Dems ramble on about dismal failure in legislative races. (Monty must not fact check this crap.)

In an article entitled “S.D. Democrats grasp for elusive path to gains” by David Montgomery this morning in the Argus Leader, I almost had to take some pepto bismol after reading all three pages of the most nauseating pablum I’ve read yet this election.

The spin is so bad, it’s giving people motion sickness:

After losing 14 seats in a GOP landslide in 2010, Democrats were waging an unprecedentedly aggressive and coordinated campaign to win them back. Republicans across the region were hit by punchy, professionally designed postcards with synchronized messages, criticizing them for their votes for budget cuts and the bills that became the unsuccessful Referred Laws 14 and 16.

For the most part, these ” punchy, professionally designed postcards with synchronized messages” were awful, and some of the worst kind of hack. As an example…..

Professional? This postcard does a poor job of using white space, and even went out with a glaring error on it (This November 6th, This November 6th….). Sorry, but it’s awful, and looks like it was done in-house by an intern. And then was approved by another one.

Moving on….

The state Democratic Party this year played a central role in legislative campaigns, essentially serving as campaign manager and support staff for any lawmaker who wanted it. The party designed and distributed political postcards around the state on behalf of candidates, instead of a more traditional arrangement where candidates and the party run separate mail campaigns.


Republicans saw things differently. They complained about a Democratic campaign they saw as negative, personal, and sometimes inaccurate or misleading.


?If that were the case, why did (Sen.) Mark Johnston win after (the state GOP) just attacked and attacked and attacked (Democratic nominee) Kent Alberty?? Nesselhuf said. ?If they felt that way, they wouldn?t use the same tactics.?

Is he kidding? “just attacked and attacked and attacked Kent Alberty?”Here’s where Monty needs to be scolded for not even bothering to do any fact checking. I have it on good authority that, one postcard was mailed against Alberty. But this was after he’d sent out at least SIX separate postcards against Mark Johnston.

“Attacked, and attacked, and attacked?” Ben must have been only channeling himself when he came up with that one.

And then was this comment from the legislator who set the gold standard for being ineffective:

Kloucek said his own failings contributed to his loss after 22 consecutive years of service.

?My opponent did not win, I lost it,? Kloucek said. ?I played defense and started answering his negative charges … instead of promoting my own agenda and campaign as I had intended. Once I switched to defense, it was downhill from there.?

Well, Frank, I’ll agree to a point. You do have failings.

Frank’s opponent wiped the floor with him, and beat him like a rented mule in this race. “Frankly,” it was a combination of factors. Bill Van Gerpen worked harder than any opponent had ever worked to date in challenging Kloucek, and ran a positive, issues oriented race.

If there was anything negative, it might have been that Frank has managed to be there 22 years, and has produced almost next to nothing. I did hear that his extended longevity had been brought up very simply by the challenger being in favor of term limits. Frank has never produced anything except aggressive campaigning, and district had finally tired of him.

It wasn’t handed to Van Gerpen – he earned it, and I doubt Frank will take him on again.

Now, in the article – I was glad to hear one thing from the Democrats:

Nesselhuf?s term as party chairman runs through December 2014, and he said he intends to fill out his term. He said that while the party may tinker its approach for the 2014 election, it largely will stay the course.

WOO HOO! A net gain of zero? Stay the course! Looking forward to 2014!

52 Replies to “Dems ramble on about dismal failure in legislative races. (Monty must not fact check this crap.)”

  1. Ticked-Off-Dem

    Nesselhuf is a complete idiot. He needs to be fired. That’s what’s wrong with Democrats. We let idiots ruin things and there’s no consequence! Nesselhuf must be fired before we lose everything in 2014.

    1. Old Man Winter

      Nesselhuf is afraid of losing his job. He has been the worst Dem leader in a long time. He’s worse than 2010 because that was a wave. Right now he’s trying to circle the wagons because he knows he can’t run for statewide office again after his disastrous run for SOS and now his disastrous strategy of running the party.

      I talked to a well respected Democrat States Attorney last week and he blasted Nesselhuf to me. He said Nesselhuf has to go. It’s one of the worst legislative campaigns in the history of legislative campaigns.

