The 2018 South Dakota elections. Battling the perfect storm, and where we need to be for 2020. (Part 2)

(You can read Part 1 here.)

In 1990, South Dakota Democrats had focused on state legislative races in a manner which the South Dakota GOP was not prepared for at the time. Using postcards to target races, they hit many Republican incumbents hard with negative postcards at a time when they hadn’t been seen at that level.

While Republicans had a relatively free ride in the Gubernatorial contest with Bob Samuelson losing to George Mickelson 41 to 59%, Congressman Tim Johnson destroyed Don Frankenfeld, winning 68 to 32%.

That midterm election was a time of upheaval, when voters’ allegiances could be shifted.That started a sharp decline in legislative numbers for Republicans which culminated in 1992 when the GOP lost the State Senate, and for the first time in nearly 2 decades they found themselves relegated to the minority.

When faced with a nearly equal opportunity – a midterm election with a Republican in the White House, plus open seats in the Gubernatorial and Congressional contests, how did Democrats respond to the opportunity to move legislative seats in their direction?

They didn’t.  Once recruited, the Democrat Party seemingly abandoned legislative races. The Democrat party was fully staffed, but it’s unclear what they actually did.  One employee was running for statewide office themselves and received a donation from the Democrat Party for that effort, despite already being paid a salary.  In a year which should have been a bread and roses opportunity for Democrats to slice numbers off of the SDGOP’s commanding legislative totals, the Democrat Party sat on their hands.

For Republican legislative fortunes, don’t consider this election an easy one for the GOP. Maintaining their numbers in this unstable mid-term environment took hard work.

The GOP rose to the challenge, but is also brought to light some areas that Republicans need to watch in the 2020 election if they wish to keep a legislative supermajority in place.

What did Republicans learn from the legislative races this election?

Good candidates matter.  Since getting elected, Julie Bartling has always been able to move between legislative chambers at whim and has been a rare Democrat whom the GOP had given a berth to. Pro-life, and fairly popular in her District, no one wanted to tangle with her. But this year, the GOP had Rocky Blare.

Rocky was able to overturn a race that most Republicans had viewed as nigh-impossible, and not worth the attempt.  You also had Tamara St. John, who won a District 1 House seat for the GOP for the first time in over a decade or more.

Quality candidates who are engaged in the process win.

Hard working candidates matter.  It isn’t just enough to “be known.” Candidates have to get out and do the work.

Scyller Borglum who won in District 32 was a great example of this. Running for the legislature was something this doctoral candidate (at the time) always wanted to do, and she found herself with the opportunity. And she put 100% into it.  She went out and worked. She didn’t take anything for granted. She did the door to door. She did the fundraising. She did all the things that some who run for office don’t exactly find fun. But she did what needed to be done to win the race.

And there are many other examples, such as Caleb Finck in District 21, Rebecca Reimer in Chamberlain, Doug Post in Brookings, and the list goes on and on.   I hate to point out examples for fear of slighting anyone, because there were so many who got out and put in the work.

Early voting matters.  One of the things that the GOP did exceptionally well this election was a push in early voting. The State Republican Party drove a message out to their people through distributing tens of thousands of pieces of literature across the state, and reinforced the need for early voting throughout all of their messaging.

At the time when early voting was upon us, the party targeted top areas and blasted them with more early voting messaging.  After that they continued to expand efforts across the state at a time when Democrats did nothing.

Future success isn’t just about basic campaign techniques. It’s also about avoiding pitfalls, and to keep an eye on how we can improve.

What does the GOP need to watch for?

Sioux Falls. With a higher concentration of moderates, the Sioux Falls area seems to be getting to be more like larger cities in voting behaviors.  Statewide in the House, the GOP picked up 4 seats it didn’t have. But, the GOP exchanged them for five seats that it lost to Democrat candidates on election night.

Three of the seats the GOP lost were in the Sioux Falls area.

This could simply be related to the mid-term election, but historically, it has been an area where Democrats have been able to make inroads. As South Dakota has shifted to be redder and redder, Sioux Falls hasn’t necessarily gone that way.

It bears watching and will demand that the party recruit good and hard-working candidates to restore those seats to Republican leadership. And it might mean that more resources need to be shifted by the party as a whole to keep pace with the population.

Counties need to tend to business.  I can’t remember a time when even in the worst of years that Hughes County has gone as blue as it has.

