Democrat State Treasurer candidate Denny Pierson talking about his top priority

October 19, 2014 1 comment
Denny Pierson speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 10/17/14

Denny Pierson speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 10/17/14

Denny Pierson, the Democrat candidate for State Treasurer, was in attendance at the Brown County Democrat lunch last week. In the State Treasurers race he is running against incumbent Republican Rich Sattgast and Libertarian newcomer Ken Santema (that’s me by the way, but I am always nice so I’ll treat this post as if I’m not in the race). After the lunch I took the opportunity to sit down and speak with Pierson about his top priorities if he is elected to serve in Pierre.

Pierson said he would like to change how unclaimed property works. He would like to make it easier for people to get connected with their property. To do that he would try to make every County Treasury office an extension of State Treasurer in dealing with Unclaimed Property. He stated that he doesn’t mean the Treasurer would be in charge of all functions of the County Treasurers office. But he would have one person trained in each County Treasurers office that could help people with claim forms right there in each county. He says that would localize the process for people to get their money back from the state. It would be much more convenient than mail for people to have an option to visit their local county courthouse. That would meet an overall goal he has to make it less cumbersome to claim Unclaimed Property. This initiative would also be part of his goal to reduce the total amount of money in the unclaimed property fund to twenty percent of what it is today.

I then asked Pierson about the change of the State moving from five to three years in taking unclaimed property. He said the move was wrong, and believes if the powers in Pierre can get away with it they will be taking the money in one or two years. Pierson would like to go back to five years before taking people’s money. He understands he would have to work with the legislature to make that change. But he would lobby hard in the legislature as the State Treasurer to get that changed back to the longer time-period.

Pierson’s last priority was to educate the public about Unclaimed Property. He would like to have Public Service Announcements (PSAs) monthly if possible to let people know about unclaimed property and get the names of people out there that are on the list. To extend his idea of working with the County Treasurers, he says the lists should also be available for viewing at the County Courthouses.

Pierson is an interesting entry into this race. His idea of expanding the Unclaimed Property area of the State Treasurers office to County Treasurers is interesting. I haven’t looked deep enough into to see whether it is a workable idea yet, but I will admit it is something worth discussing. I think the Democrats may have chosen well when putting Pierson on the ballot for State Treasurer.

Burt Elliot talks about his residency at the Brown County Democrat lunch

October 19, 2014 6 comments
Burt Elliot speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 10/17/14

Burt Elliot speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 10/17/14

Earlier I posted about the Brown County Democrats Dollar-a-Month club meeting at Pizza Ranch in Aberdeen. After the meeting District 3 Democrat State House candidate Burt Elliott rose to talk about his housing situation for a moment. He has taken criticism from Republicans for running in District 3, while actually residing in district 2. This is a big issue. I’ve spoken with a few current legislators (including one Democrat that wishes to remain unnamed) that have stated concerns about whether Elliott will be allowed to take his seat in the State Legislature in the event Elliott wins the election. There is a possibility that the Speaker of the House can refuse to seat Elliott because he does not meet the basic requirements of a legislator from District 3.

Elliott stated that he has been in Aberdeen for fifty years. He said the apartment he bought in town was done so he can “run in the Aberdeen District. Where I live. Where I belong. Where I’ve spent fifty of sixty-seven years. Elliott says everyone in Aberdeen knows where he is all year (he is implying in Aberdeen, didn’t actually say that though). Further he said everyone in town knows his opponent (Al Novstrup) spends four months of year in Sioux Falls or Fargo. Elliott then says that during the forum a couple of weeks ago Al Novstrup made a cheap shot at his wife Elaine, who has Parkinson’s disease. Therefore he believes Al is a bully.

After this event I had the opportunity to catch up with Al Novstrup at a public meet and greet . He said he had not taken any shot at Elaine Elliott. He only wanted to point out that Burt Elliott does not live in District 3. Al says that Elliott’s residence is in District 2. His question about Elaine had to do with how moving into a basement apartment helped her reduce the use of stairs. In regards to where Al sleeps, he notes that he stays with relatives for the forty days that he sleeps in Sioux Falls for work. His wife and sock drawer remain in Aberdeen; specifically in a portion of Aberdeen that is a part of District 3.

