Disaffected Democrats ready to return to Herseth Sandlin — in the governor’s race

They’re ready to come home, to Stephanie.
The Democrats who abandoned Stephanie Herseth Sandlin during her 2010 reelection run for the U.S. House are ready to support her, probably with some vigor, if she runs for governor in 2018.
I talked to one this morning, a long-time, hard-line, difficult-to-please Democrat who turned away from Herseth Sandlin in a big way in 2010 because “I couldn’t tell the difference between her and John Boehner.”
Of course, there’s a big difference. Herseth Sandlin doesn’t cry, in public at least. I’d argue that there are and were some other more politically important differences, too, but I’m not here to argue. (Heh-heh) I’m here to issue an invitation to Herseth Sandlin on behalf of some pretty disaffected — from her, that is — Democrats:
“Run. We’ll be there for you.”
I asked the obvious: “Will the money be there, too?”
Yes. Yes, it will be.
Several Democrats who have been sailing along on the SHS Disaffected say they will come to political port if she runs. They like her chances, a lot, in a head-to-head against Kristi Noem for the governor’s chair.
Wait, who said Kristi is running for governor? I did, on this blog a while back. Weren’t you paying attention? But more on that in a minute.
So why would Democrats who rejected Herseth Sandlin for the House support her in the governor’s race?  They’re more comfortable with a Blue Dog in Pierre than they are with a Blue Dog in D.C.
Blame that on Abourezk, McGovern, Daschle and Johnson. They created an expectation — which now seems a bit like an illusion — of not only Democratic occupancy in the state’s limited congressional spots — three — but also a certain philosophy there.
Johnson varied from that a bit over the years, but not enough to bother people much. And he finished sliding left pretty consistently. Herseth Sandlin diverged regularly, and in a particularly damaging way to her relationship with some Democrats, if not necessarily to the state in any way, with her opposition to the Affordable Care Act as proposed and the carbon tax that would have hiked electric rates for many South Dakotans.
Climate change (most notably in recent years focused on Keystone XL) and Obamacare have been two hard-line litmus-test issues in the Democratic Party, even in South Dakota.
Herseth Sandlin failed the test. It mattered not that she seemed to be representing a middle ground on those issues and others that matched up pretty well with South Dakota middle ground, aside from party. She needed all her Democrats in 2010 and didn’t have them.
She will, if she runs in 2018. They say.
The hard-liners are more comfortable with a more moderate — they might argue conservative — Democrat in the governor’s chair. Such philosophy is a better fit there, or — they might argue — one that doesn’t make as much difference, since governors don’t help drive national policy on issues such as who should provide and pay for medical care, what the nation should do about climate change or how we should approach national defense and domestic issues such as gun violence.
And given the extended absence of a Democratic presence in the governor’s office, which will have reached 40 years by the time Dennis Daugaard departs, they have reason to settle for a lot less than they might want in political philosophy.
They think SHS would beat Noem handily in that race, if it occurred. I’m not saying “handily,” or even predicting a win by Herseth Sandlin. But I think she would be formidable to the point of a toss-up prediction going in —   especially in this race, as opposed to another congressional run.
And guess who’d be the Washington “insider” in this race?
Noem has already lost and angered some hard-line Republicans for votes on things like the budget that most South Dakotans found reasonable. And some moderates in the GOP still haven’t fully embraced her.
Nonetheless, I’d expect Noem to be formidable, too, presuming she could get by what could be a string of Republican candidates — some of them pretty salty — in the 2018 GOP gubernatorial primary. And that’s not a given.
What is a given is Herseth Sandlin’s standing as the most electable Democrat in the 2018 race for governor, should she decide to get in.
She’ll still have her appeal to a percentage of Republican voters, a larger percentage of independents and — if the disaffected gang keeps its word — the whole Democratic crew that once loved her.
And when it comes to the governor’s race, love really might mean never having to say you’re sorry.


Posted in Politics In KELOLAND.