  2. Old Man Winter

    Unlike Tim Rave who volunteers his time to be State Party Chairman – BJ Nesselhuf collects a nice salary to run the SDDP. He should be fired.

  3. Anonymous

    Tim Rave should run against Thune in four years in the primary at least we know he will be working and not running around the country campaigning for a losing canidate.

  4. Joshua Haeder

    I would say it’s time for Ben to go. Clearly the negative personal attack ads had the opposite effect he intended them to have. Also he made all of his candidates look childish and desperate with the mailers that were sent out. I think there were actually some quality people running on the Democratic side this year, but they made the mistake of letting the SDDP get involved, thus costing some their chance at winning.

  5. caheidelberger

    O.K., just so I’m clear:

    (1) You Republicans are saying that negative personal attack ads are bad, that you would never run them, and that instead you will always run positive, issues-oriented campaigns, right? You are thus saying that Kristi Noem’s campaign, although successful, made a poor choice in going negative on Matt Varilek from the get-go, right?

    (2) Kloucek produced “next to nothing” in his 22 years. Yet you embrace a Congresswoman whose record is similarly empty and who lacks the ambition to hang onto a leadership position. Buy, you must surely not want to wait 22 years to get rid of her.

    1. anonymous

      Boy those grapes are really sour! Clueless Kloucek is just a damned fool who is an anachronism. He belongs back in the last century when you walked around and handed out rulers and fly swatters to uniformed rural folks and got elected. People are better informed now. And you can’t say Kloucek “never had a chance” or we are just “picking on Kloucek.” The people gave him 22 years worth of rope and that was enough for him to hang himself with it. Good riddance!

  6. anon

    Bottom line is Stace Nelson, Gordon Howie and Ben Nesselhuf are the big losers this election cycle. They tried to destroy the SD GOP and it only got stronger.

    Good for them!

    1. Bree S.

      Sure looks like Stace Nelson did well to me. But then again elementary school is when I learned percentages so maybe I’ve got this wrong.

      1. Anonymous

        Rumor is he didn’t campaign hard and was still the top vote getter in all the SD contested House races.

        The same cannot be said of the 3-way Conzet-Gosch-Swanson race, or the Hickey-Hawks-Deelstra race, which were both in heavy (R) districts. Conzet & Gosch barely won, and Hawks (D) did in fact beat Deelstra and came close to beating incumbent Hickey.

        1. Anonymous

          “heavy R districts” ?
          Hickey/Hawks are in District 9 which has a few hundred more Democrats than Republicans and lots of I’s.

          1. Bree S.

            So Hawks should have beat Hickey, and didn’t do to poor campaigning tactics on the part of the Democrats.

    2. Bert

      Oh please. Stace Nelson is continuing to gain support and become more popular. Unless getting 1st place in a three way race is your defenition of a big loser. What a joke!

      1. Anonymous

        Stace is popular in his district that didn’t want a dairy. BIG WHOOP.

        Stace is not popular amongst his colleagues or piers or a majority of South Dakotan’s outside of his district.

        Stace is not the way to do business in SD. As much as I like him as a person his political skills will only take him so far.

        1. Anonymous

          That is flat out not true. Stace is a good guy but Stace has a personal vendetta against many of them and I would caution anyone who is newly elected to keep there distance in any fights Stace has already started.

  7. Liberal South Dakota

    All of you conservative Republicans can praise Ben Nesselhuf’s leadership but the real fact is that he failed. He acted as Chairman and Executive Director this cycle. Not only did he go for a total take over of the party but he also paid himself to do a job that was once volunteer in nature. He is a magalomaniac. He needs to go and now!!!!!!!!!!! My party is being destroyed and if we are going to recruit people like Stephanie Herseth Sandlin or Brendan Johnson to run for office we have to do better. This leadership team is absolutely the low point of our party and in a year where we were reminded how George McGovern won in SD we see Ben Nesselhuf destroy a good image. Shame on Ben Nesselhuf and his team.

  8. Liberal South Dakota

    Good liberals like Cory Heidelberger need to throw Ben to the wolves and find a new direction for the party in SD.

