Sorry about that Kevin. There’s just so much wrong here, but at least some GOP Leaders tried to make it right.

Sometimes you can’t help but be embarrassed when you read the story the next day. This morning, Kevin Woster is writing about the reception he received at the Pennington County Lincoln Day Dinner:

“This year,” Ericks said. “We just have too much stuff going on within the Republican Party and outside of the Republican Party.”

I said I wasn’t sure what that meant. So Ericks continued, noting that the party is getting back to its conservative roots and following the path of great GOP leaders like Ronald Reagan in the past and Donald Trump today. He also said the party has important priorities like public-education campaigns on Sharia Law and Islamic extremists and the threats they present to the state and nation.


I didn’t share that information with Ericks, thinking it might completely destroy my wounded chances of getting into the banquet room. But I did say:

“Honestly, I haven’t even seen Stan Adelstein in months.”

Which did not put Ericks at ease.

“I don’t know, I only have your word for that,” Ericks said. “But if you take any of that stuff I said and write something that isn’t true, I’ll find you and kick your ass.”

He glared at me, then laughed a little. So I think he might have been kidding. But I wasn’t quite sure. I don’t think he was kidding about the threat of Sharia law, so I guess I had to presume he might well have been serious about most things he said — including giving me a good old-fashioned pummeling.

Either way, I fired back: “I’m not sure you could. I’m pretty quick.”

Meaning foot speed, not fists, of course. I’m a writer, not a fighter.

Speaking of which, Ericks expressed a powerfully negative attitude about my chosen profession, and about the media outlets — the Rapid City Journal and South Dakota Public Broadcasting — for which I currently write. And after some dialogue on that and the butt-kicking comment, he and I seemed to grow weary of our conversation, which was beginning to seem circular.


I mention my situation and Johnson expressed surprise, with just a hint of outrage. It seemed to him that they’d want all the publicity they could get at a Lincoln Day Dinner, which is how it seemed to me. Johnson offered to call Ericks and intervene, a notion we were discussing when Haugen emerged and waved for me to follow him through the now-closed doors.

Which I did, concluding my conversation with Johnson. Once inside Haugen told me that Ryan Nelson, Thune’s chief of staff and state director, had called and told organizers that the Thune team would cover the cost of my ticket.

I was grateful for that gesture, as I was earlier when a member of the Noem team offered to give me a ticket. And Marty Jackley also has my gratitude for inviting me to sit at his campaign table.

None of which I felt comfortable accepting or doing.

Read it all here.

Ugh. What on earth was Craig Ericks doing? Threatening to get physical with Kevin Woster, who has been a long-time reporter in Rapid City for the Rapid City Journal, KELO (and now Public Broadcasting) for the sake of reporting the news is beyond the pale, even in jest. Not that it seemed very funny.

(I don’t know where he’s coming from when he claims “The party has important priorities like public-education campaigns on Sharia Law and Islamic extremists.” There are those in the party who are concerned about those issues, but that’s not a party thing in general. But, one problem at a time.)

I’m not sure why the County Party wouldn’t want to show that the majority party in the state is open and welcoming. Republican Lincoln Day Dinners have always been pretty neutral ground, even among Republicans who might not care for each other very much. It has always been part Thanksgiving dinner to celebrate fellowship, even with a crabby uncle or two, and part debutante ball for presenting the new candidates for the season to the greater audience at large.

It’s actually not a bad thing to get the media to show up and pay attention. Usually we get irked when they ignore it. Tales as Woster related do not help the rest of us.

Thankfully, some of our statewide elected officials & candidates tried to salvage what was already a horribly embarrassing episode that should not have happened in the first place.

Kevin, on behalf of everyone who cares about the Republican Party, I would offer my apologies, as I’m sure there were people who did Saturday night.  I hope I can live long enough to say that was a once in a lifetime occurrence.

33 Replies to “Sorry about that Kevin. There’s just so much wrong here, but at least some GOP Leaders tried to make it right.”

  1. Anonymous

    The people who should be pissed are the candidates. They travel across the state through a snowstorm to attend the Pennington County Dinner and then they don’t get any press coverage because the County Party kicked the reporters out. What the heck?!?! Somebody please explain to Pennington County what “Earned Media” is and how it gets a candidate’s name out in the public eye…for free!

  2. Gideon Oakes

    Well there you go, Kev. According to Lora Hubbel, Pat’s the third-highest ranked member of the SD GOP, so it’s basically an official apology, hahaha.