  1. Pingback: Will the modern SDDP accept Stephanie Herseth Sandlin as a candidate? Maybe. But I doubt it. | South Dakota War College

    • Pat: You raise a good question about whether talking to one Democrat means much to the many. (Why not raise that question in a, well, question, in response to my blog thread? Then you’d be more likely to get the link to your sight approved. I’m approving this one, because you managed to get your question in above the link. But I wish you’d just make a line or two of a comment, which is what the, uh, comment process is for.) Back to the Democrat: This one is pretty important in terms of those who walked away from SHS in 2010. Very representative. In addition, there were seven or eight others in the discussion all nodding their heads in agreement with that Democrat. Trust me, if SHS can get that bunch, she can get virtually all of them who left her five years ago.

  2. What really may tip the scales is the large portion of SD that feels like we have total corruption in the rep gov’t! We were told EB5 was “no big deal” -no one held responsible, a convent suicide, and feeble investigation in which a former gov provided false info to theGOAC. And once again, we have no in charge of education funds, programs that have run amuck with funds diverted, mis used or stealing. When are we going to get a real investigation? So, SHS can really appeal to many, because we are looking for an honest approach to gov’t in Pierre, because we sure need a house cleaning!

  3. I would really like to see this race and this time maybe someone in the media or at a debate will insist on an answer from Rep Noem that pertains to the question she is asked. I understand that redirecting the question is a mainstay in campaigns, but I watched debates and appearances that left me slack jawed when Kristi would wander off into the party line no matter what inquiry was made. There had to be many times when SHS wanted to stop and say “C’mon you guys, are you really going to let that answer slide by?”

    Yes, SHS needs to get the Dems back on her side or it is impossible to run but if they ask her to go too far left, then Kristi will win anyway. There are a lot of “ifs” in every campaign. SHS is the only viable candidate the Dems have, they have to try and make it work, a system of checks and balances needs to be restored in South Dakota.

    • Hank: Debates in South Dakota political campaigns are really forums, with formats in most cases that don’t just allow candidates — man, not just Noem — to avoid answering difficult questions directly and completely, then encourage it. With multiple questioners is a bad idea, unless they are willing and cooperating in follow-ups on key questions. That rarely happens. Then you get into certain sponsors that have certain agenda and want certain questions asked. It all leads to a mishmash that provides little meaningful perspectve on important issues and allows answer avoidance. We should have as series of real debates with single moderators and extensive opportunities for other candidates int he debate to challenge and press for follow-up questions and answers. THe moderator should do the same. KW

  4. It’s impossible for me to imagine either Stephanie or Max Sandlin living in a wasteland like Pierre.

    If SHS has learned anything it’s that she’s over getting into any election where she could lose. Her campaign would have expose John Thune for the political opportunist he is and it would take a boatload of money to do that.

    If she plugs her nose to move to Pierre in 2019 she needs to overcome her loss to a novice like Kristi Noem. SHS would have to redeem herself by taking Kristi on again in the House race.

    South Dakota needs an executive who would go to Pierre, treat the sewage and flush the culture of corruption into Lake Sharp.

    Honestly? I believe there isn’t a single Democrat in South Dakota with the gonads to do that.

    If Democrats want to make a difference in Pierre we should be twitter-bombing the White House to put a radical into the US Attorney’s office because Randy Seiler is sandbagging as acting USA for the District of South Dakota. Seiler lives in Fort Pierre so he’s been doused in SDGOP kool-aid.

    • Larry: Pierre’s a lovely town. Stephanie would be happpy there. Max, a Texan with a penchant for shotguns, fishing rods and time on the water, would love it even more — though I’m guessing he’d come and go between there and D.C. Noem was a novice but a natural campaigner, and she had a lot on her side in 2010, including an anti-incumbent mood, $3 million and an edge in registered voters by party of about 40,000 (to say nothing of the addition edge in the registered Democrats who didn’t vote or didn’t care). I think your judgment of Democrats and their courage is unfair. It’s hard to do much when you don’t have the numbers. Are you ever in South Dakota these days? KW

      • I stand by every word i wrote, KW. Am in the Hills about once a month for ten days or so. Was just there to help a friend in Spearfish catch up on his backlog of work but coming to Marty Jackley’s police state is becoming harder all the time.

