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Dem Chair Race Should Hinge on Organizer Quals, Not Abortion

Todd Epp stirs the pot with an unsourced story claiming that the contest between Jeff Barth and Ann Tornberg to chair the South Dakota Democratic Party could hinge on their apparently conflicting stances on abortion:

Pro-Barth party activists point out that in Tornberg’s unsuccessful 2014 run for the District 16 state Senate race, she called herself “pro-life” as well as note her ties to other pro-life groups and legislators. The activists say the Democrats at the 2014 state convention adopted a pro-choice platform and that Barth is pro-choice [Todd Epp, "South Dakota Democratic Party Chairmanship May Turn on Abortion Stand," Northern Plains New, 2014.12.12].

Epp's anonymous sources don't specify that votes today at the SDDP Central Committee meeting in Oacoma will swing on that policy difference. We have heard this abortion rumble here in the comment section.

But hey, you Democrats waking up this morning on the Missouri River, listen up:

If you are thinking of casting your vote for party chair based solely on the abortion issue, stop.

Today you are electing a party chair. You are electing an administrator, not a policymaker. You are electing someone to raise money, organize volunteers, and win elections. Delegates in 2016, not the chair, will determine whether "reproductive rights" remain in the party platform (the Sioux Falls paper tells me that's what the platform says, but I can't check, because the SDDP never appears to have updated the website with this year's platform, an administrative thing the new chair should tell the exec to do!). Legislators, not the chair, will decide what issues to focus on in Pierre. Candidates, not the chair, will decide what issues get the spotlight in 2016.

SDDP Central Committee members, if you are voting today on abortion, you are voting in the wrong election. You want to fight about abortion? Petition an initiative to repeal South Dakota's mandatory counseling and 72-hour-plus waiting period for abortion. But today, pick someone who can do the job.

Related Thought Puzzle: What impact did SDGOP chairman Craig Lawrence's position on reproductive rights have on the 2014 election?


  1. John Tsitrian 2014.12.13

    Tornberg's designation as "anti-choice" by NARAL would be the death knell for SDDP's hopes of energizing young South Dakotans. Actually, the Party would be rendered a laughingstock among Dem organizations around the country.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.13

    So does the political position matter more outside the state than in, John? Are we talking about a political issue that would hamstring the out-state fundraising capability of the party? Conversely, would selecting a chair that can win NARAL approval be enough to erase the impression that out-staters may already have that the SDDP may not be worth investing in? Does Deb Knecht have NARAL approval? Did Ben Nesselhuf, Cheryl Chapman, and Jack Billion?

  3. Tim 2014.12.13

    John, her comment that the SDDP has made great progress in the last four years was pretty stupid as well. Another republican lite wanna be as far as I'm concerned. I have no doubt East River will pick her.

  4. larry kurtz 2014.12.13

    Cory, Mr. Tsitrian doesn't have a clue about what happens inside SDDP: you can look up the answers to your own questions because this is the internet.

  5. 96Tears 2014.12.13

    When was the last time NARAL wrote a big check for the general account of the SDDP? Unless it was to buy a dinner ticket or two at McGovern Day, I don't think it ever happened. NARAL is interested in pro-choice candidates. Quite frankly, the DNC does not care about the state party in South Dakota. Any success to be created by a state chair, the party staff and the central committee has always been the result of their own initiative and the help they could get from statewide elected Democrats seeking re-election. Since they're out of the latter factor, 2016 depends entirely on their own initiative. A squabble over reproductive rights would be a stupid way to start tapping their collective personal initiative.

  6. John Tsitrian 2014.12.13

    Yada, yada, yada. I stand by my opinion. Pubs will have a field day over an SDDP chairwoman that is anti-choice.

  7. John Tsitrian 2014.12.13

    Tim, I agree that she is detached from reality.

  8. 96Tears 2014.12.13

    Far more important and germane questions to consider the next chair:

    * Who is being courted to run against John Thune, or will you be listening to the idiots who insisted he get a pass in 2010?

    * Who is being courted to run against Kristi Noem in 2016? It's a presidential election year and Dems generally do better in prez years.

    * There are only three statewide positions on the ballot in 2016. Can you find the third candidate and make a run at winning a PUC seat?

    * How about filling more than 100 of the positions for the legislature instead of helping Republicans again get free seats to retain control?

    Mr./Ms. Chair of SDDP, if you can give smart answers to the above questions, I couldn't care less about your positions on Keystone XL or abortion. Go to work!

  9. Bill Fleming 2014.12.13

    The abortion issue is (or should be) a non-starter in the context of Democratic politics. The whole thing has become a wedge issue and a litmus test of party loyalty when in reality, the situation is far more nuanced. Beyond that, I've never known the Democratic party (as a party) to be intolerant of people who are opposed to abortion. There has always been room for people on both sides of the issue, and should continue to be. The true issue is whether or not one has a right to impose his/her religious belief system on others by force of law. Let's not turn it into anything else.

