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Lowe Has Campaign Finance Edge; Wismer Has More Donors

Toby and I are both keenly interested in the outcome of the Democratic gubernatorial primary. The Joe Lowe–Suasn Wismer contest is perhaps the most competitive and interesting statewide race on Tuesday's ballot. The candidates offer clear differences in personality and style that may gauge the philosophy and direction of the South Dakota Democratic Party.

Plus, we have no idea which way the race will go. Two Madville Times polls have given Joe Lowe a growing lead (up to 73% to 27% in the most recent) with readers here. Back-spot this blog 20 to 25 percentage points for optimism and blog-drama bias (remember our Barth-Varilek polling in 2012?), and you quite possibly get a dead heat between Lowe and Wismer.

So what do the tea leaves say about Lowe and Wismer? Two leaves available are the pre-primary campaign finance reports.

  • Joe Lowe's pre-primary report shows $23,350 from 28 donors and the Brule County Democrats (Hey, Brule! You guys endorsing before the primary? Watch out!). Add $6,573 in unitemized small donations and $1,250 that was already on the board in December, and Lowe has raised a total of $31,123.
  • Susan Wismer's donation report shows $20,333.27 from 41 individual donors, plus a mess of spare change from ActBlue clickers. Secretary Gant's link to Wismer's pre-primary report doesn't load, so I can't see the itemized donations (Jason! Fix it!). But add two more donations reported Tuesday, and Wismer writes $21,333.27 on her income line.

Pending access to the unitemized donations number for Wismer, we see Lowe with what appears to be a fundraising edge: more cash, but fewer donors. That plays in Lowe's favor if that cash buys name recognition with roadtrips and ads. The campaign finance data plays in Wismer's favor if the number of donors translates into numbers who show up to vote.

And tonight we'll see in whose favor a head-to-head debate plays. Lowe and Wismer face off on South Dakota Public Television in Vermillion, tonight, 8 p.m. Central, 7 p.m. Mountain. Watch on TV or online tonight on SDPB, the only major media in the state offering the candidates and voters this kind of opportunity for face-to-face discussion of South Dakota issues and comparison of candidates.


  1. Shirley Harrington-Moore 2014.05.29

    the great debate has morphed into a 'fireside chat'. Can this be dumbing down the debate to help the weaker candidate?

  2. larry kurtz 2014.05.29

    Hubbel is not nearly as crazy as once believed: she would not commit to endorsing DD after primary, supports Stace and will vote for Howie if Rounds wins.

    She is a climate denier like DD is, wants to drill baby spill, wants the state to own most federal ground, believes the Indians should drill baby spill, believes government and business should be separate but religion should not be.

    Comfortable in her skin, perishes the thought of living in Pierre, ghastly as it is.

    Good on Lalley: fun show.

  3. Vickie 2014.05.29

    Here we are less than a week from the primary and finally today I find a "vote for me" card in the mailbox from a candidate. Guess who? *drum roll* Susan Wismer.

    Is it just me or is anyone else thinking that it's too little too late? C'mon candidates! If you want my vote at all you should have made more of an effort.

  4. grudznick 2014.05.29

    If I was a registered libbie, I would vote for Ms. Wismer. She has a lot going for her.

  5. Shirley Harrington-Moore 2014.05.29

    Vickie, there are more than 50,000 names of Democrats on VoteBuilder and a bunch more of Independents. I've been making personal calls for Joe Lowe for Governor. If your name/phone number comes up, you'll hear my dulcet tones when you either answer the phone or check your voice mail. It takes a LONG time to get to everyone. And VoteBuilder's list of names/phone numbers isn't all that accurate. There are a LOT of disconnects and 'the inbox is too full for you to leave a message' and just plain wrong phone numbers. Sorry if I've missed you. Let me assure you, however, that Joe IS the best candidate for the WHOLE state -- not just one region. Joe will never say that west river legislators are difficult to work with or have 'simplistic' views.

  6. Shirley Harrington-Moore 2014.05.29

    had one man ask where Joe stood on Second Amendment rights and a woman who complained because the candidates aren't saying enough of the Farm Bill and where they stand on Ag measures.

  7. grudznick 2014.05.29

    Ms. Harrington-Moore, I fear that Mr. Lowe would bring French-Firefighter Math to his governance whilst the young Ms. Wismer would crunch out those numbers accurately.

  8. larry kurtz 2014.05.29

    Wismer grew up in the 'hood, Lowe is an import: nuff said.

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.05.30

    Shirley, why is VoteBuilder so sloppy? We pay money for that data—who's being paid to clean that data?