    Thank you again for the chat. I look forward to our next coffee outing. 🙂

  3. Anonymous

    This is bad on so many levels and agree with Anonymous 7:57am also. We treat the press as the enemy? If you are confident in your stance then let it be open to criticism both good and bad. Besides the plus of being from Lyman County Kevin Woster is a great guy, a good journalist and cannot believe he was threatened and tried to intimidate him. Totally classless! The bad actors mentioned in this can be better than this!

  4. Anonymous

    Without a doubt, the worst Lincoln Day Dinner I have ever attended. The event was poorly led by their Chairman, poorly organized, unscripted from the very start and almost 5 hours long!!! Even worse, was the hatred, prejudice and far right rants of the individuals who have taken over the Pennington County Party. Numerous long time faithful members/donors stated “This is not what my Republican Party stands for” and vowed to not contribute to the local party or attend future LDD events if this group stays in control. I am never embarrassed to be a Republican, but I was embarrassed that night to be a member of the Pennington County Republican Party.

    1. KM

      What does “your” Republican Party stand for? The right to life? Low taxes? 2A rights? Freedom of speech? Don’t forget the Republican Party is a big tent, welcoming any and all. You must not have a litmus test, any and all.

      Are you embarrassed enough to change your voter registration and stop any donations? Probably not.

      1. Anonymous

        As I clearly stated ” I am never embarrassed to be a Republican, but I was embarrassed that night to be a member of the Pennington County Republican Party” My Republican Party, the Republican Party is pro-life, low taxes, strong 2nd amendment rights, freedom of speech and “is a big tent, welcoming any and all.” Sadly, that was not demonstrated at this event. Their Republican party is very narrow minded, filled with people who must believe and speak exactly as they do or you are not welcome. Yes, I will continue to make sizable donations to Republicans, but I will not support the Pennington County Republican Party until the current leadership is gone and their philosophy realigns with the SD Republican Party and the United States Republican Party. .

        1. KM

          Nicely said. I don’t think your money is going to be missed and they’ll continue on quite successfully without you. I know, it’s tough to hear, but it is what it is.

          SD’s Republican party is not pro-life, have you checked some of the “R’s” voting records? Educate yourself. I don’t think they are that narrow-minded, a narrow-mind thinks a baby is a clump of cells that feels no pain and worthy of the garbage dump. A narrow-mind thinks a single-mother should be prohibited from protecting herself and her children. A narrow-mind is scammed into thinking Islam is a religion of peace. Are you narrow-minded?

            1. Gideon Oakes

              I’ll always be a “small r” republican, but I’m afraid the GOP has drifted away from its platform, especially on the points of fiscal conservatism, protection of 2A rights, and as you noted, equal treatment of all.

              It’s not even a Trump thing, per se. I’ve worked in SD GOP politics since long before I could ever vote. I was a two-term TAR State Secretary and served on the TAR executive board as a District Rep throughout much of high school. From the time I was 11 until the summer after I graduated, great people like Alice Kundert and Vern Larson reiterated and burned into our minds what it means to be a Republican. And that vision of the party is a beautiful thing! … But it’s not reality. At least not anymore.

              I’m running on the Libertarian ticket because its platform is centered on reducing government interference for all Americans, not just the ones who think and look like the average party member. In many ways, the LP is more republican than the Republicans are.

              And as for your supposition that a Libertarian will never win, I’ll remind you that the Whigs never thought they’d be replaced by that little upstart from the North that turned into the Grand Old Party. Nationwide, the GOP and the Democrats continue to lose ground each year while independents and “third parties” continue to grow. Did you know that in 2016, 42% of voters were independent, compared to 26% and 29% for the GOP and Democrats respectively? (Source:

              My district has the greatest concentration of independent voters in the state. It also tends to go for the most libertarian (small l) candidates when presented the chance. So, don’t count my message and me out. I certainly don’t plan on attending anybody else’s victory party on November 6th.

  5. enquirer

    “most lincoln day diners are about as happy as they make up their minds to be and blog about online later.” – A. Lincoln

  6. anono

    This is ridiculous. Whoever’s running the show in RC ought to resign. If I was one of the major candidates I’d be fuming right now.

  7. Anonymous

    Not having been present, I can’t speak to the decorum or lack thereof of the Pennington County GOP. I will say that I couldn’t care less whether or not the candidates are upset about not getting free press. Lincoln Day Dinners should be about the candidates honoring the local folks who they are begging to represent. The candidates can suck it up, choke down their runbber chicken, and grin and bare it. They live charmed lives of power, influence, and unique economic opportunity because of the voters. Voters, I might add, whom, by and large, the candidates detest.

