Monday, September 9, 2013

     I wish the Steve Jarding drumbeat that's developing among Democrats in South Dakota would switch over from a "please run for something in '14, Steve" to a more defined urge, namely, "please run for the House of Representatives, Steve."  Jarding is the South Dakota native (who still has his home in the state) who teaches Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School.  He was instrumental in Senator Jim Webb's come-from-behind Senatorial victory in Virginia a few years back and no doubt has a well-developed network of political friends and contacts on a national scale.  He's dynamic, articulate and exceedingly bright.  I'd support him in a heartbeat if he decides to run for Congress.  But for governor?  Not so fast.
     The incipient "campaign" to get him running has a well-developed presence and seems to be intent on getting Jarding some name-recognition through the social media, including Youtube videos that highlight his dynamo-like presence, which is indeed impressive.  He'd make a great advocate for South Dakota as the state's sole representative among 500+ counterparts that crowd the chamber, given his loud, brash, articulate and brilliant persona, all of which will work in tandem with a national reputation both within and without his party.
     But those qualities and background that I think would make him a good, possibly great, U.S. Rep aren't the same as the personal style that would work in an executive role like Governor of South Dakota.  That job takes persuasion and political finesse, requiring a didactic, not a declaratory, approach. 
    More to the political point, Jarding's incumbent opponent, Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard, will be difficult to unseat for the usual built-in political reasons that SD Republicans have always had to their advantage (mainly a sizable registration edge, around 6%).  In 2010 Daugaard beat his Democratic opponent by a 61-38 margin.                                                                                                                      
     No doubt some of Daugaard's decisions, particularly the one to decline Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, will swing some support away from him, but given the overall state of South Dakota's economy, which by almost every measure is in much better shape than that of the nation, I doubt that compelling numbers of voters will have much incentive to toss him out of office.  Fact is, though I disagree with Daugaard on the Medicaid issue and some of the school funding and management issues, I'll support him for re-election. 
     Steve Jarding should play to his strengths and give South Dakota that powerful persona of his in the place where it can do some serious good, the U.S. House of Representatives.

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