National Committeeman and Committeewoman

Reading through the Argus article today, I found myself interested in the National Committeeman and Committeewoman races at the convention.

Republican Party delegates today re-elected incumbent national committeeman Dana Randall, rejecting a challenge from tea party activist Allen Unruh.

In this race, I do not understand the “Tea Party” vs. “Establishment” argument. How different are Unruh and Randall on the issues? Four years ago Randall defeated longtime incumbent Ron Schmidt (of Rapid City) as the insurgent grassroots candidate. He won on the strength of diverse relationships and a wave of a younger generation taking over the party apparatus. I don’t know if Randall calls himself a Tea Partier, but the guy is a rock solid conservative.

I just heard this enticing bit of info as well. Tea Party superstar himself, Stace Nelson, voted for Randall.

I’m told what helped Randall win in the end was his strong support across the entire state. Randall also essentially split Minnehaha County. In order for Unruh to present a strong challenge to Randall, he needed to win Minnehaha big, and he didn’t.


I wasn’t even aware there was a race until late last week. Clearly Sandye Kading’s hard work and willingness to travel the state guaranteed her win. Politics is about relationships, and Kading evidently has built them. I’m told her opponent Paula Van Sharrel struggled to find supporters to nominate her outside of her own county. But it does speak well of her that she received the entire block of her county’s votes.

The outcome clearly indicates that hard work and planning pays off. She sounds as if she will be a strong voice for South Dakota and judging by what close friends who know her say, she will be a great committeewoman.

What we might expect at Republican state convention

All of this talk the last few days regarding what is expected to happen at the SD GOP convention has me wishing I had become a delegate. Conventions are a fun time.

I’m hearing from people that there might be a Ron Paul surprise among delegates attending the convention. No one is convinced they have enough supporters to get anyone elected this year, but there is concern that they will nominate their own candidates at the convention to protest the PUC candidates chosen by Governor Dennis Daugaard and perhaps to make a statement that the RNC delegation should support Ron Paul. And in all seriousness, what is a convention without races?

I’m at a loss about all of this – considering current National Committeeman Dana Randall and challenger Allen Unruh are both very conservative, and I doubt we could find many differences on political issues between them – the differences might have more to do with region or personality. However with Unruh strongly supporting Santorum earlier this year, he is unlikely to be a Ron Paul advocate. This is where I’m hearing there is some concern among Ron Paul delegates. They want a Ron Paul supporter, and that’s why there is persistent talk that we could see a third candidate for National Committeeman emerge, such as Tracy Saboe or Daniel Willard, as a local Ron Paul advocate .

So far on the committeewoman front things are quiet, but word has it there might be the same type of movement brewing.

SD's RNC delegation update

South Dakota GOP Chairman Tim Rave, Committeeman Dana Randall and Committeewoman Mary Jean Jensen have decided to support Mitt Romney at the convention.

The three top officials in the South Dakota Republican Party have begun to  shed their earlier neutrality now that Mitt Romney is the party’s presumed  presidential nominee.

South Dakota Republican Party Chairman Tim Rave, National Committeeman Dana  Randall and National Committeewoman Mary Jean Jensen are automatic delegates to  the party’s national convention. They declined to endorse anyone earlier in the  year, saying they would support the presidential candidate who won South  Dakota’s June primary.

Randall and Jensen now have endorsed Romney. Rave says he personally supports  Romney but would still vote for the primary winner if one of the other  candidates would happen to win South Dakota’s primary.

A Sandye Kading supporter sent me one of her literature pamphlets. Several people have indicated to me that Sandye is working hard and attending Republican events all across the state. She would make a great advocate for the SD GOP as national committeewoman at the RNC. Kading is running to replace Mary Jean Jensen who has decided not to seek another term.


Unruh runs against Randall for GOP National Committeeman

I’m getting reports that pro-life/tea party activist Allan Unruh (of Sioux Falls) is challenging current Republican National Committeeman Dana Randall for the position. This is particularly odd considering Randall has been a board member of the South Dakota Right to Life and has always been a leading advocate for the grassroots branch of politics that dominates the SD GOP base.

Many of you may remember Allen Unruh ran for Congress in the special election in 2004 following Bill Janklow’s resignation from office. In that convention style setting Unruh didn’t fair so well.

Round one results were as follows. (A simple majority of more than 50 percent of the vote, weighted according to the number of votes cast for Gov. Mike Rounds in 2002 in each county, was needed to win.)

– Diedrich, 36.9 percent.

– Larry Russell, 33.4 percent.

– Barb Everist, 12.1 percent

– Ron Williamson, 6.9 percent.

– Dick Brown, 6.8 percent.

– Roger Hunt, 2.1 percent.

– Gary Wietgrefe, 1.1 percent.

– Allen Unruh, 0.7 percent.

After round one, Brown withdrew.

In round two, Diedrich had 44.8 percent, Russell 35.2 percent, Everist 16.7 percent, Williamson 2.8 percent, Wietgrefe 0.5 percent and Hunt and Unruh each had 0 percent.

At the 2008 Republican convention in Chamberlain, Dana Randall won an impressive grassroots victory where he defeated 4 term incumbent Ron Schmidt of Rapid City for the position.

2012 SD GOP convention discussion

Will the 2012 GOP state convention in Sioux Falls be exciting? Probably not compared to the fun we had in 2010. Conventions are always a great time, and I hope to attend again, but so far we aren’t going to be treated with the exciting races we saw two years earlier.

We have two Governor appointed PUC officials up for nomination, Chris Nelson and Kristie Fiegen. Currently discussion has slowed on any other likely entries into these two races.

The other two races at the 2012 convention will be the National Committeewoman and Committeeman.

All expect Dana Randall to seek a second term as National Committeeman. He has strong support with the more seasoned delegates and also with many newer faces in the party.

At the moment, the only position discussed with much interest among delegates and activists is the National Committeewoman position held by Mary Jean Jensen. Several individuals have told me Mary Jean is not going to run again. This wouldn’t be surprising news for the delegates who have consistantly been strong supporters. Mary Jean has served the state well, and we will wait for her official word on this matter.

Someone often discussed as a potential candidate if Mary Jean doesn’t run is Sandye Kading (former Chair of the Pennington County GOP). It is also speculated that in SD’s current political climate a candidate strongly aligned with the tea party could run for this position. And no one should rule out a potential candidate coming from the delegate rich Minnehaha/Lincoln area.

Contested races or not, conventions are a great time to gather and see old friends. I’m looking forward to it! (The convention is in June so we still have plenty of time for the races to change)

Open primaries & presidential politics

History may be on the side of New Hampshire and South Carolina, but have you ever wondered why the first states to hold REPUBLICAN presidential primaries and give the winner almost insurmountable momentum allow independents to vote for the nominee?

This is an issue I would like to see SD GOP Chairman Tim Rave, National Committeeman Dana Randall and National Committeewoman Mary Jean Jensen raise with other RNC voting members from across this country. In my opinion, if New Hampshire wants to have the influence a first in the nation primary carries, then they should hold their primary exclusively with members of Republican party.

Why do we allow independent voters who may or may not hold Republican view points to have so much influence in our party’s early primaries? Why don’t we say to New Hampshire and South Carolina “you can be first, but then you have to hold a closed primary.” Otherwise as a party, let’s take offers from states with a closed primary to go first. Currently we’re penalizing states like Florida and Nevada with closed primaries for moving their primary up, while we reward early states with open primaries by protecting the traditional sequence.

Nothing would please me more than to know the Republican party nominee was chosen by Republicans in the earliest stages of the primary.