Election Postmortem: Stace Nelson wishing he had entered #sdsen race sooner. I’m not sure that would have helped.

Speaking on his loss last night, former State Representative Stace Nelson seemed to be crediting his loss with not entering the race sooner.  From the Associated Press:

Nelson says he’s proud that he ran on his conservative record, and his only regret is that he should have entered the race sooner.

He says he now plans to spend more time with his grandchildren.

Read that here.

If Nelson is blaming his loss on the date at which he entered the contest, that would be a grave miscalculation on his part.  Just ask Congresswoman Kristi Noem. She didn’t get into her race for Congress until February 16, 2010.

Comparatively, that’s about a month after Jason Ravnsborg got in.

No, if we’re being honest, the postmortem of the Nelson campaign shows flaws much deeper and fatal than his date of entry.

Of all the challenger campaigns, on a conceptual basis, the Nelson campaign arguably had the most potential to be competitive. It had a natural constituency in the libertarian wing of the GOP. It had a very energized base of conservative voters.  It was being led by a media friendly, high profile Stace Nelson who was known for waging war against the party as an outsider.

The problem was that the campaign started out as a disorganized mess that quickly devolved into one that solely wallowed in negativity.

The first cracks in the campaign came as Nelson, whose sole political experience was running as State Representative noted that his campaign was not going to have a manager. He had a scheduler, a communications director, a director of field activities, a director of visual communications, etcetera and so on.

But there was no manager. No one to keep things on task. No one to herd the cats.  In fact, at one point Nelson had made note that from his experience running for State House, that he knew how to run a political campaign.

And it showed. Because if there was a model of what the Nelson campaign looked like, arguably it was one of a middling state legislative race, one focusing on sign placement, going door to door, and raising the amounts of money one would expect in a state legislative race.   Not a US Senate contest.

There was no appreciable advertising. There was no statewide newspaper advertisement. No direct mail presence. Cable TV buys in the hundreds of dollars, as opposed to the hundreds of thousands.  Just lots of signs.

And as quickly as it started out with promise, the Nelson campaign took a sharp turn into negativity.  First using twitter as a platform, Nelson aligned himself with internet trolls to the point that they were indistinguishable from each other, with Nelson feeding them, and they in turn feeding Nelson, like an on-line version of the Human Centipede.

Ironically, the major source for Nelson’s negativity was seemingly outed by David Montgomery as a Weiland operative. A Democrat operative. Someone who was invested in the loss of all Republicans.

And once the Nelson campaign started going down this trail, it never looked back. What started as on-line jabs quickly overtook all of his campaign’s messaging like an invasive virus. The Nelson team ratcheted up the negative rhetoric to the point that something in the race was lost.

What was that thing lost among the negativity? A reason to vote for Nelson in the first place.

Without a coherent reason to vote for Nelson, as opposed to the chapter & verse spewed forth daily to vote against his opponent, Nelson never was able to gain any footing. And towards the end, as the constant negative message droned on like a loudspeaker in a concentration camp as it devolved into self-parody, the voters simply tuned it out.

If negative campaigning has any effect, it’s been shown to drive down turnout, which given yesterday’s results, it was successfully able to do.

However, those that were left avoided Nelson like the plague, only giving him only that dead cat bounce of 13-14k votes.

Nelson Presser.. lots of rhetoric, but a false charge by Nelson brings a sharp reply.

Nelson_presserI had a last minute campaign material delivery in Sioux Falls today, so I made a point to go to the Nelson Press Conference this morning.

I was hoping to hear something new, but unfortunately, it was a lot of the same material that we’ve heard out of Nelson for the rest of the campaign. (And I will post the video later, but bear with me, this kind of thing can take a while to render & upload.)

Stace did touch on the VA, briefly, and went out of his way to frame a scenario where he believed Rounds could be blamed for the VA threatening to shut down the Hot Springs home.

And then there was a response to a question posed by Jon Ellis of the Argus Leader which provoked a very sharp response from the Rounds camp, which later had Nelson trying to claim he didn’t say.

