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.