Apparently, major candidate announcements are not a biggie for the SDDP

Today, the Democrats had their first big candidate announcement for the 2018 cycle (not withstanding Chris Martian, who is likely not going anywhere).

So, what do we hear from the South Dakota Democrat Party?

Nothing on their website. Nothing on Facebook. Nothing on Twitter. You’d hardly think there’s a political party there anymore.

(So far, so good, keeping Ann Tornberg in there.)

What’s missing from the Sutton announcement and website? One Word: Democrat

Hmm…  what’s missing from this press release issued today for State Senator Billie Sutton’s entrance into the race for Governor of South Dakota?:

Senator Billie Sutton Announces for South Dakota Governor

BURKE, S.D. – Today on his family’s ranch overlooking the Missouri River in rural Burke, South Dakota, Senate Minority Leader Billie Sutton announced his candidacy for Governor of South Dakota.

Senator Sutton, a fifth generation South Dakotan and term-limited District 21 State Senator, said he is running for Governor to put his South Dakota values of hard work, honesty, and integrity to work for the people of South Dakota.

Senator Sutton said that making his announcement for Governor from his family’s ranch was important because of the values he was raised with and the ranch’s connection to his life story.

Senator Sutton said, “I look around this ranch – a business and way of life my parents built with their blood, sweat, tears, and hard work, and I see the values that make us South Dakotans: rugged individualists with a heart for our community and neighbors, a never-say-quit attitude, and a desire to build a better life for each generation to come.”

Senator Sutton was raised a rodeo cowboy on the ranch. He had a successful college and professional rodeo career, making it to the top 30 in the world in the professional ranks. However, Sutton’s rodeo career was cut short in October 2007 when he was paralyzed in a rodeo accident.

Senator Sutton recounted, “My horse flipped over in the chute, and I was instantly paralyzed. My life changed forever in that moment– but I know deep down it’s more important to live by God’s plan for my life than it is to live by my own plan.”

Senator Sutton said that during his recovery, “It felt as though the entire state of South Dakota was behind me. Now is my time to give back to the state I love.”

“My wife Kelsea and I are raising our family, and we want to ensure that all South Dakotans can live the South Dakota dream of having a good-paying job, a great quality of life, a world-class education, in a state that helps every person live up to their God-given potential.” Sutton said.

Senator Sutton also laid out his vision for South Dakota in his announcement speech at the Sutton Ranch.

“I believe in a South Dakota where every person can get a world-class education and job with a good wage that provides the opportunity to build a better future for their family. If you are willing to work hard, you should be able to get ahead in South Dakota.”

“I believe in a South Dakota where our state government is as honest and hardworking as our people. We deserve better than what the establishment in Pierre has let happen to our state, and as our next Governor I’m going to change the culture of corruption.”

“I also believe in a South Dakota where we embrace our ag economy and our rural way of life. Our entire state, rural and urban, is impacted by the strength of our ag economy. Whan ag struggles, South Dakota struggles. When ag is strong, South Dakota is strong,” Senator Sutton said.

Sutton also told the crowd at the announcement that he will travel the state and listen to the issues facing people in their local communities.

“No one person has all the answers, and no political party has a monopoly on good ideas. I believe together we can find the answers and solve the problems facing our state,” Sutton proclaimed.

Senator Sutton resides in his hometown of Burke, SD. He still rides horses and has a cattle operation with his family. Senator Sutton formerly served as manager of a local Hay Association where he marketed hay across the country for area farmers. Sutton has worked as an investment executive for First Fidelity Bank, a small community bank, since August 2010.

Sutton was elected to the State Senate in 2010 and is now in his fourth term. He is the current Senate Minority Leader, serving in that role since 2014.

Senator Sutton is married to Kelsea Kenzy Sutton, an attorney with First Fidelity Bank and County Commissioner in Gregory County. Billie and Kelsea also have a young son named Liam.


It’s missing a word.

How are Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether and Billie Sutton alike?  Neither one wants to be identified as a Democrat.  

In fact, “Democrat” is also very conspicuously missing from his campaign website. Nowhere on the website is his party affiliation noted.

In fact, by mentioning it in the title, and twice in the paragraph above, I’ve now written it three more times in this post than Billie Sutton has in his entire website.

Kind of interesting, don’t you think?

Hmm.. Curious. And here’s Max Sandlin again.

Watching the Sutton Gubernatorial announcement via streaming at the Argus Leader. The first speaker was Sutton’s wife… but the second is former Texas Congressman & Washington Lobbyist Max Sandlin, as he goes on about Sutton being a 5th Generation South Dakotan?

