The State of the SD GOP

Argus Leader political reporter Johnathon Ellis had a point in his recent comments about the South Dakota Republican Party when he describes our lack of direction:

The South Dakota Republican Party has seemed rudderless the past few months. The team that led it to convincing victories up and down the ballot last year is gone.

Read full story here.

In 2009 we were down; we lost every county in South Dakota to Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, and we didn’t have congressional candidates to carry our message from county to county and bring us back to life. We had the appearance of defeat. Lucas Lentsch didn’t come into the Executive Director job as a seasoned political guru; he came from the small town of Britton. After returning from a tour of duty in Iraq, Lentsch was in touch with the patriotic mood of our party. He often spoke about the greatness of America on the Lincoln Day Dinner circuit rather than the typical political talking points. For the 2012 cycle we have gotten away from that positive attitude of promoting our values and turned to attacking and playing gotcha games with ghost candidates.

Now don’t get me wrong – I like Tim Rave and Tony Post – they are good people. However, I’m not sure they have grown into their roles yet as party leaders. I believe they will, and I can see in them a strong desire to succeed.

My opinion is that aknowledging Brendan Johnson in a press release only legitimizes him as a candidate for future office. Repeatedly going after Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin only advances the idea that she is viable for a future run, and the press release that slammed her for taking a position at South Dakota State University gave her free press, declaring to all of South Dakota that she is in fact trying to maintain some sort of roots in this state that blew her out of office last year.

It’s important we use tact when discussing our political opponents.

We need to remember we won. I don’t want the SD GOP looking over their shoulder out of fear Herseth-Sandlin will return. We need to march forward and quietly work behind the scenes to prepare for the possibility she will return.

I for one would like to see something promotional from the SD GOP regarding the success of the last legislative cycle with our many talented legislators, or Governor Dennis Daugaard, Secretary of State Jason Gant, Attorney General Marty Jackley, Auditor Steve Barnett, Commissioner of School and Public Lands Jarrod Johnson, Treasurer Rich Sattgast, Public Utility commissioners Chris Nelson, Gary Hanson, Kristi Fiegen, or Congresswoman Kristi Noem and Senator John Thune. Let’s hear about the things they’re doing that reflect our values, that we can be positive about.

Remember, we won them all.

Let’s look ahead instead of behind. There is a lot of organizing to be done. The people and pieces that made 2010 a success are still here and ready to work, but they need to be reassembled. There are some very big elections in front of us, and we need to prepare behind the scenes and in the trenches so that we can be successful in 2012 and beyond.

56 Replies to “The State of the SD GOP”

  1. Anon

    Bob Gray and Lucas Lentsch were a powerhouse team, Tim Rave and Tony Post are MIA. what is the SDGOP leadership doing to win 2012 elections?

  2. Anonymous

    We don’t need a change in SD GOP leadership but for goodness sakes lets get our act together. I’m glad to see someone finally point that out.

    Lot’s to be done in the future and I don’t even get emails from the SD GOP anymore. It’s like they were swallowed up by that earth quake a few days ago.

  3. Mary Jean Jensen

    Don’t just sit back and complain….get involved. Organize your precinct and your county….There is always so very much to be done in a ‘pre-election’ year and 2011 isn’t over yet!!
    Anyone can write a letter to the editor praising the work of Congressman Kristi Noem….don’t wait for the party chairman and the ex. director to do all the work. It is always easy to be the one pointing the finger of blame – but let’s just be positive and begin working towards VICTORY in 2012!!

    1. Anonymous

      The SD GOP chose to take the learning curve with Post rather than someone who could jump right in and organize. They didn’t have to hire someone who needed a learning curve in SD politics.

  4. MOSES

    Wow like the dems are going to givr you a scare, you run Dykstra against Johnson had you a better canidate you would have won.You ran that those two guys from west river and herseth left them in the dust, they were not good canidates.Now you have Noem who wants to put younger generation on a voucher for MedicareIF

  5. MOSES


  6. State Traveler

    I’m in agreement with Mary Jean Jensen and Stace Nelson accept that bad leadership is bad leadership. We can sweet talk each other all we want but at the end of the day the SD GOP’s job is to win elections.

    I sat by and watched the SD GOP go down the tubes after Glodt left and I don’t think we can just sit back and say good job guys while we watch Lucas and Bob’s hard work get washed away.

