Tomorrow morning, the South Dakota Republican Party will choose its candidate for Secretary of State. Since my Democratic Party has not yet announced any candidate for perhaps the most contestable office on the ballot this fall, the SDGOP may indeed be picking the replacement for the beleaguered and bumbling Jason Gant. Should the party pick the woman who forced Jason Gant into the historic decision to not seek a second term, Senator Shantel Krebs? Or should the GOP pick the woman who has kept Gant's fat out of the fire for the last couple years, current SOS Pat Miller?
Former Senator Stan Adelstein wants his colleague Krebs:
...Shantel Krebs is a stickler for honesty. She is intimately knowledgeable on election law and election methods and procedures. In addition to that, Shantel, unlike Ms. Miller, has successfully operated and managed more than one business.
To the best of my knowledge, nowhere in the past have there been as many complaints from businesses about erroneous online filing, lack of confidentiality, and frankly general screw-ups as we’ve seen recently coming out of the Secretary of State’s office.
Republicans would do well to nominate someone who is in a clear position to clean up the messes in the Secretary of State’s office and restore public confidence in its competence and integrity.
If we don’t, the Democrats will [Stanford Adelstein, "Just Say No—to the Possibility of Four More Years of Jason Gant," A Way to Go, 2014.06.18].
I take Adelstein's point that Miller is stained by association with the current regime. But Krebs has given no indication that she would be any less inclined to use the office for partisan purposes than Secretary Gant has. Krebs has made clear she sees no problem with Indian voting rights in South Dakota, an issue where Gant has demonstrated a willingness to put protection of Republican margins above universal enfranchisement. She hasn't spoken out on Gant's failure to train election officials properly for this year's primary, a failure that may have denied some Independents access to the Democratic gubernatorial ballot. Krebs's announcement of candidacy last summer seemed to view the Secretary of State's office as a tool for maintaining Republican dominance as for serving the broader public interest.
Former Secretary of State Chris Nelson has also endorsed Krebs. Hearing often reasonable Republicans like Nelson and Adelstein endorse Krebs tempers my concerns about Krebs's partisan motivations somewhat.
But I'd still really, really, really rather have my Democrats come through with a quality candidate for Secretary of State. Given the scandals of notary violations, partisan influence, election errors, and petition fraud that have taken place in the last four years, South Dakota needs an informative and vigorous statewide conversation during the general election about the duties of the office of the Secretary of State, not a decision made by a few hundred delegates in Rapid City tomorrow.
Update 09:48 CDT (08:48 MDT for you conventioneers): I am remiss in not referring to Ken Santema's thoughtful and detailed assessment of the Secretary of State's race. A somewhat independent observer, Santema leans Krebs, preferring a little more distance between the new SOS and the current regime.