Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I Hope South Dakota Democrats Look Westward For Some Energy And Leadership.

     Okay, so the polls have yet to close and I'm premature, but it sure seems obvious that the South Dakota Democratic Party is about to get a drubbing in all the statewide races.  Weiland might yet come through and prove the exception, but even if he pulls it off, his D.C. orientation won't give the party itself the benefit of much influence via elected and appointed officials creating little spheres of influence around Pierre and the rest of the state.  From out here in west river it looks especially bleak.  I attended a Rapid City Area Chamber Of Commerce-sponsored symposium a few weeks back at which ballot issues in today's election were being discussed.  Much to my chagrin and even disgust, the Chamber's emcee announced that the local Democratic organization (Pennington County, I assumed) had been asked to send a representative to speak in favor of IM 18, the cost-of-living increase item on the ballot today, and nobody even freakin' showed up!  
     As a long-time Republican, I suppose I should have reacted with a smirk, as I'm sure many of my fellow Pubs did.  But I was more angered by the local Dems' indifferent reaction to the invitation and somewhat embarrassed for them to boot.  This made the state's "loyal opposition" party look plenty bad, and I think it ruined the event's purpose, which was to make us local folks better-informed about an important, contentious, and far-reaching issue, both in scope and persistence, given its built-in cost-of-living-increase component.  Democrats love this issue and have been pushing it relentlessly.  Why their local organization in South Dakota's second largest metro area couldn't muster up one person to come and speak in favor of it at a high-profile venue (there were plenty of local print and broadcast media on the premises) is a question that state Dems need to ask themselves.
     I'm guessing it's because the state's Democratic Party leadership has written off west river and that local Dems feel isolated if not altogether abandoned by their party.  This is a huge mistake.  Two years ago I helped an Independent candidate run against Phil Jensen in what most South Dakotans must consider one of the reddest districts in the state.  That my candidate got something like 42% of the vote should tell anyone that there's a solid block of voters out here who do not automatically vote Republican.
     More tellingly, I saw next to nothing in the way of appearances by Susan Wismer out here.   That she barely campaigned is one thing.  That she wasn't available to give local Democrats some visible support made her AWOL with respect to her de facto role as party leader.  I never did like the way the state's Dems effectively crowned her last Winter, barely giving Rapid City's Joe Lowe a mention, even though he'd been running for months before SDDP gave Wismer its splashy rolloutMeanwhile, I know Joe Lowe well enough to assure every Democrat in this state that he would be a tremendous asset to the party.  In addition to presence and gumption, Lowe has a wealth of hands-on experience in South Dakota state government, recently completing a long career after having been wooed by Bill Janklow to come to the state and take over as head fire-fighter.  Janklow found Lowe after Joe had already served as mayor of a medium-sized city in Orange County, California. The man knows something about government.
    Besides Joe, I know plenty of west river Democrats who could bring talent, energy and money into the party.  Dem honchos would be smart to find a way to ingratiate themselves to these folks and start developing something that looks like a base west of the Missouri River.

10 comments:

  1. John ~ As a local candidate, it's regretful that Corinna wasn't asked to address IM 18 as she personally hand-carried the petition. She is also sensitive to the concerns of our Chamber as mentioned during her debate with Kristi. As for Kristi she simply touts that minimum wage is a state issue versus a federal issue; yet as our sole representative we deserve more depth in a response. Perhaps her children (unlike Corinna's) are not or will not be working part-time jobs to help pay off college loans or save up for a down payment on their first home.

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  2. I didn't know that about Corrina and it makes me like her all the more. Certainly hope South Dakota remains in her future, as I see great things emerging from her. Thanks for the information.

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  3. I am sorry that no one came to discuss "18". Had I known of the invitation, I would have been there. I was contacted by MSNBC about doing a story on what a raise in the minimum wage would mean for South Dakotans. Their reporter, Suzy Kimm, came to Rapid City the weekend of the Black Hills Pow Wow. She interviewed many low income people in Rapid City, including here in Lakota Community Homes. Her article was published about a week ago on-line. Part of my campaign has been "Give yourself a raise, vote "yes" on 18." You are right about Joe and Corinna...2016 isn't too far away. Robin Page

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    1. Robin, you would have been outstanding. That you didn't even know about the invitation reinforces my view that a well-developed west river DP network is yet to be seen. This was a golden opportunity--missed. Good luck, tonight. You've got a brilliant future, whatever the outcome.

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  4. John, I'll be interested in hearing more from the "plenty of West River Democrats" whom you say have talent and money to offer. I hope they first offer their votes tonight and put some good Dems over the top. Then I hope they send a delegation to participate in the SDDP's next election of chairman.

    What concrete steps can the party leaders take to help your neighbor Dems feel less isolated?

    And what about Corinna: if she doesn't win tonight, will she stay usefully involved with the SDDP?

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    1. Cory, on Q1, I can think of two specific, concrete proposals for SDDP. 1) open up a West River-satellite campaign office to co-ordinate campaigns around the west end of the state. 2) fund a small staff that can co-ordinate events and platforms between east and west river Dems. I think physical presence would be the most helpful thing that SDDP can do for their west river compadres, who will likely react with more enthusiasm when it comes to statewide activities like the state convention.

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    2. Physical presence, office and at least one permanent staffer... that sounds like it's worth putting on the agenda. Got space in your garage? :-)

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    3. I suspect that if Dems were serious about this they could pass the hat and collect enough $$ from west river compadres to make it happen, at least for the few months when an election cycle starts heating up. Heck, In any event, SDDP has got to be more pro-active at developing a west river presence. Pubs have something, Dems should too.

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  5. In haste I put off my answer to Q1, Cory, but will take it up later. Not sure about Corinna's plans. She could be a superstar if she sticks around here, though.

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  6. John/Cory: I remain grateful for your candid and informative postings that were useful for my campaign. I've temporarily "taken a knee" to regroup and plan for my next venture. I echo your comments and often stated, that our SDDP needs a stronger presence and at least one full-time rep in West River. A widely-attended Dem Forum similar to the one hosted weekly in Sioux Falls at the VFW works well.

    I helped carry the torch in establishing an office downtown in Rapid City (that was open to all Dems) and still ventured out to over 200 towns and cities (attending numerous town halls, BoD meetings, press clubs, visiting schools, etc.) in just barely a year. I believe in and executed a "grass roots" strategy and spent donors' $ wisely.

    Any inkling on who may "pony up" for SDDP's new leadership?

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