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As Rounds Coasts, Best Reasons to Vote for Each of the GOP Senate Candidates

I like dramatic elections. Alas, The Displaced Plainsman anticipates no drama in Tuesday's GOP Senate primary. Neither does Bob Mercer, who has upped his estimate of frontrunner Marion Michael Rounds's vote count from 50% to 60%, based on May campaigning:

Rounds’ campaign stepped up its efforts tremendously with its blitz of signs, its well-done newspaper stuffers and the candidate’s busy schedule of appearances at grassroots events.

Meanwhile the other four didn’t seem to pick up steam. They resorted to holding and/or attending news conference-style events trying to draw wider attention [Bob Mercer, "Will Mike Rounds Break 60 Percent?" Pure Pierre Politics, 2014.05.31].

I hate to play into a sense of inevitability, but the Rounds money machine appears to be coasting to victory. Rounds has avoided debates and eased up on the fundraising gas while managing not to get mired in any of the very valid critiques his opponents could be making about his record of corruption, laziness, and failure as governor.

But hey, in case any of you Republicans are still thinking about changing your vote, let me re-don my Republican hat and offer the best reasons I can think of for Republicans to vote for each of the four legitimate U.S. Senate candidates on their ballot Tuesday:

Mike Rounds:

  1. No one will bring more money, polish, and name recognition to the campaign.
  2. Rounds has no policy vision, but Republicans don't want policy vision. Republicans hire a candidate to occupy the seat and keep Democrats out. Rounds will go to Washington, cast his desultory votes, and get right back to fundraising for the next election.
  3. While the end of earmarks has made it harder for Senators to send home pork, Rounds has demonstrated the least philosophical compunction against big federal government spending to benefit South Dakota. His lack of commitment to the Republican slogans he campaigns on, buttered with his insurance-salesman charm, give South Dakota the best shot at drawing funds for the Lewis and Clark water pipeline and other porky projects.

Stace Nelson:

  1. Nelson means what he says and says what he means more than anyone else on the GOP ballot.
  2. If you're a Tea Party Republican, Nelson is absolutely your only choice. No other GOP candidate has espoused the principles of hard right conservative Republicanism, appeared at more South Dakota Tea Party events, and more openly embraced the language of the Tea Party movement.
  3. If anyone has a chance of bucking crony capitalism in Washington, it's Nelson.
  4. Speaking of crony capitalism, if the EB-5 investigations break open before November 4, Republicans will need cover. Nelson has spoken most forthrightly against EB-5. Nelson sponsored legislation to get South Dakota out of EB-5.
  5. Joining Nelson with John Thune would give South Dakota the tallest Senate duo in the country.
  6. Nelson's size and style would get South Dakota more national press than even Kristi Noem.

Larry Rhoden:

  1. Of the challengers, Rhoden is the most experienced legislator, with a greater record of crafting, negotiating, and passing bills.
  2. Joining Rhoden with Thune would give South Dakota the handsomest Senate duo in the country.
  3. On pure image, Rhoden best affirms South Dakota's agricultural mythos, in which we all deep down crave to be from West River.

Jason Ravnsborg:

  1. On the campaign trail, Ravnsborg has done a good job of peppering his responses with specific policies, showing a focus on reversing the impression that the GOP is the "Party of No" and thus offering more appeal to voters interested in solving problems rather than playing partisan politics.
  2. Ravnsborg will draw the least attention, the least excitement, and the least financial support of the four candidates you have to choose from. If you're playing SDGOP chess and don't like Mike Rounds, this isn't a bad thing. You use Ravnsborg to send Rounds home. You elevate him to Senator, let him muddle about for six years doing no harm, and keep him out of the way of the 2018 round of musical chairs, when you'll have a whole bench of characters wrestling for governor, attorney general, and other posts that you wouldn't want Ravnsborg messing with. And then in 2020, you can promote a GOP all-star to that Senate seat by primarying Ravnsborg out. (Yes, I had to stretch for that one, because even with my Republican hat on, I have a hard time thinking of why any Republican gets excited about Ravnsborg.)

Ugh. I feel dirty.

I know my probing of the Republican mindset won't have much impact on Tuesday's primary. But Republicans, don't say I didn't try to help.

