SD's Democratic Party launched state rep Susan Wismer's gubernatorial campaign this week--and it's pretty splashy stuff. You can see it here. It is indeed a nice piece of work--no doubt Wismer has all the creds necessary to serve as governor and would make a fine candidate. As readers of this blog know by now, I have plenty of misgivings about my Republican Party's incumbent Governor Dennis Daugaard. In the spirit of due diligence, all of us Pubs should be keeping our options open, including, this year, checking out the thoughts of Independent candidate and former USD law professor Mike Meyers, who some east-river friends tell me is worthy of attention despite his long-shot status. Over the years I've seen how fringe ideas from non-conventional candidates often become mainstream elements of political and social dialogue. It's best not to blow 'em off.
So anyway, to get off that soap box and back to SD Dems and Susan Wismer, I guess I'm a bit dismayed by the party hoopla accompanying Wismer's announcement. Nothing remotely approaching that level of fanfare coincided with Joe Lowe's announcement of his candidacy for the Dem nod last November. Yes, if you read the press release, you'll see a pro forma notation about Lowe's existence at the bottom of the page, but the piece is so puffy about Wismer that I can only conclude she's got the support of the party behind her. I suppose there's some tactical value to lining up supporters and apparatus behind a candidate at this stage of the game, but in the strategic scheme of things, Dems are making a big mistake.
For one thing, they're not giving enough weight to the fact that Joe Lowe is a west river Dem--a rare breed, indeed, but one whose status has built-in advantages. Lowe has a boatload of experience and knowledge that comes from living and working among Republicans, something that can't possibly be part of Wismer's resume. Given the way party registrations stack up in South Dakota (something like 45%-38%, R vs. D), the Dem candidate will have to captivate a sizable number of us Pubs to win this race, and, frankly, nobody out here in cowboy country has ever heard of Wismer, whose mastery of Democratic talking points (as displayed in the press release) won't be enough to sell herself to many Republicans out here, or at least not enough Pubs to make much of a difference in November.
Lowe's hands-on dealings with natural resource issues out west will be invaluable to him when it comes to gathering support from west river Republicans . That he's had close ties to Republican administrations in Pierre when he worked for them for many years won't hurt either. You can find his creds here, where you'll also note that his experience with those natural resource issues also extends far and wide into east river country. He's a known quantity.
I don't want anybody to misconstrue this as an endorsement. This is all about the South Dakota Democratic Party being too hasty in its obvious, if informal, declaration that Wismer is the party's favorite. Given that situation, it's now up to Mr. Lowe to make rank-and-file Dems see it otherwise. After a long career in suppressing fires and managing floods, Lowe won't find challenging his party's establishment particularly daunting. I wish him well.