Stephanie Herseth making sure that we haven’t forgotten her just yet.

From my e-mail box:

Government Program (Read-Only)Do your kids feel like they are making a difference? Making a difference in school, community, or in life? The Groton High School senior government class is trying to make a difference by getting others to believe that they can too. The government class calls themselves the “Next Generation”. It is part of a government project that will increase voter turn-out in young voters, and stimulate interest in local and national issues.
“Next Generation” would like to invite you and your government class to a non-partisan government cracker-barrel session for students.

Keynote speaker: Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.

The cracker-barrel will also include break-out sessions that will discuss many issues including:

Farm Bill, Foreign Affairs, Drinking Age, Gridlock by Politicians, Gun Control, Electoral College

Date: November 22, 2013

Time: 2:00 P.M.

Location: Groton Area High School Arena

Please contact Scott Thorson, Groton government teacher, on whether you and your class plan to attend the cracker-barrel.

Former Herseth Chief of Staff's job description includes smacking down the North Dakota Media.

Former Congresswoman Herseth’s Chief of Staff & BFF Tessa Gould left South Dakota for greener pastures after her boss last re-election against Congresswoman Kristi Noem, and is now US Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s Chief of Staff.

And in her new job, as North Dakota’s Say Anything Blog recounts, it looks like one of her chief duties is to bully the press:


Berg’s criticism prompted a phone call from Senator Heitkamp’s Chief of Staff Tessa Gould who, as Berg himself put it, attempted to dictate the content of Valley News Live’s programming and then announced that Senator Heitkamp wouldn’t be appearing on the show in the future.

It’s worth noting that Senator Heitkamp has been a frequent guest of Berg’s in the past, and that her brother Joel Heitkamp is a regular commentator on the program.


Just as Conrad tried to bully the Minot Daily, Senator Heitkamp is now trying to bully Valley News Live. She got caught trying to turn an ugly scandal about child abuse into a partisan talking point against a Republican rival, and now she’s responding to the heat of criticism with threats and cut-off access.

That’s far from the yeah-sure-youbetcha Heidi Heitkamp we all got to know on the campaign trail. She’s using a tried-and-true tactic for killing criticism in small media markets like North Dakota: Threaten access if the criticism continues.

Read it all here.


BTW… Did you catch this part from the KELO story? Herseth Sandlin changing her mind?

Did you catch the part from the KELO story on Harry Reid thinking Rick Weiland is not his candidate:

Bresnahan says he thinks there are a lot of bruised feelings amongst Democrats in Washington and in South Dakota. And he said there’s still the feeling in Washington that Herseth Sandlin might change her mind.

Read it here.

Because my wife will be the first one to cuff me on the head, do I dare voice the cliche’?

Media coverage expanding in feud between Harry Reid & Tom Daschle over the person who isn't Reid's candidate.

The South Dakota media is catching wind of the story that Politico scooped them on regarding the feud between Tom Daschle & Harry Reid over Rick Weiland jumping in the US Senate Race, and Stephanie Herseth, Reid’s preferred candidate jumping out.

After my chiding of David Montgomery for ignoring the story, he did make mention of it at his tumbler page:

Lone Democratic Senate candidate Rick Weiland is “not my choice,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told Politico, in a surprisingly blunt statement of national Democrats’ preference for Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.

Reid also dismissed Weiland, saying “we’re going to have a candidate there; we don’t have it yet.”

The Politico story adds Reid’s quotes and some anonymous sourcing to my report from Sunday looking into how Weiland got into the race, Tom Daschle’s role in that and the skepticism Weiland is facing as he tries to build up a Senate bid.

It also adds a juicy feud angle, talking to anonymous Democrats who say Reid is furious at Daschle for encouraging Weiland to run

Read that here.   Of course, it being the biggest political story of the month and involving Democrats fighting with each other, the story is still languishing on Monty’s blog, as opposed to the Argus providing actual coverage of the US Senate Majority leader dissing the SD Dem Candidate.

Keloland goes the extra step of actually covering the story, instead of relegating it to a reporter’s blog:

Reid and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee wanted to recruit former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, but Daschle endorsed longtime former aide and personal friend, Rick Weiland.

Some believe that didn’t sit well with fellow democrats.

“I think here in Washington, they are very concerned about what Daschle did and what the ramifications of it could be,” John Bresnahan with Politico said.

Bresnahan says he thinks there are a lot of bruised feelings amongst Democrats in Washington and in South Dakota.

Read it here.

Even KDLT is beating the Argus to the punch on making it a full fledged story:

The newspaper says Daschle’s backing of his former aid Rick Weiland may have had something to do with Stephanie Herseth Sandlin’s decision not to run for the senate.

The report says Reid was hoping to clear the field for Herseth Sandlin to run, and is upset with Daschle for endorsing Weiland.

Read that all here.

Media Malpractice: So, did David Montgomery really pass over noticing the US Senate Majority Leader slamming the Dem's SD Senate candidate in favor of a dick joke?

If you missed it below, there was a HUGE politico story around 10 pm last night about US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s umbrage at Tom Daschle’s recruitment of Rick Weiland for the US Senate Race:

The South Dakota Senate race is turning into a tense feud between two longtime Democratic power brokers: Harry Reid and Tom Daschle.