I don’t think this issue is going away any time soon. Obviously the Republicans want to keep this seat. But going beyond that, I think everyone should be at least wary of what will happen in the event Elliott wins this race. If it is found that Elliott is not in fact living in District 3, then the Speaker of the House can refuse to seat Elliott. That will leave an open seat in the SD Legislature, and potentially lead to the Governor appointing a replacement. Even if things do not go that far it will cause a potential legal battle or continued attacks going back and forth between the two parties over the matter. I’m not sure what Elliott can do, but he needs to find a way to end this issue before November 4. If Elliott isn’t able to find a way to prove his actual residence, this small series of attacks back and forth may get truly nasty.

District 2 legislative candidates and State Treasurer candidate at the Brown County Democrats meeting in Aberdeen

October 19, 2014 2 comments

On October 17 the Brown County Democrats held their Dollar-a-Month club meeting at Pizza Ranch in Aberdeen. There were four guest speakers in attendance for this meeting. First there were the three legislative candidates for District 2: Chuck Welke (Senate), Natasha Noethlich (House), and John Graham (House). As a bonus the Democrat candidate for State Treasurer, Denny Pierson, was also able to attend and speak at the event. In this post I will pass on a few key points from what each speaker had to say. I’ve also included some brief words from Burt Elliott at the end of this post.

John Graham speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 10/17/14

John Graham speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 10/17/14

District 2 legislative candidate John Graham was up first. Graham kept his speech very short. During the intro given to him it was mentioned that he has been to Pierre lobbying on behalf of labor. I think that is something he should be talking about when before crowds like this. Graham talked briefly about funding. Graham would like to see a day where SD isn’t depending upon the federal government for funding. But until that day happens he said it is important to use the money that South Dakota gets from the federal government where it is needed. Graham finished off by saying he is there to represent labor in Pierre.

Chuck Welke speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 10/17/14

Chuck Welke speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 10/17/14

State Senator Chuck Welke was up next. Welke is in a very tight race defending against veteran Republican legislator Brock Greenfield. Welke started out by saying that if not for the Democrat minority in Pierre that the Republican majority in Pierre “would be doing a lot more stuff they shouldn’t be doing”. He said it is important to have the party that is out of power act as a watchdog party.

Welke noted that Democrats are outnumbered by Republicans in District 2. But he says that if a good GOTV effort is done in District 2, the independents and Democrats together outnumber the Republicans and it is possible to win. Personally I think his watchdog party talking point works well with independents.

There were a number of key issues that Welke mentioned are important to him. First he mentioned education. He spent thirty-five years in education himself. During that time he had thought about leaving education, partly due to pay. Last summer there was an education summer study that Welke was a part of. He heard from many ex-teachers during that time that had left the education system in order to make higher pay in the agribusiness industry. From that summer study it was determined there was a crisis, but Welke does not believe the Republicans in Pierre agreed that it was a crisis then. And now he says the crisis has gotten even worse.

Welke contends the state has not lived up to its obligations; which has caused a tax shift to the local level. He contends lack of support for education funding in Pierre has forced schools and counties to opt-out. These opt-outs are putting more burden upon the local taxpayers according to Welke. He says the state needs to do more.

This year Welke is a member of the summer study dealing with roads and bridges. He noted the federal stimulus package helped the state highways get into great condition. But he said something has to be done for all roads or they will have fallen apart in ten years.

EB-5 was Welke’s next subject. He contends that EB-5 would not even be a known issue if certain Democrats had not been pushing for a long time. Kathy Tyler and Susan Wismer are two people he noted as having been important trying to get more information about what happened with the EB-5 situation. Welke says some legislators have been trying to get something done regarding EB-5 for a year and a half. He noted this was not a partisan issue at first. But after Tyler started pushing legislation, the lack of balance in Pierre prevented any progress from being made.

Finally Welke said there needs to be balance and accountability in Pierre. He says there needs to be a strong minority party. Welke said that right now “what gets done in Pierre, gets done behind closed doors”. That was in reference to most legislation being decided in the Republican caucus, instead of out on the legislative floors. He was the Senate sponsor of a bill that tried to change that this year (HB 1172), but that was shot down in committee. He finished by saying there needs to be a competition of ideas in Pierre.

