The unseemly eruption of hard feelings between Democrats Tom Daschle and Harry Reid couldn't have come at a tougher stage in this election cycle--and Rick Weiland's Senate candidacy is probably swirling around the drainspout as a result. This morning's edition of The Hill lays it out in all its low-class detail. Here's a synopsis: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Reid publicly and stupidly conceded the SD Senate race a year ago with his widely discussed strategic malaprop that "Weiland isn't my choice," adding later that "we are going to lose South Dakota, more than likely." I'd have to call Reid an idiot for coming up with that one, especially in a year when party control of the Senate is up for grabs.
Naturally, Weiland's old boss, former SD Senator Tom Daschle, took umbrage and told the Hill recently that Reid's comment "certainly hasn't helped" Weiland's chances here. Daschle's accurate, if understated, observation set off Harry Reid, big time. A Reid spokesman actually said that it's "sad" that Daschle is working against Senate Democrats' interests by his show of support for Weiland. Good grief. Daschle is "working against Senate Democrats" by supporting his one time staffer? Reid is plain crazy. Meanwhle, as Reid and Daschle are going public with their family spat, Rick Weiland sits out here in a political wasteland, basically left hung out to dry by a party that is publicly split over his candidacy. Honestly, if that's all the support I could get from my party's leader in a Senate that I aspire to join, I'd consider chucking the whole effort at this point and throwing my support to Independent Larry Pressler. who seems to be gaining some ground at the expense of both Weiland and Republican frontrunner Mike Rounds.
If denying Republicans a Senate majority is one of the aims of Rick Weiland's campaign, that might not be such a bad idea anyway. This morning the wunderkind of political prognosticators, Nate Silver, was joined by another standout forecaster, Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium, in concluding that polls now favor a GOP takeover of the U.S. Senate. As Weiland's campaign (per Nielson Brothers Polling) has failed to gain much ground--heck, it looks to me like he's lost a bit of support since July--he should seriously consider dropping out now. Readers here already know my low opinion of Weiland's "Take It Back" campaign theme, which hasn't stirred up any discernible excitement. He's basically going nowhere with it. Throw in Harry Reid's ill-considered kiss-off, and it looks like the Weiland campaign is doomed.
Knowing Rick, I doubt that he'll throw in the towel and join forces with Larry Pressler. But I believe that if Weiland's supporters are seriously serious about keeping Mike Rounds out of the Senate and are willing to take their chances with a guy who doesn't have any political axes to grind at this point in his life and career, Pressler is their man. Much as I pooh-poohed the Pressler effort in the past, Rounds' awful campaign, which has turned off nearly two-thirds of South Dakotans, makes Larry a contender.