Bonus Prediction: Trying very hard to weed out wishful thinking, I check my gut, glance at the 2010 GOP primary results, and divine the following outcome:

  1. Rounds: 55% (better than Daugaard 2010, but not much better)
  2. Nelson: 25% (wins all of Howie's voters, plus boost from only effective challenger's ground game)
  3. Rhoden: 10% (barely carries Meade County)
  4. Ravnsborg: 6% (more margin of error and "don't like the other guys" than active support)
  5. other/spoilage: 4%


  1. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.06.01

    I read Mr Mercer's column on line this morning and wanted to post, but couldn't figure out how to get logged in. When I read, "Through the winter and spring I would have set the break line at 50 percent for Rounds in the five-candidate field. Two sets of changes took place in May, however.

    Rounds’ campaign stepped up its efforts tremendously with its blitz of signs, its well-done newspaper stuffers and the candidate’s busy schedule of appearances at grassroots events." I wanted to post.

    This is what I would have posted. How many members of the party are grass roots and would have attended the appearances by the Governor, one appearance of which I would presume included the Republican Minnehaha Women's event, which the ex Governor chose to skip?

    My point being, if Mr Rounds could gain 20% more voters than he previously had, simply by campaign signs and newspaper stuffers, especially considering how many people, even staunch Republicans he POed with his lying, "stealing from medicare" ad, we as a State and our Nation are in really deep doo doo.

  2. Douglas Wiken 2014.06.01

    Now Rounds ads stress his honesty. A defense attorney here said after years of watching cops in court that he decided the primary factor in hiring cops was looking for convincing liars. Rounds would make a "good" local cop. His ads even lie about his honesty.

  3. larry kurtz 2014.06.01

    Who watches teevee in South Dakota? Old white people with landlines, Buicks and blue hair: an earth hater's target audience. Money is at least as dangerous a gateway drug as commercial broadcasting is.

  4. Douglas Wiken 2014.06.01

    Well, I may be an old white-haired white who has a cellphone and watches TV anyway. It strikes me that twits try to get news from "smart" phones dinky screens. About the only commercial TV I watch however is weather news and Sunday AM sabbath gasbags. SDPB TV and radio still edge into the area of relevant coverage even if their fundraising and non-ad ads are incredibly annoying.

    Blogs and computes hooked to fast landlines seem to be an affordable alternative to expensive, easily broken dinky screens with news condensed to the equivalent of 140 character twitter tweats.

  5. larry kurtz 2014.06.01

    rotflmao. gmafb, Doug.

  6. Rorschach 2014.06.01

    I predict that other spoilage beats Roundsberg, then leaves the state before the attorney general's posse catches up to it. They won't transport other spoilage from say - Georgia or Tennesee, or Alaska. But Canada is where I think other spoilage will end up.

  7. Lynn 2014.06.01

    I predict Spoilage will have another news conference which would normally be a concession speech for others but will use this opportunity to suddenly speak in tongues and then proclaim to be a prophet and then announce a new worldwide ministry with a website for sending donations.

    Of course that ministry will take them all over the world and possibly countries that do not have an extradition treaty with the United States.

  8. Lynn 2014.06.01

    Maybe just maybe Stace Nelson that old broken down Marine and his brigade or division strength of volunteers will deliver an upset and win the primary!

    Otherwise the national Democratic Party and their supporters are going to Mr. EB-5 Hello I'm for sale to the highest bidder Mike Rounds right in their crosshairs for the general election.

  9. Roger Cornelius 2014.06.01

    Are we underestimating the powerful ignorance of the common Republican voter in South Dakota?
    We all know her weaknesses and lack of political astuteness as well as her criminal mind, will that make a difference to the tea party groups?
    Mainstream Republicans don't seem to mind the shadows that follow Mike Rounds and are in fact willing to overlook them, can the same be said of the illegitimate candidate?

  10. daleb 2014.06.01

    I sincerely hope that no candidate gets above 35%. Do this race and the state of SD the justice of having a runoff between a conservative and an opportunist.

    The last category should of been "illegitimate candidates"

  11. grudznick 2014.06.01

    Rhoden is your man.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.06.01

    R, ironic prediction, given Canada's health care system.

  13. grudznick 2014.06.01

    I hope there is some live videotaping of Dr. Bos tomorrow night. Mr. H, will you be interviewing any more of the entertainers?

  14. Roger Cornelius 2014.06.01


    Why has ding dong been so quiet the last few days?