  10. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.13

    Bill points to the big tent we ought to be. 96 points to much more pressing questions that the roomful of voters in Oacoma ought to consider first.

    John, do Pubs gain any advantage by making big hay over a party chair who is not on the ballot? Can Dems gain any similar advantage by roasting Craig Lawrence? Will voters or donors care?

  11. larry kurtz 2014.12.13

    Cory, do Pubs gain any advantage by making big hay over a party chair who is not on the ballot? Can Dems gain any similar advantage by roasting Craig Lawrence? Will voters or donors care?

  12. Lynn 2014.12.13

    DNC? I could care less about the DNC to a large degree right now especially after what happened this past election cycle and the support we got from them. If anything happens in South Dakota it will be done by South Dakotans and the support we get from out of state being those with ties to our state or concerned about changing the course of what happens within our state.

  13. John Tsitrian 2014.12.13

    Cory, I think Pubs gain an advantage by calling attention to the obvious. A party that unequivocally supports reproductive rights headed by a chairperson that opposes them? C'mon, man. I've always sensed that the multi-year catastrophe Dems are engulfed in began when Steph went wobbly on abortion rights a few years back. Party leadership and the rank-and-file need convergence on this issue. Dems will name Tornberg at their peril.

  14. larry kurtz 2014.12.13

    thank you doctor politics.

  15. 96Tears 2014.12.13

    I am a huge fan of John Tsitrian! Nothing but the greatest respect for you and your intellect. I will agree some people are going to get snarky over this, but the state Dems have had people in leadership and on the ballot who were and still are adamantly pro-life. I remember the grumbling when Bernie Hunhoff ran for Governor. But do you know that some members of the state's delegation to the Democratic National Committee (not talking about convention delegates) have been and still are adamantly against abortion? Many members of the Dems central committee have been and still are adamantly against abortion. If there is a hue and cry about Tornberg's position, who will cast the first stone from the central committee or the party's executive board? Which Dem legislators are going to throw rocks?

    In some states, this issue can be polarizing within the state Dem parties. Not in South Dakota. For the most part the South Dakota Dem central committee members and staff have sought to steer clear of shrinkwrapping their organization on the issue of abortion. If someone has convincing proof to the contrary, please set me straight.

    To John's point, yes, I believe the press would try to thump Democrats in South Dakota over this. The scribes at Argus Sanford crane their necks looking for opportunities to toss rocks at Democrats. If the state party elects Jeff Barth, they'll toss rocks over his position in support of Keystone XL Pipeline. If it's Tornberg, they'll toss rocks about abortion. If it's a longtime Dem activist, they'll toss rocks calling him a hack and wonder why Dems couldn't find a new face. If it's a new face, they'll toss rocks about having no experience.

    This carping from certain scribes is part of the scenery. We're used to it. This is South Dakota where we elect criminals to Congress as long as they are Republicans. It's where Democrats have to make their own luck and work their asses off to win. John, you're probably right that the press will toss rocks. It's a fact of life, no matter what.

  16. larry kurtz 2014.12.13

    Owen Reitzel is at Oacoma now.

  17. John Tsitrian 2014.12.13

    I appreciate it, 96. Though a Pub, I recoil at the one-party stranglehold in this state and wish Dems well. I'll wait and see how this turns out before commenting further.

  18. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.13

    Tornberg and Lowe: Hanson County Democratic Party Vice-Chair Owen Reitzel tweets that the SDDP Central Committee have elected Ann Tornberg state chair and Joe Lowe state vice-chair.

  19. 96Tears 2014.12.13

    That's a smart balance of experience, personalities and geography. Now, let's see what they come up with for staffing, office locations and strategy. Who was elected Treasurer and Secretary?

  20. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.13

    Re-elected Bill Nibbelink Treasurer and Lorri May Secretary.

  21. Jana 2014.12.13

    Go get 'em Ann & Joe! Good people and good balance with a big challenge ahead of them.

    Looking forward to them being vocal in the upcoming legislative session being the voice of the people in what will come out of Pierre.

  22. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.12.13

    Larry, your Buzzfeed link was funny.

    Here's hoping for a strong, litmus-test-free SDDP.

  23. Patrick Duffy 2014.12.13

    Roe v Wade destroyed the Democratic Party in South Dakota. It has long ago become a pointless litmus test because it is an issue legally guaranteed as a constitutional right, not subject to state statutory law to virtually any degree, much less to any meaningful one.

    Whether or not a South Dakota state legislator supports or resists a woman's right to abort effectively means nothing when measured against the constitutional reality of that right: the right is a constitutional one and cannot be legislatively conditioned. One's position on Roe has become a canard, a litmus test for for one's political morality and not a measure of one's commitment to that which might somehow be made a political reality.