Natasha Noethlich speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 10/17/14

Natasha Noethlich speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 10/17/14

District 2 House candidate Natasha Noethlich was up after Welke. Noethlich said she is running in part because she has spoken to many people who feel they have no access to legislators. She says there is a feeling that current legislators are “there for their own purpose”.

Noethlich and her husband are first-generation farmers. Currently the legislature has only about 10% of its members active in the agriculture industry according to Noethlich. She stated there have been changes in farming. Noethlich didn’t actually say it, but I think she was trying to make the case she should be sent to Pierre to be a good representative of the new wave of farmers.

Going on, Noethlich talked about needing to help people. She has seen the struggles of old people in nursing homes. Many of those people she has spoken to in those nursing homes are having to dig into their life savings to pay for a nursing home. She also highlighted low-pay workers that are unable to have procedures because they cannot afford it and don’t have insurance.

Then Noethlich mentioned seeing a Daugaard commercial touting the fact he didn’t have to raise taxes in his first term. She claims that local tax districts had to raise taxes due to Daugaard’s administration refusing to raise taxes. Noethlich says that Pierre needs to be fixed so local taxes don’t need to be raised anymore.

Noethlich closed by saying that candidates need to be sent to Pierre to represent everyone. She stated that “we are not cookie cutter people”.

Denny Pierson speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 10/17/14

Denny Pierson speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 10/17/14

After Noethlich it was time for the Democrat candidate for State Treasurer, Denny Pierson. One thing Pierson spoke about when going through his history was his time spent as a teacher. He left teaching after eleven years because he needed better pay to support a family. That was building upon what Welke had been talking about earlier.

Pierson noted that he was a member of the SD Legislature from 93-94. Those years are notable because the Democrats enjoyed a majority in the State Senate. He noted that during that time Governor Mickelson had to work with Democrats to get things done. In order to get anything accomplished Mickelson had to seek out Democrat legislators. Pierson says that is needed again.

When talking about the ballot, Pierson said that to be considered viable it is important that Democrat Party not to leave seats open. Pierson said this is a critical point for the Democrat Party. He says the party cannot become a majority party again if candidates are not filled for each seat. This includes everything from county-level offices to constitutional offices. He also said the Democrat Party “needs to get rid of that defeatist attitude”. Then Pierson went on to talk about rebuilding the Democrat infrastructure through fundraising and education. I don’t think anyone in the room disagreed with what he was saying.

Pierson then talked briefly about the Treasurers office. He noted the Treasury Department is not likely involved directly with EB-5. But he would like to know why the press has not asked if the State Treasury was involved in cutting checks to those involved in the EB-5 program. Further, he would like to know how that money did get out to certain individuals. He acknowledges that some of those questions have been asked, but also that many have not been answered. Pierson then reiterated that the EB-5 fiasco would not have happened if the Democrats had a little bit more power for oversight in Pierre.

After speaking, Pierson was asked a question about whether the State Treasurer was still under a gag order. Pierson said he believes the gag order is still in effect. But he stated that as the Treasurer he would be willing to go to jail for speaking the truth.

Overall I think this was a good event for the Brown County Democrats to get local activists connected with candidates. I can’t say anything new really came from any of the candidates in these speeches. But then these type of events are more about exciting the base than actually getting information out.

A chat with Gordon Howie

October 19, 2014 1 comment
Gordon Howie speaking with my two sons in Aberdeen. Taking pictures with candidates is one of the few reasons they enjoy going to political events with me. Photo by Ken Santema 10/07/14

Gordon Howie speaking with my two sons in Aberdeen. Taking pictures with candidates is one of the few reasons they enjoy going to political events with me. Photo by Ken Santema 10/07/14

A little over a week ago I spent a few minutes chatting with Independent US Senate candidate Gordon Howie in Aberdeen. Howie entered the race as an independent as a contingency in case fellow Republican Stace Nelson was able to win the Primary. After Mike Rounds won the Primary Election, Howie stepped full-force into the race so he could become the choice of “true conservatives”. For the purpose of this post I will focus on what Howie told me were his top priorities if chosen to serve in DC.

