Michael Clark: I Won! Now what?

I know it has been awhile since my last update. The last months of the campaign, the pace really picked up.  Between the door knocking, attending events, and standing on street corners sign waving it has really been busy.  All the hard worked paid off because after hours of waiting at the Minnehaha GOP victory party, I got the results and I had won!

Time for the happy dance.


The election is over!  All the signs have been picked up, cleaned, and shrink-wrapped and stored away.  Time to pay the finial bills, then moth-ball the campaign until 2018 season starts up.  This could be sooner rather than later.

Now It time to start being a legislator!  I didn’t have to wait long.  On Saturday, my mailbox was filled, my E-mail inboxes sprang to life. I received congratulation cards, letters and resumes from legislators looking for leadership positions, and stack of invitations to almost every social event in Sioux Falls.   I also received a packet of paperwork from the LRC.

Oh! Wow! There is no chance of my head getting any bigger

Most important was the flowers from my biggest supporter and loudest critic, My lovely bride, Mrs. MCimg_20161110_131803I was getting ready to accept some of the invites when my Facebook messenger popped up with a message from Senator Peters, not to accept any of the invites until the details of Imitated Measure 22 can be sorted out.  What!?!  I checked with a few other current legislators, and the blogs, to get a better feel for what I should be doing.  The general consensus was to not do anything, just to sit tight.  The Executive board, the Governor, The Attorney General and a few others were already working on a solution.  Meanwhile I sit here with a fist full of invites I can’t do anything with.  The worst part is, these groups have information I need to be able to do my job as a legislator.  It is like having a library card, but not able to read any of the books.

I also got notice of the Caucus elections, along with a gently worded warning to keep everything hush, hush.   I really don’t know how much I can release, and when I can release it.  I have to work with these ladies and gentlemen, and I will need their support in the coming months.  So, I’m sorry, Pat, I kept my keyboard on silent.  I wish I could say the same for my cell phone.  The Republican House Caucus Social dinner was held on November 18th, with the elections held on the 19th.  There was a bit of snow on the evening of the 17th that made a real mess of the roads east of Mitchell.  Long story short, it was white knuckle driving from Sioux Falls to Mitchell, and even after Mitchell it was best to keep your wits about you.   During this drive time I received about five phone calls from various legislators, each one looking to sway my vote one way or another.  Thank goodness for the Bluetooth headset so I can keep my hands on the wheel and my eyes on, well, where I think the road should be.  I also received a number of text messages from various people checking on my progress, including If I gone in the ditch yet.

The social dinner was a quick hand shake and this is who I am, then move on.  Not really enough time to really get to know someone.  I have been advised that what happens in the Caucus, stays in the Caucus, Therefore, I’m not going to tell, so please don’t ask.

I did get a chance to wonder a bit around the capitol and get a feel for where everything is at.   There were a few groups decorating trees for Christmas at the Capitol.img_20161119_115019995_hdr img_20161119_115013449 img_20161119_115322622 img_20161119_115216678

My next taste will the Governor’s Budget address on December 6th with some additional training on the 7th.


I have been told that for this budget address I will be seated somewhere on the floor of this chamber.

More updates to come …

Michael Clark: My Run for The South Dakota House Update #4 “You are Invited…”

One of the benefits of being a candidate is the number of ‘VIP’ invitations received. Sometimes these invitations include some kind of meal.

Pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans in a tomato sauce, dinner roll and coleslaw
Baked beans, pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad and a biscuit
Corn bread, smoked pulled pork, Boston Baked Beans and macaroni salad
Barbecued pulled pork sandwiches, Baked Beans, fruit salad and ice cream.

And of course a choice of beverages of water, coffee, or some kind of juice.

While I enjoy the meal they would have guests listen to their pitch about issues that concerns them. On rare occasions (two) they will even ask me to speak.

