It’s the question Democrats in South Dakota can’t yet answer: “Who you guys running against Thune next year?”
I’ve asked several Democrats over the last few months, and most looked like they’d just been hit with a plank.
Not a political plank. A wooden one.
But a good buddy of mine who happens to be a good Democrat, too, had a pretty decent answer for me recently: “Frank Kloucek.”
Personally, I like it.
Let’s be honest. The Democrats can’t win that seat in 2016 — not unless Thune gets caught crossing the Jones County Line to poach Lyman County pheasants (or he falls to the unlikely, for a man of his West River sensibilities, whimsy of a presidential run), he’s pretty much a lock for reelection next year.
So, what to do, if you’re the Democrats?
How about having some fun? Raising a ruckus, along with some good isssues? Making Thune stand up on a debate stage and answer some questions?
Kloucek could do all that, in way that could be valuable, to say nothing of entertaining.
If you don’t know him, you really don’t know kolaches and string ties as well as you should. Kloucek began his state legislative days — and there were many of them, in both the South Dakota House and, especially, the Senate (more than 20 years, total in both) way back when Bush was president — HW, I mean, the one who actually studied when he went to Yale.
And he just kept getting reelected and reelected and reelected, until he didn’t, of course.
But hanging around that long is not bad for a South Dakota Democrat, from any part of the state.
Kloucek has never been a particularly sophisticated politician. But he always understood his constituents and their issues, and connected well in a way that always seemed sincere, was often kinda wacky and turned out to be pretty effective in piling up wins in a Republican-dominated state.
He’s not afraid of a political fistfight, either, or the probability — OK, near certainty — that he’d lose the race.
Somebody’s got to do it, for the Democrats. And my guess is Kloucek would, if given enough resources to get a message out, tangle with Thune on stage a time or two and make the powerful senator do a real campaign dance, instead of that stroll he had in 2010.
So, Why not Frank in 2016?
We might even have our first U.S. Senate debate where kolaches were served.