    Both parties exploit this issue. The GOP has no intent to introduce a constitutional amendment declaring that life begins at conception. If John Thune or Mike Rounds or Kristi Noem believed otherwise, they'd have introduced an amendment to the constitution long ago to overrule Roe. The undeniable fact is that Roe was decided by a Republican Supreme Court. Every significant judicial advance toward Roe and in its support has been augured by a Republican court. It is a bitter political irony that the political party whose rank and file are least disposed toward the right to abortion is the political party whose jurists created the right in the first place, and who have maintained it since.

    It is equally ironic that Democrats, the political party whose members are most protective of Roe as a constitutional right, continually gin up its base by keeping alive the false political narrative that the right itself is subject to legislative rather than judicial act. The Democratic Party has no intention to abandon this notion that members of state legislatures might somehow craft a statutory scheme that will effectively overrule the settled precedent of the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

    Epidemic civic illiteracy in both parties fuels this largely pointless political combat that has raged for decades.

    Whether the head of a state political party supports or resists Roe and its progeny means nothing in jurisprudential reality, but almost everything in political reality.

  24. Jana 2014.12.13

    Agreed Mr. Duffy.

    Especially when it comes to addressing the "Epidemic civic illiteracy" through active communication about the actions of the South Dakota GOP. Their actions intended and unintended consequences, the exposure of the cronyism that is endemic to their way of life and the hypocrisy of what they say and what they actually do.

    That will only happen when the chosen leaders of the SDDP are ready to take an active role in exposing the GOP to the media and general electorate.

  25. Tim 2014.12.13

    I had no doubt who they would pick (See an earlier post), not sure what makes dems in this state constantly shoot themselves in the foot, well at least we've made great progress over the last 4 years, not much work to do now. Just pretend we are repub lite, smile and get our asses kicked again for another 4 years.

  26. Owen 2014.12.13

    Both Tornberg and Jeff Barth are both good Democrats. It was a tough choice. Even though Barth lost I hope he remains a strong voice within the party. We need more like Barth to raise hell.
    Now that Tornberg has won she has the pressure on her now to do what she has promised to do. Which is to get down to the county level, find candidates for local and legislative offices, and build up from there. We'll find good people that can move up to challenge for the national offices.
    I wish there could have been more time given for question and answers of the Tornberg and Barth but Nick Nemic did a good job of running the election.

  27. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.13

    Do we have vote totals, Owen? Did anyone else run for vice-chair or any other office? Any other major business decided?

  28. mike from iowa 2014.12.13

    Wingnuts WILL introduce a constitutional amendment when they think they have fillibuster-proof majority of both houses of congress and a simpleton wingnut in the WH. They already have an activist wingnut Scotus that might declare abortions unconstitutional at the drop of a hat.

    Wingnut's outrage at election year issues is Platte River-like,a mile wide and an inch deep. No more screaming about immigrants,or ebola or deficits or anything else now that the election has passed.

  29. Robin Page 2014.12.13

    As a Democrat, I feel betrayed by the SDDP. How do we expect the party to raise funds when we elect someone who does not believe in the rights of women to choose what happens to their own bodies. Yes, abortion is not a legal issue at this time, but it is a WOMAN's issue. If the woman at the head of our party is against a woman's right to choose, how do we expect women to financially or morally support the party. A third of District 33 has moved into the "Independent" or other category. I suspect that this will increase. Dems didn't come out to vote because they know that the party is doing little to reach out to the people they claim to represent. They hear "party talk" to address the issues and the needs of people in our state, but what work is being done to achieve improvements? I will continue to fight for the rights of all South Dakotans to our protected rights. I hope that other Democrats in this state will join with me in this work!

  30. Winston 2014.12.13

    Why, as pro-choice Democrats did we support ballot referendums to null and void pro-life legislative acts from the South Dakota legislature in 2006 and '08, if the abortion debate is merely a judicial and not a a legislative issue or concern?

    It is the complacency towards the abortion issue, like electing pro-life candidates within a party which is predominately pro-choice, which over time can lead to or help in creating an atmosphere of indifference or compliancy; which then leads to helping to elect pro-life Presidents who appoint pro-life judicial nominees and pro-life legislators who passed pro-life legislation which is legally worded and positioned to test Supreme Court stare decisis cases like Roe v Wade with the help of pro-life judicial nominees - and was not that the actual intent of the South Dakota pro-life political leadership in the South Dakota state legislature back in '06 and '08 and realistically and justly spawned the fear and the political inertia of most pro-choice Democrats back then?

    But in dense of Chairwoman Tornberg, she is not the first South Dakota Democratic leader to emerge who was pro-life. Was not Bernie Hunhoff pro-life in 1998 when he ran as the SD Democratic nominee for Governor and Wilson in '02 as the Democratic Lt. Governor nominee? Some may be able to name others as well.