Sure, Dems have had a rare seat or two in the Pierre centered legislative district in the last 40 years. But for it to go blue in not just one, but two top ticket races in a time when the GOP has a 100,000 vote advantage across the state is unheard of.  Additionally, there were other traditionally strong Republican areas such as Pennington County that required “triage” in the final month of the campaign (for lack of a better word) to get the troops marching in one direction.

You might refer to it as “mission creep,” defined as a project or mission that goes beyond its original goals, often after initial successes. County GOP Organizations need to remind themselves what they’re there for. They aren’t social clubs, or ideological discussion groups. They originally organized for the purpose of getting Republicans elected. Period.

As we move into 2020, we need to remember that.

Stay tuned for part 3

Are Dems having second thoughts about staying the course with Ann Tornberg? Dems take in and spend around $1 Million, but accomplish nothing.

Remember when Democrats staged a coup against Ann Tornberg, and it didn’t work? They might be having second thoughts about now, because it sounds that after their disastrous 2016 elections, Ann managed to figure out a way to repeat those results.

Didn’t Einstein quip “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?”

After Democrats dismal losses in 2016, there were calls immediately for her ouster from the highest levels of the Democrat Party, with one of the loudest coming from Paula Hawks, who had just been handed a bruising loss at the hands of Congresswoman Kristi Noem:

“I think that what we’ve seen in the last year is that what we’re doing isn’t working,” she said Tuesday. “We do need a shake-up.”

The comments underscore a disagreement within the party about how much blame to place on its current leadership, which has been at the helm for less than two years.

And…

Frank Kloucek, a former Democratic state legislator and member of the party’s executive board and central committee, said he agreed with Hawks’ assertion that Democrats need to move in a new direction.

“Ann has to go,” he said. “The ball keeps getting dropped.”

Jeff Barth, who challenged Tornberg for her position in 2014, and state Sen. Billie Sutton, D-Burke, said the party shouldn’t drop its top leaders over the results of an election that favored Republican legislative candidates in many Midwest states.

“I think we should try to keep as much of the staff there as possible and learn from the mistakes we’ve made,” Barth said.

Read the entire story here.

And the grumbling only grew from there. By March, there was an open revolt in the ranks of South Dakota Democrats, and a move to replace Tornberg as chair:

As for the optics and the “politics” of it, we know this isn’t pleasant and it’s not fun. But, can we really be worried that the SDDP is going to get worse press than this? Do we really think the status quo is worth protecting?

We don’t hold Ann Tornberg responsible for all that ails the SDDP. She has tried her best, and for that we thank her. What we do hold her responsible for is a severe lack of management ability that has led to low fundraising, dropping voter registration numbers, a nearly invisible message, and at the center, zero of anything resembling a strategic action plan for the State Party. The Executive Board has made numerous attempts to initiate strategic planning processes and set goals, which were either ignored, or misguided into “listening sessions” that fell on deaf ears. Many of your Democratic Party participating readers will likely share their own frustrations and experiences of Tornberg’s inability to lay out clear pathways to success despite her two years of trying.

So, without any attempt to conceal our intentions, we ask SDDP Central Committee members to stand with us for bold, decisive action that can unite our party behind new leadership.

Read that here.

If you recall, on the heels of that call for intra-party revolution, Paula Hawks eagerly stepped forward to offer herself up as an alternative chairman to Tornberg:

I am Paula Hawks, former state legislator from District 9 (Hartford) and 2016 Congressional candidate for the South Dakota Democratic Party.  In response to Rachelle Norberg’s call for prospective party chair candidates, I am writing to you today to let you know why I am throwing my hat into the State Chair race.  Having run a few campaigns and won a couple I have some insight into what needs to be happening for Democratic candidates in South Dakota to be successful. A thoughtful, comprehensive strategy for long-term party development is necessary and must be developed as soon as possible. It takes a lot of dedicated, passionate people willing to step up and put their money, and their time, where their mouths are and then show results. This can only happen with leadership that is capable of unifying multiple factions within the party. I believe I can provide that leadership.

We haven’t seen a strategic plan from the state office telling us what the plan is for the next five years, the next year, or even the next six months. From a business perspective, this is unacceptable.

Read that here.

The effort to oust Tornberg gained statewide publicity, and was covered by several media outlets:

The biggest weekend of the year for South Dakota Democrats could also usher in a whirlwind contest aimed at ousting the party’s chair.

