Political Jockeying and throwing rocks to break the GOP’s leadership coalition.

In the midst of the election chatter of the last week, I found myself observing some of the most futile and in some cases, ridiculous antics to date coming from what many Republicans would term as the hard right.

Lora Hubbel was busy being Lora, which by now qualifies for its own DSM Code. When he wasn’t attacking a long-dead Governor as being a career politician, Stace Nelson was on Facebook promoting an implausible conspiracy theory written by a guy in Iowa about a plot to deny him the US Senate seat.

It all has me asking the question – So, where have the ‘good’ strong conservative Republicans gone?

Let me start that conversation by noting that they’re still there. Conservative Republicans have long assumed the mantle of Republican leadership in this state. It’s been reflected in the party’s platform growing ever more conservative over the years.  In fact, some use the term ‘conservative’ interchangeably with ‘Republican.’

When party leadership is as conservative as it is up and down the board; strongly pro-life, pro-gun, etcetera and so on, I’d argue that the divisions in the GOP are less a matter of philosophical divisions, and more a matter that those who are not in charge are busy trying to figure out how they can become the people in charge.

It’s not a matter of philosophy as much as it is of coalitions, and if you can break them by throwing enough rocks.

Organizationally, Gordon Howie attempted to circle the wagons for the harder right conservatives back in 2010. Howie’s coalition was probably the first one in recent years in Republican circles to try to divide the GOP up by those who were ‘real Republicans’ and those who did not fit his guidelines.

Howie tried to rally the most conservative in the GOP to his cause, but could not achieve the critical mass to get over the line in the 2010 GOP Gubernatorial Primary. In fact, he didn’t come even close, and only garnered a little over 12% when the votes were totaled.

His base further eroded when he supported Stace Nelson for US Senate in the 2014 GOP Primary, only to abandon Nelson’s candidacy before the primary to run himself as an Independent, where he got 3%. By 2017, Howie’s influence was almost nil, and has seemingly reached its aphelion.

2017 also found former State Senator Dan Lederman planning a bold gambit to attempt something that had not been done in nearly 50 years – direct selection of the State Republican Party Chair. It was an unheard of and audacious move.

Helping Lederman’s cause was a movement among conservative activists in the GOP that they wanted more of a direct voice in party affairs. They had come off of a term of office from the Governor’s choice for that office, Pam Roberts, who seemed ambivalent about another term, and who may have signaled she was not going to run.

Without getting into the details, Lederman was able to successfully build a Republican coalition and capture the Chairman’s seat, and in the time since for most all concerned, he has earned positive reviews among the GOP faithful for his performance.

Did I say most all?

Another factor cropped up in 2017, the year which marked a return to elected office for the same Stace Nelson who came in third in the US Senate Race in 2014. The same Stace Nelson who I noted earlier was promoting conspiracy theories about that Senate race this week.

During the near entirety of his political career, Nelson has always seemed be involved with attacks on Republican Leadership. If not doing so directly, at the least he’s been viewed as hanging out on the periphery of attacking leadership, and trying to insinuate that they’re not true conservatives or not Republican enough.

Angry Stace NelsonSince returning to office in 2017, his attacks seem to be mainly directed at State Party Chair Dan Lederman, as if Nelson is on a mission. And, he might be.  That mission might be to try to derail a long-standing civil lawsuit against Nelson by Lederman’s Rushmore PAC for being involved in an illegal robocall scheme which seeks monetary damages for the unwanted phone calls.

But, the sometimes nonsensical attacks also seem to be an effort to try to break people off from the Lederman Republican party coalition. The word is Nelson may have enlisted his allies in former Howie group Citizens for Liberty to attack the party chair, at the same time he’s trying to gin up already settled nonsense over the chair of the party‘s near decades old voter registration.

But much like the Howie efforts of yore, the problem with trying to peel people away from the existing Republican coalition that Lederman has been able to assemble is that there’s unruly people bleating a lot of noise about ‘who is a true Republican.’ ….but there’s otherwise no reason to side with the people throwing rocks other than to be a rock thrower.

