Argus Leader political reporter Johnathon Ellis had a point in his recent comments about the South Dakota Republican Party when he describes our lack of direction:
The South Dakota Republican Party has seemed rudderless the past few months. The team that led it to convincing victories up and down the ballot last year is gone.
In 2009 we were down; we lost every county in South Dakota to Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, and we didn’t have congressional candidates to carry our message from county to county and bring us back to life. We had the appearance of defeat. Lucas Lentsch didn’t come into the Executive Director job as a seasoned political guru; he came from the small town of Britton. After returning from a tour of duty in Iraq, Lentsch was in touch with the patriotic mood of our party. He often spoke about the greatness of America on the Lincoln Day Dinner circuit rather than the typical political talking points. For the 2012 cycle we have gotten away from that positive attitude of promoting our values and turned to attacking and playing gotcha games with ghost candidates.
Now don’t get me wrong – I like Tim Rave and Tony Post – they are good people. However, I’m not sure they have grown into their roles yet as party leaders. I believe they will, and I can see in them a strong desire to succeed.
My opinion is that aknowledging Brendan Johnson in a press release only legitimizes him as a candidate for future office. Repeatedly going after Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin only advances the idea that she is viable for a future run, and the press release that slammed her for taking a position at South Dakota State University gave her free press, declaring to all of South Dakota that she is in fact trying to maintain some sort of roots in this state that blew her out of office last year.
It’s important we use tact when discussing our political opponents.
We need to remember we won. I don’t want the SD GOP looking over their shoulder out of fear Herseth-Sandlin will return. We need to march forward and quietly work behind the scenes to prepare for the possibility she will return.
I for one would like to see something promotional from the SD GOP regarding the success of the last legislative cycle with our many talented legislators, or Governor Dennis Daugaard, Secretary of State Jason Gant, Attorney General Marty Jackley, Auditor Steve Barnett, Commissioner of School and Public Lands Jarrod Johnson, Treasurer Rich Sattgast, Public Utility commissioners Chris Nelson, Gary Hanson, Kristi Fiegen, or Congresswoman Kristi Noem and Senator John Thune. Let’s hear about the things they’re doing that reflect our values, that we can be positive about.
Remember, we won them all.
Let’s look ahead instead of behind. There is a lot of organizing to be done. The people and pieces that made 2010 a success are still here and ready to work, but they need to be reassembled. There are some very big elections in front of us, and we need to prepare behind the scenes and in the trenches so that we can be successful in 2012 and beyond.