I find this a particularly challenging column to write, because I don’t know anyone involved in the GOP who wishes anything ill for Attorney General Ravnsborg. I and many others have always found him to be a good and decent person.
And like many others, I only want good things for Jason moving forward. He’s an intelligent and thoughtful man who has found success in various aspects of his life, especially in his military career. But I do not think he’s going to find further success in politics.
It has been evident for quite some time, and I think there are others who would agree that his path forward for another term of office as Attorney General in South Dakota is not in the cards.
An almost insurmountable challenge in running for another term as Attorney General was set in his path when he was involved in a traffic accident a year and a half ago which resulted in the death of Joe Boever. It became even more challenging for him when former Attorney General Marty Jackley – a man who was almost Governor – decided to challenge him for the office, and quickly captured the base of law enforcement which put Ravnsborg in the office.
With the hearing in the House of Representatives this week, Jason finds himself as the only official since the inception of South Dakota as a state ever to be impeached by the House of Representatives. And now a Senate trial is looming, one which will speak to whether he should be removed from office entirely, and has been scheduled to be held the very week of the Republican Convention.
Jason is not walking the path of someone who is destined to return to that office in January of next year.
There have been challenges for incumbents in the past at the Republican convention. Some successful. Some not. Delegates are recruited by candidates with aims of having them committed and feeling some sense of fealty to the people who have recruited them. You can count on some of those people being loyal. Maybe.
It’s said you can tell how a delegate will vote. Until they do. When it comes down to brass tacks in a GOP Convention fight, the argument has always come down to the successful candidate’s electability in the fall election.
When they choose who their candidate will be, in each and every convention I’ve been at since I started going in 1988 I’ve seen the delegates ponder one question in their minds: “Can this person win as our candidate for this office in the general election this next November?” Because while the party nomination is among the GOP, the fall election isn’t just among Republicans. It’s among Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and the others who are registered to vote.
And in this instance, when Republican delegates look at the choice for the two current Republican contenders for Attorney General, Jason Ravnsborg and Marty Jackley, and question which one they have a better chance of winning the election with, I suspect most of them are not going to go with the person who was involved in a traffic accident where a person lost their life, and who was the only person in state history to be impeached in the House of Representatives for “certain crimes and malfeasance” in office.
The thing about the political life is that for 99% of people involved in it, it really isn’t forever. It will end at some point, and there will be another chapter that has nothing to do with being elected to something. A person might try to drag it out as long as possible and get 2 more or 4 more years somehow. But, it’s going to come to an end eventually.
It’s at this point I suspect the Attorney General finds himself and is doing some soul searching on how best to proceed.
I’d say “change is hard.” And people avoid change. But I’d argue that if you see that change is coming like a freight train; if you can see that the end is coming no matter what you do, you might also do some soul searching as to “why are you prolonging something that you know is going to end?” Because sometimes it’s just better for a person’s own mental and spiritual health to just begin that next chapter.
You can’t control what other people think. But you can control what you do for yourself. Jason should find a path where he’s able to do what makes him happy and brings him success. I hope he is able to do that for himself and his own peace of mind.
But I don’t see that his path will have him appearing on the November ballot as the GOP’s nominee for Attorney General.