        • Are you being sarcastic? I pretty sure I know where our sitting US Congresswoman lives, between DC and home, in SD. Where does Stephanie live? Where did she live before she was recruited to come back to SD and run last time, simply because of her last name?

          • Wade:

            Stephanie lives in Sioux Falls, SD and works for Raven Industries. If you had 1/2 a mind to do your research, you could find that out pretty easily.

            I will tell you that I had the opportunity to have a very nice lunch with Stephanie when she first started at Raven. I was immediately struck by her down to earth personality and intelligence. She is very passionate about people and the state of South Dakota. She recognized that there are better places in the country to raise a family and DC is not at the top of the list. She was raised in South Dakota and I feel she really understands that state, the people and the challenges we face.

            I am a registered Republican, but she would be a top candidate to vote for in my book because of her leadership and qualifications. Not because she’s affiliated with a political party. If more people voted for the best person for the job instead of party affiliation, I believe more could get done in government at all levels.

          • Wade: Herseth Sandlin has lived in South Dakota since her 2010 lost. She has a nice place in Sioux Falls. And a great job there. And she had a house here inSouth Dakota while she was in D.C. And, of course, she grew up here and has strong family and friend connections. I think my question was both sarcastic and serious: Kristi Noem has a home near Castlewood but her job is in Washington, D.C., where she also has a place to live. If you count the days of the year, I assume she’s in D.C. more than she’s here. And, like John Thune, who lives in Sioux Falls and has a place where he works, she spends a lot of time each week in airplanes, going back and forth. There was a time when people who went to serve us in Washington lived there. And we seemed to think that was fine. I think you can make an argument that there were better relationships and more productive sessions in Congress when more members did that. They still came “home” a lot, probably enough to not lose touch, although some — Republicans mostly, it seems — argue that you have to be home every weekend to not lose touch with South Dakota. I respect Noem and Thune — and now Rounds — for how they handle it, and I also respected those who handled it differently, deciding to live where they worked and go home to their families every night of the week instead of going home to a quiet apartment alone. I’m not sure it makes any different at all in what kind of public servant they are. K.W.

  5. Herseth election against Noem was fairly close as I recall watching the votes come limn on election night. Once the votes started to come in from the west river counties the spread began to widen and one could see the writing on the wall. the west was her worst showing. i don’t know wht but that is a fact just look at the old results. Herseth would be very well the Dems Best candidate they would have put up in 30 plus years for Governor. Try something once lots people that disliked Janklow will be first to tell you they didn’t vote for him any times he won. BUT ask they who they did vote for and a large percent CAN’T give you the name of the Democrat the voted for. My view he is it’s that the Democract’s have not put up a formal candidate for Gov. Don’t blame the Republicians a 100 % for holding the Governor House for 40 plus years. If could get Herseth to run. Some she may be able to win against anybody GOP runs. When the polls close at 7.00 pm on a election night and the winner is known by 8:30 pm central time The Dems have a candidate issue Just my view

    • D.A. Yup. If you’re a Democrat running statewide, you better come out of East River with a good lead, or you’re in trouble. That was true when Daschle lost in 2004, and when Herseth Sandlin lost in 2010. It was almost true — what, 524 votes — when Tim Johnson barely won in 2002. KW

  6. Thanks Allen, I was asking where she lived, because I did not know. I am not stalking her. I also believe that owning a house somewhere and living somewhere else does not keep you in touch with the people. If she had not come back here to run for office, would she have ever come back? I am not for ANY politician moving just to run for office, be they D or R. They all get to DC and forget where they came from. I have two words for you “TERM LIMITS”. It may be the best thing that could happen to our country. I am a Republican, but I am sick of ALL politicians. It is time we hold all of them accountable, be it in the primaries or the generals!

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