    1. enquirer

      the press does nothing to ameliorate their general stinking bias against the republican party in particular, and conservatism in general. they earn all the disdain they receive from the gop, by virtue of the way they come smiling and then go back and report that they’ve encountered a new form of bacterial life or something. it’s sad when people are fed up enough to feel they have to push back in embarrassing ways but i totally get it.

      1. enquirer

        nobody else can steal from trump’s playbook because they’re not him, but the thing i probably love the most about DJT is his ability to totally dismiss all levels of anti-media attacking him, and MAKE IT STICK, MAKE THEM FEEL IT. lol

          1. enquirer

            their constant ulterior motives undermine any ring of authenticity their reports might otherwise carry, so NO. it’s all ‘bad’ coverage, by design.

        1. KM

          Honor Killings: Educate yourself.

          Some victims include: Sisters Sarah and Amina Said, TX, 2008. Noor Almaleki, AZ, 2009. Sisters Geeti, Sahar and Zainab, Canada, 2009. How about Maarib Al Hishmawi, she was beaten, choked and burnt because she refused a forced marriage; Texas. Hanane Mouhib decapitated her son; New York. The Constitution does shield us from Sharia Law, however, as you see from these examples it is being implemented within families practicing Islam. I have previously mention Ami Horowitzs’ videos about MPLS and Sharia Law, check it out: America or Somalia – You might be surprised.

          Do you think the SF speaking events that were canceled b/c people’s feelings were going to be hurt is taking away our 1A rights? Would that be considered Sharia complicit, I think so. Who were the protestors threatening venues to have the events canceled? Who was the man that sat outside a SF Christian event, streaming on FB live about his disgust for Christians? He had a lot of guns, ring a bell?

          You’re welcome;)

          1. Anonymous

            Isolated cases compared to all the killings and crimes that occur every day but the above commenter asked in California? Has a single area completely isolated itself from US, state and city laws and is only under Sharia Law?

              1. Anonymous

                Tried to get my lawn mower started ready for spring. Darn thing would not start. Must be Sharia law,

                Seriously though. Bigotry/Racism is strong in that one.

                1. KM

                  Seriously though, your ignorance & laziness is fun to watch. Islam is not a race, can’t be a racist towards a religion. My concern is with Islam not Muslims, but you like to change what I say, so there’s that.

                  Is the Constitution shielding CA from taking away 1A rights? CA Democrats are attempting to ban books & speech that violate LGBT’s agenda. Does that reach your goal posts? Time to move the back a few yards.

                  Sharia Law is in the US, but you’re too busy being a doormat to take time to look. Halal meat is Sharia complicit and is sold in the US. I bet you eat it too. Take some time away from me to educate yourself;)

          2. Anonymous

            The link you provided includes this statement: Opinions or points of view expressed are those
            of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect
            the official position or policies of the US Department of Justice.

            It’s not credible. You’re not credible. You’re very uninformed and quite stupid. Educate yourself with real facts. And you’re welcome. 😀

  8. John

    This could have been handled better, but Woster did have some self righteous indignation…it was free before I don’t want to have to pay mentality…he is a big liberal who rarely says anything good about Republicans anyway….but no use handing him ammunition…because the story was all about how he felt

  9. JackFrancis

    Interesting that Ericks wants to follow the path of Ronald Reagan, since anyone with his record would be thrown out of a Lincoln Day dinner.
    First president to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants (imagine how that would play today)
    Eliminated favorable capital gains taxation for the rich (imagine Koch Brothers accepting that from a Republican)
    Was in favor of a “safety net” for all Americans. Today’s Republicans want to destroy the safety net.
    Personally ensured the passage of the Assault Weapons Ban by writing a letter and making calls to every senator and congressman. WOW!!
    In addition, he INCREASED taxes numerous times, both as president and as governor of California. He would be called a RINO now.

  10. Call Me Crazy

    Well after reading this, I felt sympathy for many lobbyists who have same experience with Republicans at Pierre or anywhere. Is anyone not noticing that the party is split about 5 different ways. Poor Kevin (who is a nice guy actually) and as for the county that wants to turn the party into their version of “lil House on the Prairie” it probably will never go back to that with current leadership. Infighting is the name of the game and candidates themselves are playing games against others (even voters not running) heck, they are even forcing committeemen and women races across the state to get in who they want. Hear it started in Aberdeen. Wonder who was involved? Kevin hit nail on the head…….


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