Do you think it helps Democrats win elections in small town South Dakota?

Over the past decade or so, Democrats in South Dakota have and continue to be reduced in numbers in the state.  Some attribute it to the Democratic party moving away from issues that resonate with voters who might find sympathy with their messages of social justice, and putting their energies into areas of pure liberalism which don’t resonate in conservative, small-town South Dakota.

If you recall, for some of these “true-believer Liberal Democrats,” Stephanie Herseth was too conservative to be their candidate in the last 2 elections, preferring instead to go with members of the Weiland family as their champions of South Dakota Democratic liberalism. (Which didn’t really work that well in either case.)

The latest example of that in in an on-line petition that Democrats are touting that takes on something that a lot of small towns in South Dakota take pretty seriously – their local high school sports teams. And Democrats are howling loudly about a legislative measure introduced by Representative Jim Bolin and Senator Ernie Otten that rescinds a rule passed by the High School Activities Association:

South Dakota GOP legislators obviously didn’t get the message last year with SB 128 and are back to spreading hate across our state.


HB 1195 and HB 1161 are aimed at preventing the SD High School Activities Association from allowing transgender students to participate in activities because of the legislators own insecurities.

These bills all work differently, but have one common theme: they amount to bullying the LGBT community, and we need you to stand up again and say enough is enough!

Read it here

You could sign their petition if you agree with them… but it doesn’t work because the links are all dead.

The South Dakota High School Activities Association passed the controversial rule this year, and it obviously didn’t pass unnoticed, with those legislators sponsoring the measure, and it passing the State House overwhelmingly 51-16, and moving on to the State Senate.

Obviously, people have strong opinions on the issue one way or the other. Some think the SDHSAA is ok to pass it, to preempt any lawsuits that could come their way. Some think their decision was good in the interest of equality, and some think it’s social engineering.

Regardless, it affects those sports teams in small-town South Dakota, which typically trends quite conservative. So I ask the question – What do you think about the SDHSAA rule-nullification Bill?  And with the Democrats drawing battle lines on the issue, does taking up arms on the issue help Democrats win elections in small town South Dakota, or does it hurt them?

Noem Votes to Put Keystone XL on the President’s Desk

Noem Votes to Put Keystone XL on the President’s Desk

kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Washington, D.C. – Rep. Kristi Noem today joined the U.S. House of Representatives in putting the Keystone XL Pipeline on the President’s desk.  H.R.3, the Keystone XL Pipeline Act, which would authorize the long-awaited pipeline’s construction and operation.  With passage in both the House and the Senate, H.R.3 will now go to the President for his signature.

“On energy policy, the President has said that we need to aim higher than a single pipeline, but I believe this pipeline is a good place to start,” said Rep. Noem.  “Further delaying Keystone XL would deprive South Dakota of good jobs, millions of dollars in revenue for cash-strapped counties, and relief for the roads and rails that are currently crowded with oil transit.  I am committed to doing all I can to see this pipeline through – no matter the legislative hurdles we have to cross to accomplish that.”


Thune Statement on House Passage of Keystone XL Pipeline Bill

Thune Statement on House Passage of Keystone XL Pipeline Bill

“A bipartisan majority in both the House and Senate have spoken.”

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) issued the following statement on the House’s bipartisan passage of the Senate bill to approve the job-creating Keystone XL pipeline:

“For more than six years, President Obama has made one excuse after another for blocking this common-sense jobs and infrastructure project. A bipartisan majority in both the House and Senate have spoken. The time to approve the job-creating Keystone XL pipeline is now. I hope the president chooses American jobs and opportunity over political appeasement, and signs this bill into law.”


Thune Bill to Stimulate Agricultural Research Passes Finance Committee

Thune Bill to Stimulate Agricultural Research Passes Finance Committee

“…Congress needs to enact innovative legislation, such as this bill, which will encourage private donors to help bolster agricultural research funding.”

