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.

12 thoughts on “Michael Clark: My Run for The South Dakota House Update #2 The Candidate Survey”

  1. Fill out the ones that are consistent with your belief system. Pitch the others.

  2. There are very few people in this world who have earned the privilege of asking another yes/no questions as in almost all cases they don’t want to gain insight but are “gotcha” questions. Always remember the most famous “Have you quit beating your wife?” It can only be asked in one context: you have beaten your wife. So it is with most of those “surveys”, they require proper context.

    Unlike Fred, I don’t think I’d ever answer one, even if I agreed in general with the mission of the asker.

  3. I ran for the SD Legislature many years ago. SD NARAL sent me a questionnaire, which I ignored. Thelma Underberg called me to ask why I hadn’t filled it out. I explained that, while I wasn’t explicitly a pro-life candidate, I tended toward the pro-life side of the debate and didn’t feel answering the SD NARAL survey would help my campaign. We proceeded to have a 45-minute (!) conversation about her organization’s issues and we agreed to disagree. She knew where I stood, but had nothing in writing from me.

  4. South Dakota Right to Life only asks for a quote or a general statement on pro-life views for candidates without voting records. They can be as vague or specific as they want to be. A thorough survey is both too time-consuming and realistically not likely ever applicable to current or future legislation. That being said participation is important. Non-answers or active avoidance rarely equate to anything positive for a candidate’s campaign. It just sends us on a fishing expedition digging up campaign contributions, public statements, Tweets, Facebook posts, blurbs, volunteered information from people who know you, etc. It is definitely worth two or three minutes of your time because we almost always find something worth printing and distributing. Plan on hearing from us in the next couple of weeks; we would appreciate your contribution, regardless, of what your views are.

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