Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Here Come Da Judge: Democrat Tim Bjorkman's Quest For South Dakota's Seat In The House Of Representatives

       Tim Bjorkman  will be the Democratic nominee running for South Dakota's lone congressional seat in November.  His task is Herculean, maybe Quixotic, given the recent history of
Tim Bjorkman
Here Come Da Judge
Republican domination of state politics during the last few election cycles. But the retired circuit court judge seems undaunted.  The Republican registration advantage over Democrats, 46% to 34% in South Dakota, is so wide that calling it an "edge" is an understatement.  No doubt the 20% of voters unaffiliated with either party can be a rich source of of potential support for Bjorkman, but Donald Trump's 62% share of South Dakota voters in 2016 makes a convincing case for the GOP's ability to gobble up a lion's share of unaffiliated voters here.  

     Given that built-in handicap, Bjorkman has already effectively acknowledged that he'll have to run against both Donald Trump and the Republican nominee, either Shantel Krebs or Dusty Johnson.  I say "effectively" because Bjorkman's website (refreshingly loaded with positions on specific issues, unlike the me-saturated, policy-devoid versions of his opponents) contains a long, regularly updated list of his takes on the legislative topics of the day, including healthcare, net neutrality, Muslim registry, taxes and DACA.  Bjorkman's commentaries (with one big exception) don't take aim at his GOP opponents but focus on each issue, underscoring the impression that he's running against Republicanism and its local minions in general.      
     The exception on that list is titled "Shantel Krebs' Muslim Registry."  Bjorkman unequivocally slams Krebs for "appealing to our lowest based fear instincts rather than our highest ideals."  Considering that a resurrection of Bush-era plans for a Muslim registry is a Donald Trump brainstorm that probably has a fair amount of  support among the huge majority of Trump's South Dakota voters, Bjorkman's unqualified condemnation of it is some serious risk-taking.  On other issues Bjorkman similarly doesn't stray far from basic Democratic ideals.  When he can, Bjorkman stakes out positions that also have some conservative, if not Republican (yes, there is a difference), support.  For example, on healthcare, Bjorkman cites the conservative-leaning Forbes magazine, noting that "Forbes has shown that if we enact sensible universal healthcare we will not only save money, we can actually balance our budget."  Note the keyword "universal," a bulwark of Democratic healthcare policy.  Provocative as the concept of universal healthcare can be to Republicans, it doesn't hurt to have Forbes going to bat for you as a teammate.  Bjorkman can push the right buttons.
      On other matters it's buttons be hanged.  He gets really worked up on net neutrality, the principle that internet service providers must give all content the same delivery speed and access, a principle that Bjorkman says our existing GOP congressional delegation "sadly" opposes.  He pledges to support legislation "that will statutorily enforce net neutrality."    You can go to his website to find a longer list of Bjorkman's positions, which are clear, unequivocal--and risky as all get out in this red state of ours.  It'll indeed take a mash-up of Hercules and Don Quixote to accomplish what Bjorkman is trying to do.  So far he seems up to the task.  We'll see.


  1. Bjorkman doesn't have a prayer unless South Dakota arch-conservatives mount a third party or indie run for the red moocher state's lone US House seat.

  2. I find unbelievable the stance of our current three in Congress on net neutrality. It reeks of the same thing that has happened to television. I think back to when we got television through an antenna on the roof. It was free. The stations/networks were limited to 10 minutes of commercials every half hour and that advertising is what paid for the television content that we watched. That is a far cry from today's television coming over cable with many options and the more you pay the more channels you get, however it does nothing to change the amount of commercials that we have to endure during a watch on nearly every channel with the exception of PBS and TCM, both of which have increased their number of commercials in recent years. To make matters worse, one has to endure a viagra or ciallis commercial on at least one of the 3 half hour news programs during the dinner hour, to say nothing of the commercials of how to stop diarrhea or gas or some other physical ailment, all of which are not very appealing if one is trying to enjoy a meal.

    I did without TV for over a year and only got it back for football, and as soon as the Vikings lose their next game or win the Super Bowl, I plan to be without tv forever and if they really go through with the plans for the internet, I can live without that too. Of course being an old man, it will be easier for me to do than for younger folks, especially with children, who are dependent for their smartphones to do things all day long.