I’m also finding the term ‘V.I.P.’ to be quite nebulous. As I understand the term, it is supposed to provide some kind of separation from the common people, and they are accorded some kind of special access. In some cases I’m finding the term means, a special ‘VIP’ name badge, not much else. Other times it means the ‘spotlight’ will be put on the person at some point to be recognized. A little disconcerting if you are unaware it is coming, and you have a mouth full of pulled pork.

There is also the question of what invitations do I accept? Do I attend a Sioux Falls Free Thinkers meeting? Or a VIP tour of the LifeScape facility?  Each of these are opportunities to meet people.

Back on the trail and line up for another helping of pulled pork and beans.

Michael Clark: My Run for The South Dakota House Update #2 The Candidate Survey

Soon after becoming a candidate I started to receive ‘Candidate surveys’ from various lobbying groups. How can I tell it is a survey?
I am reminded of this little quote

“Tread lightly when completing candidate surveys/questionnaires. You have almost nothing to gain and instead provide ammunition for opponents or groups to use against you in your campaign.”
– Brian Gosch
South Dakota House Majority Leader

Here is a conversation I had with myself when I received my first survey:

So, trap?


Are you going to fill it out?

Won’t take but a few minutes.

Yeah, but remember the part where it’s a trap?

Might be, we got a shot at seeing who’s turning these wheels. Let’s fill it out and see what shakes loose.

How do you know that they just don’t want to know where you stand on the issues? People just want to know who you are and what you’re about here. I’m referring to real people here.

Y’all read this survey, I take it?


Did they ask for money?



First question:

Will you oppose any increase in taxes or fees?
_____Yes _____No

Talk about a trap! Just who do you think would answer ‘No’?

As a general rule, I dislike rising taxes or fees and will avoid it, if possible. However there are some situations that a tax increase is just plain unavoidable or needs to be done.

I have to go back to Governor Rounds who wouldn’t just sign pledges or commit to do or not do something so broadly. His reasoning is sound. Unless someone has crystal ball or magic mirror and can tell us what situations we are going face in the future, it is bad idea to commit to something like this then have the need to increase taxes or fees.

Some taxes I opposed like the $1.00 increase on cigarettes and 25% more on tobacco products. Not because I approve of smoking, because the money was destined for the general fund, not anti-smoking campaigns or Medicaid. I also couldn’t support the current tax increase for teacher pay in its current form. Not that teachers don’t deserve more pay, however I still maintain at least some of the money can be found in the state budget.

I can support the increase for maintaining the highway. Maintenance costs have gone up and revenue just hasn’t been keeping pace.

Most of the questions is looking for a yes or no answer. Do you support this idea or that movement. As in most politics it isn’t that quite that simple. It isn’t just black and white, more like a 107 shades of grey.

I get it. These surveys are used to help build voter guides and side by side comparisons between candidates especially, those without a voting record. Many of the issues are a wee bit complex.  Sometimes the answer needs to be more than ‘Yes’ or ‘No’

If you really want to know where a candidate stand on an issue or issues You can contact many of them by E-mail, by phone or even put pen to paper and write them a letter.

Michael Clark: My Run for The South Dakota House

Pat has given permission for me to document my experience for running the South Dakota House here.  This all started several months ago.  When Pastor Steve Hickey announced he was going to resign to go to Scotland to study Christian Ethics.  Somebody gave my name to the Governor’s office to replace him.

I made it to the final interview and then rejected.

I wasn’t about to let that stop me.  I contacted Dave Roetman the Minnehaha County GOP Chair, who got me started.  I got my petition downloaded from the Secretary of State web site.  Fill them out and after some fussing with the printer margins, got them printed out, signed and notarized and I was ready, except I needed copies. Who was open on New Year’s day that can make double sided copies?   After checking Kinko’s (Closed) the UPS Store (Closed) Lewis Drug (copier broken) and Walgreen’s (no copier) I found the Sunshine in Hartford had a copier and was open. As I was making copies, I saw Deb Peters Facebook post looking for people to sign her petition.   There was a no brainer, ‘I’ll sign yours, if you’ll sign mine.’