  9. Troy Jones Post author

    Like it or not, negative ads have a place as they can work.

    Obama’s worked as they defined Romney before Romney did. Romney’s did not work because they weren’t balanced by a reason to vote FOR Romney.

    The Dem’s strategy did not include a reason to vote for the Dem’s.

    In the end, whether you are Romney, Varilek, or Dem’s in SD and in the minority, you have to give people in the middle a reason to vote FOR you.

    At the end of the day, a reasonable decent Democrat starts out with about 40% of the vote. SD Democrat Registration: 36% (plus probably 4% Dem-leaning Independents)

    Varilek: 43%
    Obama: 40%
    McGovern: 40%
    SD House Democrats (Cumulative: 37%
    SD Senate Democrats (Cumulative): 36%

    1. Anonymous

      I’d say Varilek ran about 10% higher than the base Dem vote. Whalen and Lien are the bottom of the barrel for the SD GOP and Curt Hohn is the bottom mark for SDDP (25%).

      1. Troy Jones Post author

        I am not arguing with you. It all depends on how “base” is defined. For me, it is not the floor but the % of the voters who start out inclined to vote a particular way. Here is my rationale:

        Democrat Voter Registration: 36%
        Democrat leaning Independents*: 4%

        Democrat Base= 40%

        What is your methodology on thinking it is 33%? Is it 90% of their registration? I define that as the floor since usually 90% of Republicans and Democrats stay home most elections. (Sidenote: State Senate Dem’s got 36% of the Senate votes and State House Dem’s got 37% of the House votes. Which means Republicans and Independents voted almost 100% for the Republicans.)

        1. Anonymous

          Good thinking Troy. I follow you.

          I guess I think starting at the floor is where I like to begin because everything between the floor and the 40% conclusion you came to is soft support. (whether that is 25% or 35% is up to you)

          Whalen and Lien garnered the hardcore supporters of the party (GOP). Curt Hohn (D) did also in ’96 against Thune. But how do you go about keeping a certain amount of soft support to stay home when the candidate is weak like Varilek was? I guess the approach Varilek took was to make Noem unacceptable to them. (He did a good job of that and maybe even another 5% felt Noem didn’t do a good job but certainly weren’t going to throw a vote to the totally unacceptable Varilek.)

          I’m also thinking 2012 could have been a landslide win for Noem. It wasn’t a landslide even though it was solid. She easily could have won 65-70% of the vote had they not ran such an aggressive campaign against her character. Now Varilek will fade away but the impression a fairly sizable group of voters have of Noem will persist.

          The fact that Varilek held Noem to 57% is a strong campaign for someone totally unelectable in SD.

          All I’m saying is the fact that Varilek held the soft D’s and Dem leaning I’s in the D column for the next cycle. Making it simpler for a Brendan Johnson to win over the soft Noem supporters rather than have to win back the soft D supporters aswell.

          (I should not I am not impressed at all by the campaign the Noem team ran. Kristi Noem has many strengths and while she might have won by a solid margin they did not do a good job of protecting her from vicious attacks against her character. Those will come back to bite her some day)

          1. Anonymous

            Also Noem showed signs of weakness in many of the larger urban counties on the east side of the state. Winning Minnehaha by 2,000 votes is not a good campaign at all. Especially considering her organization is headquartered in SF.

            1. Anonymous


              How about this scenario. If Brendan Johnson announces his candidacy for 2014 what percent does his campaign start off from as opposed to where Varilek finnished?

              Brendan is substantially stronger, better known, more talented, and a long time SD heir to political office. He’s also electable.

              If Varilek v Noem finnished 42.55-57.45 does Brendan start off about 48-52? or dead even?

              1. Troy Jones Post author

                To answer your question:

                Brenden starts with 44%– 33% (90% of Democrats) +4% (Dem-Leaning Independents) + 4% (Republicans who cross-over) + 3% (Others who like his Dad).

                Noem starts out with 48%– 41% (90% of Republicans) + 4% (Republican leaning Independents) + 3% (Democrats who cross-over).