For most Republicans on the inside of party affairs, the truth of the matter is that they like organization, execution, cohesive planning and goals.  As conservatives, most ignore the petty horsesh*t that comes with twitter attacks and Facebook conspiracies. They aren’t there to throw barbs 140 characters at a time. They’re taking part to get Republicans elected to office.  And rock-throwing simply for the sake of rock-throwing does not appeal to them.

I think it’s safe to assume that no matter who is in charge, rock-throwers will always be there.

For the rest of the people in the GOP who are there to get the job done, the ‘real Republicans’ get the envelopes licked, go door to door, and to get their people elected.  Despite all the drama from people throwing rocks and jockeying.

52 Replies to “Political Jockeying and throwing rocks to break the GOP’s leadership coalition.”

    1. Anonymous

      It’s a good article but j don’t know how you can write an article and not talk about Tapio running to fracture the GOP. He might get 9% of the vote but his strategy is not any different from Howie and Nelson other that that it is more designed to ride Trumps coattails and divide the GOP along whether or not you believe in freedom of religion.

      Howie and Nelson have not been as divisive as Tapio is attempting to be.

  1. SD Conservative

    I read the Republican platform that’s posted on SDGOP and Nelson is the only one who votes in support of it every time. I guess a lot of Republicans are more in favor of higher taxes, less property rights and spending tax dollars on non citizens. The democrats are pleased with how most Republicans have taken on liberal policy. The reason is simple that Stace and others are losing votes because conservatives are becoming independents. No true conservative would register as a republican in this state.

    1. Anonymous

      Nice spin…Nelson is not a conservative nor a Republican…he pretends to be one…then comes up with voting scorecards AFTER THE FACT…making himself #1, the only true conservative in the state…

      Neither a conservative nor a Republican would have a press conference attacking another republican.

      Neither a conservative nor a Republican would hide in the bathroom when there was a tough vote to take when the NRA tells the member BEFORE THE VOTE that it is going to score the vote.

      Neither a conservative nor a Republican would attack Republicans exclusively.

      He accomplishes nothing but has fun throwing punches into the wind and whining a lot…not your typical Marine to me. He makes real conservatives cringe as they know he is destroying the conservative brand and actually helping the establishment marginalize conservatives.

      1. Anonymous

        So? Nelson opposing the tax and spend Daugaard establishment liberals is actually helping them?

        Isn’t it the platform principles that they are all supposed to support, not those who vote against it?

        1. Jake

          Yes it does… you know how many legislators immediately discount a bill as soon as they see Nelson & Russell are the proponents..

          conservative & establishment both won’t support bills Pushed by those two fools …those two stand by themselves just like when they got thrown out of the caucus.

          It may be a good idea and they may even be conservative but they’re not going to stand with those guys and be made part of the clown show…. many would rather wait and bring it themselves another day

    2. enquirer

      i haven’t met any republicans who are in favor of higher taxes, eminent domain (which i presume you meant) and “spending tax dollars on non citizens.” you accuse them of favoring these things ONLY because they never vote for the uber conservatives bills to pre-emptively ban all of these things for all of humanity’s future time on planet earth. what childish game playing. everyone sees through it. stop it.

    3. Anne Beal

      He didn’t vote for plank 5.4 when he had the chance. SRJ 3 came up supporting an Art 5 convention of states for the purpose of crafting a balanced budget amendment for the US Constitution and he voted against it.

  2. SD Conservative

    So then no taxes should ever be raised when we have a republican government majority and governor. Every year we should be cutting government then. We can’t even pass a constitutional conceal carry law when the States around us with less Republicans can. Republicans and democrats other than handful in this state vote exactly the same. Check out most of the conservative and liberty scores of most republicans. It’s hard to be considered a conservative when scored an F for conservatism. I know if you are a conservative I only know of about a half dozen. Here’s an example of a conservative resolution and it doesn’t pass . http://www.sdlegislature.gov/Legislative_Session/Bills/Bill.aspx?File=SR2P.htm&Session=2018&Version=Printed&Bill=SR2

  3. Troy Jones

    Jim Abdnor had many, many lessons or maxims with regard to politics.