    The real question we must ask ourselves as Democrats is who and what we are? Are we pro-life or pro-choice? Are we the party that nominated two historic Republicans in 2010 as our gubernatorial ticket? Are we the party which embraced and helped to rebuild the Janklow legacy? Are we the party who ran no one for the US Senate in 2010, because practicality is more important then philosophy? Are we the party of the left who dumbed Sandlin in place of a more liberal Weiland? Are we Pressler Democrats? Are we the Barth party of pro-Keystone and death penalty? Or, are we the party of those who think it is okay to place religious quotes on government snowplows? Who are we? Are we a party running a muck, hoping something sticks? Are we merely opportunists or ones used by greater opportunists or is there a hidden genius to all of this, intended or not, that brilliantly positions the South Dakota Democratic party for 2016 and '18?

    Frankly, as initially pointed out by Mr Duffy, abortion did kill or helped to kill the South Dakota Democratic party in many ways over time - and if we have now helped to defused that issue then does it not help Brendan in '16 and Mike H. in '18?… That's the real story here…. So let's play ball! … And hope the national Democrats keep the White House with the help and consistency of their pro-choice stance and then put a majority of justices on the SCOUS so that a judicial issue can never become a by-product of a legislative act… a justified fear of many of us who are pro-choice Democrats whether it be '06 or '08 or '16 and beyond…..

  31. SDBlue 2014.12.13

    I am in agreement with Robin. As a liberal South Dakota woman, a woman's right to choose is an important issue. I have watched the SDGOP chip away at our rights with their 72-hour waiting period (not including Holidays and weekends), and their state-mandated counseling which by law can only be performed by The Alpha Center. Last session is was sex-selective abortions. I am sure Jenna Haggar and her ilk will have something new cooked up this session. It does not give me a warm, fuzzy feeling that the head of the SDDP is anti-choice.

  32. Tasiyagnunpa Livermont 2014.12.13

    I would rather see a pro-life Democrat any day of the week than a pro-choice Republican. Only one of the above is actually fighting to support women to make the tough decision to choose to carry to term. The number one reason women give in SD for getting an abortion is finances and the vaguer "can't support" the child. A number of them already have children they are struggling to care for. My grandmother was a pro-life Democrat, and I might be pro-choice legally speaking, but pro-life privately. Maybe a pro-life Democrat could actually open up conversations in this state about adoption laws and keeping biological fathers from coming in and messing with a birth mother's right to choose the family her child will be received into. Adoption is not a true option.

    And PS, I really hope everyone shushes about abortion. The Tepublicans are attempting to whip us up into a frenzy to gain support for all the mooching they do off of religious anti-choicers. Don't give them the foothold.

    Tsitrian, you're a good egg. Let's have coffee sometime and I will tell you how I ended up pro-choice after being very politically and socially anti-choice. I don't think young Dem's are as one issue as you think.

  33. Mary Perpich 2014.12.13

    So glad to see these supportive comments about our new chair. i agree completely. I voted for Ann and Joe. Both will lead our party into the next years and help us get ready for 2016. We are in good hands and I am excited about the new energy in the party.

  34. grudznick 2014.12.13

    Ms. Ann is probably going to do just fine but she will want to watch her back a bit.

  35. Owen 2014.12.13

    I don't have the exact total Cory. Torn had about 45,000 and Barth 15,000 I believe. But i might be off some The number of votes each county got was figured by the number of votes Wismer got in each county. For me in Hanson County there were 280 people who voted for Wismer so that's how many votes Tornberg got from me. I could have split them if I wanted to.
    Nobody challenged Lowe and nobody else was challenged and except for going over the financial stuff nothing else was talked about that I know of.

  36. Owen 2014.12.13

    Robin I understand where you're coming and I'm pro-choice myself but we can't be for or against somebody on one issue or we're no better then the Republicans. We have to have a big tent and have discussions on the issues we disagree about.

  37. judy judy 2014.12.13

    The Democratic Party is at a very low point. It doesn't seem to want to change. The County officers who voted wanted more of the same and they got it in Joe and Ann. The Democratic Party staff congratulated itself for two days on a job well done and broached no criticism. It is not a reality based organization and Joe and Ann fit it well.

  38. grudznick 2014.12.13

    So this Mr. Lowe fellow, Owen, won 100% of the votes? Of 60,000 votes Mr. Lowe won all of them? That is boggling to my old noggin. I would have thought at least 1 person would have voted nay just to be an obstinate old coot, but maybe he wasn't there.

  39. Owen 2014.12.13

    I tend to disagree Judy and as I said before I hope Jeff stays active. He's a good guy and I heard nobody talk badly about him.
    But Tornberg has to follow thru with what she said she wants to do. People will be watching. For now we should give her the benefit of the doubt and support her. That doesn't mean we can't disagree with her from time to time, but let's give her a chance.
    Grud obviously 60,000 didn't vote.