Central committee members learned this week that those in attendance will vote Saturday to amend the party’s constitution to shorten the terms of party officers and to push elections from winter months following gubernatorial elections to the spring of odd-numbered years.

And..

Calls to recall Tornberg and to “shake up” party leadership rang out following sweeping losses in 2016. Former U.S. House candidate Paula Hawks said the party didn’t provided her enough support and urged party then leaders to be more aggressive.

Read that here.

But like many things associated with the South Dakota Democrat Party, the attempted coup ended in failure.

Fast forwarding to 2018, Dems managed to channel all of their anti-Trump rage into recruiting more legislative candidates.  But that’s about it. Party-wise, it seems to have gone downhill from there.

If you recall, the South Dakota Dems managed to screw up their convention, but its not clear what Democrats actually did to help their candidates. Looking at their campaign finance reports, according to their State Campaign Finance Report, it shows very little activity:

In their pre-general report for their state account, where they’d fund the efforts of non-federal candidates, they sent all statewide candidates $1500… and nothing to Legislative candidates.

In fact, if you look at Dem’s federal account, that’s where it gets interesting. They raised money from several sources, but It’s not clear what substantive campaign activities to elect candidates at the state level they spent it on.

If you look at an aggregate summary for the entire cycle, they spent $2300 more on posters in the last 2 years than they appear to have donated to Legislative candidates…

MEAT & POTATOES MARKETING SCHOLARSHIP ESSAY POSTER 4/26/18 0:00  $                195.96
MEAT & POTATOES MARKETING SCHOLARSHIP ESSAY POSTER 4/9/18 0:00  $                208.21
MEAT & POTATOES MARKETING SCHOLARSHIP ESSAY POSTER 3/6/18 0:00  $                208.74
MEAT & POTATOES MARKETING SCHOLARSHIP ESSAY POSTER 10/3/17 0:00  $                212.47
MEAT & POTATOES MARKETING SCHOLARSHIP ESSAY POSTER 1/5/18 0:00  $                406.83
MEAT & POTATOES MARKETING SCHOLARSHIP ESSAY POSTER 1/22/18 0:00  $                406.83
MEAT & POTATOES MARKETING SCHOLARSHIP ESSAY POSTER 4/9/18 0:00  $                683.73
MEAT & POTATOES MARKETING SDTRIBALISSUESTOWNHALLPOSTER 8/28/17 0:00  $                  61.24
Total 2,384.01

They appear to have spent over $14,000 more reimbursing staff for cell phones than they spent on legislative candidates (and 3k more than they spent on state candidates) this cycle…

