The problem with Varilek for Congress

This is the guy the SD Democratic establishment is going crazy over. Daschle’s former campaign manager Steve Hildebrand started the “Draft Matt Varilek for congress” campaign on Facebook and it has gone pretty well for them. Already up to 534 “likes”! (Kristi Noem is approaching 15,000 “likes”!!!)

I can appreciate the Dems working hard at creating buzz for themselves and a potential candidate. It’s a good move. Noem also used Facebook to her advantage when she entered the GOP primary against Nelson and Curd, and the base quickly latched on to her.

Assuming he runs, Varilek will have the Johnson organization, what’s left of the Daschle organization, potential access to two of the three largest political data bases in our state (the Johnson and Daschle lists). Let’s assume they rival John Thune’s lists since they were his opponents in the 2002 and 2004 senate races. Maybe Varilek can even raise money and get the support of Senator Tim Johnson, Former Senator Tom Daschle and former Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin. On paper he has a lot going for him.

The biggest problem he has is reality.

In 2010 we voted Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin out of office, and she even voted against Obamacare. It wasn’t enough for Herseth-Sandlin to vote against Obamacare; she also needed to say she would repeal it, and she wouldn’t make that statement.

Now Varilek, this potential challenger to Noem, works for Senator Johnson – who voted for Obamacare. Varilek will likely come out in favor of Obamacare as well and make liberals across the state rejoice.

But Daschle, Johnson and Herseth didn’t get elected because they were liberals. They got elected as conservative/centrist democrats.

We can all see that if South Dakotans were willing to dismiss Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin for not taking a strong enough stand against Obamacare, then we are really unlikely to support Matt Varilek for Congress. But I say the Dems should go for it.

20 Replies to “The problem with Varilek for Congress”


    HUH? Johnson was elected as a moderate? Do you guys pay attention to his voting record at all or do you just get your info from campaign commercials. I miss Pat Powers.

    1. smoke screen

      as far as I know he campaigned as a moderate. He didn’t run as a right winger but he certainly wasn’t a liberal.

      Thune said it himself that Johnson campaign on supporting a balanced budget ammendment.

      1. springer

        I’m willing to bet that Johnson would have voted against a balanced budget amendment at this time regardless of what he campaigned on. O and Reid would have demanded it.

  2. Anonymous

    Bill Clay is writing very good and insightful articles on this blog. I’m glad to see more frequent postings again.

    That said, I think it’s overly simplistic to say that SD rejected Stephanie Herseth Sandlin because of her vote on Obamacare. I think she would have survived this race but for the anti-Democratic wave that swept the country at just the right time. She didn’t do herself any favors by making herself scarce for a year before the election cycle started either. Politics is a game of timing. Kristi Noem was the right matchup at the right time.

    Had Herseth Sandlin held the seat by the skin of her teeth, Noem would have had an almost impossible task to take the seat in 2012 as a non-incumbent in a year with a less favorable outlook for Republicans than 2010. As the incumbent for 2012, Rep. Noem is in the driver’s seat (insert joke here) and anybody else -even Stephanie – will have a hard time unseating her barring another 999 small cuts like this country club event coming up.

  3. Lee Schoenbeck

    I’m sure he is a nice guy, but isn’t the question” “Matt who?” There was a Democrat named Varilek that ran for Congress many years ago (I may have his political button in my collection). Is this a grandson?

  4. smoke screen

    I am enjoying these “Clay” comments also. I think he makes some good points.

    Obamacare did SHS in as far as I’m concerned but I do think she will be back and stronger than before.

  5. anon

    I don’t see Noem getting over 60% of the vote in 2012. She will not reach SHS or Thune reelection numbers but she is not in any danger of losing this cycle.

    There are a lot more issues to pull both sides down.

    1. 73*

      Different year and different climate. Herseth didn’t really have any big issues haunting her until 2010. I don’t see anything derailing Noem in 2012 but I do some issues weighing her down.

      Varilek could get traction if he can raise money and is likable but he cannot win.

  6. caheidelberger

    “good and insightful articles”? B.S. Bill/Hans doesn’t know an original thought from a hole in the ground. The only insight I get here is that GOP flaks are desperate to keep refighting old battles and previous candidates rather than talking about the performance of their gal Kristi, on the merits of which they would lose against Paul Wellstone or Dennis Kucinich, not to mention a good guy like Matt Varilek. Call me when you’re done reliving 2004 or 2010 or whatever year you think it is, Bill/Hans. We Dems are getting ready for 2012. Feel free to join us.

    1. anon

      Cory you are living in a fantasy world and it doesn’t matter what year it is in your universe because it is always wrong.

      If you think Dennis Kucinich is the guy who would dominate politics in our state than what are you smoking?

      Sometimes you make sense but mostly you just talk.

  7. Duh

    How in the world does Hildebrand make a living? When he isn’t busy pushing for endless homosexual perks/lifestyle/rights, he’s torpedoing his own client’s elections, slamming the annoited one or pushing for a downtown catastrophe. I hope he keeps doing what he’s doing, the GOP is better for it. If Verilek is the Demo’s choice vs. Noem, oooh, I’m getting nervous….

    1. anon

      Daschle would have been better off without Hildebrand. Maybe Daschle would have won… No I don’t think so.

      but Hildebrand is a loser in South Dakota politics.

    2. Mike Quinlivan

      Yeah duh, I totally agree. I mean, when Steve was my landlord, one of the worst parts was having to take part in the monthly mandatory gay orgy. He was just so pushy! And the Build it Downtown thing? SO GAY!!!!! And not wanting to be treated as a second class citizen due to ones sexuality? How faggy can you be? Perhaps that is a question I will let you answer.

  8. Duh

    Mike: I don’t care what a person does in their own time or to whom or what. I know and have family members who are gay. Their difference, they don’t advertise it like a late night infomercial. They go on with their business, hitting the grind and toil like the rest of us. What I do care about is someone shoving their perceived rights up my… er nose. Gays are not treated as second class citizens. That’s only in their own persecuted, paranoid minds. You stated: “And not wanting to be treated as a second class citizen due to ones sexuality?” How in the world would ANYONE know what their sexuality is unless they’re wearing it on their pink polo sleave for all to see? Lets have hetro marches and see what credibility that brings. Won’t get very far. If you’re talking about health insurance and such, I guess they are discriminated. Probably goes back to the original basics that some people have Outies and some people have Innies. I think they go together. In basic terms, try opening a door lock with another door lock. Guess I’m old fashioned. Some of the rights that they protest for are above even what heteros get, i.e. super rights, i.e. employment protections which have absolutely NOTHING to do with performing the functions of the particular job. You’re gay your gay. So what? I could care less. However when Ding Dongs sue claiming sexual discrimination because they didn’t get hired, despite the fact they weren’t qualified in the first place is my beef. Tolerance at that point is completely bogus and counterproductive.

    Downtown. Logistically the wrong choice. Bad location, lack of access or parking. What probably doomed some of it was Hildebrand’s promotion of it. He usually appears to come out guns blazing, accusatory and sets many of the people off, some of which he is trying to pursuade. In sum, he’s in the wrong business.


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