  3. Bjorkman's task is daunting, for sure, but I wouldn't describe it as either Herculean or quixotic. For one thing, he's an excellent candidate and he's going to face the winner of an evenly-matched GOP primary, a primary that may well turn quite contentious, we'll see. For another thing, check this out:

    It's obviously true that Democrats in SD have struggled during the time that President Obama was in the White House. We now will see how Republicans in SD fare with Donald Trump in the White House--I certainly am not certain of Democratic success, but there is no question that the political dynamic has changed. In the next ten months we'll find out how much.

  4. I was searching on the Facebook web page for South Dakota Voices for peace and I happened across that one article that you mentioned when you wrote, "(with one big exception) don't take aim at his GOP opponents." I think it is important that all South Dakotans, not just those who are fortunate enough to read the Rapid City Journal, see that article.

    BJORKMAN: An Islamic registry aims low
    Dec 27, 2017

    When you run for public office, one of the first things you have to decide is what you will say and do in order to win — and whether you will use issues to divide us or unite us as Americans.

    Republican U.S. House candidate Shantel Krebs has apparently made a decision to use issues that divide us, proposing what would in effect be an Islamic registry, requiring residents who came here from Muslim countries to register with the federal government.

    Proposals like Shantel's make an appeal to our lowest fear-based instincts rather than our highest ideals. We must never, in keeping our nation safe, surrender those ideals and our freedoms. I won’t endorse a system that treats lawful American residents differently based on religion or origin.

    I oppose the travel ban, also. In fact, the list of eight banned nations does not include the countries of origin of a single one of the 19 terrorists who killed American citizens on 9/11. Choosing predominantly Muslim countries while excluding those whose citizens were responsible for 9/11 should cause people to question the wisdom of this proposal.

    It’s especially notable that even though I am not her primary opponent, Shantel draws me into the discussion by suggesting that "the other candidates" aren't clear on this issue. Our family, like millions of American families, has known the sacrifice that comes with fighting for freedom and safety. After 9/11, three of our sons, one after the other, answered our country’s call to military service and were deployed in the wars against terror.

    The threat of terrorism and the importance of ensuring a safe and secure America is one that demands our fullest effort. I support a methodical thorough vetting of anyone who applies for a visa to enter our country and required systematic check-ins and monitoring of their conduct while here. In fact, an estimated 40 percent of illegal aliens in the U.S. are here because they overstayed lawful visas.

    What I don’t favor is selective monitoring on the basis of religion or country of origin. It demeans our American ideals, diminishes our role as leaders of the free world, and will likely produce a destabilizing effect internationally. It risks weakening our support from the very peoples whose cooperation we need to fight terrorism, while encouraging terrorists to train their acolytes in other countries not on the lists or registry.

    I have crisscrossed South Dakota for the last five months in cafes, holding town halls, addressing major issues. My positions are known and unequivocal. As to the two major pieces of legislation in Congress — the tax overhaul and the health care bill — I have repeatedly declared that I would have been a “no” vote on both.

    Neither Shantel Krebs nor her Republican opponent, Dusty Johnson, have publicly shared with voters whether they would have voted "yes" to either or both bills. I think it’s ironic that Shantel finally, after all these months in the race, decides to share her position on a presidential decision, but continues to withhold from voters how she would have voted on those two monumental pieces of legislation.

    It’s time for Shantel and Dusty to state how they would have voted for these two bills, instead of getting side-tracked by “Islamic registries.” While you’re at it, Shantel and Dusty, do you agree or disagree with the pledge I signed months ago to vote for constitutional term limits for Congress?

    The issue Shantel raises here is a smokescreen that avoids the big issues Congress faces — and a dangerous one at that.

  5. I'm very encouraged that Bjorkman is running a strong and energetic campaign. I fear, however, that many South Dakota voters are too lazy to pay attention to anything more than one-line Republican slogans. The fact that Bjorkman has thoughtful, detailed and nuanced positions on important topics will be lost on many voters.

    1. Unfortunately, Anon, you're right. :(