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Tornberg Challenges Barth for State Democratic Chair

Ann Tornberg

The hardest political job in South Dakota now has two candidates. Ann Tornberg publicly joins Jeff Barth in seeking to chair the South Dakota Democratic Party.

Tornberg issued her press release yesterday, one day after Barth sent out his official pitch. Both Tornberg and Barth promise to reinvigorate the county party machine. Both mention the need for more diversity in the party: Tornberg speaks of registering more voters among "diverse constituencies"; Barth promises to recruit more youth and minorities as party leaders and candidates. Both mention a focus on fundraising.

Tornberg's and Barth's opening pitches differ on a few details. Tornberg emphasizes her fundraising skill, noting that she has recruited 20 new members of the Founders Club, the SDDP's base of sustaining donors pledging $120 or more each year. Barth emphasizes his ability to win elections as a Democrat amidst steamrolling Republicans.

Barth is a chess champion; Tornberg is a debate coach. This contest should be fun!

South Dakota Democrats now have two chair candidates from the southern I-29 corridor. If Rick Weiland announces, that would make three. West River, do you have an up-and-comer who'd like to jump in the fray? If these southeast South Dakotans split up the vote, a Black Hills or Pine Ridge candidate could consolidate the West River vote, work on northeast South Dakota, and pull out a victory as the I-29ers split up the big votes.

Sift through the candidate statements and the proportional-voting math, see if you can divine a chair-apparent!

Ann Tornberg announces she is running for SDDP Chair

Beresford, SD - Ann Tornberg, Chair of the Union County Democrats, announced that she is running for South Dakota Democratic Party Chair today. The election will be held among state central committee members on Saturday, December 13th, in Oacoma.

Tornberg released the following statement:

"Our state party has made a lot of progress over the last four years, but we're still not seeing results at the ballot box. I want to help change that.

I'm running for South Dakota Democratic Party Chair because we need to rebuild our county parties, raise money to expand our outreach, recruit a full slate of candidates at the local, state and federal level, and register new voters among diverse constituencies.

Working together from the bottom up, Democrats across the state can build on the progress we've made and fulfill the promise George McGovern instilled in our party to win elections up and down the ballot.

I look forward to hearing new ideas on how we can reach our goals and sharing my ideas during the Chair election and after."

Ann is a proven leader in the South Dakota Democratic Party. Ann is the Union County Democrats Chair, and she's a sitting member of the party's Executive Board. A long time Founders Club member, Ann has personally recruited over 20 new sustaining donors into the Founders Club program. Ann was instrumental in the creation of the first ever Young Elected Legislative Leaders program for high school Democrats, which has already hosted over 80 students in just two years. Last year, she served as House Secretary for Democratic legislators in Pierre and will return to the 2015 Session as Senate Secretary. Ann has run for state legislature, raising over $40,000 in her 2014 bid for state senate.

A retired high school English teacher and former President of the Sioux Falls Education Association, Ann places education funding and the teacher shortage as one of her highest priority issues. She is also a family farm owner and works with groups such as Ag United, SD Dairy Producers, and SD Farmer’s Union to promote agriculture and educate consumers [Ann Tornberg, press release, 2014.11.26].


  1. grudznick 2014.11.27

    Who gets to vote on this party chair? I thought it was just the 12 Democrat legislatures who picked but from this blog post it sounds like all Democrats get to vote. Is it a secret vote done in private meetings or a real vote where Mr. Gant counts the ballots and watches over it with his computerized voting centers. Because if it is the latter he could control the Democrat party for the next several years.

  2. Tim 2014.11.27

    "Our state party has made a lot of progress over the last four years".
    What part of the state does she live in? Progress would be contesting every state house and senate seat, progress would be getting the few democrats in this state off their couches and to the ballot box, progress would be an ongoing effort to educate the people of this state on what 40 years of single party rule has done to them and progress would be at least one competitive race. We have none of that, my first question to Ann, what progress?

