Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Introspection Time For Rick Weiland

     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.


  1. John,
    Rick is running against 3 Republicans, if that isn't clear, it should be. The Democratic Party faithful, that's me, aren't going to vote for Pressler under any circumstances.
    Quite frankly, here in Republican South Dakota the 3 most hated Democrats are Obama, Reid, and Pelosi. Rick should grateful for the lack of support of any of them and shows his independence. Rick can actually run an ad that says evil Reid doesn't like me, but Reid can't vote for Rick.
    Incidentally, if you haven't seen it yet, Jim Abourezk has an article in today's Indianz.com in support of Rick and the possible influence of the Native American vote. It is worth a read.

    1. Thanks for steering me to Jim Abourezk's piece, Roger. He is such a great guy. Last time I talked to him was by cell phone. I was in a Bedouin encampment near Palmyra, Syria, out in the middle of that vast desert, eating and visiting in their tent with the men of the tribe. Abourezk had arranged the trip and knew that I had some flight connection problems, so he called me from his home in Sioux Falls to make sure all was okay. Quite a thrill to be treated so nicely by my hosts and with so much concern from Jim. I enjoyed his piece in Indianz.com but don't go along with his parallel to the Johnson-Thune matchup of '04 mainly because I think that was a much closer race all the way through and a mobilized Indian vote could be and indeed was the difference-maker. Yes, Rick is running against three Republicans, with the Pressler factor being the ultimate stumbling block. Speaking as a Pub--and going by a lot of comments I hear--I'd say it's much easier for Republicans who are disenchanted with Rounds (and the polls alone confirm that their number is considerable) to vote for Pressler than to vote for Rick. That certainly lengthens the odds against Weiland, who I don't think will overcome this hurdle. Good to see Abourezk come into the picture. Just wish some other prominent Dems (Daschle, Herseth-Sandlin, Tim Johnson) would give their party some face time and other forms of support. Weiland's public disavowal by Harry Reid is an appalling feature of this race, and Rick could use some countervailing support from other well-known Dems.

  2. Thanks John, Jim is a great guy and I have always admired him. If you call, at one point during his senate career he was being mentioned as a possible presidential contender, mostly because of his maverick ways. His response to a reporter about that possibility is priceless, he said "there are two jobs in this country I wouldn't have, one is the Presidency of the United States, and the other is Chairman of the Oglala Sioux Tribe".
    Jim's son Charlie lived on the reservation for quite sometime and Jim would often fly into Pine Ridge in his duct taped plane and I would pick him up and we'd run around together and it would give him time to privately with Charlie and his grandkids. He never wanted any attention on these visits so we kind of slunk around.
    I agree that there isn't much of a parallel between the Johnson-Thune and the current senate contenders, the point I got from Jim's article is that if Pressler does capture a significant amount of take away votes from Rounds, the reservation vote could mean a win for Rick.
    I just haven't seen that much evidence that Pressler is invading Weiland's base or the undecided vote.

    1. Gotcha, Roger, and I guess I have to agree with the view from that perspective. I'm still scratching my head over Giago's endorsement of LP, though. The only way it makes sense to me is that Tim has written off Weiland and is just trying to make an anti-Rounds statement.

    2. John,
      The Giago endorsement of LP goes back to years of friendship and perhaps they are both seeking a return to their glory days of 20 years ago.
      Tim Giago has more adversaries on the reservations than he does friends and he has never carried any political weight. Doesn't seem to me that his LP endorsement will matter much