Over the past several months I have been gathering signatures to get on the primary ballot. I have been through Hartford, Crooks, Humboldt, and chunk of northwestern Sioux Falls. I did some door to door, Attended events where people gathered, even out to where people where ice fishing.

Most of the time people were happy to sign the petitions.  Some asked a few questions.  Only two people said they wouldn’t sign their name.  Not because they didn’t like me, rather they hated politics that much.  When some peopled learned that Paula Hawks is our current representative, they not only signed but asked if I needed any help.  Some people were surprised that someone would even stop by to ask them to sign a petition for anything. Especially that gentleman in the ice shanty on Clear Lake

I quickly learned the list of republican voters from the GOP Database was at least two years out of date.  I updated the database with corrections as I came across errors.  Some were deceased, some had moved and some had re registered as independent.   Of course I had voter registration cards handy to help anyone who needed to register to vote.

One thing about elections is they are rife with rumors.  There are a lot of petitions out for a lot different races, including city and county positions.  I have heard rumors of people signing petitions with fictitious names, petitions being soiled (I’m being nice here) by opponents and others.  Of course who is running for what can be great guessing game. So far I have heard Lora Hubbel, Linda Johnson, Karon Gubbrud and few others might be in the mix.  I believe there are more petitions being passed around.  I have found the best way to deal with rumors is ‘hear everything, believe about 2%’ What part to believe is the tricky part.

With all the rumors abound, I decided the best way to ensure I get on the ballot, is once the petitions are filled out and notarized, to personally take them to Pierre and hand them in to the Secretary of State office myself.  If there is a problem, the only one I can blame, is that guy in the mirror.

Sunday afternoon, the last of my petitions were notarized, then my wife and I headed to Pierre.  For some reason, all my trips to Pierre have been overnight trips.  My goal was to turn in the petition before 9:00 AM and be on the way back before 10:00.  When I turned in the petitions, I was told they had number of petitions come in Friday afternoon and they would put mine at the bottom of the stack.  Now all we do is wait.

Tuesday morning at 10:21 I checked the Secretary of State web site and seen my name pop up I’m now on the June Primary Ballot.  I would like to say Thank you to everyone who signed the petitions.

Now the campaigning can begin.

The one thing campaigns need is money.  I have set up a Go fund me page to get ball going.

There will be more coming as campaign gets going and the elections draw closer.

Sioux City Journal: No candidates on the horizon for South Dakota Democrats, But they’re doing referendums. (Don’t laugh, they’re trying).

South Dakota Democrats are lamenting a lack of candidates, a lack of money, and the plain and simple truth that they are quickly approaching extinction in South Dakota in an article today by the Sioux City Journal:

But with the retirement of U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson, a Democrat from Vermillion who had held the seat for 18 years and the following loss by Democratic candidate Rick Weiland to Republican former Gov. Mike Rounds, now all three of the state’s federal lawmakers are Republicans.

“In many respects, South Dakota is a de facto one-party state,” South Dakota State University Professor David Wiltse said. “The Republican Party is strong and dominant, with little sign of weakening.”

Former South Dakota Democratic Party Executive Director Ben Nesselhuf, a former state legislator from Vermillion now living in Sioux City, conceded “the last six years the pendulum has swung hard against” Midwest Democrats.


Wiltse said South Dakota people typically identify with the Republican Party because the 20th century populism with Democratic leanings in Upper Great Plains states wore off and due to the rise of religious and social conservatism in the 1980s.

“Social conservatives and rural populists, who would have considered voting Democratic in the past, are now a unified force politically, and solidly Republican,” Wiltse said.


Jones Pranger said one indication of South Dakotans lining up with Democrats is in the outcomes of referendums where state laws were overturned, such as a hard-line abortion law. Jones Pranger and Nesselhuf said that is an indication that Democrats can rise again, given more campaign money and energized support for a new wave of candidates.