DEVERMAN, BENJAMIN CELL PHONE 6/1/17 0:00 100
DEVERMAN, BENJAMIN CELL PHONE 5/1/17 0:00 100
DEVERMAN, BENJAMIN CELL PHONE 2/28/17 0:00 100
DEVERMAN, BENJAMIN CELL PHONE 3/31/17 0:00 100
AARON MATSON CELL PHONES/TECHNOLOGY REIMB 5/4/18 0:00 278.91
ADAMS, COLE TECH REIMBURSEMENT 1/11/18 0:00 100
ADAMS, COLE TECH REIMBURSEMENT 2/15/18 0:00 225.8
ADAMS, COLE TECH REIMBURSEMENT 7/13/18 0:00 307.44
ADAMS, COLE TECH REIMBURSEMENT 3/15/18 0:00 361.7
ADAMS, COLE TECH REIMBURSEMENT 8/15/18 0:00 391.86
ADAMS, COLE TECH REIMBURSEMENT 6/29/18 0:00 443.1
ADAMS, COLE TECH REIMBURSEMENT 5/31/18 0:00 702.65
ADAMS, COLE TECH REIMBURSEMENT 8/31/18 0:00 841.48
ADAMS, COLE TECH REIMBURSEMENT 4/6/18 0:00 882.44
DEVERMAN, BENJAMIN TECH REIN 6/29/17 0:00 100
DEVERMAN, BENJAMIN TECH REIN 12/1/17 0:00 100
DEVERMAN, BENJAMIN TECH REIN 10/3/17 0:00 100
DEVERMAN, BENJAMIN TECH REIN 6/4/18 0:00 100
DEVERMAN, BENJAMIN TECH REIN 8/1/17 0:00 100
DEVERMAN, BENJAMIN TECH REIN 9/5/17 0:00 100
DEVERMAN, BENJAMIN TECH REIN 3/3/18 0:00 100
DEVERMAN, BENJAMIN TECH REIN 11/1/17 0:00 100
DEVERMAN, BENJAMIN TECH REIN 4/5/18 0:00 100
DEVERMAN, BENJAMIN TECH REIN 8/7/18 0:00 100
DEVERMAN, BENJAMIN TECH REIN 9/5/18 0:00 100
DEVERMAN, BENJAMIN TECH REIN 10/3/18 0:00 100
DEVERMAN, BENJAMIN TECH REIN 8/31/18 0:00 548.94
DEVERMAN, BENJAMIN TECH REIN 7/2/18 0:00 703.96
DEVERMAN, BENJAMIN TECH REIN & TRAVEL 2/2/18 0:00 205.92
MATSON, AARON C. TECHNOLOGY CELL PHONE REIMB 6/1/17 0:00 100
MATSON, AARON C. TECHNOLOGY CELL PHONE REIMB 6/29/17 0:00 100
MATSON, AARON C. TECHNOLOGY CELL PHONE REIMB 5/9/17 0:00 100
MATSON, AARON C. TECHNOLOGY CELL PHONE REIMB 12/1/17 0:00 100
MATSON, AARON C. TECHNOLOGY CELL PHONE REIMB 10/3/17 0:00 100
MATSON, AARON C. TECHNOLOGY CELL PHONE REIMB 1/5/18 0:00 100
MATSON, AARON C. TECHNOLOGY CELL PHONE REIMB 2/2/18 0:00 100
MATSON, AARON C. TECHNOLOGY CELL PHONE REIMB 6/4/18 0:00 100
MATSON, AARON C. TECHNOLOGY CELL PHONE REIMB 8/1/17 0:00 100
MATSON, AARON C. TECHNOLOGY CELL PHONE REIMB 7/2/18 0:00 100
MATSON, AARON C. TECHNOLOGY CELL PHONE REIMB 9/5/17 0:00 100
MATSON, AARON C. TECHNOLOGY CELL PHONE REIMB 3/8/18 0:00 100
MATSON, AARON C. TECHNOLOGY CELL PHONE REIMB 11/1/17 0:00 100
MATSON, AARON C. TECHNOLOGY CELL PHONE REIMB 8/7/18 0:00 100
MATSON, AARON C. TECHNOLOGY CELL PHONE REIMB 9/7/18 0:00 100
MATSON, AARON C. TECHNOLOGY CELL PHONE REIMB 10/15/18 0:00 100
MATSON, AARON C. TECHNOLOGY CELL PHONE REIMB 2/28/17 0:00 100
MATSON, AARON C. TECHNOLOGY CELL PHONE REIMB 3/31/17 0:00 100
MATSON, AARON C. TECHNOLOGY CELL PHONE REIMB 4/13/18 0:00 200.8
JONES PRANGER, SUZANNE TELEPHONE REIMBURSEMENT 2/28/17 0:00 100
JONES PRANGER, SUZANNE TELEPHONE REIMBURSEMENT 3/31/17 0:00 100
FORSTER, MEGAN TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 8/31/18 0:00 53.76
PARKINSON, SAMUEL D TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 6/1/17 0:00 100
PARKINSON, SAMUEL D TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 6/29/17 0:00 100
PARKINSON, SAMUEL D TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 5/1/17 0:00 100
FORSTER, MEGAN TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 12/1/17 0:00 100
PARKINSON, SAMUEL D TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 12/1/17 0:00 100
FORSTER, MEGAN TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 10/3/17 0:00 100
PARKINSON, SAMUEL D TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 10/3/17 0:00 100
FORSTER, MEGAN TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 1/5/18 0:00 100
FORSTER, MEGAN TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 2/2/18 0:00 100
FORSTER, MEGAN TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 8/1/17 0:00 100
PARKINSON, SAMUEL D TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 8/1/17 0:00 100
FORSTER, MEGAN TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 7/2/18 0:00 100
PARKINSON, SAMUEL D TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 7/3/18 0:00 100
PARKINSON, SAMUEL D TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 7/3/18 0:00 100
PARKINSON, SAMUEL D TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 7/3/18 0:00 100
PARKINSON, SAMUEL D TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 7/3/18 0:00 100
FORSTER, MEGAN TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 9/5/17 0:00 100
PARKINSON, SAMUEL D TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 9/5/17 0:00 100
PARKINSON, SAMUEL D TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 3/1/18 0:00 100
PARKINSON, SAMUEL D TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 3/21/18 0:00 100
FORSTER, MEGAN TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 11/1/17 0:00 100
PARKINSON, SAMUEL D TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 11/1/17 0:00 100
FORSTER, MEGAN TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 4/5/18 0:00 100
FORSTER, MEGAN TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 9/6/18 0:00 100
PARKINSON, SAMUEL D TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 9/26/18 0:00 100
PARKINSON, SAMUEL D TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 9/26/18 0:00 100
FORSTER, MEGAN TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 10/2/18 0:00 100
PARKINSON, SAMUEL TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 2/15/17 0:00 100
PARKINSON, SAMUEL TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 3/31/17 0:00 100
FORSTER, MEGAN TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 6/4/18 0:00 150.85
FORSTER, MEGAN TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 9/6/18 0:00 360.28
PARKINSON, SAMUEL D TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 9/14/18 0:00 559.54
PARKINSON, SAMUEL D TELEPHONE REINBURSEMENT 8/31/18 0:00 909.66
Total 14729.09

