Or is that the double-take du jour? Frankly, if it weren't for a railroad crossing at Omaha Street in downtown Rapid City named Pressler Junction, I doubt that most South Dakotans in these West River parts would even recognize the name of the former U.S. Senator, a Republican who served 3 terms, culminating in a 1996 defeat at the hands of Tim Johnson, now retiring from that very seat. Now, after nearly 18 years in the wilderness of self-imposed oblivion (has Pressler spoken out on any issues of consequence to South Dakotans since his departure from public office?), the former Senator apparently (public announcement forthcoming) seeks to represent this state again in the U.S. Senate, only this time as an Independent.
I wish him well, of course, especially as he's got the public support of one of the Rapid Citians I most admire, Don Frankenfeld. Don is no slouch, and the fact that he's behind Pressler's entry into the race gives the whole endeavor a lot more substance and credence than it merits. On this one I think Mr. Frankenfeld is backing a loser who probably won't reach minor contender status. Nothing personal against Pressler, I'm sure he's a great guy and that he must have represented South Dakota with some effectiveness to have won 3 terms in the Senate, but how are we supposed to take his candidacy seriously after two decades of complete detachment from the great political and economic issues of an entire era?
The basis of Pressler's campaign seems to be that as an Independent he could tip the balance of power in the United States Senate. In today's Rapid City Journal, Pressler notes that both parties are now controlled by special interests and that he doesn't want to be just another partisan "suit." Okay, but first thing he proposes is restoring congressional earmarks, which are the essence of special interest dominion over Congress. He also wants to reform the tax code, raise taxes on the wealthy and bring our troops home. I'll leave it to his campaign to find out how he proposes to do all that. Meantime, I'm still wondering how and why he kept all that passion bottled up for 18 years, giving us no sense at all of who he is and where he stands on matters that have pre-occuppied his home state and the entire country during that gap in his resume.
.This is Johnny-come-lately stuff that seems to serve no purpose other than satisfying Pressler's need to re-enter public life. To me it signals one thing: it's time for Michael Rounds to step out of the shadows and get this race and its attendant policy discussions into the news. Come out, Mr. Rounds, wherever you are.