  40. Owen 2014.12.13

    I tend to disagree Judy and as I said before I hope Jeff stays active. He's a good guy and I heard nobody talk badly about him.
    But Tornberg has to follow thru with what she said she wants to do. People will be watching. For now we should give her the benefit of the doubt and support her. That doesn't mean we can't disagree with her from time to time, but let's give her a chance.
    Grud obviously 60,000 people didn't vote.

  41. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.13

    Judy: more of the same from Joe? Do you recall the primary? Which gubernatorial candidate in the primary seemed to represent the SDDP status quo, and which represented something different? Are you suggesting something has changed since the June primary?

  42. Tasiyagnunpa Livermont 2014.12.13

    I really do not feel that the party can't handle constructive criticism by those who still have hope for it. Joe hasn't always been perfectly supported, either, and now he's vice-chair. I'm pleased to see that. There is criticism and then there is just sour grapes. I hope we have plenty of the the former and much less of the latter. To that effect, I hope Barth doesn't disappear on us, either. We can't afford to lose any good person.

  43. grudznick 2014.12.13

    I didn't know, Owen. 60,000 Democrats probably did vote in the elections a month ago. I think your party's biggest problem is that 25,000 of them voted for Mr. Pressler and 40,000 of them voted for Mr. Daugaard.

  44. Tasiyagnunpa Livermont 2014.12.13

    Judy Judy,

    That is not true. I leveraged quite a bit of what I felt to be constructive criticism at the party and Zach Crago and Deb Knecht were nothing but gracious and as far as I know SD Progress was listened to with full attention. I have found many of those in the party to be adults who may not like much what some of us muckrakers say, but they are listening and are not holding hard feelings. While I'm not longer with SD Progress, I still believe that to be true. If anything, I'm more concerned that the newbies to the party will be too scared to muckrake once they feel they are in the inner circles. Let that not happen to any of us. Joe was not supported before, and I would say the same to him. Thank you for not walking away and don't forget the rest of the candidates who have went through or may well yet go through what you did. I hope Joe and Anne reach out to all SD Democrats and make sure we know we are heard, that the websites and social media are up-to-date and for heaven sakes that we can know how to volunteer the next election and even before.

    I have more hope for the party after all this than I ever have, but I sure won't stop calling it as I see it either. Now, onward and upward!

  45. judy judy 2014.12.13

    Sorry all. Ann represents more of the same. She was chosen six months ago by the current clique that now remains in control of the state party. The staff and former State Chair spent Friday and Saturday telling the attendees how hard they worked and how brilliant they were. They manipulated the meeting so that no time was given for discussion or questions. Many anticipated such a discussion but it never came. (They did encourage congratulatory testimonials from the e-board though.) And ,Tasi, they did set time aside for the SDP but it wasn't for criticism, rather for introduction and exploration of mutual interests and inclusion. There was no examination of why the Democrats lost so badly amid their brilliant election effort. As I heard someone say, " I was surprised no one had a broken arm from patting themselves on the back." Ann was deeply involved in this year's election fiasco. It is what she knows. She didn't indicate she would do things differently. She just promised more of the same and more of her. As for Joe, he quickly abandoned Barth when offered the Vice-chairmanship by Ann and the clique (They had to get Radske to step aside). A betrayal on that order doesn't argue well for Joe as a change agent in my opinion.

  46. JeniW 2014.12.14

    If Ann or Joe do not do as they were elected to do, can they not be fired at any time?

    Judy they were elected by enough people who had confidence in them, so rather than coming down hard on Ann, maybe the people whom you should be coming down on are the people who elected them.

  47. Lynn 2014.12.14

    Judy Judy,

    Regardless of who won the Chair position for the SDDP and given the enormous challenges we face it is only one person right? They alone can only do so much with all the heavy lifting that will be required to reach our collective long term goals right?

    Even though I disagreed with the positions the candidates for state chair had on controversial issues I can't see them jeopardizing future party success by injecting such divisive issues. Our opposition would love to see us divided rather than united.

    I'm new at this and was not in a position to go and vote at the meeting but don't you feel there is momentum building from absolute frustration to help bring change and rebuild? Judy Judy do you feel that our efforts will be limited from within?

  48. mike from iowa 2014.12.14

    Now get out there and attack wingnuts on the state of the economy,corruption,one party rule and accuse them of kicking their dogs and kids. At least fight them the way they attack Libs.

  49. Tim 2014.12.14

    Tasi, would you care to expand on this comment?

