Last updated on 2015.02.02
Jonathan Ellis catches another example of South Dakota Republicans' use and abuse of state statute to serve their partisan purposes instead of the public welfare. In 2002, Republicans passed a law that forbade individuals running for President or Vice-President to simultaneously run for any other elected office. The target was Tom Daschle: Republicans didn't want him to be able to run for President and Senate in 2004. (Worth noting: Dennis Daugaard voted against the measure in the Senate.)
What's good for the Democratic goose is terrible for the Republican gander. With a Senate seat to hold and long-shot Presidential aspirations to entertain, South Dakota Republicans want to keep the door open for their man John Thune. House Bill 1176 would repeal the 2002 act and let Thune two-time the voters in 2016.
I should be against this cynical political ploy. Running for two offices at once is an abhorrent practice, so abhorrent in the eyes of HB 1176's sponsors that they leave the restriction on double-running in place for any candidates not running for President. Candidates should be held to a standard of, "If elected, I will serve, period," not "I will serve unless...." Allowing candidates to run for multiple offices undermines democracy by guaranteeing that an office will by filled by gubernatorial appointment rather than by the direct will of the people. Senator Corey Brown (R-23/Gettysburg) finds appointment instead of popular choice sufficiently abhorrent to amend legislation to outlaw placeholder candidates, yet here Senator Brown is co-sponsoring HB 1176 to allow Senator Thune to serve essentially as a placeholder on next year's U.S. Senate ballot if he chooses to run for President.
HB 1176 would give John Thune an opportunity that Republicans denied the Democrat he replaced in 2004. I'd call it hypocrisy, but it's not: House Bill 1176 is another expression to the South Dakota Republican Party's consistent commitment to power and partisan interest over principle and the general welfare.
Update 2015.02.02 06:33 CST: Veteran reporter and columnist Tom Lawrence saw this SDGOP ploy coming a couple weeks ago.