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Blog Poll: Lowe Leads Wismer 63-28 for Democrat Nomination for Governor

The latest Madville Times poll asked you who South Dakota Democrats' best choice is for governor. From Tuesday through breakfast this morning, you responded and gave Rapid City businessman and former state fire chief Joe Lowe a big edge over Britton legislator and tax preparer Susan Wismer:

Candidate Votes Percent
Joe Lowe 190 63%
Susan Wismer 83 28%
someone else 27 9%

300 readers responded (a pretty good crowd for a Madville Times poll). Acknowledging a standard online margin of error just slightly larger the stack of tax returns awaiting Rep. Wismer's attention on her desk back in Britton, we may still conclude from this data that Lowe has a strong early lead among the attentive and activist political readers of the South Dakota blogosphere.

One might not expect Lowe to enjoy such a lead. Wismer is a veteran SDDP player and veteran lawmaker. She's enjoyed good press here for her strong statements against the Republican regime. Lowe is a newcomer to Democratic politics in South Dakota. But Lowe announced two months before Wismer, and he is traveling the state and working audiences and petitions with more personal vigor than Wismer, who is currently occupied with the Legislative session and says she will wait until she has finished preparing her clients' taxes to get serious about campaigning. Readers here seem to appreciate a candidate who shows early fire and recognizes that beating a Republican governor from South Dakota requires 100% effort from day one.

But don't get cocky, Joe. Readers here can also be flat wrong. We are the same crowd who, a couple weeks before the last primary, had Jeff Barth running neck-and-neck with Matt Varilek, even before Barth published the greatest South Dakota political video of 2012 (maybe ever). Party favorite Varilek proceeded to crush Barth 72% to 28%.

Right or wishful, political blog readers are definitely a discontented lot. Yet the Lowe-Wismer poll showed only marginal discontent with the two gubernatorial choices before us. 9% of voters asked for someone else to run. Here are the write-ins moved and seconded:

Answer Votes
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin 5.5
Bernie Hunhoff 5
Cory Heidelberger 3
Mike Huether 2
Mike Myers 2

Herseth Sandlin's 0.5 comes from one voter who asked for either her or Brendan Johnson, but no one else mentioned Johnson, suggesting most of us are content to see the U.S. Attorney investigating and prosecuting human trafficking and the GOED/EB-5 scandal.

Stay tuned for more blog poll fun as the primary approaches!


  1. Rick 2014.02.28

    Is Rep. Wismer unaware that petitions are required to be filed pretty soon for the Democratic nomination for Governor? I sympathize for her April 15 workload following the legislative session, but you don't jump in late to a statewide race and phone in a petition drive large enough to get on the ballot.

  2. John Tsitrian 2014.02.28

    People who know Wismer via legislative activities tell me she's competent but colorless. My impression after a two-hour long meeting with the animated, even passionate, Joe and his staff is that his charisma factor will overmatch Wismer's by a mile. I'm remembering when Carole Hillard had Janklow's and the party's tacit support in the '96 primary run for Congress until Thune
    got known in GOP circles. Could be a similar scenario setting up here.

  3. Ken Santema 2014.02.28

    I think Wismer went after the wrong office this time. Her professional and legislative experience gives her a good starting point at the SOS office. It would be a hard battle against Krebs, but certainly winnable. Of all the offices open I think that seat would be the easiest for the Dems to compete in.

    Daugaard will be tough for any of the candidates to take down. There are many of us that don't like what Daugaard has done, but he hasn't really done anything scandalous enough for the average voter to oppose him.

  4. John Tsitrian 2014.02.28

    Ken, I think a successful Dem could make the case that Daugaard's commitment to top-down economic development is the wrong approach. I note that Lance Russell in his commentary published in the weekly Pennington County Courant has strong reservations about DD plunking down $30 million on Building South Dakota instead of restoring all the cuts made to education funding. Medicaid rejection is another issue that a successful Dem could exploit. I know a lot of biz-oriented Republicans who think it's just plain stupid. As a Pub, I'd say there are reservations about DD within the party. This will be the most contested gubernatorial race that we've had in a long time.

  5. Mark Remily 2014.02.28

    I agree John, I have met both, Joe spoke last night at the monthly Brown co. dems meeting. If first impressions mean anything, I will be chainging my vote. I happened to vote for Susan in your poll. But, as Joe spreads his very sensical message accross the state, I believe your survey results will be accurate. Whomever wins, I would like to see the other become lieutenant Gov.

  6. Lynn G. 2014.02.28

    I just wish the SD Democratic party leadership would of handled the campaign launch for Rep. Wismer better. It just seemed so biased and divisive and the state Democratic Party has enough of a challenge as it is. The party already has two excellent candidates so let the primary process run it's course. Otherwise what kind of a message does it send to those considering running in the future for office in the state party? They should be promoted equally within the party as an alternative.

  7. larry kurtz 2014.02.28

    Patience, people: all will become clear very soon.