    "While I'm not longer with SD Progress"

  50. John Tsitrian 2014.12.14

    From my blog The Constant Commoner's Facebook Page, this comment showed up this morning in one of the shares (sans name, not sure if it's cool to identify from a fb page): "I am not a happy camper tonight. I voted for Barth. It was a done deal before anybody showed up for the meeting. A trade was made by the Pennington County group to vote for her in exchange for having Joe Lowe made Vice Chair. So much for democracy in action. We weren't even allowed to discuss the positions of the candidates or ask questions. What difference would it have made to have the meeting anyplace else, The deal was made prior to the meeting. They could have had the meeting in Lemmon or Gayville....the vote would have been the same."

  51. Tim 2014.12.14

    I got a letter yesterday from the SDDP, signed by Rick Weiland, asking for one last contribution to help the party get started in their "new direction", based on John's comment here and the same being said by others here and other places, I think I'll save my money, nothing seems to have changed at all. East River runs the show, with an assist from the repub-lites that have gained control of Pennington county, maybe I have the answer to my question to Tasi about why she's no longer with SD Progress.

  52. Tim 2014.12.14

    Back room deals, lack of transparency, sound familiar folks? Maybe that is just the way things are done here, no real commitment to honesty or democracy, just the assumption they these few know what's best for all of us. Somebody explain the difference between this and the way republicans have been doing things here for years.

  53. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.14

    Let me check, Tim: do you think Joe Lowe represents "Repub-lite"?

  54. Tim 2014.12.14

    I think Joe Lowe represents Pennington county trying to prove they are relevant. Vice-chair, just what useful purpose does that title serve, other than a nice title.

  55. Tim 2014.12.14

    We all know what Joe stands for, and it couldn't be farther from what the new Chairwoman stands for.

  56. larry kurtz 2014.12.14

    Lowe resides in Meade County.

  57. judy judy 2014.12.14


    John's comment and quote from that Facebook page pretty much sums up the meeting. The SDDP is a top-down organization despite rhetoric to the contrary and the Chamberlain meeting underlined that fact. They even only follow their own published rules when it is convenient. My advice to everyone is: If you like your local Democratic county party, join it and only contribute to it. If you do not, join it and try to change its direction. If you are unsuccessful or if you just are inclined, contribute to candidates, especially local candidates, you support. But don't contribute to the state party until they follow their own rules and stop running it like a club.

  58. Tim 2014.12.14

    Larry, your point is?

  59. Tim 2014.12.14

    judy, that is how I have done it so far, and will continue to do. When SDDP proves to me they are different from the other party I will reconsider, but not until then.

  60. Lynn 2014.12.14

    Tim the SDDP chairperson can't hold that much power if that person's interests or performance turned out to be a liability for the party as a whole would it?

    It looks to me being an outsider that there is good balance and although there may have been a statement that puzzled me such as the comment success of the past 4 years that both the chair and vice chair have quite a bit to offer in terms of skills, contacts and experience for the party. Again it will take a huge effort from all of this bring about the long term goals we hope to achieve.

  61. larry kurtz 2014.12.14

    Cory, do you believe Lowe represents GOP-lite?

  62. Tim 2014.12.14

    Lynn, her overall beliefs will dictate the direction she steers the party, has to, it's human nature. As far as Joe being vice-chair, I wish him luck with that, but I'm not holding my breath waiting for anything other than business as usual. After all, business as usual is how the meeting went.

  63. Lynn 2014.12.14

    Tim and Judy, What did you prefer to see instead of what happened Friday and Saturday at the meeting?

  64. Tim 2014.12.14

    Larry, Cory, I didn't say Lowe represents GOP-lite, I said GOP-lite has taken over the Pennington County Democratic Party and their backroom deal to get Lowe a title was them trying to prove their relevance. Do you two approve of this type of politics?

  65. Tim 2014.12.14

    Lynn, I got what I expected, my county selling out to get somebody a meaningless title so they can come back here, beat their chests, and tell everybody how important they are.

  66. Lynn 2014.12.14

    I am asking about the process of what could of made this better and not alienate members and feel like the backroom deals that McGovern for example tried to eliminate after the 68 election when he made the DNC much more inclusive.

    If I were running for a position I'd try to lock up as many votes as I could before the vote ever took place but there still needs to be a process so the voters knew exactly where I stood and what goals I hoped to achieve to help get everyone on board as a team.

  67. Tim 2014.12.14

    Doing backroom deals and having the results of an "election" decided before people even get to the meeting is no way to build a team. It does do a good job of pissing people like me off, and lets face it, without the support and money from people like me, SDDP will continue to be the laughingstock that it is.

  68. Lynn 2014.12.14

    Tim, Sorry! What I mean't by trying to lock up an election was putting your info out there and getting to as many in the party as possible to minimize the surprise. By the time you get there you know what you are getting from that candidate. The key is building the team with a common focus. Surprises are only going to tick people off and push them away from being active or even voting if they feel they are not part of the process.