                In other words, Brendan has to get more than 3/4 of the rest which will not happen unless KN messes up.

                1. anon

                  I think you are too generous on the GOP advantage Troy. I know we have a huge registration advantage but many of those are soft.

            2. Troy Jones Post author

              A few comments:

              1) Minnehaha has a 4,000 voter registration advantage. With 70% turn-out, the effective advantage is 2,800.

              2) Minnehaha has one of the largest %’s of Independent voters (20%) and have a tradition of voting Democrat in national elections.

              3) KN only finished 1% less than Romney in Minnehaha County.

              4) Matt lives in Sioux Falls. His wife is a local and from a good family.

              Thus, a 2,000 victory here is stronger than I expected.

              1. Anonymous

                So Brendan Johnson has lived there his entire life. Yikes.

                I’m glad Rave moved the party to SF because RC and Pierre are fine.

        1. Phil Carlson

          Really, Bert?? What are your sources for this? Everything that I’ve seen says that he was born in Miami in 1971. I did note one source that incorrectly said that Sen. Rubio wasn’t a natural born citizen because his father didn’t naturalize until 1975, but that is irrelevant according to the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States . . ..” In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court verified this interpretation in the 1898 case of U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark, holding that a child born of two Chinese Citizens while in this country WAS a citizen. So, what are your sources for this claim that Sen. Rubio isn’t a natural born citizen?

          1. Phil Carlson

            I should pull the word “incorrectly” from the third sentence above. I mean that the source was incorrect regarding the law in this issue, not incorrect about the citizenship status of Sen. Rubio’s father.

          2. Winston

            In light of the immigration debate over the past few years, I would say the sources are Fox News, Donald Trump, and the dominant right wing of the Republican Party.

            They have continuously shown a revisionist attitude in their interpretation of the 14th Amendment.

            Boy, the Republicans sure started something. You remember the good ole’ days when a guy from Mexico (George Romney) or a guy from Panama (John McCain) could run for President and no one would question their citizenship?

            Like the Republican 22nd Amendment which prevented Republican Presidents like Eisenhower and Reagan from being elected to a third term, or the SD 2004 “Daschle Bill” which will prevent Thune from running for the US Senate and the Presidency under the same SD ballot in 2016, the Republicans have created a political environment where Rubio cannot run for President in 2016…. imagine that…..

            1. Old Man Winter

              Imagine that. Rubio would have to campaign for Senate and President in 2016. That isn’t easy.

              He could do it though.

  10. Troy Jones Post author

    Anonymous 4:41: Who didn’t campaign hard? I hope everyone campaigns hard.

    FYI: District 9 (Hickey/Deelstra/Hawks/Anderson) is not a “heavily Republican district.” In fact, Democrats out-number Republicans by 113 votes.

    1. Troy Jones Post author

      By the way, here are the districts in SD which have a majority of Republicans (Dem’s % in brackets):

      District 31: 52% (28%)- Ewing, Romkema, Johns
      District 34: 53% (27%)- Jensen, Lust, Dryden
      District 19: 56% (30%)- Van Gerpen, Nelson, Shoenfish
      District 30: 57% (23%)- Rampelberg, Verchio, Russell
      District 29: 58% (24%)- Rhoden, Wink, Cammock
      District 23: 61% (28%)- Brown, Cronin, Hoffman
      District 28B: 63% (21%)- Maher, Olson
      District 24: 63% (25%)- Monroe, Rounds, Duvall

      And, of the above races, only Lust/Dryden and Van-Gerpen/Nelson/Schoenfish had opposition in the general election. Democrats left the other races unopposed.

  11. Anonymous

    rand paul and Thune would be left at the sidewalk send your best against Hillary she already has 242 electoral votes, and will take all your self deportation you can muster .puts her at 267 only need a new hampshire see ya in 2016.

    1. Bert

      I think that by 2016 it will be somewhat of an easy pickup to win the presidency I think Rand Paul and John Thune would both be able to win. So we need to make sure we nominate the best man for the job.

      1. Les

        No easy about it at all. The US can continue the float on dollars for 4 years and the entitled will be close to 60 percent by then. Who they gonna vote for?