John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressWASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), member of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, today ushered three provisions through the committee, including his bipartisan bill to stimulate new agricultural research by leveraging private dollars to create charitable partnerships between universities and private entities. Thune’s bill, which he introduced last Congress with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), would amend the tax code to allow for the creation of new tax-exempt agricultural research organizations, which are similar to medical research organizations that have been successfully supporting innovation in medical sciences since the 1950s.

“As we seek to stimulate ag research to better equip our producers with the tools needed to meet the demands of a growing global market, Congress needs to enact innovative legislation, such as this bill, which will encourage private donors to help bolster agricultural research funding,” said Thune. “I am pleased the Finance Committee has moved swiftly on this common-sense legislation to provide a new tool for those wishing to dedicate their own resources to agriculture research. Production agriculture’s current economic strength is a direct result of research that, among other things, has increased crop yields, made livestock healthier, and made food safer. My bill will facilitate the transfer of much-needed private investment to agricultural research.”

Over the last 60 years, agricultural research has expanded food production significantly. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, farm productivity has risen 158 percent since 1948. This increase is attributed to research, by implementing new changes in the efficiency of farming practices and the use of agricultural technology.

However, agricultural scientists warn that failing to invest in agricultural research could jeopardize the future of American food security and safety. The Charitable Agricultural Research Act seeks to address these challenges by creating agricultural research organizations (AROs) that work in conjunction with agricultural and land-grant colleges and universities to conduct research in the field of agriculture.

The Senate Finance Committee also approved Thune’s bipartisan Philanthropic Enterprise Act, which he introduced last year with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). Thune’s bill would recognize and encourage a new type of philanthropy that combines private sector entrepreneurship with charitable giving. Finally, the committee passed a Thune provision to tax propane used as transportation fuel on an energy content basis, rather than a volumetric basis, thus ensuring propane is taxed in a more equitable manner.


Press Release: Rounds Questions EPA on Costly Carbon Emissions Proposal

Rounds Questions EPA on Costly Carbon Emissions Proposal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, today at a hearing questioned the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) plan to regulate carbon emissions. The proposal, expected to be finalized this summer, would impose costly new regulations on power plants, despite the Administration’s admission that it would do nothing to achieve its intended goal of reducing global warming.

Rounds pressed: “We have a limited number of electric generating resources in South Dakota.  Each facility is absolutely vital to meeting the energy needs of my state and our surrounding states.  In light of this, what, if any flexibility is built into your proposed rule for a state like South Dakota and what flexibility is there for facilities that are in the midst of a major upgrade – at your direction – and are now being told they need to do even more to meet these additional regulations you plan on implementing?”

Janet McCabe, Administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, failed to assure Rounds of the rule’s flexibility and was unable to answer when asked for the rule’s cost per American family.

A total of 31 states, including South Dakota, are on record opposing the Administration’s Clean Power Plan. South Dakota’s lone coal power plant, Big Stone, employs close to 100 people in Northeast South Dakota and is already under a $400 million project to comply with a different EPA regulation. Compliance is not yet complete, and this costly new rule could put the plant’s future in jeopardy, as Rounds noted in his questioning.


Thune Highlights Challenges of South Dakota Businesses and Ag Producers Due to West Coast Port Disruptions

Thune Highlights Challenges of South Dakota Businesses and Ag Producers Due to West Coast Port Disruptions

“…it has a profound impact on the economy, not just on the West Coast but all across the country. Workers in South Dakota and other places are reliant upon…a reliable supply chain.”

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today at a hearing before the Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security highlighted the frustrations and challenges South Dakota agriculture producers, businesses, and shippers are facing due to the self-imposed worker slowdowns at various West Coast ports. Thune highlighted two South Dakota stories and called for all sides to come together to find a resolution in the port dispute that has been going on for roughly nine months.

Video of Thune’s remarks and questions can be viewed here.