Read it here.

So, yes, it looks like Democrats are going to have another awful year.  But, I did want to point one glaring error out to the new Democrat Executive Director since math is obviously difficult for her.

She notes  “one indication of South Dakotans lining up with Democrats is in the outcomes of referendums where state laws were overturned…  Jones Pranger and Nesselhuf said that is an indication that Democrats can rise again.

There’s a simple math equation that explains the Democrat dilemma quite succinctly, and holds true on almost all occasions:

Referendums + reduced numbers of Democrat voters + No Candidates for office = DEMOCRATS LOSING ELECTIONS

Seriously!?! Who in their right mind thinks they stand a snowball’s chance in hell if they leave most of their state legislative races unchallenged while they fiddle around with ballot measures?  Raiding Assisted Living Centers for placeholders and trying to rig the system so party bosses can assign candidates don’t count.

When they can show they’re a serious political party who fields candidates, maybe then they can have flights of fancy that the Democrat Party could rise again. Until then, such talk is nothing to take seriously.

New Republican candidate on deck for District 30

Somewhat lighter posting as I kicked off activities for both of my new positions today.  I’d liken it to drinking from a fire hose at full blast. I first had to figure out connectivity for my office computer through my network, and then get to work reviewing web sites, writing copy, producing a podcast, and a number of other digital media sorts of things.

I also had to do some training over lunch for the other position. It’s going to be no less nutty tomorrow, but that’s what I signed up for.

The world of politics certainly kept on turning during my day’s flurry of activity, as this evening I had a nice conversation with the GOP’s newest candidate for the State Legislature, Richard Mounce who is running for the house in District 30:


Mounce is an endodontist, which for us layfolk means that he’s a specialist dentist, focusing on root canal procedures such as the one I’m probably going to need on one of my back teeth, but conveniently keep ignoring.

Mounce is finishing up the work on his website, and plans to campaign in earnest next year for the seats being vacated by Lance Russell and Mike Verchio, both of whom are termed out of office.  Plan on that race being a free for all, as District 30 has had primaries when there were two incumbents, much less two open seats.

And it’s evident that he’s putting quite a bit of effort into his candidacy. That’s an awfully nice web site. My print work is comparable, but I can only wish I could code like that.

Regarding issues, dentist and businessman Mounce has noted specifics including:

My top priorities include:

  • Growing our economy (especially in the agriculture, tourism, small business and professional sectors)
  • Preserving cherished Second Amendment rights
  • Providing necessary yet sensible funding for our schools
  • Caring and responsible stewardship of South Dakota’s natural and financial resources
  • Supporting law enforcement
  • Aiding the global efforts of our military services, especially those at Ellsworth AFB
  • Improving rural access to health care and infrastructure investments

Read that here.

If you’re out West River, check out Dr. Mounce’s web site here, and keep an eye on him as next years’ races start to shape up.

Bonus…. Also, it looks like a Democrat is emerging from the nest to run west river. I think he’s a little small. Somebody should probably throw him back, as I don’t think his eyes are opened yet.

Dem Chances for a US Senate candidate looking even more dismal….

You know it’s looking bad for Democrats coming up with a candidate against Thune when even Frank Kloucek has no interest in it….

Maybe they can search the trash from cleaning out the prior ED’s desk to see if there were any rolodex cards that might have been discarded…

Kurt Evans reminding people again that he intends to challenge Thune next year, with some calling for his spoiler candidacy. I don’t think that dog is going to hunt.

I noticed this weekend on one of the other blogs that Kurt Evans is reminding people again that it’s his intent to run against US Senator John Thune.