This comes after Max Sandlin being a speaker at the Democrat’s ill-fated McGovern Day Dinner.

Curious.  Are South Dakota Democrats that bad off that they have to import activists and party leaders from out of state now?

As a candidate, would Billie Sutton reject the Liberal Democrat social agenda, or is he aligned with it?

On Wednesday, District 21 Democrat and State Senator Billie Sutton has invited people to visit his family ranch outside of the town of Burke for an announcement regarding his political future.

Since most people don’t invite media out to their ranch for an announcement that they’re retiring from politics, I think we can safely assume he’s running ‘for something.’ He has been long rumored to be interested in running for Governor, so it is a safe bet that this is the campaign that he’s going to be throwing his hat in the ring for.

Billie’s candidacy is kind of unique for South Dakota Democrats, as on the surface, he comes off as a kindred spirit to the party’s offering for Governor in 1990, Faith rancher Bob Samuelson who made teacher pay a major issue in his campaign (and was handily defeated in the contest on a 59 – 41% basis by Governor George S. Mickelson).

Sutton comes off as a rare West River Democrat who on the surface seems to have a conservative bent.  Pro-life Democrat Julie Bartling from Sutton’s own District is counted in that number. And there’s another one or two of them. But by and large, and driving the reason behind conservative South Dakota’s further reddening into one of the deepest red states in the country, traditionally conservative Democrats don’t exist anymore.

So as voters may seek a palatable candidate who has the same values as they do, they immediately pass over Democrats because they know they don’t share their values, based on what they see on TV and read in the media on a daily basis.

What people read and see is a world outside the Midwest which encroaches more and more on their own and it’s one that they’d largely like to shelter themselves from.  They don’t want their kids showering with the opposite sex in locker rooms. They don’t want anti-police riots in the street. They don’t like being told what to do, or lectured what they think is ‘political incorrectness.’  They think people should be paid what they’re worth, and they don’t want to give government one more dime than their fair share.   They hate President Obama and Obamacare, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, etcetera and so on.

So, nearly thirty years after the last “West River Cowboy Democrat” tried it, where does a Billie Sutton candidacy stand in this election as taking on the mantle of being the spokesman and leader of the Democrat Party agenda versus a South Dakota that has rejected it with more and more fervor every year?

While he’s not a Sioux Falls or Aberdeen liberal firebrand, in looking at the Sutton record, his record isn’t especially in red or even deep purple territory. It seems to be quite blue.

Sutton was rated at 100% supporting the LGBT Activist group South Dakota Equality in 2015 and 2016. According to the American Conservative Union, he has not been ranked at above 50%, and most recently was scored at 30%.  And he’s gone up and down in the NRA’s rankings, from C+, to 50%, and was at 79% in 2016.

And if we start drilling down into specifics, Sutton has been advocating for a bill on Medical Marijuana, increasing state legislator salaries, was against prohibiting the employment of illegal aliens, recently sponsored a bill for state-funded preschool, and has been a vocal proponent of Obamacare.   These aren’t exactly positions solidly in “red” territory.

About the only consistent conservative position Sutton has held is on abortion. In 2011 and 2012 he was at 100% for South Dakota Right to Life, but dropped in 2015 before being ranked at 100% again in 2016. NARAL has Sutton at 50%

Fairly conservative on Abortion, but when it comes to the other issues, Sutton seems to openly embrace and even promote the larger Democrat agenda pursued by the most openly Blue, “Bernie Sanders loving” liberal Democrats of the extreme left.

So, to answer the question “As a candidate, would Billie Sutton reject the Democrat social agenda, or is he aligned with it?”  I think you have your answer.   Sutton may be a nice guy. And he may wearing a cowboy hat.

But don’t think it translates into him being a mis-identified Republican by any stretch of the imagination.

Billie Sutton announcement coming on Wednesday

Now that the debacle of the 2017 McGovern Day Dinner has died down, Democrat State Senator Billie Sutton just announced that he will be making an announcement on his political future on Wednesday at his family’s ranch near Burke.

Sutton, who has been widely speculated to run for Governor, is obviously running for something or else he wouldn’t be dragging the state’s media to Burke. The possibility of running for Congress had been dropped in the past, but let’s not kid ourselves. He’s running for Governor.

I’m also guessing his website is going to be “,” considering it was just registered…

Stay tuned for Wednesday.

Billie might not be Dem’s Hero. Are Dems trying to push a couple of reluctant candidates forward?