The rift between the current and former Senate Democratic leaders threatens their party’s effort to keep control of the Senate seat held by the retiring Sen. Tim Johnson since 1997.

Reid and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee wanted to recruit former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) as their candidate to replace Johnson in 2014. As he spent weeks attempting to clear the field for Herseth Sandlin, Reid met privately with Johnson and his wife to ask them to persuade their son Brendan not to run for the seat, sources say. Or at the very least, let Herseth Sandlin make her decision on whether to get into the race before deciding whether Brendan Johnson should jump in.

But against Reid’s will, Daschle — Reid’s predecessor as Democratic leader and a South Dakota native — was privately encouraging a longtime former aide and personal friend, Rick Weiland, to mount a bid of his own.

Daschle’s endorsement of Weiland helped persuade Herseth Sandlin to pass on the Senate race, according to Democratic sources close to the issue. Reid and top Senate Democrats were stunned and outraged by Daschle’s move, a sentiment Reid communicated directly to the former senator, according to several people familiar with the incident.

In a brief interview last week, Reid didn’t hide his frustration with the way the South Dakota race is shaping up.

“We’re going to have a candidate there; we don’t have it yet,” Reid told POLITICO.

When asked whether he would ever back Weiland, Reid was emphatic in his opposition.

“He’s not my choice,” Reid said.

One top Democrat involved in the race, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “This is [Daschle’s] race. If he wants to encourage someone to get in, if he wants to endorse someone to get in, he should be prepared to raise all the money necessary to support them.”

Read all of this story here.  So, what was the response of the Argus Leader’s intrepid political reporter David Montgomery to this huge Democratic fight behind the scenes where the US Senate Majority Leader has come out and said that they “don’t have it (a candidate) yet,” and that Weiland is not his choice to run for one of the most likely seats to flip against dems?

What were the important aspects of the story he decided to cover, since he usually tweets or blogs about everything down to the minutia:


Wow. The important breaking news from KSFY about a typo on a billboard where they misspelled ‘public’ as ‘pubic.’

Basically, Monty ignored one of the biggest political stories of the cycle for the dems for little more than a dick joke.


Jon Ellis at the Argus points out chances are far tougher with liberal Rick Weiland. If he's actually going to run, that is.

Johnathan Ellis at the Argus Leader has a column today that points out that the Democrats were going to have enough trouble putting their top US Senate prospect Stephanie Herseth Sandlin up against the GOP, calling it a “kamikaze mission.”

And now with Rick Weiland, who some Democrats acknowledge as a placeholder for someone else, their chances are worse:

Herseth Sandlin lost her job in Congress in 2010 because Republicans were on a hunt to oust any Democrat at any level of office.

In South Dakota, the Republicans pretty much succeeded. The Democratic Party here is on the endangered species list.

So, faced with these issues, Herseth Sandlin had to know it was a long shot, but maybe one worth taking. And then Weiland/Daschle show up, and in quick order, what already was going to be a slog gets even worse. The scale, which maybe had been tipping ever so slightly to running, suddenly shifts to not running with Weiland’s announcement.

For the extremists in the Democratic Party, this is great news! To them, Herseth Sandlin was only posing as a Democrat, and her purge from the race is an opportunity to refocus the Democratic Party on its priorities and message.


Back to Herseth Sandlin. I’m happy for her, frankly. She will remain a viable candidate for years to come, but right now it would appear that she’s leading a pretty good life here in Sioux Falls. Had she run, she would have had to endure the constant sniping from the purists in her party, and, if she had become the Democratic nominee, she would have faced a Republican machine that was out to crush her.

In all likelihood, it would have been a kamikaze mission.

Now, she can sit back on the sideline and watch — perhaps with amusement — how well those Democratic purists fare in 2014.

Read it all here.

So, what was bad is now worse with 2-time losing candidate Rick Weiland.

If he’s actually going to run, that is.

Dems foregoing good candidates for liberals.

From the Associated Press:

Two top-tier Democratic prospects recently bypassed running for Senate seats in Georgia and South Dakota. Their decisions highlighted the party’s challenge of finding candidates whose ideologies line up with voters in Republican-leaning states.

Democrats say they’ll be fine even though John Barrow in Georgia and Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin in South Dakota declined to seek seats left open by retirements. Both are moderate-to-conservative Democrats whose views would seemingly play well in their states, giving the party a chance to win on GOP turf as Democrats look to hang onto power in the Senate.

But without them running, Democrats probably will be forced to back more liberal, less-tested nominees who will likely have tougher races.

Read it here.

Rothenberg Report: South Dakota Senate Race likely party switch

From the Rothenberg Report:

Former Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin’s announcement that she is passing on a Senate race in 2014, combined with secondhand reports that U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson (son of retiring South Dakota Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson) has also decided against a Senate bid, must have put big smiles on the faces of Republican strategists.

It’s early in the 2014 election cycle, but these developments in the Mount Rushmore State definitely affect the two parties’ prospects. The GOP now has an advantage in the contest.

