Saturday, December 13, 2014

South Dakota Right To Lifers Just Planted One Of Their Own In SD Democratic Party Leadership.

Anti-Choice Democrat Ann Tornberg
(photo from KELO-TV)
     Never thought I'd live to see the day. The South Dakota Democratic Party today elected anti-choice advocate Ann Tornberg to head it up as Chairwoman.  Tornberg currently chairs the Union County Democrats and has waged three losing election campaigns: She was beaten by 12 points in a state Senate race last month, captured 26% of the vote in a 4-way race for the state House in 2012 and 30% of the vote in a 3-way House race in 2010.  All 3 races were won by Republicans, no great shame in this reddest of red states.  
     And though the losses bespeak of an admirable tenacity, I really have to wonder about her judgement--not to mention that of her party's faithful.  Forgetting about her position on reproductive rights for a moment, consider her statement announcing her intention to run for party chair a few weeks ago: "Our state party has made a lot of progress over the last four years, but we're still not seeing results at the ballot box. I want to help change that." Our party has made a lot of progress over the last four years?  There's an amiable optimism to her outlook, as bright and cheery as her million-dollar smile . . . but . . . as even Tornberg acknowledges, the proof eluded the pudding of last November's stunning Democratic Party wipeout in South Dakota.  This is supposed to represent "progress?"
     I'm wondering if party regulars who were in on the vote for Tornberg are still so dazed from that debacle that they think a Chairwoman who has a streak of Republican Party anti-choice dogma in her is the way to present themselves to the dominating hordes of Republicans in this state.  Is this political "Stockholm syndrome?" Tornberg's stance on reproductive rights is forthright and unequivocal.  In its 2014 guide, SD's Right To Life quoted her as saying, "I am pro-life and pro-child."  This year she was also designated as "anti-choice" by the National Abortion Rights Action League.  
     No doubt South Dakota has a fair number of "anti-choice" Democrats who will have no problem with Tornberg's selection as their party's chair.  But the state as a whole, even with its strong Republican tilt, has rejected abortion bans at the polls, most recently in 2008 by an 11 point margin.  More pertinent to the practical politics of the situation, polls traditionally show that young voters (18-34) strongly favor abortion rights.  I believe SD Dems will now run the risk of putting a serious damper on the enthusiasm of their younger stalwarts.  


  1. Good grief. The party is on a wingnut trail that will make it as useless as the toxic GOP.

  2. I give up, John, I told you at Madville this morning what they would do, and they did it. Dems are doomed until they figure out they are dems for a reason and remember what those reasons are. If I was voting repub and had a choice between repub and repub-lite, why would I vote for a fake when I could have the real thing? Until dems figure this out, it's a losing battle. It may be a losing battle anyway, but at least I could go down fighting for what I believe in, not repub-lite. Sheesh

  3. As a pro-choice democrat, I am thrilled with Ann Tornberg. Do you really think that the party would get anywhere with its only focus being on abortion? Barth seems admirable, but I wonder how many different complaints would be raised with him. The other factor is that Tornberg has ag connections (Something important in this state.) She also done well in a heavy, heavy republican district.

    I guess if a person would only vote on pro-choice focus and become a single issue party, then she would seem like the wrong person, but I also don't and have not seen her pushing and voting for further restrictions on abortion.

  4. It is exactly this sort of thing that makes it so frustrating being a Democrat in South Dakota: South Dakota Democrats seem to congratulate themselves for being brilliant when they think "HEY! I know how we can get elected! Become Republicans!"


    1. My name is Carrie....I was there. I did not vote for Ann...I voted for Jeff Barth. We were NOT allowed to discuss or ask questions. The party Chair and Vice Chair did not allow discussion...they used executive privilege to cut off discussion after the seconding nomination speeches. It was a done deal before we ever got to the meeting. Ann made a deal with West River to make Joe Lowe the Vice President and it was over before it even got started. They ran the meeting as if they were Republicans. I'm disgusted!!!!

  5. This from a trustworthy friend with substantial Pro-Choice credentials: "However, I have worked with Ann Tornberg for a number of years and the choice issue has never come up in policy or personal discussions. She was endorsed by the South Dakota Young Democrats...most of whom (as an official entity) are either employed by Pro-Choice groups or incredibly active in the choice movement. Her supposed position on this issue is a non-issue for me given the choice between her and Keystone Loving, Minimum Wage Hating, Young People Hating, Jeff Barth."

  6. Jerry,

    This is Sheldon Osborn. Your comment on Jeff Barth's views is untruthful.To correct your comment: First, Jeff has always supported the Minimum Wage and he was a strong supporter of the recent Minimum Wage Initiative which the voters passed this election. I personally worked with him one Saturday early this year collecting signatures to help put the Minimum Wage Initiative on the ballot. Second, Jeff has always worked to include all Democrats, especially young Democrats, in Party activities, in leadership positions, as candidates, as volunteers etc. If you know of someone who experienced obstacles to involvement, just let Jeff know and I am sure he will do whatever he can to overcome the perceived problem. Finally, Jeff supports President Obama's strict review of the pipeline before deciding whether or not to authorize it. And, if the pipeline ever is authorized, a prospect which appears less likely daily, Jeff supports strict environmental regulations and sufficient and unambiguous bonding requirements to guard against any problem and assure adequate money is available to correct any happening. He believes the risk of a spill should be part of the cost of the project and not absorbed by the public. If this added cost proves too costly to build the pipeline, so be it.

    Jerry, please stop defaming Jeff Barth,

    And with regard to Mrs. Tornberg's anti-choice views, she aggressively advertised her "Pro-life and "Pro-family" beliefs in most of the local newspapers in her District and in literature directed at segments of the same District. It is true she does not talk about her anti-choice views outside her district. Most of your friends in the Young Democrats would probably be surprised at Ann's Anti-choice position. I know I was.