The SDWC Top 10 Political stories of 2014: #7 Larry Pressler contributes to Weiland drubbing for US Senate

The Top 10 Political stories of 2014: #7 Larry Pressler contributes to Weiland drubbing for US Senate

In June, The headline at Roll Call blared “Quirky Ex-Senator Stomps on Democrats’ S.D. Hopes.” It ended up being Rick Weiland’s epitaph.

In the intervening years since he’d lost the US Senate Race, Larry Pressler had attempted comebacks. He’d briefly flirted with running for Mayor in Washington DC, and in 2002 for Congress. Nostalgia for Pressler was never that great with many Republican insiders, as they remembered his aloofness to the state GOP, which was sealed with Pressler’s endorsements of Tim Johnson and Barack Obama. Pressler resided in his own world in Washington DC’s beltway, and that was just fine.

But with Tim Johnson’s retirement, Pressler soon began making noise about running for his seat.

In the meantime, Rick Weiland had jumped in the race as a Democrat candidate who was well known among politicos to be one of this state’s most liberal Democrats. Yet, Weiland made great pains to avoid being typecast with that label, even going so far as to refusing to identify himself as a liberal when directly asked the question by MSNBC’s Ed Schultz.

Weiland’s relationship with national Democrats had been tempestuous from the very beginning when he pushed out the ever-cautios Stephanie Herseth Sandlin from a primary, which earned him the enmity of national dems, leading Senate leader Harry Reid coming out and telling everyone “he’s not my guy.”

Whether by accident or design, while Weiland getting shunned by DC, and refused to publicly identify himself as a liberal, Pressler had slid comfortably in the role of embracing President Obama and everything he stood for – actually capturing people who should have been all in on Weiland. As Weiland avoided Obama – Pressler was actively asking him to come to South Dakota.

It didn’t escape notice of the media, and soon there were people questioning whether Weiland should to drop out and support Pressler. It didn’t escape notice that the formerly conservative Pressler had now started stripping supporters from Weiland’s base, as Weiland was forced to make an emergency ad buy in July to try to shore up a base he previously had not had to defend.

Polling held up that they were competing for the same group of people, hopelessly splitting many of which Weiland should have been able to count on his own to make his numbers more competitive.

It didn’t help Weiland when he had people such as Native American publisher Tim Giago supporting Pressler and telling Weiland to “get out, you can’t win.” And national level liberal media such as the Daily Kos noting that with Pressler in the race, it was impossible for Weiland to win.

With Democrats claiming that Pressler and Weiland were competing for the same base, and Pressler openly embracing President Obama, it was all too easy for the GOP to swoop in and reinforce that a vote for one or the other was a vote for Obama, painting them with the same brush.

With many saying a vote for Pressler or Weiland was the same, and Weiland not distinguishing himself from Pressler, their vote was hopelessly and irretrievably split.

Coming in second, Weiland received 29.5% of the vote, and Pressler bled 17.1%. Had the vote not been split, that could have put Weiland somewhere in the 40% range versus Rounds, without Weiland having to spend money and focus to fend off Pressler. Which might have provided for a far better showing than the political career ending drubbing Weiland received.

The Top 10 Political stories of 2014: #8 The rise and fall of Stace Nelson. Hard-right conservatives noisy, but fail to deliver.

On my top ten list of top 10 Political stories of 2014, #8 is one that started loudly, but ended with a whimper. The rise and fall of Stace Nelson. Hard-right conservatives noisy, but fail to deliver.

In January of 2014, State Representative Stace Nelson was boastfully proclaiming that he was the only true conservative in the Republican race for US Senate. Nelson decidedly had a visual presence through signs across the South Dakota countryside, as well as fervent followers.

By May, Gordon Howie was abandoning the GOP, and entering the race for US Senate as an independent because it was apparent to all that Nelson was not going to even come close to winning. In June, Nelson didn’t come in second – he came in third place at 17.69% behind Larry Rhoden, who saved much of the meager funds he’d raised to the end, while Nelson spent most of what he had as he went.

Nelson substitute Howie quickly moved to replace some of the Nelson roadsigns dotted across the state with Howie signs. And from there on did little else. Howie ended the general election barely breaking three percent.  There were others from this camp running for office in the state, such as political gadfly Lora Hubbel, who lost 81-19% in the GOP Primary, then left the party to partner with independent Mike Myers running for the same race, serving as his Lt. Governor choice.

They started campaigns with large amounts of sturm und drang, but ended dismally. Why did these self anointed “most conservative” candidates fare so poorly? There are lots of reasons.