Howie said a main goal would be to “provide a positive role model for Thune”. He did not say anything directly negative about Thune. Instead he expanded on the actions he would have taken differently as a Senator from South Dakota. When Senator Cruz stood on the Senate floor for hour he would have been there, instead of supporting Senator McConnell as most of the Senate Republicans did. Howie said he would have been there supporting the effort to advance conservative principles. To finish this part of the conversation off, Howie asked “Does South Dakota want another McConnell clone?” I believe Howie is hoping conservative South Dakota voters will say no to that.

A bit part of the Howie campaign has revolved around principles. Howie believes too many politicians have left their principles behind when elected. In particular, he says inevitability is the adversary of principled politics. He does not believe legislators in any level of government should vote for legislation simply because it will probably pass anyway. In order to move the country forward, Howie contends that principles must be used for every vote. Howie believes that is true whether it is a legislator voting on bills or a citizen in the voting booth.

When talking about the economic state of the United States Howie believes there are three standard things that must done: cut spending, reduce debt, and cut government growth. He said these are not new ideas, but rather they are basic conservative principles. He then asked if anyone believes any of his opponents would be likely to actually try advancing all three conservative principles. This has been a very consistent message for Howie. A lot of his time spent in the Senatorial debates has been used to show that Mike Rounds does not follow these basic principles.

National security is another big priority for Howie. He believes the immigration situation has become critical. Howie believes the US has the resources needed to secure our border. He asks why Mexico and Canada can keep their borders secure, yet the US is unable to do so. I did ask him about fell Independent Senate candidate Pressler’s idea to move troops from the European military theater and redeploy them to the border. He called that an idea “fraught in fantasy”. Howie says that proposal from Pressler was nothing more than a candidate creating a “political soundbite pandering to voters”.

Finally, Howie said legislators should spend more time being concerned about what they are doing, instead of what they are saying. He believes there is little more than rhetoric that comes from most politicians. That is why he believes the conservative vote should go to him. Where other politicians will say one thing to get elected, then vote however the party tells them once they are in power; Howie says he will actually vote according to the principles he has laid out during his campaign.

At this point all the polls I’ve seen show Howie at a very small single-digit percentage points in the race. Yet he feels there is a surprise coming up that will cause voters to support him in the end. I can’t imagine what that would be at this point, but it would make for one heck of an election night if that were to be true!

Rundown of the Democrat Women’s Rally in Aberdeen

October 19, 2014 2 comments

On Thursday the South Dakota Democrat Party hosted a Women’s Rally in Aberdeen. This was a chance for the party to highlight some of the women from the Democrat party they hope will make an impact upon politics in South Dakota. The event had quite a few speakers that mostly stuck to small speeches. In this post I will keep my commentary to a minimum; and instead focus on reporting what took place at the rally and pass on some pictures.

Susan Wismer singing Patsy Cline's Crazy, with Mark Remily playing guitar. Photo by Ken Santema 10/16/14

Susan Wismer singing Patsy Cline’s Crazy, with Mark Remily playing guitar. Photo by Ken Santema 10/16/14

To warm up the crowd for the event, District 3 State Senate candidate Mark Remily had the Karaoke mike going (he actually does a pretty fair job singing Ring of Fire). Most notable though was Wismer taking the mike to sing Patsy Cline’s Crazy. She did pretty good singing that song.

Before the main guest speakers went on stage there were brief words from Deb Knecht (SDDP Party Chairwoman) and Jennifer Slaight-Hansen (Brown County Democrats Chairwoman). Knecht listed off many of the strong women Democrat candidates on the ballot and passed on her belief that when women vote it means a win for Democrats. Slaight-Hansen took a moment to also mention there are also male Democrat candidates that require support this election. She also briefly noted that not only are women votes important to Democrats, but so are votes from Native Americans.  She said there are “basically three Republicans versus a Democrat” in the US Senate race. Therefore she believes anyone looking to vote Independent will in fact be voting for a Republican to win (of course the Republicans say the same thing about votes to Independents being a win for Democrats). Slaight-Hansen also said Democrats need to be sent to represent women’s issues.

