Democrats still unhappy with SDDP’s Ann Tornburg, as she tries to cling to power

The South Dakota Democrat website “Sioux Falls Drinking Liberally” has been a leading critic of Democrat State Party Chair Ann Tornberg, and has chronicled her antics as she’s driven that party further into the ground.

And their latest post is no different, pointing out how Chairman Tornburg tried to encourage secrecy and closed doors when it comes to Democrat party information in the face of dwindling Democrat registration numbers:

In South Dakota: As I mentioned, we attended the SDDP’s Central Committee meeting in Pickstown last Friday. The good news is that Democrats have a candidate for Governor, Billie Sutton from Burke and, as of yesterday, a candidate for our lone US House seat, Judge Tim Bjorkman from Canistota. We wish both of them great success in their campaigns. While he is not as well known, I think Judge Bjorkman is a particularly attractive candidate.

The bad news is that, despite its best efforts, the South Dakota Democratic Party (SDDP) continues down the road to irrelevance. They spent most of their Pickstown meeting debating changes to their Constitution or listening to the Chair, Ann Tornberg, lecture the group on the need to be circumspect about their discussions. Contrary to the SDDP’s Constitution which states explicitly that all meetings of the SDDP are open to the public, Ann seemed to believe that meetings should be closed and plans should be secret. To my mind, secrecy allows people to maintain power without the need to justify it intellectually. Ann’s wish was corrected by others but she continued to insist that she expected Central Committee members to keep what they hear to themselves. So much for democracy.


It is worth noting that four representatives from the Burke, SD area currently serve on the SDDP’s 24 person Executive Board, but only 2 from the Sioux Falls Metro area, and only three from the Rapid City Metro area.

The rural dominance of the SDDP was clearly in evidence in Pickstown. While the leadership talks a good game, encouraging County parties to register voters, hiring staff with subsidies from the DNC, centralizing the recruitment of legislative candidates (a questionable strategy), and attempting to raise money to compete with Republicans, its lack of success and the continuing decline in Democratic voter registration speaks for itself. 


Some might argue that the SDDP’s Chair, Ann Tornberg, and her staff don’t know what the hell they are doing. Not me. I let the numbers speak for themselves.

Read it all here.

3 Replies to “Democrats still unhappy with SDDP’s Ann Tornburg, as she tries to cling to power”

  1. Anonymous

    The split between urban/liberal and rural/moderate is longstanding in SDDP. Nationally the urbanites have won that fight handily. In SD the urban has also led recently (Weiland faction).

    Look back to Kneip v Dougherty and Wollman v McKellips primaries in the 70s. A big change is that, back then, most of them were pro-life. Today, that’s a big source of the urban/rural split.

    The dilemma for SDDP is that, today, the urban liberals have a numerical majority, as more rural types become Republican (witness Brown County becoming Republican) but it is the rural faction that is better situated to win statewide.

    Ever since Herseth’s loss in 2010, the urban faction has been in control, and we’ve seen how that went. Not a single statewide victory and historic lows in the legislature.

    Assuming they go unchallenged and win their nominations, Sutton and Bjorkman are a big swing back to more rural, conservative, electable candidates. It’s hard to say if they can win, though, because the Dems have fallen so far in the meantime.

    There is still a possibility that the schism reemerges in the primary though. For example, Bjorkman is talking a lot about social justice and economic equality. Why? Because it appeals to the urban liberal base. He’s not talking at all about his religious views and pro-life stance because it alienates that base. But sooner or later they will realize it and they will have to decide if they challenge him or compromise their views to go for a win.

  2. Tara Volesky

    Bjorkman is a legitimate candidate and South Dakotatans are going to take a serious look at him. He’s a real contender, who will appeal to the working class.