  10. Shirley Harrington-Moore 2014.05.30

    first of all, Kurtz and Grudz, you'd want a weak Dem candidate so your party could beat him/her. And homegrown has heard it all and seen it all so there are no new good ideas under the sun. Good example is the world weary way Wismer looked last night -- bags under the eyes and all -- and who represents the status quo (we did that but it didn't work). Time for someone with an optimistic attitude and a fresh approach -- like working across the aisle and not demeaning the west river legislators. Joe's it. Your party might not be able to beat Joe.

    Now, Cory. I've worked with Vote Builder for --this is the 3rd time around. I understand the candidates were told they had to buy the use of it or they wouldn't get the backing of the Dem party. There was a brouhaha about that at meetings at the McGovern event. You'd have to ask the Executive Council how that went. If you bought Vote Builder's use, you thought you were getting names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of candidates. Well, the names are there. Most of the addresses are correct (unless you live in Rapid City). But the phone numbers are a hoot. There are LOTS of wrong numbers and disconnects. Who's in charge? I'm hearing everyone from the Secretary of State's office to the local auditor's office. I'm a 'foot soldier' so I'm not in charge, but I did spend two weekends at Benson's Flea Market trying to get people to update their voting registration. Got 13 in 4 days. Voter registration isn't important apparently.

  11. larry kurtz 2014.05.30

    Wismer showed her chops last night: Lowe's ego really gets in the way of any altruism he might bring to Pierre.

  12. larry kurtz 2014.05.30

    Lowe grew up in a household riddled with Southern racism and was mayor of a white town: hard to overcome saturation with bigotry.

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.05.30

    I think you're reaching, Larry. Lowe has more experience working on the reservations. If I heard correctly, both candidates are fine with same-sex marriage.

    And sometimes, you have to have some ego to win.

  14. larry kurtz 2014.05.30

    If Lowe wins expect PP and his multiple personalities to descend on Lowe's California ex-pat status.

  15. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.05.30

    Picking a candidate based on what PP will do is a recipe for paralysis. If Wismer wins, expect flak over Wismer's 2013 statement in favor of income tax and that other clip floating around of her declaring herself a socialist. The GOP will fire all sorts of nuttiness, regardless of whom we nominate. What's really motivating your apparent endorsement of Wismer over Lowe?

  16. larry kurtz 2014.05.30

    You know I'm going to support our party's nominee, Cory: it's time for a woman to hose Pierre and flush the rodents that infest it.

  17. larry kurtz 2014.05.30

    Wismer is not a big union fan and told me that Madville is too radical for her taste: I promised her i would support her candidacy.

  18. larry kurtz 2014.05.30

    Lowe would be the perfect Lt. Gov. nominee and will fill the role of attack dog very nicely.

  19. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.05.30

    This Lt. Gov. talk is nuts. Neither Lowe nor Wismer will pick the primary loser for the number 2 spot. Neither candidate would accept that spot.

    I would ask Rep. Wismer on which policy I'm more radical than she. Or is she just talking style?

  20. larry kurtz 2014.05.30

    So, your choice for #2 is whom, Cory?

  21. Nick Nemec 2014.05.30

    Cory, Vote Builder is a crowd sourced voter information file. The state party purchases the voter list from the SoS, imports it into the program and individual candidates improve it by noting good or bad phone numbers, addresses and other relevant information. In a perfect world every voter contact will improve the file, provided candidates and staff take it seriously and work to improve it by adding information.

    I know some legislative candidates have really improved the list in their district, it's work but pays dividends in later years. It's a long ball game with an eye to the future.

  22. Nick Nemec 2014.05.30

    Vote Builder is a tool to be used and part of using it is improving it. Like most tools it only works if you use it, using it is work, but with use you get better at using it. It is not a magic wand and isn't intended to be a magic wand.

  23. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.05.30

    My choice for #2 is irrelevant right now... as will be that choice for most voters. In general, pick someone who can raise a whole heck of a lot of money.

  24. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.05.30

    Nick makes a good point: if it's crowd-sourced, the tool is only as good as every user's effort. But if it's crowd-sourced, isn't the effort I make to improve it enough of a purchase price?

  25. Shirley Harrington-Moore 2014.05.30

    When I spoke with someone in the Minnehaha Auditor's office in April, I was told the Dems haven't updated Vote Builder in a long time. Some counties might. I do know that the first two times I used it, the same name came up at the same address -- but that family had moved on about 5 years before. What a hoot. Not. In the first hour or so yesterday I had phone numbers that were disconnects and several wrong numbers. In using Vote Builder, I diligently check the correct circles to get things changed. No idea how that's going.