Local Democrat party activist and long-time Senator Johnson staffer Sharon Stroschien was also in attendance. She passed on a message from Democrat US House candidate Corinna Robinson. Robinson was unable to attend because of the SDPB US House debate being held at the same time. After Sharon spoke the audience stood up and waved so someone from the SDDP could send a pic to Robinson wishing her luck at the debate. I took that opportunity to take the picture below, it shows how well attended this event was.

Audience at the Women's Rally in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 10/16/14

Audience at the Women’s Rally in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 10/16/14

Angelia Schultz with her campaign helper Samuel speaking at the Women's Rally. Photo by Ken Santema  10/16/14

Angelia Schultz with her campaign helper Samuel speaking at the Women’s Rally in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 10/16/14

Democrat Secretary of State candidate Angelia Shultz was the first candidate to speak at the event. While going through her biography Shultz noted her world had changed as she went through higher education. She saw the “plight of women and those of lower socioeconomic status”. She was astounded by what she saw. So she then went on to further education at SDSU to study sociology with an emphasis on social justice and community development. While studying at SDSU she started to look into what could be done for the plight of women. I think that  part of her bio showed why she was perfect for the Women’s Rally (besides the obvious fact she is a woman candidate).

After working at the Pentagon she came to Aberdeen. While here she was able to work on curriculum for women and children’s issues at Presentation College. In this curriculum she was able to focus on how women and children are disproportional impacted by global issues. She used that experience to reiterate the fact she was speaking at this rally for a reason, and it wasn’t just because she is a woman.

Schultz then moved on to talking about the Secretary of State (SOS) race. She says elections need to be run in a fair and balanced fashion. She said just ten years ago South Dakota was second in the nation for voter turnout; and then in 2012 South Dakota fell to twenty-second in the nation for voter turnout. Schultz says an imbalance of power and the power structure currently in Pierre is the cause of this drop in voter turnout. She noted that 18-24 year olds is where voter turnout was down the most. Within that age range the proportion of women voting was even worse. Within that age range she noted that one in five women are at or below the poverty level. Shultz added some more statistics and asked “what if these women showed up to vote?” Shultz believes it is important to show these young women how important it is to vote.

Shultz said as the future SOS, she would put forth an effort to place a ballot in every woman who can vote from “eighteen to dead”. She wants women to understand they are not an “invisible people”, but that women are people who can turn things around in this country.


Susan Wismer and Susy Blake speaking at the Women's Rally. Photo by Ken Santema 101614

Susan Wismer and Susy Blake speaking at the Women’s Rally in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 101614

Next up in this event was Democrats SD Governor candidate Susan Wismer and Lt. Governor candidate Susy Blake. Blake spent her few minutes on the stage mostly talking about how Wismer would be a great Governor. In particular Blake focused on Wismer’s experience on the appropriations committee in the SD Legislature. Further, Blake made the case that Wismer went against certain pieces of legislation that Democrats would normally back because “we don’t have the money”. I think Blake did a good job of highlighting Wismer as a fiscally responsible Democrat. Finally, Blake said that “women are ready to step in and take over”.

After some of the usual intro type talk Wismer spoke about the budget cuts from four years ago. That move by Daugaard four years ago caused her to believe the Democrats needed someone to challenge Daugaard. Since Wismer felt that she “get’s it”, she ended up entering the SD gubernatorial race.

Wismer said she feels good coming out of the SDPB gubernatorial debate (my post about it here, I disagree she did good enough).

Then Wismer mentioned talking with many industry boards, mostly Republican, she has been speaking with while traveling the state. She has enjoyed “giving them a piece of my mind”. In these speaking engagements she has been letting groups know that we have “not been very good stewards of what our ancestors gave us”. Areas she mentioned that she believes are not being taken care of include schools, nursing homes, roads and bridges. Wismer says she is talking about these issues because damage exist whether or not the Governor actually wants to talk about it.

Going on, Wismer said it is crazy not to expand Medicaid. She believes the decision of whether to do something should not depend upon where the governor is in the election cycle. By not expanding Medicaid, Wismer says the Governor will have already cost SD $300 million in investments. She says the governor needs to have the nerve to say and do what is right.

