Some days my party makes my blogging harder.
My friends Larry Kurtz and Leo Kallis did fine work this weekend providing the blogosphere with photos and analysis from the South Dakota Democratic convention in Yankton. I wish I could have joined them, and not just for the pleasure of coming up with the perfect pun about being seen with bloggers of their iLK.
However, as much as I would have enjoyed hanging at the citizens' press table, I suspect my enthusiasm would have been dampened by the sense of an obligation to my hosts—the few, the proud, the South Dakota Democrats—to spin my disappointment with the convention.
No, we Democrats are not doomed. Kallis offers an excellent firsthand account of how our ticket-toppers—Weiland, Wismer, and Robinson—all exceeded his expectations. Weiland invoked Wellstone and evoked thoughts of Humphrey. Wismer and Robinson both connected with good stories, something we wonky Dems need to do to grab the electorate's gut away from the GOP. The energy, charisma, and parallel construction Kallis saw from Angelia Schultz shows she's equipped to lead a conversation with voters about the corruption of the current Secretary of State and the need to elect her rather than another Republican, Shantel Krebs, to clean that house.
But Democrats couldn't find anyone to lead a conversation another office that deserves vigorous voter scrutiny, the Attorney General. They nominated no candidate for that position, leaving Attorney General Marty Jackley unchallenged in his bid for another four years as the state's top cop.
Dems got Denny Pierson to run against State Treasurer Rich Sattgast and and David Allen to run against Public Utilities Commissioner Gary Hanson. But name anything Sattgast done in the last four years or Hanson in the last six that raises the same questions about fitness for office Marty Jackley's following actions:
- Covering for Jason Gant and Pat Powers when Senator Stan Adelstein called for an investigation into corruption in the Secretary of State's office;
- Allowing what looks an awful lot like a political prosecution of child advocates in Aberdeen who saw the Department of Social Services failing to protect children from sexual abuse;
- Refusing to dig into the questionable finances of EB-5-managing company SDRC Inc. on the thin pretext that EB-5 is a federal program;
- Making no fuss over missing records from the EB-5 program;
- Failing to question Richard Benda, who as former head of the Governor's Office of Economic Development turned loan manager for SDRC Inc. would have been a key witness in the GOED/EB-5 scandal;
- Refusing to allow the media to review findings of his investigation of Benda's suspicious death based on questionable legal precedent and surrender of state authority to a private party;
- Punting on the Bosworth petition challenge that Secretary Gant punted to him, allowing an illegitimate candidate to access the Republican primary Senate ballot (an abdication of duty mitigated mildly by his willingness to investigate and charge said candidate immediately after the election).
Gant, foster care, EB-5, Benda—the brief book is there, ready for any willing candidate to make the case that AG Jackley represents the corruption and CYA cronyism of the South Dakota Republican Party. Jackley's performance looks like part of what one reader identified earlier this year as a standard pattern over the past decade of Republican attorneys general declining to make trouble for their fellow party boys. But Democrats have deemed that pattern unworthy of the most important challenge possible, an alternative candidate who promises competence, honesty, and justice for all South Dakotans.
Foster care abuse? No big deal. EB-5 cover-up? No winning issue. Jackley's doing fine. So says that empty space under Jackley's name to most casual observers who pick up a 2014 ballot.
I will gladly support my party's nominees as they hit the campaign trail and show the chops that Kallis saw this weekend. But in failing to add an Attorney General nominee to the roster, the South Dakota Democratic Party has missed an important opportunity to hold Marty Jackley to account and to educate voters about the corrupting power of one-party rule.