First and foremost was money. Neither Nelson, Howie nor Hubbel really moved past a very limited circle of donors. Nelson was a novice at fundraising, and had a very small universe of donors he tapped several times throughout the cycle. He also attempted to emulate Ron Paul style “money bomb” efforts, which largely and predictably bombed

Second, was organization. Nelson, Howie and Hubbel badly lacked it in their efforts, and largely directed their own campaigns. Nelson appeared to recognize he needed talent, privately lamenting at one time that “all the good ones are taken,” settling on a campaign managed by himself, and carried out by neophytes with no experience.

Howie had prior experience with a campaign for Governor, but also went with people inexperienced with South Dakota campaigns, such as former S&M Photographer & Annette Bosworth adviser Lee Stranahan.

Third, and what I would argue was their most fatal flaw, was the common belief among this group of candidates that all thought they could solely win by negative campaigning and attrition. It’s common knowledge that elections are won by attracting various groups of voters to your candidacy (campaigns are won by addition! – PP), even though they may have little in common other than being attracted to a candidate for various reasons.

Nelson and other candidates running under the hard conservative banner firmly relied on appealing with a laser-like focus on the most conservative segments of the population, often alienating many who held views more moderate than their messaging. In the campaigns, canned speeches often came across as abrasive, and in the case of Lora Hubbel’s Richard Benda suicide re-enactments, horrified members of the electorate with their poor taste.

The tenor of these candidates came across as extremely negative, and affected their candidacies in that same negative manner.

2014 served as an object lesson that if you have no money, poor organization, few followers, and rely primarily on a negative message, you’re probably not going to fare well in any election.

And is it little wonder why the GOP said Pressler & Weiland were basically the same vote?

From an observant reader:

An interesting tidbit. I was just having lunch at the Sioux Falls VFW with co-workers and saw “independent” Larry Pressler go into the Minnehaha County Democrat Forum that they hold down there.

If Mr. Pressler were to have won the election, I don’t think that there is any doubt who he would have caucused with. I wonder if he will end up filling some role in the Dem party in the coming years?

Pressler hanging out with the Dems? Imagine that.

And now we know why the GOP said Pressler & Weiland were basically the same vote. Because it was true.


New Bosworth fundraising appeal in the mail. Attacks AG Jackley, Claims needs $400k to save med license, and all donated funds to pay Boz’s personal support.

Here we go again.

Dr. Annette Bosworth is back in the spotlight today as her newest fundraising appeal hits mailboxes in South Dakota, as well as parts unknown.

Bosworth Appeal December 2014

This recycles some of the same lines we heard before about black government vans (which I don’t think the state of South Dakota owns any), and claims of Government agents being sent to the homes of preachers to interrogate them in front of their parishes.  Bosworth directs big chunks of her penned ire for the AG, including going so far as to directly calling him corrupt multiple times, and characterizing herself as “100% innocent,” and “extremely confident” she “will prevail.”

Er…. yeah. Good luck with that one Dr. Boz.  Somehow I don’t think that’s going to help your case.

Bosworth sums up her letter noting that it will take $400,000 to save her medical license, and “really hoping” that readers will contribute to “the Annette Bosworth Legal Support Fund.”

Except the last page doesn’t talk so much about the Annette Bosworth Legal Support Fund…. It seems to be more about “Annette” support than “legal” support. The return form, as the prior one, disclaims that “contributions go directly towards the personal support of Dr. Annette Bosworth.”

Reading this kind of silliness is kind of like watching the street sweeper collect those last remaining chunks of plastic and glass after a bad accident. You’re still looking, and just can’t help but feel bad for the people involved.

And when I say people involved, I’m referring to the AG and investigators.

At this point, I don’t think anyone in South Dakota has any sympathy remaining under the big top at the Bosworth circus.

Republicans set to pick up another US Senate Seat in Louisiana Senate Runoff

The nation’s political pundits have been hinting at it for weeks, and at this point they’re just flat-out calling the Louisiana race for Republicans. From Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball:

It’s rare for us to completely write off an incumbent. In fact, we only did so in one race this cycle, when we moved Gov. Tom Corbett’s (R) reelection bid in Pennsylvania to Safe Democratic a month before the election. Sure enough, Corbett lost by nearly 10 points.

Landrieu is basically in the same boat, and it would be an absolute shock if she won. So we’re moving the Louisiana Senate runoff from Likely Republican to Safe Republican.

Table 1: Crystal Ball Senate ratings change

Read it all here.

This should give Republicans in the US Senate about 54 Seats if I’m counting this correctly – just slightly stronger that Democrats were (at 53 seats) going into the elections.

So, what pitfalls do we need to avoid to hold on to this majority? I’m glad to see that the GOP is carefully focusing on the budget battles it intends to fight to keep from moving into another government shutdown. What else?

Who were the top politicos in 2014? Sound off!