    One of them was “if you are confident you are right on an issue and you are in the minority, its not the issue. Its either the message or the messenger.”

    That is a hard maxim for those who are not of influence but have an all-consuming desire for it.

  4. SD Conservative

    You asked the question of why people like Howie and Nelson were getting less votes. I gave an answer and then you argue. Don’t ask the question if you don’t want the truth. I’m a conservative. I’m for open primaries. I’m against the Party leader choosing who gets party funds. I think if you are with the party you should be supported. Look how many times Thune changes his mind. He’s the silliest polititian I’ve ever seen. He only cares about caressing McConnell. I’d be embaressed as any true conservative should be to say they were a republican. I actually think on most things Trump is more conservative than most elected officails in this state. I was not a Trump fan but he has earned my support. It is so easy to be conservative in this state that I cant understand why so many fake it. As a conservative every vote should be does it cost more money, we should always figure out how to cut government. It doesn’t matter what the vote is on. Every vote should save money or save SD people’s rights. It is that easy. If every voted like that it would be a conservative State.

    1. Troy Jones

      SD Conservative, are you referring to Enquirers rebutting of your “answer?”

      If so, you do realize people might have a different answer and when answering they might rebut your answer?

    2. Anon

      How can you be a conservative if you are in favor of open primaries?
      We want the people who make a conscious decision to support The Republican platform to vote in our primaries, not people who can’t make up their minds until the last minute and haven’t taken the time to read it.

  5. SD Conservative

    I was referring to the nice spin comment. I just think republicans are losing support because they are not conservative. I know I am a conservative. I have been for 30 years. I still want the same exact thing. I didn’t change but a majority of Republicans changes so much that I’d rather be an independent. I’m not saying I’m always right but I always side with the conservative side of a bill or a candidate. If you look at the gop platform and read a bill and answer what the bill says with the platform than a lot of republicans wouldn’t vote the way they do is my point.

  6. grudznick

    Mr. Nelson is not a true conservative or Republican. He votes with the libbies all the time.

    We need to start a Draft Jim Bolin campaign, for only Mr. Bolin could get the riff-raff thumped down appropriately. Draft Jim Bolin for something!

    1. Anon

      Nelson didn’t vote for SB 125 either, he seemed to think it was unnecessary, being already covered in something else, the Boy Scout Handbook or something.

      1. Anonymous

        Nelson is the biggest idiot I have ever seen!!!!! Claims he is disabled to draw $40,000 per year from the tax payers.

  7. SD Conservative

    In your opinion who is the most conservative senator or rep we have? I mean who is for small government, less taxes, gun owner rights, landowner rights, liberty. I’d say Lynn Santo is probably the one I’d pick. Who do you think always votes for the platform on posted sd gop.

  8. Troy Jones

    SD Conservative,

    How do you measure the Republicans are losing support?

    Obviously not by statewide elected officials as we are at 100%.

    Obviously not by numbers in legislature as we are at highest number since almost 100 years ago.

    Obviously not by voter registration as we are at same level as since 1980.

    SD Voter Registration in 1980: 46% Republican, 45% Democrat
    SD Voter Registration in 1990: 49% Republican, 43% Democrat
    SD Voter Registration in 2000: 48% Republican, 38% Democrat
    SD Voter Registration in 2010: 46% Republican, 37% Democrat
    SD Voter Registration in 2018: 46% Republican, 30% Democrat

    Obviously not in state ranking for per capital taxation, business regulation, and pro-life since we are in the top five states of all those categories.

    1. Anonymous

      It will not be long and one may see a live Jackalope running across a field before one sees or knows of a Democrat that resides in South Dakota.

    1. Tara Volesky

      Don’t call yourself or the people you are supporting conservative if you they are not. I would call Nelson a true Conservative.

      1. grudznick

        Mr. Nelson is not a true Conservative. He is not a member of the Conservatives with Common Sense. He does not measure up.