The claim coming from Nelson was that the Rounds Insurance agency was a navigator for Obamacare. This drew a fairly fast response from the campaign who accused Nelson of not knowing what he was talking about.

The words used by the Rounds people were that the Nelson statement that Rounds’ Insurance Agency was an Obamacare navigator was “a complete fabrication.” And they pointed out that under federal law, it is actually illegal for insurance companies to serve as navigators.

As I tweeted a synopsis of the above, Nelson was very quick to fire back:

It was probably a poor choice of words for Nelson to use, as I did check.  And, as you can see, he very clearly and distinctly made the accusation:

It is interesting that Nelson was quick to deny the statement against the Fischer Rounds Insurance agency, as it’s not unheard of in South Dakota for private companies who are drug into political rhetoric to bring legal action against the candidate offering false statements against them, as noted in this 2006/2007 lawsuit:

Brady Phelps, an SDSU professor of psychology has issued a “Retraction” that brings to an end the lawsuit of Drs. John E. Cook and Frederick Fisher against him that started in response to a “Speakout” (“Opening of pain center raises ethical questions about Munsterman”) he wrote. It appeared April 1, 2006, in The Brookings Register. Cook and Fisher, board-certified anesthesiologists, charged that Phelps’ letter had hurt their business.

While Mayor Scott Munsterman, a Brookings chiropractor, was not named in the lawsuit, he was on the periphery because of business connections with Cook and Fisher. Gary Aguiar, an SDSU associate professor of political science, came into the picture also when it came to light that he wrote the Speakout letter that Phelps signed. And also to be factored in was the April 11 mayoral race in which Munsterman was reelected in a four-way race; Aguiar came in second.


A monetary payment is also part of the terms of the settlement; but it is confidential.

Read that here.

So, there’s a good reason Nelson was quick to deny it – there is recent precedent for Nelson’s statement against the Fischer Rounds insurance agency, accusing them of activity that’s illegal under federal law,  coming back to haunt him after the campaign.

At the very least, it may force Nelson to dine on a large serving of crow at this evening’s Minnehaha County Lincoln Day Dinner.

Rushmore PAC takes aim at #SDSEN Stace Nelson.

Just caught this on the twitter feed:


And it’s safe to say that few punches were pulled, as Dan Lederman, through the Rushmore PAC, took aim at Stace Nelson, whom they have a pending lawsuit against:

We believe we need bravery in government, to require our elected officials to take the tough stances in Washington. That is why we believe that regardless of who you choose, you should be aware of Nelson’s propensity to avoid certain votes.

In the interest of education, we here at Rushmore PAC have produced the following commercial:

Go read the entire story here.

The Rushmore PAC is soliciting donations to run the 1 minute commercial on television during these few days before the election.

Could this cause some headache for Stace Nelson’s aspirations?

Nelson profiled in Mitchell Paper today, but I’m wondering if there’s a bit of embellishment.

Stace Nelson is profiled in the Mitchell Republic today.

Washington, D.C., is not where Nelson wants to spend much time, he says, but he felt a duty to challenge Rounds, who he sees as not conservative enough.

“I felt guilty for not immediately rising to the challenge,” Nelson said. “But I did see the need for an honest public servant.”

Read it here.

It wasn’t the same old, same old that got my attention, as much as another claim he made:

His interest in politics dates back to his youth, and he sent campaign contributions to the Republican Party and candidates from his overseas military posts. He voted absentee while overseas and was overcome with emotion when he first got to vote in a South Dakota voting booth in 2008 election.

“I was moved to tears to be able to be home finally and actually vote at a voting booth. All those years I had to vote absentee.

Again, read that here.

Wait a minute!  I know I’ve seen something that contradicted that.

Donation history is a little spotty to search, as if it’s under a certain amount, it need not be itemized. At least for reportable amounts, there’s no records with the FEC for Nelson making donations to anyone other than himself, and the same goes for a search of the state donations.

