Senate Bill 40: Where everything old is new again.

“This should reduce the danger of politicians railroading objectionable candidates onto the party to a minimum.”

Editorial, Aberdeen American News, January 1929

I was doing some research on Senate Bill 40, and the origins of our current system of how we nominate candidates for statewide office.  And it’s amazing how the issues of the past come around again.

Recognizing that in elections in days gone by that candidates for State Auditor, Treasurer, etc. were on the primary ballot in the 1928 election, but not in 1930, I pulled up some research and found some interesting commentary on why they made the changes they did at the time.

Apparently, up until that time, those candidates had been vetted exclusively by party nominating committees, and by 1929, legislators had had enough complaints that they had to do something to change the system.

From the Aberdeen American News, via Argus Leader, 22 Jan 1929, Tue  Page 6

It appears that the problem before was that the choices that ended up in front of them were not great via that party system of vetting, and “party followers are too often given the choice of voting in the fall for a candidate they do not want.”

Something that people believe we came awfully close to in the last convention, which has raised a bit of concern in our modern age.

Back then the legislature proposed taking the US Senate, Congress and Governor contests out of the party organization’s hands (unless they didn’t get 35% of the vote), as well as changing how “the State Legislative tickets and the County officials would be nominated.”  At the time, “the nomination of the balance of the ticket, together with the State Chairman and National Committeemen or women, would be left to the State convention to dispose of.”

According to the editorial, at the time, the hope was that “this should reduce the danger of politicians railroading objectionable candidates onto the party to a minimum.

Fast forward 93 years later, and we’re back examining their wisdom with the “balance of the ticket” offices that they left to the “State Convention to dispose of,” as there are those who are discovering that while those offices might not be US Senate or Governor, those elections will have an impact on our state as well.

“It is probable also that if it passes, as it probably will, that it will be found when put into effect that it contains minor defects unforeseen by the author and the legislators. We believe, however, that these defects will prove to be trivial in character and easily corrected at later sessions.”

Editorial, Aberdeen American News, January 1929

And with SB40, Legislators will have the opportunity to determine if the “minor defects” that were “unforseen” can be remedied.

The State Senate will be discussing Senate Bill 40 today during session when they convene at 2PM.

You can listen to the testimony here starting at 2..

4 thoughts on “Senate Bill 40: Where everything old is new again.”

  1. good article.
    Given the primary results, it was pretty obvious very few people wanted Steve Haugaard to be the governor, yet he was almost railroaded onto the ballot in the LG position by a group of elitists who think the primary voters are too ignorant to select the correct candidates.

    1. That is correct. The precinct committee person problem is that most run for the job only to vote at the convention and then melt into the woodwork never to be seen again until the next election. The intention was that precinct committee people were elected to help the party by organizing volunteers and raising money for the party throughout the interim and then turning out the vote is left by the wayside. This system is archaic since we now can vote for months before an election taking away the organizing structure that used to work when you voted on election day. Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana was correct when he said we should have election day and not election month.

  2. Interesting information.

    Seems many legal formulations were to keep the riff raff out.

    But who were the riff raff?

    “They” are the riff raff!

    Certainly not the good folks from Yankton who used to *ahem* patronize Deadwood from time to time.

  3. The riff-raff are the far right fringe of the GOP who want to reverse 400 years of civilization and bring back slavery and smallpox.

    If you want to defend the resolutions of the last two SDGOP conventions, let’s hear it.

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