  69. judy judy 2014.12.14


    Joe Lowe sold out. He joined the Club in exchange for a position that the powers to be consider superfluous. His primary function is to serve as one of 23 members of the E-board. This board theoretically supervises the State party between State central committee meetings, but in fact it is a board the current leadership found so irrelevant that it held only two meetings after October 2013, either in person or by conference call. (three including the cheer leading session on Friday in Chamberlain). If Joe becomes un-bought, they will simply ignore him. They control this Board and have reinforced this control by discouraging vacant seats on it from being filled. They don't like having to explain themselves.

  70. Tim 2014.12.14

    Lynn, I'm not a rah rah type of guy, I make my decisions based on what my eyes and ears tell me. So far...not impressed.

  71. Lynn 2014.12.14

    I understand. Again I'm an outsider just trying to process all of this after being disheartened with what happened here in my home state this past election and am looking at options.

  72. judy judy 2014.12.14


    Since you asked: A Democratic party that encourages discussion and follows its own rules. Instead the Party that made up or ignored rules as it went along and discouraged discussion, a fact evidenced by the absence of any open discussion of the historic election losses it experienced in November and their relation to the Party's strategy and tactics.

  73. Lynn 2014.12.14

    Judy were any of those very important topics on the agenda for the meeting? If not, who set the agenda? Was the purpose of the meeting to simply elect a new chair and vice chair? Otherwise how do we learn from our mistakes constructively with everyone on board and move forward?

  74. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.14

    Judy, I do find it alarming that, from your account (were you there?) the Central Committee appears not to have conducted an open review of the year's efforts. Does the December Central Committee agenda ever include any such open forum for committee members to conduct an "after-action review"? Was there any conversation along those lines outside of the formal meeting?

  75. 96Tears 2014.12.14

    Whaaaaaaaat?!??!? Horse trading and POLITICS got played before an election???? People talked with each other and made commitments! For shame!!! Say it ain't so!

    Maybe some of the bellyachers need to go to the Secretary of State and the Attorney General and demand a recount.

    What? It wasn't close at all?

    Never mind.

  76. jerry 2014.12.14

    I seem to remember something that happened last election cycle with a Democrat, a good one too, that was involved in the republican smear machine. Yep, she got beaten because she dared to ask questions about the EB-5. The republicans bought up all kinds of things about her to smear and it worked very well.

    No one should doubt that the smear machine of the republican party, the horse whispers that run the rumor mill have already gotten started with beating the drums about how Tornberg is more like them that against them. As in all cases, why vote Democrat when you can get the same thing with a Republican vote? She proves there is really no difference. Thanks party old guard for more irrelevance. No wonder we are up to our asses in corruption here, there is no hen house any more, as that would take a two party system. It is open season for the fox, the coyote and the wolf to do as they wish while we suffer the one party rule.

  77. Tim 2014.12.14

    96, it should alarm you, if it doesn't...

  78. 96Tears 2014.12.14

    It doesn't Tim. Not in the least. I'm fine with the results. Let's move along and stop the pointless carping. Save your energy for defeating Thune, Noem and Chris Nelson. Or are we done with all that?

  79. Roger Elgersma 2014.12.14

    Eight years ago Tim Johnson told democratic forum something that surprised us. It was the last campaign before his brain problem and since he was not running himself that year he had gone to the south to help southern democrats in their races. He told us that he found that the abortion position was killing the democrats in the south. I know we are not the south so we do not have to do what the south does. But when Landrieu from Louisiana lost the runoff this election we no longer have a democrat Senator in the old South. When I was a kid the south was mostly democrat. In 1964 my home town was 90% for LBJ and ten percent for Goldwater. It is the opposite now. You know your home town and I know mine.

  80. Tim 2014.12.14

    96, I'm glad you are happy with a completely worthless Democrat Party, if somebody doesn't try to make changes then you will have what you are happy with for a long time. Good luck with Thune, Noem, Rounds and the rest of them.

  81. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.14

    If being right on an issue is killing us, should we choose to be wrong?

  82. 96Tears 2014.12.14

    As long as we're pulling pins and juggling hand grenades, where is Ann and Joe on the corporate income tax and/or the personal income tax? As well all well know, you are NOT a South Dakota Democrat unless you believe in a tax system that is founded on the so-called three-legged stool of tax fairness.

    More glass shards anyone? Yum!

  83. judy judy 2014.12.14

    How you win is important to future success especially when you represent a minority of a minority party. Gloat if you must but don't expect those who have been abused to follow.

  84. Lynn 2014.12.14

    With how the SDDP Central Committee meeting was conducted would something like SDP be an alternative to focus efforts then?

  85. tara volesky 2014.12.14

    What does abortion have to do with the Democrat party? It prevents good candidates from getting elected. The Republicans use it for fundraising and winning elections, because they know the SD Christian coalition votes and pours money into their war chests. It should not even be an issue because it's the law. Prohibition does not work. People need quit pretending that overturning Roe vs Wade, abortion will go away. Save your millions you give to pro-life candidates, media and mailings and give the money for diapers, mothers in need, children in need, food banks and counseling services. Would the Republicans be open for that or are they more interested in ruling the world and South Dakota?