Did you notice how Democrat State Senator Billie Sutton, who was said to be planning to announce that he was going to be running for Governor at the Democrat’s McGovern Day Dinner, didn’t?

While Sutton spoke at the event, he held back from letting Democrats know they had a candidate, even after supposedly poaching the party’s Executive Director for his effort, leaving an already chaotic mess in further disarray.

Here’s where we get into the rumor mill – What I’m hearing on the street is that Sutton is getting somewhat contradictory advice in the matter. Some are urging him to proudly carry the banner for the beleaguered SDDP, and try to show that they are able to produce a viable candidate after their last disaster of the inept Susan Wismer helping along Republicans to one of their biggest victories ever in a gubernatorial contest.

But not so fast… I’m also hearing that Sutton is being counseled and pulled the other way… to NOT run, recognizing that whether it’s Kristi Noem or Marty Jackley leading the party in 2018, it is not a race he wants to take on, especially given the disorganized mess the Democrat Party is in.   Let’s face it. It’s not as if Ann Tornberg had a good year in 2016, and the Democrat party is even further fractured after the debacle of the recently attempted and failed Ann Tornberg coup.

What might be further driving it is that the rest of their ticket isn’t in such good shape. While Republicans have competitive races for many seats, all the Dems have is the foul-mouthed Chris Martian running for Congress on the Dem ticket. The unemployed IT professional isn’t exactly known among dems, nor does he seem to have the financial wherewithal to raise dollars for a congressional race. Martian isn’t their favorite at this time.

Plus, they may be ignoring him because State Dems know there’s someone better in the wings, and they don’t want to waste time with someone out of nowhere.

It has been rumored that Senate Democrat Assistant Minority Leader Troy Heinert may be weighing entering the Congressional contest. The well spoken Heinert would certainly electrify Democrats more than a profane and crass Martian, but South Dakota is still a Republican state, and the hill to climb might be impossible to navigate.  Heinert might be well spoken, but he is most definitely in the hard D column, and would be campaigning on a pretty liberal voting record that might be hard for many South Dakotans to swallow.

Further driving Dem reluctance is that if both Heinert and Sutton ran and lost, that could take a large and significant bite out of Democrat Leadership, with two of their most capable spokesmen out of the legislature for two years.

So, will Billie be dem’s hero? Hard to say at this point. But the clock is ticking down to get a campaign underway. For both he and/or Heinert.

SDDP Recruiting for Executive Director. As long as that lasts..

I’m noticing this morning that the South Dakota Democrat Party has their job opening up for an Executive Director for the South Dakota Democrat Party, after Suzanne Pranger bailed on them for a Billie Sutton run for statewide office.

What can the person who applies for this job expect?  Misery. Soul crushing defeat.

Aside from the obvious, I’d argue that anyone applying for this position might expect that it could be a very, very short tenure. With Ann Tornberg’s opponents continuing the fight to have her ousted, she and possibly her hand-picked staff may all be out the door sooner than they think.

In case any of our readers on the other side of the aisle are into self-abuse, and think they can turn the Democrat party around, here’s the job listing:

POSITION TITLE:  Executive Director
REPORTS TO:  Chair of the South Dakota Democratic Party and the Executive Board
LOCATION:  Sioux Falls, SD

DESCRIPTION:  The Executive Director, in collaboration with the State Chair and the Executive Board, oversees all programmatic and fundraising activities for the state party. The Executive Director’s main objectives include building a strong State Party, recruiting new candidates, and winning elections in a competitive environment. This person must be reliable, honest, loyal, and discreet.