Heck, my list shows they spent $5500 on office supplies, which is $5500 more than they spent on legislative candidates. I could go on, but you get the hint. The only thing that seemed to change between the 2016 and 2018 elections is that they screwed up their convention and had to hold two of them.

For taking in around a million dollars over the course of the last cycle, and spending about the same between their State and Federal accounts, how many offices from the legislature on up did the Democrat Party under Ann Tornberg gain in South Dakota?

Zero. None. Nada. Zip.  They managed to swap one State Senate Seat for a State House seat, resulting in a net gain of nothing.  After giving each of their statewide candidates $1500, Ann Tornberg’s Democrat party spent thousands on posters, $9000 on videography, reimbursed their employees cell phones expenses in the neighborhood of $14,000, and paid over $100,000 in salaries…

And managed to accomplish nothing.  Except for screwing up their convention too.

I imagine the discussions on where Democrats go from here are going to be very interesting.

The 2018 South Dakota elections. Battling the perfect storm, and where we need to be for 2020. (Part 1)

With enough caffeine in me early this AM, I started thinking about what the results from this years’ races tell me about the future, and what we as Republicans need to prepare for in 2020.

Before the election, people would ask me about the national races… which admittedly, I hardly pay any attention to. Because I’m concerned about my bread and butter – what’s happening right here in South Dakota. And it makes me think about the future.

With President Donald Trump in the White House, it seemed to have an effect that Republicans can’t ignore – motivating the opposition. Coupled with a bruising Republican primary that Democrats didn’t have to go through on a statewide level, it gave us a couple of tighter statewide races and a more active Democrat electorate than we’ve seen for a while.

Building on earlier messaging, some of the results coming out of the election seemed to be one of “shaking up the status quo.” And as Republicans in South Dakota enjoying one of the longest winning streaks we’ve enjoyed for a while, that puts the GOP in an unenviable position of defense when there are elements of the electorate that want to shake things up a bit.

That rumbling electoral unrest gave us a couple of tighter races than we might have expected at the top of the ticket.

Republicans had 2 races at the top – Governor, and AG – that seemed as if they could be contests. Mid-term election for a Republican President, motivated Democrats with a competent candidates who tried to assuage fears they weren’t conservative enough, a tough primary for the GOP while none for the Democrats… it set things up for a possible perfect storm.

With the Gubernatorial race, Kristi Noem had the unenviable position of having to rebuild her campaign resources from scratch after a bruising and tight primary election. After spending everything on a tough election, while Kristi had to go back to the well and attempt to tap new resources, her opponent was able to set his campaign on cruise control. At least until the Noem campaign got around to defining Sutton.

Sutton had generally been able to set the tone for himself in an unchallenged environment, because of the Republican intra-party battle depleting Noem’s campaign coffers and giving her wounds from that fight.

Sutton spent much of his time pretending to be as Republican as any Republican could be… except he was registered as a Democrat.  He claimed to be pro-life and pro-gun, and anti-tax. In fact, he even got a Republican to change her party to be his running mate. And Sutton got away with that fantasy for quite some time. Until he didn’t.

Once the Noem campaign had resources rebuilt sufficiently to press a message, Sutton started to be defined and damned with his own words. Sutton attempted to go on the attack against Kristi, but it was the same message that people had heard in the primary against her, and by this point, was not breaking new ground.