  86. 96Tears 2014.12.14

    Abused? You've been abused by a fair and open election of the Democratic Party State Central Committee? Judyjudyjudyjudy! You pervert the meaning of the word "abused" in your drama spaz over a state party election.

    While we're on the topic of keeping it real, who are these "establishment" type ringleaders folks are talking about here?

    The Daschle folks? They left when Tom left.

    The Herseth folks? They left when Stephanie left.

    The Johnson folks? They're already gone.

    And who was the magic savior that would lead the state Dems out of 40 years in the wilderness? He or she didn't show up Saturday in Oacoma.

    People, please! You make your own luck. You failed to elect Jeff Barth, who I supported in this blog, and that's because the other side worked the election and played a smarter hand.

    Get over it. Move on. Don't make a jackass out of yourself over these small potatoes and expect the majority of South Dakota voters to elect your candidates in the next election.

    Don't you find it interesting that the majority of voters agreed with the SDDP on its ballot issues but not on the candidates it nominated? Can you buy a clue?

  87. tara volesky 2014.12.14

    It goes back to guns and abortion, 2 issues that need to be addressed to the Republicans.

  88. judy judy 2014.12.14

    Yes Cory, I was there as an observer. I don't have an agenda in front of me but the Agenda for the E-board on Friday and the Central Committee on Saturday were about the same except that the Saturday meeting shoehorned in the Officer Elections after the Report of the Chair. It went pretty much like this: Pledge, Acceptance of Agenda, Approval of Minutes, Financial Report, Report of Staff (all three separately at the E-board, only ED at Central Committee), Report of Chair, Loose ends, Adjourn to Executive Session (only at e-board meeting), Reconvene for Presentation by SDP, Adjourn. The reports from the staff and the report of the Chair were mutual adoration presentations. To summarize: they all worked very hard and efficiently and did a lot of stuff and loved working with each other. At the e-board meeting supportive members chimed in appropriately to reaffirm and compliment everyone's effort. It was apparent after this had gone on for a while no examination of the results was welcome and only a brave and brazen soul would try. None did. At the e-board meeting the logical place for discussion, since none was welcome otherwise, would have been during Loose Ends but that was used for announcements with a quick adjournment to executive session and a promise of discussion afterward. But when the meeting was reconvened, the SDP was introduced to present themselves and their goals and it wasn't appropriate for an examination of the Party's election strategy and tactics. At the central committee, questions were allowed in preparation of the Chair election but after several Chair election queries, further questions were arbitrarily cut off by the presiding officer. The staff did ask County officers to submit written reports and said they would review them and report back at the next Central Committee meeting which I think is scheduled to take place in April or May. Perhaps you should moderate the needed discussion on this web site.

  89. Tim 2014.12.14

    96, they didn't have to go to Oacoma, the decision had already been made. That's my point.

  90. 96Tears 2014.12.14

    judyjudy and Tim - You would have made the ideal ticket. Why didn't you run if the choice at hand was so awful? Were you powerless?

    Need help to correct the wrongs committed because people organized more effectively behind one candidate? 605-773-3537.

  91. Tim 2014.12.14

    96, the whole point went over your head, enjoy your worthless party, you deserve it.

  92. 96Tears 2014.12.14

    Tim, I got your point a while ago. It's petty. Where was your initiative to have changed the outcome? Apparently, our "worthless party" lacked sufficient value for you to even bothering to try. Sorry, you feel so crummy about it. If you expect something from nothing, join the state GOP because somebody else is buying it, or hang out with the independents who invest nothing and get nothing to make them feel proud.

  93. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.14

    Judy, I see one key phrase in the middle of your response: "no examination of the results." That concerns me. Is the party looking at its 2014 efforts not just in terms of "here's what we did" but "here's what we did well, here's what we did badly, and here's what can learn from what we did so we do better next time"?

  94. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.14

    I sympathize with 96's view. If one party shows up better prepared for a vote, having contacted more people and secured their support, that's not a rigged election; that's good organizing.

  95. Tasiyagnunpa Livermont 2014.12.14

    Tim, I resigned as chair of SDP in order to focus on my family and on supporting them. I am now hanging out with the rest of South Dakota to wait and see what develops. I am however, very interested in seeing our county precincts revitalized and will be doing some research and writing to that effect as a family woman who is hoping to make it a civic project for herself and children.

  96. grudznick 2014.12.14

    Ms. Livermont, I am sorry to hear that you quit that new outfit but hope your family is doing well. I hope the critics didn't drive you away.

  97. Tasiyagnunpa Livermont 2014.12.14

    Thanks, grudznick.

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