  26. Shirley Harrington-Moore 2014.05.30

    Tell me, please, how does a state income tax work when the workers don't make enough to hardly meet their own needs? And what kind of write off do wealthy people get so the ones with less wealth get to pay more than their share? Hey, Larry....I didn't know you were for a State Income Tax.

  27. Nick Nemec 2014.05.30

    The state party purchases the basic list from the SoS inputs it into our Vote Builder program and then charges candidates for access, the charge is based on the number of voters on the list wanted. As an incentive if a candidate makes improvements to the list the access charge is refunded.

  28. Nick Nemec 2014.05.30

    Shirley, the purchaser of the list also get an online code that allows them to make corrections. If you are a volunteer I commend you for noting the mistakes and corrections needed, now make sure the person in the campaign you are working for who has the online access code makes the corrections you noted.

    Some campaigns have been better than others at making the needed changes.

  29. larry kurtz 2014.05.30

    Not just an income tax, Shirley but a banking tax, too: the years of South Dakota being a haven for trillions is absurd.

  30. Vickie 2014.05.30

    So,it's safe to say that VoteBuilder is a less than desirable tool for candidates to use to contact voters. How many other sources are available for candidates to use to send out their materials to voters? I do know that this is pretty much the first election of any sort,in my over 30 years of voting, that hasn't seen my mailbox being constantly bombarded with things from everybody running for any public office regardless of party affiliation. In a way,it's nice to have less to have to toss into my recycle bin,but yet I'd like to see and hear more about where they actually truthfully stand on every issue. I don't want the standard talking points. I want honest,to the point,no BS answers and statements. And for crying out loud don't lie to people for votes.

  31. Nick Nemec 2014.05.30

    Vote Builder is a cooperative effort, its effectiveness depends of the efforts of all campaigns to improve it. A legislative or county commission campaign that makes corrections to contact info improves the list for a statewide candidate or another lower level candidate running in the same district. A campaign that makes numerous rounds of calls to identify their supporters and enters updated contact info when they get it will have a quick way to identify and print out lists of known supporters come election day and focus their get out the vote efforts on those known supporters or high likely hood supporters.

  32. Vickie 2014.05.30

    One would like to think that more campaigns would work a bit harder on something that could,potentially,help them win. I guess it's just easier to make a video or a quickie TV ad. Hmmmm...makes me wonder...if candidates don't want to put forth that extra effort to get elected,what kind of lazy nonsense will they pull IF they actually get elected. >:/

  33. Shirley Harrington-Moore 2014.05.30

    Vickie, truth be told, you can get a cheaper version of Vote Builder by buying the voter list from your local county auditor and it lists the people in your county that vote most often. It's up to do in that respect and it's cheaper than the $2000 that the candidates had to pay for Vote Builder. Just bypass the State Dem office and you'll save a lot of money and have a more complete list. Heard that today at Friday Forum.

  34. Shirley Harrington-Moore 2014.05.30

    Vickie, when you speak of a 'quickie' tv ad, those cost a LOT of money and the mailings the candidates do usually end up in the trash, so why not put the dollars toward something people see on tv? Visuals are usually remembered more than that post card.

  35. Shirley Harrington-Moore 2014.05.30

    An after thought, Vickie -- if you've moved and not changed your voter registration, the card or envelope goes into the trash -- tv ads hit everyone with no return addresses. Btdt.

  36. Douglas Wiken 2014.05.30

    Back a bit over 40 years ago, I worked for the SD Democratic Party. My wife and I spent many hours trying to upgrade info in 3 boxes of file cards. Far too many of the people on the lists were already dead, many had moved, phone numbers were often wrong or not recorded.

    When we finally got a good list put together, my calls raised a quite a few thousands of dollars. But, nobody wanted to maintain the list or even use it when I left. It was also frustrating to watch an executive secretary sit on his ass doing his best to get a state job and doing next to nothing to elect Democrats.

    I don't know if anything has changed in 40 years. What Shirley said about getting your own list makes sense and with free database systems available, I don't see why the state party isn't putting them together for all counties.

    Of course, good databases are valuable, so actually good ones are not likely to be shared or sold.

  37. larry kurtz 2014.06.03

    AP has called the race for Wismer.

  38. Jerry 2014.06.03

    Good for Wismer, hope she picks Herseth to be her number 2

  39. larry kurtz 2014.06.03

    Excellent, Jerry: i'm going to steal your idea and run with it!

Comments are closed.