumbent has failed to represent their constituents and obviously represents her own interests.

  15. Charlie Johnson 2014.02.05

    At this time, 4 years ago KN was in Pierre, a relatively unknown commodity and not yet considered a candidate for office. SHS at that time was mostly considered a sho-in. CR has plenty of time to make a major impact. Her(CR)chances of becoming a successful candidate are improving every day. If I were KN, I wouldn't be nailing too many more pictures to the office wall in D.C.

  16. twuecker Post author | 2014.02.05

    Frank is right that fundraising needs to be a concern for Corinna; she's still definitely the underdog. However, I don't think we've seen a serious enough commitment to campaigning yet to judge Corinna for SD to be unable to raise the money. Setting up meetings with opinion leaders in the state (like John ... and thanks, Mr. Tsitrian, for directing us to your well-done post on Robinson) is exactly where you should start in building the campaign and the fundraising you need to run to unseat a "popular" (at least superficially) incumbent. The discussion about why we didn't see this kind of kick-off back in November and the implication that now might be a little late (although Charlie's excellent contextual reminder puts that in perspective) are both reasonable, but we haven't seen enough of what Robinson can do yet to say definitively that her lack of money is proof she can't raise money. At this point, her lack of money is proof that she hasn't yet done much asking. Getting a solid campaign staff set and getting out around the state (Jack, Sioux Falls isn't the place to have the best chance to meet her ... if anything, it seems like she's basing out of Rapid [maybe an interesting strategy to analyze there?], and she made the geographic rounds last week) are signs that she's getting the asking going. There's no telling at this point what the November vote count will look like, but we don't have enough data on Corinna's campaign to make any assessment that it's over before it started.

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