Has Huether gone from a Democrat Leader to the form of their destroyer? Huether = Pressler

With regards to former Democrat Mayor Mike Huether, upon his abandonment of the Democrat brand that helped his rise to power in South Dakota’s Largest city; I had a thought last night.

If he’s going to shed the Democrat brand and go independent in his ambitions for higher office, as he declares himself a moderate in conservative South Dakota, where is he going to draw his votes from?

If I think of Mike Huether that way…. I can’t help but think of a Republican who went independent, Larry Pressler.

Pressler had been more conservative (in addition to having had a lot of people vote for him over the years), yet in his race as an independent, with far more statewide name ID, and a very long history of people voting for him, he could only place third in the US Senate Race. In fact, if you look at this chart from Ballotpedia…

Running as arguably the independent with the highest name ID in State history, Larry Pressler could not move past 20%. And more importantly, what he did do was steal votes from the Democrat in the race, Rick Weiland.  If Weiland could have had Pressler’s votes, he would have been within 10,000 votes of Rounds, instead of 60,000.

With Mike Huether, you have a lesser known candidate, with no statewide campaigning experience; now former Democratic Obama Delegate self-identifying as a moderate. I can’t envision a scenario where he steals votes from any well-defined Republican candidate in deep red-state South Dakota.

But what he does do – and we in the GOP should love this – is fracture the voting bloc of the opposition. Let’s say we have a race for Congress as follows…

Republican Dusty Johnson
Democrat Ryan Casey

Certainly, Republican advantage. Dem is generally an unknown quantity, but there is a generational component for Dem nostalgia, coming as the son of one of their prior candidates, so there could be some excitement generated in Dem circles.  The Dem Party (or it’s current empty shell) would get behind their candidate, and might even get excited about him… as opposed to the current crop of what they have to offer.

Now, throw Huether into the mix.

Republican Dusty Johnson
Democrat Ryan Casey
Independent Mike Huether

Mike Huether is not going to pull votes from the Republican.  In this, and almost any case, with Huether in the contest, I would argue that Huether causes the race to go from Republican advantage to Republican certainty. 

I argue that Huether splinters the vote enough that he becomes their ultimate spoiler. He isn’t conservative to draw off those who rail on about “the establishment” from the Republican candidate.  For Democrats, he’s about as establishment as they come, and may draw off the few remaining business oriented Democrats, and those Dems who otherwise reject the Bernie Sanders wing of the SDDP.

I don’t see any scenario where he can pull out a win. His only possible road forward is to act as the biggest spoiler that Democrats ever saw.  And (borrowing from Ghostbusters) he has become the “form of their destroyer.”

Agree? Disagree? Think he can somehow pull Republican votes running as a “Moderate former-Democrat?” The floor is yours.

16 thoughts on “Has Huether gone from a Democrat Leader to the form of their destroyer? Huether = Pressler

  1. Anonymous

    I don’t agree with that analysis. Huether will be a pro business, pro responsible government, fiscally responsible and he will be a big advocate of transportation issues. He will sell himself much in the mold that Daugaard has sold himself the past two years. Take care of teachers, build infrastructure – leave government out of social issues. Huether has never been very partisan. Huether always was the party he belonged to.

    Pressler didn’t live in SD like Huether. He also said he would vote for Obama. Huether has said he would not support Pelosi and railed on the dems picking her – he is positioning himself to be exactly what I always thought he was – an establishment Republican. He’s definitely positioning to be a more center-right businessman than a center right politician. I agree with others that the businessman angle will help him tremendously in South Dakota. Pressler was a past his prime politician. Huether is an energetic guy much like the two you listed as his opponents.

    There are lots of reasons why Huether is not the equivalent of Larry Pressler. The first is that Huether is moving to the right and Pressler was moving to the left.

    I’d also be surprised if Ryan Casey ran since he has some potential if he waits for an election where Brendan Johnson or Stephanie Herseth run and he can use coattails.

    1. Anonymous

      You know nothing about how Huether. He’s com off as anti business and pro big government. Where have you been? The Sioux Falls business community can’t stand him. He’s a joke.

  2. Springer

    If I remember some things that Ryan Casey said in the past, I would equate his political philosophy with that of Weiland – far, far left. Not sure how well that will sit with the voters in the wake of the mess the far left Dem party is now in.

  3. Troy Jones

    Huether is betting on one thing in his bid for higher office: The disarray in the SDDP will result in them not having a candidate. He determined it is a better chance than running as a Democrat for two reasons:

    1) Their brand is a negative (not even neutral) which is a net gain for being an Independent
    2) They have no organization to offer so being an Independent loses nothing.

    1. Kelly Lieberg

      By avoiding the potential dirtier elements that can find themselves in a primary, he preserves his image as largely defined by his own doing up until the general.

  4. Anonymous

    Huether matches up against Johnson better than Pressler matched up against Rounds.

    Rounds and Huether are career business guys. Johnson and Pressler are career state or federal employees. Pressler was also a veteran (which is a strength Johnson doesn’t have).

    Obviously Huether is hurt by being an Independent and Johnson is helped by being a Republican.

    Huether and Rounds are chief executives. Johnson is a “director of consulting” I don’t know what that is. And while impressive was cos to Daugaard. That is like Darin Smith running on Huethers record.

    Why would anyone discount Huether? He’s the mayor of the biggest city in the state. He’s polarizing but a lot of people go to concerts in Sioux Falls now. Politics is polarizing. Huether will find a strain of the electorate that doesn’t like either party. I bet it’s a big swath. Does he win? His odds are better today than yesterday.

  5. Anonymous

    Why anyone would want to live in Pierre with the other victims of Stockholm Syndrome trapped there remains a mystery.

  6. Moriarty

    I would consider a “personal” matter for a politician to be something like serious heath issue, marital status/problem, addiction or to defend his family member from ethical charges. The city is reeling from tragedy and revenues are plunging. Why does the SF media put up with this brazen, self-centered egomaniac?

  7. Anonymous

    Troy beat me to the punch. Huether is politically shrewd enough to know that he would have very little chance of winning a state-wide race, whether it be for the U.S. House of Representatives or for governor, as a Democrat. Most South Dakotans would recognize him for what he is: a liberal. By falsely claiming to be an independent and a fiscal conservative and remaining silent on social issues, he might be able to hide the fact that he is a liberal.

    Huether’s gamble is that the Democrats will not field a candidate against him and the Republican nominee because of their lack of organization and money, the realization that he is better than anyone they might nominate, and he would, if elected, carry their water on most issues, anyway. With the Democrat vote in hand because the Democrats have, in their minds, no other good choice, Huether might be able attract enough votes among the independents and moderate and disillusioned Republicans to be competitive and perhaps even win. That appears to be is his only shot anytime soon.