CLOSING DATE:  Open until filled


  • Serve as chief strategist for the South Dakota Democratic Party;
  • Develop and implement campaign plans to win elections at the local, federal, and statewide levels;
  • Work alongside coordinated campaign and coordinate consultants’ activities during election years;
  • Work with field personnel to maintain and expand grassroots efforts and primary base;
  • Stay up-to-date on technology involved with Party building and winning elections;
  • Manage relationships both in-state and across the U.S.;
  • Attend County party meetings and other Democratic Events;
  • Build coalitions with emergent progressive groups;
  • Hire additional personnel based on need and decisions made in consultation with the State Chair, Executive Board and SDDP Personnel Committee.
  • Perform staff reviews and encourage staff development;
  • Review and restructure staff functions and responsibilities as necessary;
  • Direct fundraising efforts, develop strategy, and work with finance staff or consultants to implement plan;
  • Oversee programming such as volunteer recruitment and retention, including during non-election years;
  • Work with Chair, Treasurer, consultants, and staff to develop and adhere to operating budget;
  • Coordinate with Party Secretary and staff to prepare written reports for all meetings of the Executive Board and the State Central Committee;
  • Act as liaison with the staffs of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the Association of State Democratic Chairs (ASDC), and the Association of State Democratic Executive Directors (ASDED);
  • Attend DNC, ASDC, ASDED, and District and Regional Party meetings;
  • Ensure that all campaign finance reports, tax returns, and other required reports are accurately filed on time by the Compliance consultant;
  • Work with staff to issue press releases, speak on behalf of Party where appropriate, and present the SDDP in a positive and professional light;
  • Oversee and maintain relationships with SDDP leaders, elected officials, key constituencies, and donors both in-state and nationally;
  • Develop training programs for the SDDP, including precinct/county/district leaders and candidate training sessions;
  • Oversee development and production of party-building and message delivery tools, including newsletters, website, social media outlets, etc.;
  • Organize all meetings of the Executive Board and State Central Committee as required by the SD Democratic Party Constitution;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of state of the art campaign techniques, campaign planning, targeting, polling, election law, GOTV programs, party building, and pre-election planning.


  • Experience in executive/senior level management in political campaigns, which may also include non-profit, private industry, or the public sector. Ideally, experience would include a combination of the above-mentioned sectors including previous success in local, state, and federal campaigns;
  • A proven successful executive with the ability to provide internal and external leadership to the SDDP in order to achieve political and financial objectives;
  • Demonstrated ability to develop and execute strategic political strategies and manage tactical execution to achieve results;
  • An excellent internal leader, recognized for the ability to develop, motivate, manage, and build functional teams that achieve and maintain superior performance;
  • Demonstrated ability to establish and maintain a credible reputation and high profile presence in the community on behalf of the SDDP;
  • Proven excellence in written and oral communication as well as media experience are essential;
  • Experience in soliciting and securing donor dollars, both in-state and nationally;
  • Ability to manage details and stay on top of multiple tasks, large and small, at once;
  • A strong commitment to SDDP ideals and issues;
  • Effective computer skills, including Microsoft Office Suite, Excel, NGP/VAN and Google Shared Suite;
  • Bachelor’s degree required.

Please submit an email with the subject line “Executive Director” with your resume, cover letter, and three professional references to Chair of the SD Democratic Party, Ann Tornberg at [email protected]. No cold calls please. Salary is commensurate with experience.

The South Dakota Democratic Party is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, veteran status, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or any other category prohibited by local, state, or federal law.

Democrats call on Billie Sutton not to waste his chance and run for higher office in 2018

Over at the Sioux Falls Drinking Liberally Website, the Sioux Falls area Democrat insiders who write the site are calling on State Senator Billie Sutton not to run for Governor in 2018.


Because Ann Tornburg’s Democrat Party is in such a shambles, there’s not much possibility that Sutton is going to end up any differently than any of the last several sacrificial lambs who have run, and lost:

In South Dakota: Suzie Jones Pranger, the South Dakota Democratic Party’s (SDDP’s) Executive Director, resigned abruptly this week, just two weeks before McGovern Days, the SDDP’s big annual gathering and fundraising event. You have to wonder what in the hell is going on at the SDDP. Speculation has it that Suzie plans to join the Gubernatorial Campaign of Billie Sutton from Burke (Suzie is also from Burke) but Billie hasn’t decided to mount a campaign for Governor or any other Statewide political office yet, according to the Argus Leader.…

I like Billie Sutton and I think he would make a fine candidate, but with the SDDP in such obvious disarray ( as underlined by Ms. Pranger’s resignation ) I don’t believe he or any other Democrat stands a chance in hell of winning a statewide race right now. Just look at the facts. Democratic voter registration in South Dakota continues to decline and now stands at 30.9%, its lowest level in generations. Meanwhile, Republican registration continues to increase. In the legislature, Democrats only hold 20 out of the 105 potential seats, almost all of which, including Billie Sutton’s own seat, were uncontested by Republicans in the last election.

So I say, “Say it ain’t so Billie”. Save your powder and ignore the Sirens beaconing you onto the political shoals of the predictable 36 to 38% defeat suffered by almost every statewide Democrat candidate in the last ten years. Until the Democratic Party can articulate a message to differentiate itself positively in the minds of South Dakotans from the Republican Party and until it can rebuild itself, the results will be the same.

Read it all here.

When the state Democrat organization is controlled by the hard liberal left, it’s going to be hard for Billie Sutton to convince anyone that a Democrat ran State Goverment would be in their best interest.