Are they notable for their victories… or their defeats? Should they be noted for their fame…. or their infamy?

As we dust ourselves off and start to think about a new election cycle, I’m compiling a list of who we should be recognizing as the top politicos of the 2014 races.  They can be candidates, office holders, political workers, members of the media – anyone who affected the process of the 2014 elections in a notable way, and whose actions will continue to influence things for a long time to come.

What do you think – Sound off in the comment section.

EPP: Brendan and Stephanie need to send Weiland a thank you.

From Northern Plains News:

“Dear Rick: Thank you for throwing yourself on countless Republican hand grenades and even some you threw at yourself this past election. That way, we didn’t have to get blown up ourselves. Sincerely, Stephanie and Brendan.”

But Sandlin and Johnson didn’t stay out by choice. The capricious gods of politics had their backs in 2014.


There is apparently no love lost between Daschle and Sandlin. In 2004, when Sandlin won and Daschle lost re-election, Sandlin distanced herself from Daschle. Daschle didn’t forget.

So, the elder Johnson and Daschle made common cause against Sandlin and backed Weiland, Tom’s former state director, in order to block the risk-adverse Sandlin and poke those Washington, D.C. Democrats (read Reid) for blocking Brendan’s entry into the race.

So, everyone wins! Or everyone loses! I’m not sure I’d call it a victory but some pretty nasty politics.

So, Weiland goes on Rickapalooza across South Dakota with his guitar and ultimately, Rick is a loser against the Obama-disliking, Grandpa Don-loving, teflonesque Mike Rounds, where nothing, including the EB-5 scandal, sticks.

Read it all here.

It’s kind of nice to be a few trolls down from the election.

It’s refreshing to see that just a couple of weeks after the election, much of the negativity and internet trolling that plagued the election have evaporated off into nothingness.

As I’d mentioned earlier, the Weiland staff written blog and twitter account flyoverwire quickly evaporated in a burst of Republican and Argus directed profanity as their candidate bit the dust., which like flyoverwire had a twitter account associated with it, seems to have also gone off the air.

Rinomikesd had long been pegged by Argus Reporter David Montgomery to be Weiland ally Mike Chapman, which would give some insight as to why is appears the Weiland campaign directly copied his website/twitter model.

Former sadomasochism pornographer Lee Stranahan also seems to have disappeared from our midst.  After working with team Bosworth and Gordon Howie, he seems to have gone away too. His website hasn’t been updated in nearly 3 weeks, and any South Dakota related material in his twitter account seems to consist of a program auto-posting old material which doesn’t seem relevant.

If you look at the level of the twitter trash-talking this year, and what came of it, I think back to an article I wrote way back in September of 2013 that noted that the South Dakota voting public who uses twitter is generously … about 3%.

Now, among politicos, it’s much higher. And I’d even include media in that number.  But the problem for the campaigns is that we’re all so far inside the bubble it’s hard to discern impression from reality.

So, did it drive any voters? No. But it got the political class chattering a bit.

Even so, with the election drifting into memory, it’s awfully nice to clear out the trolls. At least until next time.

Rumor on the Dem Side..

I just heard a rumor this morning that Democrat House member Spence Hawley might be eying the Minority Leader position for the Democrats in the State House.

After the bruising defeats Democrats suffered the last few elections, would they allow themselves to be led by a moderate business-owner Democrat who is friends with former Governor (and Senator Elect) Rounds who originally had appointed him to the GFP Commission?

The latest list of contestants in the Legislative Leadership race….. So far

GOP Legislators head to Pierre today to choose who among them shall lead the caucus (And those who will whip the caucus).  The candidate list going into the final day is:


Speaker of the House – Dean Wink
Speaker Pro-Temp – Mark Mickelson
Majority Leader – Brian Gosch, Scott Munsterman
Asst Majority Leader – Lee Schoenbeck, Steve Westra

Majority Whips:
Kris Langer
Steve Hickey
Kris Conzet – possibly
Herman Otten
Isaac Latterell
Don Haggar
Mike Stevens
Jim Bolin
Jacqueline Sly
Tim Johns


President Pro-Temp:  Corey Brown
Majority Leader: Tim Rave
Assistant Majority Leader: Dan Lederman, Craig Tieszen, Blake Curd

Majority Whips:
Ried Holien
Deb Soholt
Ernie Otten
Jenna Haggar
Mike Vehle 

Big races for tomorrow will be Gosch/Munsterman, Schoenbeck/Westra, and the race between Lederman/Tieszen/Curd.

And Legislators, yes, yes, I know. Like in Vegas, what happens in caucus is supposed to stay in caucus. But feel free to provide leaks of who wins what.  Just e-mail me here. 🙂