    It doesn’t do anyone any good to tell someone good job if they aren’t meeting standards.

    SD GOP meet our new standards.

  7. State Traveler

    I don’t want to get rid of Rave or Post but they need to get it in gear. I am a big fan of Rave as a legislator but I haven’t seen anything from him accept that we have 3 offices for 1 and a 1/2 employees.

    The DWC was best when it had a critical eye when Pat ran it. Good post.

    I’m a solid Republican but we need to hold the SD GOP accountable when they aren’t stepping up the the plate.

  8. CaveMan

    Whoa all you hardline Neo-Cons. What the people want is less government. Pure and simple. Fewer Government cars driving around our country roads looking for spending sprees, less intrusions into our legal work ethics being played out hard every day here in the cities and country, and for sure zero new brick and mortar monuments to both state and federal government bcrats anywhere in the State. DD accomplished what no other governor in the state has ever done. Remember it well and follow suit with similar balanced budgets without raising taxes and you will win many elections. Care about the folks who pay the taxes and keep them low. That along with small and simple government will assure a very long tenure of any party or person. And for all you smart pols out there who think you are unique; pick your fights well and keep them private when dealing with friends…………….. 🙂

    1. Stace Nelson

      @Caveman Hmmm, well this explains a couple things.

      Do you remember the people that were at the Lincoln/Douglas debates clucking their tongues and complaining that Lincoln was a traitor to the party, the established politicians, and that he should just agree with his wiser “friends” who were against his antislavery positions? Me neither, aren’t we glad he did the right thing?

      True Republican leadership is leading in the public eye on morale issues that may be unpopular to some, but which are right.

      I make no apologies for standing up for what I believe in and doing the right thing. If true friends have concerns about such things, they would answer the phone, or relate how a friend is wrong for doing the right thing in private. Those that get their butt handed to them in public, asked for such consideration.

      Pray you and yours are well.

      “A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.”
      Malcolm X

          1. Mike Quinlivan

            Oh, no Stace…I am not saying that at all. I just did not equate your brand of politics with Mr. X’s. The Autobiography of Malcom X is an amazing read however (though his anti-semitism is rather disgusting).

            1. Stace Nelson

              Ghandi, Malcom X, Martin Luther King Jr, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Geronimo, Tecumseh, Robert E. Lee, U.S Grant, Custer, Washington, Jefferson, etc., etc. I loved history & was a book worm as a kid. Two hour bus ride a day gave me time to read.

  9. looking on

    I was under the impression that the elected GOP people main job/goal was to represent the people of SD not the GOP? I must have a different book on what elected officials are to do..

  10. Troy Jones

    Really? We probably have among the most GOP legislature in the US, own the constitutional offices, we just elected new leadership and hired new people and we are saying they aren’t stepping up to the plate?

    Sheesh, I thought you at least had to fail or at least get acclimated to the job before you got thrown under a bus.

    1. anon

      I missed the part where anyone was thrown under the bus… but I’m open to the idea the SD GOP is being drastically out done by the SD Dems. It likely won’t amount to anything but we need leadership.

      It looks really bad that we don’t ever get emails from the SD GOP. But the SDDP sends out 1-2 emails a week. They are active and we are not.

  11. J Rae

    Maybe there is something to the talk of the party being divided by the extremes. I wouldn’t go so far as to say hijacked though.

    I think the bigger thing is that the media is covering the more extreme elements of the party because they make a little better copy than the same old success story. Nothing new to report there.

  12. Turkey Burger

    This is going to be an entertaining conversation.

    Do we keep our thoughts to ourselves and circle the wagons or do we actually have opinions and express them.

    I thought it was silly when the Rave ripped SHS the first time, I thought it was dumb the second time when it was about SDSU, when B Johnson was brought into the subject I thought it was out of left field and when Post did it this last time I grew tired of it. SHS LOST! move on…

    I say lets express our opinions esspecially on a blog.

  13. springer

    Well, apparently the people now running the GOP in SD think that many of us who have become very active in the Rep party in the last few years are riff-raff. Maybe they should look at what the riff-raff is contributing, how active they are compared to many others, and not resort to calling names to the very people who helped make last year’s wins a success. We cannot become complacent this year and rest on last year’s laurels. We need to focus our efforts on what unites us as Reps and keep our eyes on the prize and necessity of winning in 2012. Our nation’s future depends on it. If the present leadership is not up to the job, bring back the ones that are. If this present leadership is up to the job, then look at what worked last year and focus on the positive.