But in previously looking at electronic records of Nelson’s voting history, I definitely recalled it’s much more spotty than he is claiming in the article. Because when I noted it at the time, it somewhat surprised me.

At least according to electronic records, Nelson registered to vote in Hanson County on 3/5/2002.  And when you get to his voting history, there’s some contradiction between what he’s claiming in the passage above, and what’s contained in the electronic file:

nelsonvoteDespite his claim of voting absentee, there’s no immediate indication that he did in the ’06 elections, or the ’08 primary, despite his 2002 registration to do so.

I know I’ve got some old statewide voter files on disk somewhere. If I can dig them out, I’ll be able to tell you how much farther the record goes back (or doesn’t.).

But suffice it to say that the claim that he donated, and voted absentee… well, let’s just say the some records leave room for dispute.

Understandably, candidates up for election are given to puffery and embellishment. But, if this record is accurate, Stace might want to dial it down a few notches.

When Mr. Nelson went to the Argus, and torched the Republican Party along the way.

Stace Nelson made a surprise visit to the Argus Leader’s 100 eyes podcast today to try to get some free media at the Argus Leader’s expense.

And lest anyone worry, he didn’t squelch himself.

Stace nelsonIt was typical Nelson as he went on the attack, calling his opponents dishonest, among other things.  He attacked frontrunner Mike Rounds. He attacked Annette Bosworth . He attacked Larry Rhoden.

Dialing it up a few notches, He also went after Jason Ravnsborg, specifically over their tiff on relevant military service, calling him ‘ignorant,’ and oddly belittling him as just “a truck driver in Iraq,” because “they have a TV show about NCIS, I don’t think they have got a TV Show about being a reservist as a truck driver in Iraq or Afghanistan yet.”


That seemed to be an unusually hard slam by Nelson on Ravnsborg’s service in Iraq and Afghanistan, considering many soldiers have been injured or killed by roadside bombs while driving trucks… and weren’t likely caring who had a show on TV.

And then Nelson decided to let us know which side of the enemy lines he intends to stand on in the fall.

Nelson indicated he’d only “endorse the howiewinner in the primary if it’s himself.”   And then Nelson dropped the bombshell. If Rounds wins the primary – Nelson directly stated he will be supporting Gordon Howie.

(Of course, this came right before he talked about supporting  lessening the penalties for drug possession.)

Ellis pressed the question about what would happen if Stace loses the election by 40 points, and had Nelson noting that the election is “Not a referendum on me. A referendum on Republican Principles.”

Nelson didn’t leave many Republicans unscathed, even taking a shot at US Senator John Thune, noting that “he’s stood with the moderates” and indicating he’d “like to see him move farther to the right & to stand with Ted Cruz.”

Ugh. Nothing like burning the village down to save it.

Towards the end, Nelson boastfully claimed that “Doing the right thing is a lonely island.”   I suspect come June 3rd, at least among Republicans, he’s actually going to find out what lonely is.

Interested in seeing the entire bloody spectacle? You can go watch it in all it’s glory here at Argusleader.com

Nelson claims commercial will feature Mitchell & Corn Palace

From the Mitchell Daily Republic, US Senate Candidate Stace Nelson tells the newspaper that yes, he will have a commercial. And it will feature Mitchell & the Corn Palace:

Stace nelsonA soon-to-be-released campaign ad from Republican U.S. Senate candidate Stace Nelson will prominently feature the Corn Palace.

The ad, filmed earlier this week in front of the Corn Palace in Mitchell, should be released within a week, Nelson said in an interview this week with The Daily Republic. Nelson, of Fulton, said he chose the location near the Corn Palace because of his connections to the region.

“We wanted to highlight our roots and one of South Dakota’s most famous icons,” Nelson said.

The ad will be released online and will be broadcast on television in locations across South Dakota, Nelson said.

Read it all here.

Nelson raised 28K, and only 33k in the bank. And he wasn’t exactly telling the truth about his fundraising.