  8. Jessie 2014.02.28

    I had the opportunity a little while ago to hear both Wismer and Lowe speak to the Hughes/Stanley County dems. Sadly, I was not favorably impressed with either of them. Lowe had more energy in his manner but his self-described management style made me uneasy in ways I can't articulate well just yet. It struck me as militaristic, especially his harping on the deaths of firefighters under his command. Wismer, in stark contrast, was tentative, clearly uncomfortable as a speaker, and mostly presented herself as someone who has never really had to campaign before and doesn't know what she's doing.

    They both had the opportunity to tell me what issues were most important to them and where they stood. Funny, but I can't recall a bit of that, whether they actually did or did not. What I remember is thinking that neither is ready for prime time.

  9. Rorschach 2014.02.28

    I have met both Susan Wismer and Joe Lowe, and I like them both. But the question is which one would be a more formidable opponent to Governor Daugaard?

    If I were on the governor's campaign team I would be much more worried about Joe Lowe - a guy who worked for 3 Republican administrations in SD and made a good showing for himself in a government leadership position for 12 years. A number of Republicans said glowing things about him and his work when he left state government, which mutes any attacks they manufacture. And he knows things about the Republican-dominated government that only an insider would know. If I were on Governor Daugaard's campaign team, I would be very worried about a general election against Joe Lowe. Not so much about a race against Susan Wismer.

  10. larry kurtz 2014.02.28

    If all goes as planned, DD will be thrown from office, Mike Rounds will withdraw from the primary, Marty Jackley will be disbarred and Pierre will be flushed like the sewer we all know it is.


  11. Vincent Gormley 2014.02.28

    Larry, I have the same dream.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.02.28

    Dang, Jessie: can we Dems not find anyone who can deliver the full package?

    I wonder, Jessie: did you get a sense that Lowe's management style might resemble Janklow's?

  13. Rorschach 2014.03.01

    Joe Lowe doesn't remind me of Bill Janklow. He reminds me of Mike Huether. And that's a good thing. He's the type of guy who's enthusiastic, works his rear off, and gets the job done. He's a take the lead kind of guy.

  14. Jessie 2014.03.01

    I think Rick Weiland has the whole package. Corinna Robinson? Well, she might if she can figure out how to run a campaign before it's too late.

    Lowe creeped me out with his comments on losing men to firefighting. He came over to speak to me and my husband before the dinner started and I just felt that it was all about him, not the people lost. Idon't know who Mike Huether is, so can't comment. I don't think he is like Janklow.

    Wismer literally told us that she hasn't run a real campaign before and that she doesn't know what she's doing. What a way to introduce yourself to possible supporters.

    Also, while I do understand the frustration folks have with what happens in the Republican-infested state capitol, it does bother me a bit to have Pierre, my place of residence, home of me and my friends, referred to as a sewer in need of flushing. Can we all please remember that the city is not the government? A city where an older gentleman once stopped me on my morning walk just to tell me that Obama was the greatest president we are likely to see in our lifetimes and was joyfully astonished to find that I agreed with him wholeheartedly.

  15. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.03.02

    Jessie, I can understand uneasiness with a candidate exploiting the deaths of others for his own gain. I'll listen for that in speeches and see if I get the same feeling.

    You are definitely on target with the lack of confidence Wismer inspires with her statement that she hasn't run a real campaign. When I interview for a job, I usually don't open by saying I don't know how to do the job. A statewide campaign is no place for Midwestern over-humility.

    As for Pierre pride, well, Jessie, I'm afraid dealing with Pierre as metaphor is the price you have to pay for winning the seat of government. Your city fathers and mothers could have let Huron or Mitchell win the Great Capital Fight, but no. You Pierrites asked for it! You got it! :-)

  16. Jessie 2014.03.02

    Cory, I've left the wrong impression in my description of Lowe. I absolutely do NOT think he was exploitative. I think that he felt the losses deeply, so deeply that HIS pain became paramount. I failed to see what that had to do with running for governor.

    As for Wismer, she is only saying she doesn't know how to campaign. She said nothing about her ability to govern the state. But hubris is a lot more likely to get votes than humility.

    Finally, so long as we all remember that "Pierre" is a metaphor, I'm fine with it. :) I didn't get here until 1993; I don't regard myself as a Pierre or SD native. Pierre's claim is to be the center of a great big space. But good people live here and it was a good place to raise my daughter. Just sayin.

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.03.02

    Thanks, Jessie, and I apologize for misreading you. Can you elaborate on the "creepy" vibe you got? You get the impression his sense of loss was sincere; was he blaming himself? If he's not exploiting those deaths improperly, then are those deaths somehow clouding his judgment?

    Wismer is applying for Governor, but she's also applying for the job of Dems' nominee, and a nominee needs to demonstrate an ability to govern and an ability to campaign. Hubris vs. humility... there's an editorial headline in there somewhere!

  18. Jessie 2014.03.02

    I was creeped out by a candidate who felt compelled to emphasize his own pain, rather than focus on what those deaths might or might not say about SD politics or other issues. Maybe the word I'm looking for is "self-centered." Does he feel so responsible that these deaths happened on his watch that he is already defending himself against charges no one has yet raised? It just seemed very out of place.

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