  15. owen reitzel 2014.06.01

    Roger I think realization has set in

  16. Roger Cornelius 2014.06.01

    Just as I thought Dr. Bozo decided to concede the election,
    she has another mindless video up on Facebook page.
    Time for her appeal to those that live and breath the 2nd Amendment.

  17. owen reitzel 2014.06.01

    In her mind Roger thats all she has left-attack liberals with very stupid arguments

  18. CK 2014.06.01

    Just as we used to say in the Army...2 days and a wake-up...I can not wait for her to concede.

  19. Rorschach 2014.06.01

    Maybe other spoilage will go to the Philippines to establish a mission outpost. One step ahead of the law, other spoilage may choose to make the Philippines home. I hear that one can live well there on a budget. Wherever other spoilage will end up, I bet the tickets are already bought.

  20. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.06.01

    This whole "other spoilage" line of comments is pretty funny. Thanks for the laugh, Madizens!

  21. Lynn 2014.06.02

    Evidently the Stace Nelson campaign must be posing some type of threat to Rounds in the final hours of the campaign. Over at (DWC)Dakotans With investments in Cronyism or Corruption if you post anything negative about Stace Nelson it stays up. If you post anything positive in support of Stace Nelson it gets deleted and all twitter feeds from the Nelson campaign are blocked.

    All other candidates that pose no threat to Rounds have their press releases, twitter feeds, and commercials posted.

  22. Bree S. 2014.06.02

    Yes, I agree Lynn, I find their behavior promising. Must not be happy with internal polling.

  23. Lynn 2014.06.02

    I early voted last week

  24. larry kurtz 2014.06.02

    Would SDGOP handle a runoff? How would SOS be involved?

  25. Bree S. 2014.06.02

    Do you think we could keep everyone under 35% Larry? Bosworth and Rhoden would have to pull a significant amount of the vote..

  26. larry kurtz 2014.06.02

    Rhoden has quite a few none of the above and West River votes, Bree: maybe even some Natives like Tim Giago.

  27. Bree S. 2014.06.02

    Well, here's hoping for a strong anti-Rounds turn out.

  28. Bree S. 2014.06.02

    I never went after Rhoden.. I thought and thought and I think he'll pull more from Rounds than Stace.. I hope I'm right.

  29. Les 2014.06.02

    Rounds and Rhoden is a confusing pair to me. I see literally no Rounds signs across western SD. It is like he is giving WR to LRhoden, at least with the WR voters he knows he won't get primary or possibly general. Remember WR elected and unelected Herseth. It is Nelson and Rounds East River if the West goes LR though I question Larry's impact. I am amazed at all the Nelson impressions across our state. To say Rounds has team support pales, unless the PAC dollars buying teevee are team support.

  30. Les 2014.06.02

    Ive had several(as in more than two, Cory) Democrat friends calling me and telling me how to primary. Not sure I should say any more on that subject or I'll have Maddville taking another bite out of my exhaust.

  31. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.06.02

    Les, If the signs are any indication, Stace Nelson wins the Republican primary hands down. He has not only the most impressive sign (IMHO but then I am for and voting for Stace) But he has more of them around Sioux Falls and along the I-29 corridor than any candidate. Rounds sign is pathetic to say the least, no color. Rhoden's sign is easily dwarfed by a precinct candidate, Arch Beal. Rhoden has had the most LTEs in the Argus the last few weeks, mostly from West River, (which kind of pisses me off) since, I submitted to the Watertown PO only to be told that it would cost 100 bucks, and to the Mitchell, Yankton, Pierre and Black Hills Pioneer Newspapers and to the best of my knowledge none have been published. Sunday had a letter in the Argus Leader with the same exact letter in the Mithcell paper.

    Until the last few days there have been very few LTEs supporting Rounds in the Argus and there have been so many there and comments that I have heard of people sick of his lying ad about medicare, and that is from Republicans as well as Democrats. If he gets 60% or even 50 tomorrow, I will be shocked. But then I thought Heidepriem would be Daugaard in 2010, so what do I know.

  32. Rorschach 2014.06.02

    Just as I expected. HeckAnnette has fled the state before DCI could round her up at an election night loser's party tomorrow. She's going to be on two FOX shows but folks, she ain't coming back to face the music. She'll send a moving truck for her stuff.

  33. Atlin 2014.06.02

    Here is another vote tomorrow, for 'Stace Nelson". I switched from being a life long Democrat so I could cast a vote against Rounds.

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