Former GOP Gov. Mike Rounds is already in the race. But the lack of a big name Democratic standard-bearer could encourage the state’s at-large congresswoman, Kristi Noem, to enter the Republican primary.


Without Herseth Sandlin, Democrats’ prospects of retaining this seat sink. A formal announcement from Brendan Johnson that he isn’t interested would be another blow to Democratic hopes. But even now, Tim Johnson’s South Dakota Senate seat looks increasingly likely to switch parties next year.

Read it all here.

More reporting on Stephanie pulling out of contest. A few of the rumors swirling about it as well.

From this morning’s Argus Leader, more on Dems being completely blindsided by Stephanie’s withdrawal from the contest:

Herseth Sandlin opted not to seek the open U.S. Senate seat, an office she was highly recruited for by national Democrats. She also passed on a run for governor or her old U.S. House seat and instead will spend the coming years with her family and at her job as general counsel for Raven Industries in Sioux Falls.

“I thought she was going to be a candidate,” said Ben Nesselhuf, chairman of the South Dakota Democratic Party.


Even Herseth Sandlin’s allies said the decision was unexpected.

“She had a strong interest in the race and felt very confident about the polling data,” said Jason Frerichs, the Democratic leader in the state Senate, who spoke with the former congresswoman several times in recent months. Frerichs said Herseth Sandlin got “upward of 75 percent” of the way to running for Senate or governor.


The vehemence with which some Democratic activists criticized Herseth Sandlin after she acknowledged interest in the Senate race might have deterred her, said Jon Schaff, a political science professor at Northern State University.

“The reaction from a certain segment of the Democratic Party was swift and it was negative. Maybe she took that to heart, that she knew that there was a large percentage of the Democratic Party that didn’t want her,” Schaff said. “Could she have won a primary? Probably. But it would have been bruising.”

Read it all here.

A few other, unmentioned factors may have also accelerated the contest.  I’d heard rumors that from behind the scenes, Stephanie was demanding the DSCC ensure that there would be no primary. And from what I was told, they put the thumbscrews to Brendan Johnson hard to make it happen for their anointed candidate.

But with Brendan subsequently backing off, Weiland came out of left field, and unexpectedly saw an opening and jumped in. The Weiland announcement was coupled with a huge slap in the face to Stephanie, courtesy of Tom Daschle’s enthusiastic support of his old State Director.

Added to that, in reference to Stephanie’s current employment, I’m told a reporter from the New York Times was calling Raven, asking about her running, as well as the company’s federal contracts. If this is correct, I can’t imagine that the company liked the national press sniffing about because of the Herseth drama.

If true, those factors – DSCC unable to deliver on no primary, the Daschle endorsement of her primary opponent, and her employer getting tired of press inquiries, all weighed heavily in the calculus of Herseth Sandlin not pulling the trigger.

Of course, not wanting to exchange time with her family for a year and a half of political beatings probably didn’t help matters much, either.

So, where's the SDDP Chair on all this news? In the bunker trying to figure out the spin?

The last seven days have not been a good week for Ben Nesselhuf.

First, Brendan Johnson indicates he’s out of the US Senate race as Kevin Weiland’s older, less interesting brother gets in.

Then, Bob Mercer has a story on the Democrat’s continually declining voter registration numbers.

This morning, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin announces that she’s out of the hunt.

So, where’s SDDP Chair Nesselhuf on all this news? In the bunker trying to figure out the positive spin? It can’t be a good day to be the person who has set themselves up to be politically omnipotent as both the State Chairman and Executive Director for South Dakota Democrats.

Democrats are shedding voters like a yellow lab sheds hair in the summer. Rick Weiland is their US Senate Candidate, they have nothing for Congress, and it’s looking like Steve Jarding is going to be their Gubernatorial sacrificial offering. Fewer voters, two aging political hacks are their standard bearers, and an uncontested Congressional seat?

What’s Ben’s next move? Talking the legislative interns who they get to be State Legislative placeholders to be their statewide candidates? Will he be telling now 93 year old Dorothy Kellogg to ‘trust him, they’ll get someone else to run for Congress but they need her to sign this petition?”

After last year’s dismal electoral showing, coupled with the widely criticized strategy of a misleading and in some cases false postcard campaign, Ben desperately needed something to get Democrats excited, and had the opportunity to do so in putting forth a strong nominee in the US Senate contest that had their last remaining office holder retiring. And it looks like that’s completely blown up in his face.

If anything, they’re more disheartened and demoralized than ever.

South Dakota Democrats often wax poetic about the good ol’ days when George McGovern traveled the state and reinvigorated and revitalized the South Dakota Democratic Party out of the back of his car, and then started his climb to the almost-presidency. While they talk about this, they comfort themselves by saying a new leader can do it again.

And it has become more and more apparent over the past year or two that Ben is not the person who can do that. If anything, the opposite has happened. Historic high numbers of Republican elected officials have been maintained, and the stage is set for them increasing.

The only question remaining is whether Democrats are going to take on a different direction without the current party leadership which has resulted in a constant and continual string of failures, or if Democrats intend to ride the dead horse farther and farther into the ground?

Stay tuned.