The speculation wasn’t that he actually stood a chance at winning, but was over how useful Evans could be to Democrat in acting as spoiler to Thune, in hopes of him duplicating the circumstances that triggered Thune’s loss to Tim Johnson way back in 2002, where Evans received 3070 votes, which was about 6 times the 500 vote margin of victory.  As noted by Dakota Free Press:

So Democrats, consider the possibilities. Suppose John Thune right now holds the same margin over any given Democrat by which Rep. Kristi Noem beat Corinna Robinson last year, 67% to 33%. If Kurt Evans can do half as well with the Independent label as Larry Pressler did in last year’s Senate race, he pulls Thune down below 60%. To win, a Democrat would only have to beat 46% instead of 50%. Eventual Democrat, Evans climbs a quarter of your electoral hill for you.

Read that here.

Of course, that’s speculation that erroneously assumes many things. First, that Thune will have a Democratic challenger that has yet to even be hinted at, as Democrats are quickly approaching “the point of no credibility” in getting someone announced, on the ground, raising money, and generally doing those things that are anathema to Democrats; campaigning.

Secondly, it also assumes that Evans can remotely approach the 9% that the author say could make a difference for Democrats by being their anointed spoiler in hopes of spoiling the race again. Because unlike Pressler who had statewide recognition from having been elected to Washington for decades, Evans might literally be one of the worst candidates to grace the ballot in history, and the intervening years have not been kind to his curriculum vitae.

As well documented, Evans’ background is rife with incidents that would cause most South Dakotans to cringe.

During the last election, on more than one occasion, Evans used highly charged and bigoted language as he criticized people on the basis of their Catholic faith:

Not exactly statements out of Dale Carnegie, especially as far as Catholics are concerned.

Evans also faces questions over accusations of stalking, including a ban from the SDSU campus after his last race against Thune:

In one of those newsgroup articles, allegedly written by Evans, the author claimed that because Rebecca St. James’ father wouldn’t return his call, it somehow had an association with what could be one of the biggest black marks on his record – claiming that he went to jail for hitting his mom in 2006.


Read that here.

It’s my understanding the charges were dropped at the time, as they sometimes are in cases of domestic violence. But when statements describing it are written by the candidate, as this one supposedly was, they can expect to read it again.

The quixotic attempted spoiler candidate from this past election, Larry Pressler, may have had a reputation for oddness, but he never threw out statements of religious bigotry, found himself on the wrong end of accusations of stalking, nor confessed to the Internet that he hit his mom.

So, as for wistful thinking that Democrats could stand a chance if they could find a candidate and have Evans whittle down at the needed margin for victory? I think there’s more of a chance UFO’s will land and alien visitors will announce themselves as real.

Because I just don’t think that dog is going to hunt.

Pro-pot Ballot group offering drinks for those who sign petitions. See 12-26-15 for what NOT to do in petition circulation.

Melissa Mentele’s pro-medical pot organization “New Approach South Dakota” is apparently out there in the field collecting signatures. And if you were quick enough the other day, you could get a free drink if you went down to the Longbranch in Pierre & signed their petition:


“Our volunteer is offering a free beverage to whoever comes down to sign!”  Yeah… the only problem with that is state law:

12-26-15.   Bribery of voter as misdemeanor–Acts constituting bribery. It is a Class 2 misdemeanor for any person, directly or indirectly, by the person or through any other person:

(6)      To pay, lend, contribute, or offer or promise to pay, lend, or contribute, any money or other valuable consideration, to or for any voter or to or for any other person, to sign any nominating, referendum, initiated measure, or initiated constitutional amendment petition;
(7)      To give, offer, or promise any office, place, or employment, or to promise to procure or endeavor to procure any office, place, or employment to or for any voter, or to or for any other person in order to sign any nominating, referendum, initiated measure, or initiated constitutional amendment petition; or
(8)      To make any gift, loan, or promise, offer, procurement, or agreement as aforesaid to, for, or with any person in order to sign any nominating, referendum, initiated measure, or initiated constitutional amendment petition.

Read that here.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m thinking that saying “free beverage to whoever comes down to sign” might strongly be considered an offer to exchange a signature for a drink.

(Update – as you might have guessed, the post is gone from their facebook page. But luckily, we have it saved and displayed for posterity. – PP)