“We greatly appreciate Senator Thune highlighting these critical issues before the Commerce Committee,” said Jodie Anderson, Executive Director of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association. “The port strike limits the ability of ranchers throughout South Dakota to move fresh meat to Asian markets. This means lost revenue, unnecessary port charges, and severe consequences for our customer relationships. We thank Senator Thune for his call for greater urgency and intensity in ending these delays.”

Port inefficiencies impacting South Dakotans:

“I’ve talked with and Tyson’s [Fresh Meats] in my state in South Dakota and they have shared with me that we’ve got beef and pork sitting in freezers near the ports instead of heading to Asian markets, while we’ve got large container ships sitting off the coast waiting to export our nation’s premium products. That affects jobs. Tyson’s employs 41,000 people and the USDA estimates there a million jobs associated with agricultural exports in this country and so it has a profound impact on the economy, not just on the West Coast but all across the country. Workers in South Dakota and other places are reliant upon…a reliable supply chain.

“Outdoor Gear Inc., a family-owned business in South Dakota, they are a wholesaler, and it receives 95 percent of its inventory from West Coast ports and has been forced to miss deadlines, pay late-delivery penalties, and pass up important sales opportunities, including in December, which of course is the holiday peak season.”

Need for resolution:

“This is an issue that just really needs our focus. It’s a huge drain on the economy and I just urge all sides to come to a resolution in this dispute, and find a solution as soon as possible. We just can’t afford to drag this on and have our economy pay this kind of price. If we can get this behind us we can start focusing our energy and creativity on a lot of the other long-term infrastructure challenges that desperately need our attention as well.”


While Wismer gave South Dakota Democrats $4600, the SDDP kicked a check for $23,000 to Kansas Democratic Party

Now this was a curious thing I noted on the South Dakota Democrat Party’s Year End Report. While Susan Wismer gave South Dakota Democrats $4600, the South Dakota Democratic Party was shipping money out of state to the tune of $23,000 to Kansas Democratic Party


As Indicated in the year end report filed with the Secretary of State’s office for the period during the last 2 weeks of the election through the end of the year, State Democrats received donations from various people, including $4600 from the Wismer for Governor campaign. (I’m assuming it was for printing, since that’s how Wismer coded it in her campaign finance report, as opposed to a contribution to the party, as the party had coded it)

But during the same period Susan and others were paying in as they raced to the finish line, the State Democratic Party cut a check – and not just a small one – to the Kansas Democratic Party, totaling $23,000 .At the same time they made various token donations of $1838 to Denny Pierson, and $500 to their Secretary of State Candidate.


So, why were South Dakota Democrats sending $23,000 to another state at a time when their candidates were probably looking in couch cushions for money?  I’m sure Denny Pierson, or Angelia Schultz could have found a way to use $23,000, not to mention Susan Wismer, or the dozens of Democrats running legislative races.

Now, to be fair, South Dakota Democrats weren’t the only ones who kicked a check down to the land of Dorothy & Toto. The Louisiana Democratic Party joined South Dakota’s donation with even more:


So, what were the sources of the funds the SDDP sent off to another state? That’s a good question. Standing out in the year end report was a big check from United Auto Workers at the same time for 20k….


But the remaining $3000 is a bit more mysterious. No money from the Democrat Governor’s Association or other national level entity. Just the 20k check from the union. But, I’m sure the source is in there somewhere.

So, we have the who and most of the what at this point…. just leaving the why.

Why did South Dakota Democrats send off $23,000 to another state?

It likely was a way for an organization(s) friendly to Democrats to get around more restrictive campaign finance laws in other states by routing federal funds through a state political party with lax campaign finance laws. They in turn send it to another state political party in a state with stronger laws that wouldn’t normally allow them to take such a large donation directly from that type of organization.

Cool, huh?  Those are the odd loopholes in campaign finance that are often exploited to get money to a campaign effort that groups are otherwise topped out on donating to.

But of course, I’m sure Democratic candidates didn’t need the $23,000 their state party sent off to another state. I’m sure they got plenty of assistance from the State Democratic Party to run the kind of campaigns they could be proud of, despite losing 4 more legislative seats, and giving Republicans total control over all the statewide elective offices.

