An Associated Press article is up on the Argus Leader’s website from a few days ago, pointing out how the Convention of States dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into state legislative contests, and managed to narrowly eke out one race in South Dakota, which isn’t really attributable to their efforts:
The fliers piled up in mailboxes in central South Dakota like snow during a high-plains blizzard: “Transgender Sex Education in Schools?” one asked. “Vote Against Sex Ed Radical Mary Duvall for State Senate.”
The mailers were part of a $58,000 campaign against the five-term Republican lawmaker, an enormous sum of money in a place where the cost of running for a statehouse seat is typically in the low five figures. Despite the subject of the attack ads, Duvall was targeted not for her stance on sex education but for her opposition to a longshot bid by some conservatives to force a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution.
The track record of the convention group’s spending is spotty. In South Dakota, where the group and its affiliates spent more than $200,000 targeting four state Senate seats, Duvall was the only one of its targets to lose. And the challenger who beat her, Jim Mehlhaff, said in an interview that he thinks the group’s intervention hurt him.
“I didn’t appreciate the negative tone of their mailers. It probably cost me some votes,” said Mehlhaff, a former member of Pierre’s city commission who had his own base of support in the district before the intervention of Convention of States. “This is South Dakota. People don’t like negative campaigns.”
Mehlhaff was baffled at the notion that a possible constitutional convention factored so heavily in his race: “Convention of states is not my issue at all,” he said.
As I noted in a previous article on the topic, Convention of States didn’t get the results they were looking for in the primary election. And in fact, their scorched earth campaign is going to have a negative effect for their issue.
Watch for calls for more disclosure in campaign finance for out-of-state groups pouring money into the state, as a result of this group trying to buy their way to the legislature they wanted. And as a result of their tactics Convention of States legislation will be utterly and completely DOA in South Dakota for the forseeable future. As one legislator quipped to me, they almost feel sorry for whoever is unfortunate enough to be hired to lobby for them.