From David Montgomery at the Argus Leader:

Stace Nelson raised $28,414 for his U.S. Senate campaign in the first three months of 2014, an aide said Wednesday.

Nelson now has $33,432 in the bank and no debt. That’s almost identical to the $33,745 Nelson had at the end of the year.

Read it here.

Nelson officially has less than half of what you need to mail Republican households in South Dakota. Or, possibly a week or less worth of funds to go on TV.

But….. if my memory serves me, I seem to recall a statement from Nelson back in January:

nelson_liesNow, that’s interesting.  In January, Nelson claimed to have raised over $35,000 in the month of January alone. But when the report comes in, and we find that he has to fess up that he actually only raised 28K for the entire period.

A conservative man? Yes. Certainly.

An honest one? Well……

Looking at what he said back in January, and what he reported today, that might be up for debate.

Update – in his defense, Nelson noted:

Press Release: Gordon Howie to Co-host Fundraising Event for Stace Nelson #sdsen

(I think I’ve seen it all now – one candidate raising money for another candidate, after he said it wasn’t likely he was going to win.-PP)

Gordon Howie to Co-host Fundraising Event for Stace Nelson

Fulton, SD—The Stace Nelson for US Senate Campaign is pleased
to report that Gordon Howie, independent candidate for US Senate,
has agreed to co-host this evening’s Meet and Greet/Fundraiser event.

What: Stace Nelson for US Senate Meet & Greet/Fundraiser.
Co-hosted by Gordon Howie, Tonchi Weaver and friends.
When: Monday, April 14th. Social hour at 5:45 pm; program at 6:30
Where: Beau Jo’s Pizza, 830 Main St. in Rapid City, SD

Stace will be available for media questions during the social hour or
by special request as his schedule permits. Members of the media
should direct inquiries to Mark Brown at (703)-785-3152 or


So, who did you think ‘won’ the debate?

I’m assuming there’s plenty of you politicos out there who listened or watched the live-streamed debate between the US Senate candidates.

I’m curious as to what you thought about who shined and who didn’t.

I have my own opinions about things… I thought we’d heard a lot of ground that had been covered before, and that may be due to the questions being asked.

A couple minor things stood out to me. The surprises were that Mike Rounds let Stace Nelson have it, which you don’t see much of from Rounds, showing a little fight in him.  And it might be because Jason Ravnsborg hasn’t been on the trail as long, but he seems to be enjoying a slight surge as the alternative to Rounds.

The rest of the field was more predictable Bosworth didn’t break out from the field or make any noteworthy mistakes. Neither did Rhoden. Nelson went on the same lines of attack as he has the entire campaign, and didn’t provide anything new, either.

Okay – here’s your opportunity to stand on the soapbox. If anyone won, who did, and why?

An unfortunate postscipt on the debate. Bad sportsmanship, and the ‘hell no’ attitude. *Updated*

This probably sums up one of the biggest beefs I have with how Nelson has conducted himself in this campaign.

He is more than happy to have a press conference with and support the efforts of the Democrat opponent who stands against 90% of Republican views, but refuses to shake the hand of an opponent with whom he shares the same views 80-90% of the time.

It’s the “Hell No” on one hand, but standing with Democrats when it suits him. He gets mad when they kick him out of caucus, but (allegedly) participates in robocalls and puts out scorecards against his fellow caucus members.

It’s this love/hate dichotomy for his fellow Republicans that causes me such consternation with the behavior of Stace Nelson, someone who on a one to one basis is a pretty likeable person.

I personally like Stace, I know people involved with other campaigns who do as well. It’s just when he exhibits behaviors such as saying “hell no,” or in this case, refusing to shake the hand of someone who’s only crime is wanting the same job he does, that it makes people question why he can be such an enjoyable person on one hand, and kind of a jerk on the other.

Update – In his own defense, Nelson is now denying that the offered handshake never happened..

It’ s hard to tell in the video, and it may have been afterwards, but in reviewing the video, at the table, Nelson turned to the other candidates while keeping his back to Rounds, and never turned his way.