What do you think?

Thune, Wyden Reintroduce Bill to Permanently Block Taxes on Internet Access

Thune, Wyden Reintroduce Bill to Permanently Block Taxes on Internet Access

John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressWASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and member of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, today reintroduced the bipartisan Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act, the House companion to which passed the U.S. House of Representatives by voice vote last Congress.

“For successful 21st century innovators and entrepreneurs, the Internet is their lifeblood,” said Thune. “We should be celebrating their success, not taxing the tools they use to achieve it. Our bill, which would permanently ban Internet taxation, would encourage more American innovators and entrepreneurs to use broadband to develop the next big thing, while keeping the Internet open and accessible to consumers across the country. Senator Wyden and I look forward to working with Leader McConnell to bring this bill to the Senate floor.”

“I co-wrote the Internet Tax Freedom Act to protect the openness and viability of the Internet as a platform for commerce, speech, and the exchange of ideas,” said Wyden. “Without ITFA, access to information would no longer be tax-free. Access to online communication would no longer be tax-free. Access to the global marketplace so crucial to America’s economic future would no longer be tax-free. The cost to consumers could easily be hundreds of dollars a year per household. Now is the time to make this law permanent.”

The original ITFA, which Wyden co-authored in 1998, put in place a moratorium preventing state and local jurisdictions from imposing new taxes on the Internet and multiple and discriminatory taxes on e-commerce. While Congress has reauthorized the law five times since its enactment, the Thune-Wyden bill would make the moratorium permanent.

Thune and Wyden’s Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act is also supported by 39 other senators: Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), and David Vitter (R-La.).


Delegation Urges VA Secretary to Withdraw Plans to Close Hot Springs VA from Obama Admin. Budget Proposal

Delegation Urges VA Secretary to Withdraw Plans to Close
Hot Springs VA from Obama Admin. Budget Proposal

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) and Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) today urged Department of Veterans Administration (VA) Secretary Robert McDonald to withdraw all plans to reconfigure the Black Hills Health Care System (BHHCS) from the Obama Administration’s budget proposal. Last week, the administration’s budget request proposed measures to close Hot Springs VA facilities, despite previous assurances that the VA would not act without finishing a fair and thorough Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The delegation writes: “…the VA’s FY 2016 Congressional Budget Submission targeting the Hot Springs VA Medical Center is a direct reversal of the VA’s repeated assurances that it would not proceed with a predetermined outcome.  The request also serves to deepen the distrust of impacted veterans who well remember the VA’s budget request to vacate the campus without conducting an EIS.  We request that the VA expressly remove all Enhanced Use Lease provisions pertaining to the Hot Springs VA from its FY 2016 budget request and judiciously proceed with the EIS.”

Full text of the letter can be found below:

February 10, 2015

The Honorable Robert McDonald
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW

Washington, D.C. 20420

Dear Secretary McDonald:

We are writing to express our concern regarding the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) budget submission for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016.

As you know, we continue to have concerns about the impact the VA’s proposal to reconfigure the Black Hills Health Care System (BHHCS).  For over four years, the South Dakota delegation has been closely engaged with the VA and veteran stakeholders on this issue.  Throughout this time, the VA has assured us that any final decision would not be made until it completed an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in full accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.

However, the inclusion of 14 separate line items in the VA’s FY 2016 Congressional Budget Submission targeting the Hot Springs VA Medical Center is a direct reversal of the VA’s repeated assurances that it would not proceed with a predetermined outcome.  The request also serves to deepen the distrust of impacted veterans who well remember the VA’s budget request to vacate the campus without conducting an EIS.  We request that the VA expressly remove all Enhanced Use Lease provisions pertaining to the Hot Springs VA from its FY 2016 budget request and judiciously proceed with the EIS.