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.11.27

    Tim, that's an important question for all prospective leaders to ask the current party leadership. We need to know what progress has been made (and by what metrics we are measuring that progress) so we know what successes we have to build on. We don't want to rip up things that are working.

  4. Tim 2014.11.27

    Agree Cory, but I wonder why somebody would start by stating "A lot of progress has been made in the last 4 years" when in fact all you have to do is remove the blindfold and see we are going in the wrong direction. We don't need more blinders, we need somebody willing to state the cold hard facts, then provide some possible answers.

  5. Joeboo 2014.11.27

    What does this person actually do? Isn't it more of a figure head, then a job? What is the benefit package for this position?

    The problem I have with these two people is they are essentially, has been/never was Democratic politicians. Why not try to find some young up and comer to do it?

  6. grudznick 2014.11.27

    People keep saying that a young fellow like Mr. H would be really good at this. His blog would be the Blog from the Chair and would really be the voice of the SDDP. It will be interesting to see the outcomes of this election.

  7. larry kurtz 2014.11.27

    David Montgomery believes that if he runs for chair much of Cory's content would be used against him and the party: Susan Wismer said as much when i asked her to run for governor.

  8. save the party 2014.11.27

    In reality, Jeff Barth has turned out to be one of the most ineffective county chairmen in modern time. He raised a mere 2,000 dollars for the county party. He recruited no legislative candidates. Jeff only won reelection this cycle because the republicans failed to recruit a full slate of 3 candidates. Only 2 GOP candidates ran he filled ThE other position. Jeff would only elevate other incompetent people like Sheldon Osborn.

  9. grudznick 2014.11.27

    The GOP leadership in the legislatures lets Ms. Tornberg work for them during the sessions. Is this a pro or con for her election?

  10. Jenny 2014.11.27

    I don't really know what to think of Jeff Barth and his quirkiness. He might be soft-spoken and respected enough that he might win some people over to the party. On the other hand, if there is a lot of infighting and dysfunctionalism going on, which there is in ever political organization, would he be able to know how to handle it? He is someone that is fairly known in Minnehaha County and has won elections there, so that is a plus. He also seems fairly respected in the county also. He just might be what the SDDP needs. There's been a lot of positive comments here regarding him, so that's a good sign.

  11. larry kurtz 2014.11.27

    Coward stp's comment has the stench of PP drizzled all over it and curiously appeared concurrently with another slime-infused post at DWC.

  12. Jenny 2014.11.27

    On the other hand, all of us Madvillers love Cory, but he, I would say anyway is known as a very partisan, radical person to many South Dakotans. Would we want a polarizing person for SDDP chair? I'm not saying he is, but he has that reputation from the GOP.

  13. Jenny 2014.11.27

    Tornberg looks like she has a good resume also, some good experience with fund raising! She needs to delete that bit about the party making great progress over the last four years. That's sounds more like a joke.

  14. Tim 2014.11.27

    Jenny, I would argue a partisan radical democrat, not afraid to say what he/she thinks is exactly what we need. Somebody that quits trying to BS all of us and somebody not afraid to point out to all voters what the GOP stands for and what their policy is doing to all of us, rather than cuddling up to them, kissing their asses hoping to get a crumb tossed to us.

  15. Roger Cornelius 2014.11.27

    I understand that Cory is partisan, so am I, but what makes him a radical Democrat?
    Is that a label that Cory put on himself or is that how the SDGOP portrays him?

  16. sheldon osborn 2014.11.27

    To: Save the Party.

    Generally speaking, name calling is not constructive but if you insist, be honorable enough to remove the mask of anonymity afforded by this blog.

    Jeff is running for State Chair, I am not. I do think he has done a good job as the only democratic county commissioner for nine years and as the Minnehaha County Chair.

  17. tara volesky 2014.11.27

    Save the party, that was a nasty comment you made about Sheldon. Any personal attack should be deleted. Then you wonder why there are so few Democrats in SD. That is no way to treat people. The Osborn family have contributed thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates over the years. An apology is in order.