The Sutton campaign, while it offered good advertising and carpet bombed the air waves, the cracks became evident as they fell woefully short in their ground game. There seemingly wasn’t one, and the Democrat party was no help.

Where they had been able to deliver votes in elections for Tim Johnson and Tom Daschle in the past, Dems’ failure to have an effective ground game seems to have doomed them.  They just didn’t have one.  During a period of time when the National Dem party was sending State Dems money to build voter numbers,,, they actually lost voters.

The South Dakota Republican party pushed slate cards and messaging for the entire ticket on multiple occasions, at the same time the state Democrat party acted like the appendix of South Dakota politics. It was a vestigial organ that did little except flare up such as when it couldn’t get their convention right. At some point in history, the South Dakota Democrat Party may have served a function, but this election it could have been removed to little effect.

As a whole, Republicans were able to effectively coordinate resources and messaging. When volunteers were calling voters, they weren’t speaking with individual messages for one candidate or another – they were calling with messages for Dusty Johnson, Kristi Noem, and Jason Ravnsborg. And it showed.

With the Noem campaign driving a punishing message against Sutton, effectively defining him, and the GOP firing on all cylinders, the campaign was able to do in final weeks what had seemed a little elusive since the primary – to bring enough of the GOP voters home. In fact, one might argue that was the turning point.

Kristi Noem spoke Republican’s language of conservative government, and while there might be people still a little sore about the primary, they were figuring out that Sutton was not as much of a Republican as they thought. And casting a ballot for someone who admired the policies of Bernie Sanders was not an option.

In a tighter race than we’ve seen for a while, Republicans faced and successfully battled the perfect storm and came out on top, electing Kristi Noem as our next Governor.

And the rest is history.

The Attorney General’s race was not quite as close as the Governor’s contest, but it presented challenges of its own.

Democrats offered their best candidate in decades in the Attorney General’s race in Randy Seiler. Randy was fairly well liked around State Government, which gave him credibility among top level Republicans in his face-off against Jason Ravnsborg. In fact, Randy made a point to tout that there were top level Republicans who liked him.

Ravnsborg had run in the 2014 US Senate Primary, and had been a very visible fixture at every SDGOP event for dozens of months.  He’d spoken to groups about ballot measures and knew everyone who went to a GOP event.  In the Convention, he handily managed to out maneuver and plain outwork his Republican convention opponents.

Ravnsborg, a private practice attorney and Lt. Col in the Military, at times had been viciously attacked by some Republicans who threw stones at his criminal law experience, which carried over to the fall campaign with Seiler echoing the same attacks.

What Seiler didn’t count on were two things – that Ravnsborg is one of the most indefatigable campaigners in modern state history, and far sharper politically than he’d prepared for in their televised debate, where Ravnsborg handed Seiler his hat.

Ravnsborg also quickly picked up on ill-advised statements of Seiler’s in that same SDPB debate and in an earlier blog interview to give him enough ammo for a crushing attack ad that hit Seiler hard, blunting any criticism that Seiler could come up with.  It was enough to give Ravnsborg a 10-point margin of victory, a landslide in most books.

The rest of the races including Congress and the other constitutional offices were typical South Dakota Republican fare, with 24 point and higher margins of victory.

But there were some shifts in legislative contests that bear some attention… which I’ll talk about in part 2.

New South Dakota proposed pot legalization act being vetted for 2020

On November 1, just before the elections, the Secretary of State’s website posted LRC Comments for a new ballot measure designed to effectively legalize pot in South Dakota:

2020 South Dakota proposed Pot Legalization act by Pat Powers on Scribd

And what a measure it is.  It may be doomed to failure quicker than the last one which failed to make the ballot.

The measure starts out by barring South Dakota Law Enforcement from enforcing any federal laws regarding pot. And it just gets worse from there, as it allows people under 21 years of age to be pot industry workers, and sets a fairly low bar for penalizing underage drug use of 10 hours community service. Drug dealers get off almost as easily, topping out at 100 hours of community service and a $1000 fine.

In one of the points that probably going to kill it, it notes that “No locality may pass any ordinance that provides for the location of operation of a cannabis-related business.” This portion of the measure would literally bar cities from restricting the location of pot shops opening across the street from churches and elementary schools.