Moreover, given the persistent discrepancies with the data used to formulate the VA’s proposed reconfiguration of the BHHCS, as well as current concerns with management decisions, we again request the VA make every effort to return the Hot Springs VA to its former level of operations and staff before conducting a five-year review to gather reliable data.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.  We look forward to your response.



10 Years a Blogger Journalist. THANK YOU for the wild ride.

I have to laugh, I missed my own birthday. Or anniversary.  On February 5th, 2005, South Dakota War College was hatched waaaay back when on the free blogging platform “Blogger,” which is now owned by Google. 

It’s almost scary to read now, but this was my inaugural post.

I had someone tell me the other day that they were traveling to listen to “X” teach a class on campaign techniques and strategy. Admittedly, it was really arrogant of me to say so, but my response to them was “You’ve got to be sh*tting me. They ran a terrible campaign, and spent money like an idiot. They were lucky their opponent rolled over and died. What are they going to teach – ‘how to spend money like a drunken sailor?’”

In saying that, I was probably just verbalizing a frustration. There are tons of good Republican candidates out there, but many of them lack someone to show them the way. Hopefully, this weblog can serve as a reference for campaign “newbies” and those with some experience to use as something to get them pointed in the right direction.

Who the hell am I? I’ve been involved with Republican political campaigns since 1988. (I don’t know if I should wear this as a badge of honor, or hide my head in shame for having this affliction.) I’ve worked for the Republican party for a couple elections in Pierre, and one in Rapid City.

I’ve worked for candidates, I’ve worked with candidates, and I’ve done a bunch of other stuff in between. I’ve dived in with both feet, walked away for a few years as a sanity check, and came back. I ran for office myself, and got my stupid ass deservedly kicked for violating every rule I’ve set down to candidates, and it ended making me better for the loss.

In effect, it made me take stock and say “I will not run and do a crappy job again.” It forced me to understand that it takes certain “things” to run a campaign, and to recognize those things.

Circumstance has made me into an unofficial mentor. Why unofficial? One of the people whom I consider a mentor, Geraldine “Gypsy” Hines, the principal of Good Government Consultants in Sioux Falls once noted to me that a lot of people don’t want to pay for political consulting in SD. I tried it to make money off of it once, and while I had a few people who were willing to pay for consulting, I realized that most candidates at this level lack the resources to do so.

And really, the people who can’t afford it need it the most. So, the people I end up helping are typically the young, first time candidate whose never done this sort of thing before, but they’re jumping in with both feet. I’ve got a soft spot for these guys (and gals), because that was me once.

So, I’ve kind of ended up as that politically active guy who people get pointed to by acquaintances who say “Call this guy, he can help you with…..”

Ugh. My first blogpost was rough. I was much freer with “sentence enhancers,” which changed about 6-8 months into it when I started hearing that the Governor, John Thune, and many others whom I respect were reading. Just a little sense of self-consciousness, and getting to know my audience helped.

At times, my love affair with blogging has waxed and waned. It has shut doors in my face, and opened them.   I’ve thought about quitting a couple of times, and after a job required 18-month hiatus where I handed it off to others, I couldn’t wait to jump back in, and I did so with a vengeance.

I’ve made many, many friends, and maybe a couple of enemies with really think skin.  But I’m still here, and I’m not going anywhere.

In retrospect, I’m surprised that I did think about walking away, as there have been times I’ve fought for it, and fought hard.

When Noel Hamiel’s awful blog control act was introduced, while others spent time behind their desks, I was out in Pierre testifying against it, as well as pointing out to groups with lobbyists how it would affect them. And when someone wanted to drag me into court on a fishing expedition, Joel Arends successfully argued that I, as a blogger, have a journalistic privilege, making me a journalist, and not just a guy with a computer on his desk.

As the use of social media has risen I’ve managed to go from being treated as a freak of nature who people avoided, to someone that people are as used to being accustomed as a part of the political process.

And honestly, I couldn’t have done it without you; the readers. You are the ones who have made it happen, and I can’t thank you enough. It’s been a rollercoaster for the last ten years. And I’m here in line to give you ten more.