    1. Voter

      I have watched the “leadership” of the GOP attempting to influence who will be leading at the county level. They are quite apparent in their desire for the “riff-raff” to do the work but NOT be in any kind of leadership or voting positions. They certainly don’t want them at the convention next year.

      They have even gone so far as to be AWOL when questions about following the GOP Party Bylaws are asked. Who exactly is supposed to “encourage” county leadership to follow their own Bylaws?? Believe me the GOP leadership–including a certain attorney–is all about bending the rules so that leadership stays firmly in the hand of the GOP establishment.

  14. grudznick

    I know he has other things on his mind, but I again voice my support for Rep. Nelson in one of the constitutional offices that are so lacking today for doing anything. They do nothing, and Rep. Nelson would be there every day and twice on Sundays making sure the people’s business is getting done.

    Stace in ’12

    1. J Rae

      That’s quite an indictment of some very good people who have given so much to the party that are currently in constitutional offices. Grud, are you seriously thinking that the party lacks good people and hasn’t been successful?

    2. Stace Nelson

      God bless ya Grud, I am truly honored. My dealings with those folks have all been positive, and I cannot say enough that I have no aspirations for any higher offices.

      I am afraid that the folks in this area will be stuck with my ugly mug & shoddy wit for the remainder of my days.

      1. MC Post author

        Great men will seek power to better serve his brethren,

        A better man will have power thrust upon them.

  15. JW@Aberdeen

    Jason Gant was at the monthly brown county rep. meeting, when he was done speaking he opened it up for questions. I was the only one to ask any, just two. I wanted to know if AVERA ST. LUKES was a non-profit ( he said it was ) then how can they give their employees profit sharing. no answer! Then I asked why SD is not doing what ND is doing drilling for oil in western SD. ND is making a ton of money from this and keeping taxes low. Again a very weak answer about how we are looking into this. If this is leadership the Rep Party in SD is dead…

    1. Jason Williams

      I attended the same Brown County Republican meeting and thought Jason Gant did a fantastic job. More importantly he is doing a great job for South Dakota as Secretary of State.

      Those who work the polling places in South Dakota are looking forward to the new Electronic Reporting System.

      Keep up the great work Jason!

    2. Dan Richardt

      I too was at that same meeting JW and saw Mr Gant completely differently than I did. First of all, you asked a question about oil, and why South Dakota isn’t drilling. He directed you in the direction he should have b/c he didn’t want to give you misinformation. OIL and LAND go through Jarrod Johnson and the office of School and Public Lands not the SOS office.
      Secondly, you asked about Avera and profit sharing…my guess is (like he said at the meeting) he didn’t know off hand and would have to look into it.
      Again, I agree with Jason Williams, Mr. Gant is doing a great job in the State of South Dakota and am proud that he is our SOS.

    3. Les

      For those that don’t think SD is being drilled they need to get out into Harding County where there is significant activity and more growth is coming(man camps etc).

      I’m not sure where you’re at Cave Man but the Williston Basin is just that, a basin or bowl and it gets shallower out from where the bowl centers somewhere north of Dickinson. The understanding I have is, the deeper oil in the center of this bowl is hotter and more easily extracted. There is also more than one zone of oil down under.

      Faith hit oil drilling for water very shallow. In Harding they use very large air compressors to push the oil for extraction.

      Jarrod’s a sharp fellow and I have confidence he is in the middle of anything out there to promote our product.

    4. Mike Quinlivan

      To qualifiy for non-profit status as a business one must write off as charity a certain amount of services. For this non-profits often get a reduction in property taxes. Just because a business is a “non-profit” entity, does not mean that it is not profitabile, not is it hindered from sharing those profits with their employees. This is a dime store explanation, but close enough I suppose.

  16. CaveMan

    JW the Federal Government determines who is and who is not non-profit, not the state of SD. A great discussion is being done as we speak on the amount of non-profit land not being assessed property taxes and how that affects all other land in SD. The oil well situation is being expanded by the commissioner of School and Public lands Jarrod Johnson and he has some terrific ideas on how to increase the drilling of oil now in our state. In ND they hit major oil around 10,000 feet below ground and most of our oil is deeper. Oil under my ground is at 14,000 feet just below a very powerful aquifer of nasty artesian water. Once the easy oil is mined ours will then be looked at with much greater interest.