        Mrs. Volesky, why is it that Mr. Nelson has to take a walk to the head to avoid tough votes, or step into the corridor with his little bald friend to get his talking points? Does Mr. Russell pull all of Stace’s strings? Does Mr. Russell pull your strings? Tell us, Mrs. Volesky, does Ron pull Mr. Russell’s strings?

  9. grudznick

    Mr. Nelson is the most ineffective in the legislatures since Mr. Kloucek was ousted. Same district. Surprised?

    But on that report card, which has a grade of “C” on the Report Card of Report Cards, I do note that Mr. Rhoden is the most conservative on his side. So there is that accuracy. The Rhoden Rhangers all clap and stomp and laugh at how Mr. Rhoden put Stace in Third Place. BuwahahahaHAHAHAHA!

  10. SD Conservative

    Some people would call Trump ineffective because he doesn’t beat a party drum. Beating the party drum does not reflect conservatism but merely means you voted with the establishment like a good little legislator. What is ineffective is to call yourself a conservative but vote as a liberal. The rankings are posted above and no one rebutted them because it’s true. Bolin was barely over 60 percent. I do t think that is the picture of conservatism. I’m not against Republicans but am offended when they say they are conservatives and ere lying.

    1. grudznick

      That’s a bogus scorecard. Mr. Nelson likes to create scorecards, but Mr. Bolin likes to get things done. Draft Jim Bolin for Something!

    2. Anonymous

      Where are the conservative bills that Stace has passed…NONE;

      When has he ever attacked a Democrat? Fought a liberal ballot measure? No instead he stands with Democrats and Rick Weiland.

      He attacks Republicans daily. I heard he had a dust up with Sen John Wiik recently…that Wiik was not a conservative, are you kidding me? So SD Conservative, do you think Wiik is not a conservative?

      Ineffective–you have to build a consensus…he has a consensus of 2 him and Lance Russell that is it. No one wants to work with them.

    1. Ike

      The typical cowboy of the old west was not the Marlboro Man… historian David T. Courtwright called them, “a hired hand with a borrowed horse, a mean streak and syphilis.” So keep pining for the ‘never was’. 😛

  11. grudznick

    This week, this week alone I am told, is when Mr. Nelson is going to step up and show his effectiveness. He will get stuff done this week, they tell me. We will judge it based on meaty issues and Mr. Nelson’s contribution to getting them done.

    This is Mr. Nelson’s meaty week. Stand by.

  12. grudznick

    There has never, in the history of the legislatures in South Dakota, if you bother to read about them, been a bigger self-promoter than Mr. Nelson. He is like a bug on the stiff metal of real men, veterans most, who actually got things done. Eventually he will be wiped from the chrome of the fine fender of South Dakota.

  13. Troy Jones

    Dave R,

    In the words of Oscar Wilde, “A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.” I have no real explanation why Ike would want to take a slap at cowboys in such a general way when they made so many positive contributions to our state (including being the most tolerant and friendly to Indians).

    Courtright wrote about a very specific “cowboy” (the guys who moved cattle from the north to the feedlots/packing houses/train yards in the south. Most South Dakotan’s think of a different cowboy who was either a local rancher or his hands who weren’t itinerant but ended up staying and building the region between the Rockies and Mississippi. Yes they had similarities which can easily be conflated but they aren’t the same.

    I grew up in Potter County which had both types of cowboy prior to the turn of the century. Only one type was allowed in most of the towns on weekend nights- Your boss had to have wired ranch ground or you had a pass from one of the local preachers.

  14. anon1

    One thing that needs to be changed before we can bring civility back to the SD Legislature is the preponderance of meaningless resolutions. Why in the world do we still have them. Resolutions have no effect of law, create some of the bloodiest floor debates, divide the party, and are 99% ignored by the intended targets. At this point, resolutions are only used as “gotchas” by Stace types who are trying to spin the truth and get someone “on record”. Do away with meaningless resolutions, and we’ll likely get more accomplished.

  15. Anonymous

    Tara you sure slammed Pat, Dan and the SD Republican Party over at DFP. It was very Nelsonian. Are you sure Lora should seek the nomination for the state Republican Party?