Thursday, June 14, 2018

South Dakota's Democratic Gubernatorial Ticket Just Got Interesting

     Michelle Lavallee is South Dakota Democratic Gubernatorial nominee Billie Sutton's
 She's Good
choice to run as his Lieutenant Governor in November. 
She seems like a great pick from every angle I can think of.  No doubt a lot our state's Dems are muttering a bit about the fact that Lavallee has up until recently been a registered Republican, but having ditched my GOP registration last Fall to register as an Independent because I couldn't identify with the party of Trump anymore, I find common cause with any former Republican who in recent months did the same thing.  I hope the brilliant and highly accomplished Lavallee ends up sending the same message to our erstwhile party-mates as I did:  You Pubs have gone off the deep end.
     No doubt my former Republican comrades have brushed me off as blithely as they would a few loose threads on their clothing, but losing a star-quality player like Lavallee should make GOPers wonder if their No-Longer-So-Grand Old Party isn't turning away many of its best and brightest.  Lavallee's creds are right up there with the best of 'em.  I can especially relate to the Northwestern University-Kellogg School MBA that Lavallee, a 4th-generation South Dakotan, sports.  I frolicked (if you can use that verb to describe the cutthroat business of trading stock options) among many of those folks during my dozen years as a market maker at the Chicago Board Options Exchange.  Some of the sharpest minds on that trading floor were honed at Chicago's Kellogg School.  South Dakotans are lucky that this favorite daughter of theirs has chosen to put that top-drawer education to work right back here at home.  
     As to the political value of pairing with Sutton on the Gubernatorial ticket, it's significant.  There's plenty of tactical shrewdness in Sutton's country-boy demeanor.  He understands that Lavallee is urbane, financially sophisticated and has a private sector track record through her consulting firm that puts her in league with some of the biggest enterprises in South Dakota. Lavallee's grasp of finance and economics  will appeal to many in our state's business community, who probably scan the track record of recent Republican administrations with some serious dismay.  GOP stewardship of South Dakota's economy has kept us so far behind the national and regional curves for so many years that voters must be pondering whether it's time to change.
      As a solid professional combo blending agricultural smarts with business finesse, the Sutton-Lavallee team will likely prevail over the usual skepticism aimed by culture warriors at a Democratic campaign in South Dakota.  Why?  Because this isn't your "usual" South Dakota Democratic ticket.  Sutton himself is avowedly anti-abortionSouth Dakota Right To Life gave him an "A" in 2016.  And his 80% rating on South Dakota Citizens For Liberty's gun rights scorecard in 2017 is probably sufficient enough to cast him as an ally on the Second Amendment front.  I know a lot of Democrats will chafe at his values, but Sutton is who he is.   I believe the few Dems who abandon him will be more than offset by a large body of Republicans who can feel comfortable and maybe even enthusiastic about the prospect of modifying, if not altogether replacing, the political culture in Pierre with a ticket that any mainstream South Dakotan, regardless of party, can abide and support.  


  1. Well said, John. The Cowboy had my vote before this choice, because of his outstanding work in the legislature. This choice shows just what type of leader Senator, (er, I hope Governor) Sutton will be.

  2. Excellent post, John. But the whining, hand-wringing and finger pointing has already begun by some nay-sayer Democrats in the Dakota Free Press. I hope the Dems won't sabotage the ticket with their negativity because Lavallee doesn't have the appropriate party "bloodlines."

  3. The danger we all face is the increased tribalism coming for both sides. I can't support Sutton because his running mate is not Democrat enough is as bad as those who bashed Obama because he was Obama. I think this is a sound move.

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  5. n a recent essay Thomas Reese avowed: "In the real world, voters must choose between candidates who promise to outlaw abortion but do little to help pregnant women, and candidates who support legalized abortion but also support increasing programs that help mothers and their children." Mr. Sutton's campaign is after trying to split the difference and hold to a path as yet trod successfully.

    As for his choice of Lieutenant Governor? I realize in a state where more than a few citizens remember how a previous governor died in office, it's obscene to suggest that Sutton/Lavallee must needs be rejected because some circumstance might place a former Republican in an office won by a Democrat. Bad joss I say to Dakota Free Press and others of that ilk. Bad joss indeed.

  6. Honestly, I think we Democrats (and I suspect some others), would feel better about Lavallee having switched parties to run if she'd switched months ago, as you did, rather than the week before Sutton announced he'd chosen her. It feels opportunistic when the switch was only days before the SD Democratic Convention was expected to confirm her selection.

    That said, she has exceptional credentials and she balances the ticket nicely between rural vs. urban / West River vs. East River / agricultural vs. business / and dare I say male vs. female interests. (And "Take That!" Kristi Noem!)

    I added the "Take That!" because it sort of spikes Noem being able to play the woman card, talking about how she's a woman running for what's traditionally been a man's job, and would be the first woman governor of SD. She's already gotten some national press for this; CNN did a short piece on her that aired during their regular national news as part of them talking about the number of women running for office this year. We could be talking about the Woman Wave instead of the Blue Wave, but to a great extent the Woman Wave is Blue and I think Kristi caught CNN's attention because she's one of the few women running as a Republican.

    (Totally unrelated to anything, but I cannot type "Take That!" without hearing it as Phoenix Wright. This will make no sense unless you've played at least one of the Phoenix Wright series of video games.)

  7. Sorry Dark Star in the Morning, I cannot let you off the hook with: "Honestly, I think we Democrats (and I suspect some others), would feel better about Lavallee having switched parties to run if she'd switched months ago, as you did, rather than the week before Sutton announced he'd chosen her. "

    I posted this on Dakota Free Press. The best Vice President we ever had was a Republican in FDR's cabinet, as Secretary of Agriculture, Henry A Wallace. He switched when John Nance Garner felt that it was wrong for FDR to take more than two terms, and FDR asked Wallace to join him as a Vice Presidential candidate. Henry Wallace should have been the eventual President when FDR died, but in the '44 election, some Dixiecrats wanted Wallace off the ticket so that they could put Truman, whom they could manipulate, on the ticket.

    Wallace, who was a journalist and a capitalist, having founded Pioneer Seeds, was further denigrated, after having the '44 nomination stolen from him, by the Democrats and J Edgar Hoover label him a communist, when he ran in '48 as a Progressive. At the convention in '44, he was the most popular Democrat, but somehow the backers of Truman talked FDR into giving the nod to Truman.