  17. Name

    Tim Johnson needs to be the focus as it seems his votes this current term are so anti south dakota. We can’t wait until his reelection to remind people. He is 10 times worse than Stephanie ever was!

    1. 73*

      Tim Johnson needs to go. You are absolutely right his seat should be the focus. Maybe he won’t run but senate must be the ultimate goal.

  18. Troy Jones

    Campaign cycles have their tempo like a chess match or in some ways a military campaign.

    During off-years, organizations and parties probe for weakness, test messages, and build positions to give them the best “scenarios” for the ultimate battle (general election day). And sometimes there are “jives and jukes” to confuse the other side.

    On a national level, in 2007, the GOP couldn’t have been more dysfunctional as the focus was to coast out the last year’s of the Bush administration, hope for some successes at the end and squeak by in the election.

    In 2009, the state GOP couldn’t have been more properly focused. They decided to fight on three fronts:

    1) Tie SHS to her votes in support of the national democrat agenda and President Obama.

    2) Identify legislative candidates who would work hard to be elected. The victory of Mark Johnston, Reid Holien, and Stace Nelson are examples of how this paid off.

    3) Define the issues in ways conducive to Republican solutions: smaller government, lower taxes, etc.

    What they didn’t do was:

    1) Get caught up in the GOP primaries for Congress and Governor. They allowed the process to work with the grass roots to choose their standard-bearer.

    2) Not let today’s skirmish divert them from focusing on the ultimate battle (general election day).

    I do have a sense of both parties strategy by what I read in the paper (but could be “misled” by each’s “juke and jives”). I’m not going to comment for two reasons:

    1) The Democrats I don’t believe will be successful. Why should I help them? 🙂

    2) The GOP’s is difficult to be too sure of (not that it should be evident today) but if I’m right, why should I help the Democrats. If I’m wrong, why should I criticize them for something that isn’t accurate.

    Mary Jean and Stace are exactly right. What “in the streets” Republicans need to do is help setting up our organization for the two pronged battle: US House and legislature. We have our horses picked (Noem, GOP party leadership, and nearly full slate of incumbent legislators) who will set the path for the election. All we can do is clear the path in front of them.

  19. Anonymous

    I am hoping to see the SD GOP improve drastically over the next few months.

    Our National Committeewoman and man are the only two that are really accountable to the delegates and that is a sad state. Everyone else is rubber stamped.

  20. cornerstone

    The verdict is still out on the new leadership but Nesselhuf is on fire. Why don’t we see that same kind of enthusiasm from our guys?

    1. anon

      “Nesselhuf is on fire”???

      Give me a break…. Just because he’s making a lot of noise, doesn’t mean it’s meaningful.

      We’re just fine, thank you… There’s nothing wrong with the GOP. When it’s time to step to the line, the important moves will be made.

  21. anon

    I was very excited when Rave took over and I supported him for Chairman. Things have been really slow though. I’m hoping they pick up soon!

    Are they trying to get fair lit out to the county parties like the Dems?

    We are going to need stickers!!! Lots of them to counter those aweful ones the dems are distributing.

    1. Anonymous

      How could Rave be excited? He voted for all the stimulus money South Dakota could get. He voted to implement Obamacare in South Dakota. Like Ronald Reagan once said about his former democratic party, Chairman Rave’s “party left him!” Don’t expect much from these folks other than stupid, personal attacks. Principle and ideas aren’t Rave’s strong suit.

  22. springer

    The state fair is coming up in about 2-3 weeks. Are there workers lined up for the campaign headquarters? Stickers? Literature? Last year the Reps were super enthusiastic and the Dems were about nil at the state fair. I hope it’s not a reverse this year, even if it’s not an election year. The issues are still there, the problems, the presidential candidates are in full swing, and we need to be revved up.

  23. Anon

    Gail Brock is doing an excellent job organizing people to fix up the GOP building at the state fair.

    She is a worker!

  24. anon

    Why do we have 3 offices and 1 staffer?

    Maybe the SD GOP should buy a bus and tour the state? Take the office with them where ever they go?

    Wal-Mart’s offer free camping…


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