What potential benefit does all this decriminalization act offer South Dakota? Why, the measure also expressly dedicates any tax/fee revenue from pot sales not to the general fund but explicitly dedicates them to “early-stage, high-risk local agriculture new venture, research, and development.”

So.. not only would South Dakota have to allow dispensaries next to the Boys & Girls Club, any revenues in the state are by law tied up into high-risk projects, and can’t be used for things such as law enforcement or addiction treatment.

It may be a measure South Dakotans get behind. Far, far behind as they run the proponents out of town, tarred and feathered on a rail.

Hillary to possibly run again 2020. (Pretty please? MAGA!)

In one of the most stunning examples of lacking self-awareness, there are rumblings that Hillary Clinton is thinking about giving it another go.

No, really.

Two-time Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will mount a third bid for the White House, longtime Clinton adviser Mark Penn wrote in an op-ed published Sunday by The Wall Street Journal, predicting that the former first lady and secretary of state is readying a “Hillary 4.0” campaign for 2020.

In the Journal op-ed, Penn, an adviser and pollster to the Clintons from 1995-2008, and former New York City politician Andrew Stein wrote that in a 2020 run, Clinton would reinvent herself “as a liberal firebrand.” The twice-failed presidential candidate would not “let a little thing like two stunning defeats stand in the way of her claim to the White House,” they

and…

News that Clinton might try to take on President Donald Trump again elicited cheers from the White House. Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway on Sunday retweeted reporting on Penn and Stein’s assertion, adding: “Dear God, please, yes.”

Read the entire future history story of President Trump’s impending re-election here.

Hillary 4.0 says it all.

2020 Ballot measure being prepared by Cory Heidelberger to eliminate ballot measure information from voters.

Are you ready for 2020 yet? Because the bad ballot measures are already festering.

According to the Secretary of State, a ballot measure is in the early stages of being prepared which  rolls back protections against the unscrupulous and skeezy petition circulators we’ve seen in recent years

But far worse than that, the proposed measure is also set to cripple an important informational law that’s been on the books for nearly a decade – and is set to limit the information available to the public about ballot measures at both the signature stage as well as at the ballot box:

2020 hidden information ballot measure by Pat Powers on Scribd

The measure, submitted for LRC comment by liberal activist and defeated State Senate Cory Heidelberger, is set to have a chilling effect on the amount of information available to voter at the time they are asked to consider signing ballot measure petitions, AND in the voting booth.

In addition to limiting the ability to challenge signatures collected questionably, this anti-information measure directly attacks voters who are seeking information about what they’re being asked to sign and forcibly removes the requirement under state law that the the Attorney General write an “objective, clear, and simple summary to educate the voters of the purpose and effect of the proposed initiated measure or initiated amendment to the Constitution.

By eliminating the provision, the measure further strikes against voters by withdrawing basic ballot measure information which had been provided both at the time of signature, as well as eliminating this same explanation and fiscal notes showing the financial effect of the legislation from being provided as part of the election ballot.

This is a severe disconnect from the spirit of open government and an informed electorate.

I’m not sure why Heidelberger feels that voters needs less objective information at the time of signature and at the ballot box. It’s going to be a hard sell to the electorate explain why voters should support a measure that wants to deny them information what a ballot measure is actually about.

If anything, based on recent legislative studies, state government should be doing everything it can to get more information into the hands of the public.  Instead of hindering it. Or worse yet, as proposed by this measure, hiding it.

But then again.. Liberals will do what they have to do to slip one under the noses of voters.

Which apparently involves withholding information from the people they want to sign petitions… and later vote on it.

Out-of-state money ban likely to be challenged in court

A ban on out of state contributions towards ballot measures was passed at the ballot box last week, but it sounds like people are already lining up to challenge the measure as unconstitutional:

“I think these guys are going to take their chips and go play in Idaho or North Dakota and leave us alone,” Mickelson said. As for a lawsuit against the out-of-state ban, he said: “Bring it on. We’ll win. And it’s a fight worth having.”

But Don Haggar, state director of Americans for Prosperity-South Dakota, said he expects it to be overturned.

“I think it’s clearly unconstitutional on several levels and we are examining our options as far as potential litigation is concerned,” Haggar said.

The U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted the Constitution’s free-speech protections as prohibiting any limitations on money in ballot measure elections, Paul S. Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation at the nonprofit Common Cause, told The Associated Press earlier this year.

Read it here.

Do we think the law will last through the next election?