  18. Tim 2014.11.27

    I would suggest save the party is just a troll, and should be ignored as such.

  19. larry kurtz 2014.11.27

    Tara, bless your heart, too: if you go to ip right now and look at the top of my twitter feed you'll see why i'm not the guy.

  20. grudznick 2014.11.27

    Elect Mr. H as your party chair, then he can hire my good friend Lar as a consultant director of social media, tweeting, blogging and such. Hire Mr. Fleming to do the web pages though.

  21. Moses 2014.11.27

    Dont ever talk that way about Ozzie I know Ozzie is a friend of mine even though he is late for Lunch once in a while. Commander

  22. Shirley Moore 2014.11.27

    whoever wins, I hope that person is smart enough to find a better Gubernatorial candidate that this year's. It was a wasted election.

  23. grudznick 2014.11.27

    Young Ms. Wismer gave it a go. What more could you have asked of her?

  24. Connie Mogen 2014.11.27

    I suppose we need some debate of the merits of the candidates but already I hear what sounds like some bickering. Let's try to do this impartially and with the intent of finding the best person for this position. And I do believe that there is a place to serve for everyone who has the time and talent to give.

  25. JeniW 2014.11.27

    Shirley, I strongly disagree with you. Susan's and Susy's not winning the election was not due to their lack of effort, hard work, dedication or being passionate about what they believe in.

    But, you are entitled to your opinion, and I respect that. My question to you is what stopped you from helping to find a candidate more to your liking? Or, what stopped you from campaigning for the office?

    If Susan and/or Susy decide to campaign for another office, or campaign again for governorship, they will have some name recognition, will have a foundation of support to build upon, so I do not think it was a wasted election.

    It was only a wasted election because enough people voted for Daugaard, Noem, and Deceitful Rounds.

  26. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.11.28

    JeniW, I feel the need to speak up for Shirley. I'm sure she's been plenty busy with the scuzzballs in Aberdeen trying to destroy her good name and do less than nothing for the children of South Dakota.

  27. JeniW 2014.11.28

    Deb, I appreciate Shirley's advocacy efforts. I applaud her efforts, and I hope that she does not let anyone defeat her.

    If the people in Aberdeen are trying to destroy her and her advocacy efforts, then she would understand what it might be like for Susan and Susy to be told that they were not good enough to campaign for governorship.

  28. larry kurtz 2014.11.28

    Shirley Moore make an interested point: it's exactly why we need to end primaries and elect nominees at convention.

  29. Bill Fleming 2014.11.28

    LOL. Kurtz. Are we both barking up the same tree here? You say SD Dems should stop having primaries and let convention representatives nominate the candidates (a very conservative, non-democratic position, actually) and I say maybe SD Dem voters should just change their registration to Republican so they can at least have a chance to vote on who will eventually hold the office (remembering how many races went uncontested by Dems.) Are we basically saying the same thing two different ways?

  30. larry kurtz 2014.11.28

    Bill, i've argued the GOP registration thingy for years because SD Dems can't fill tickets and Ms. Moore's comment suggests unaffiliated voters chose Wismer over Lowe. We should try nominating candidates at convention for a cycle or two to see what happens.

  31. tara volesky 2014.11.28

    Right now the Democrat establishment votes in the primary for who ever the Brass decides they want in the general. Susan Wismer would have been elected at the Democratic convention which gives the anti-establishment candidate/ Independent Democrat no chance. Joe Lowe lost because he was not an insider and part of the club. He was to much of a populous for the conservative Democrats.

  32. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.11.28

    [Hey, "save the party", if you're going to call people incompetent, I'd like to know your name. Check your e-mail.]

  33. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.11.28

    JeniW, it's not the citizens of Aberdeen who are attacking. It's the corrupt cops and attorneys. Shirley can provide more accurate information. I don't have precise names.

Comments are closed.