Wismer then spoke briefly about the minimum wage initiative on the ballot. She said the SD Board of Retailers was unhappy with the minimum wage issue, especially the inflationary increase part of it. Wismer said the SD Board of Retailers will likely work with the legislature to “correct” the parts of this initiative they don’t like after it passes this falls. To stop that Wismer said more Democrat numbers are needed in the legislature; or create more balance by sending her to the Governors office.

Finally, Wismer used her constant talking point of Pierre needing a “competition of ideas”. She briefly mentioned EB-5 when talking about competition of ideas. Wismer believes EB-5 is a symptom of one party having control of State Government for forty years.

After Wismer spoke, Deb Knecht added that she hopes EB-5 will help Democrats on the ballot.

Stephanie Herseth Sandlin speaking at the Women's Rally in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 10/16/14

Stephanie Herseth Sandlin speaking at the Women’s Rally in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 10/16/14

Stephanie Herseth Sandlin then took the stage. Her absence from the 2014 election as a candidate or party activist has been noted by almost anyone that follows politics in South Dakota. She began by talking about NE South Dakota Democrats ability to elect “competent, fair, exceptional leaders”; many of which are women. Herseth Sandlin stated she was almost brought to tears thinking about the history being set by Wismer and Blake. She believes Wismer and Blake are going to “set a precedent for Hilary” when deciding to run for US President.

Herseth Sandlin said it is important to think about the children’s future. To that end she believes it is important to invest in education, invest in infrastructure, invest in working families, invest in healthcare, and invest in good paying jobs. In order to accomplish that, Herseth Sandlin says Wismer and Blake need to be sent to Pierre. In addition reinforcements from the legislature must be sent to help. She said new leaders are also needed, such as Angelia Schultz in the SOS office.

After speaking briefly, Herseth Sandlin introduced Senator Heitkamp of North Dakota. I was actually hoping to hear more from Herseth Sandlin. Her reentry into SD politics was not too deep.

Senator Heidi Heitkamp speaking at the Women's Rally in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 10/16/14

Senator Heidi Heitkamp speaking at the Women’s Rally in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 10/16/14

Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota then came up to give her speech. She came right out saying the South Dakota Democrats “have done it right” with their lineup of candidates.

Heitkamp talked about forty-thousand people who can’t get Medicare expansion and the healthcare infrastructure going unattended. She spoke about the morality of saying no to those in need for political reasons. At times like this she says it is important to stand up for those forty-thousand and give them a voice. She spoke directly at Wismer and said those people need a voice even if they will not vote for her.

By electing Wismer and Blake, Heitkamp says a difference can be made. Heitkamp said it is important not to pay attention to the odds. In her own race for the US Senate, Heitkamp noted she was given an 8% chance of winning. She talked about those odds and noted she is now serving in the US Senate for North Dakota. This part of Heitkamp’s speech was actually a pretty good rally story to get the audience excited. It is a pretty good story, going from growing up in a ninety person town to being elected to the US Senate.

After more little stories, Heitkamp talked about how important it is to get Wismer and Blake elected. She says it matters to Native Americans. Heitkamp talked about spending time on Standing Rock and how the State of SD fails works with the tribe. She says it matters for school teachers. In order to get quality teachers, Heitkamp said that teachers must feel valued. Further, she said when teachers are valued, that shows the society cares about children.

Finally Heitkamp noted that elections matter because it impacts who is represented and who those elected think about. She made the case that a candidate doesn’t get anywhere without a great amount of people helping and supporting that candidate. To win this election, Heitkamp said it is important for local Democrats to volunteer and get more votes.

Overall the audience was very interactive with clapping and cheers throughout the whole event. If this rally was designed to get the Democrat base in Aberdeen excited, I would say this event was a success. It will be interesting to see the Democrat vs Republican turnout in NE South Dakota on November 4.

Here is one last photo from the event. The speakers lined up on the stage for a picture.

Jennifer Slaight-Hansen, Deb Knecht, Susan Wismer, Heidi Heitkamp, Susy Blake, Shirly Stroheim, and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin at the Women's Rally in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema

Jennifer Slaight-Hansen, Deb Knecht, Susan Wismer, Heidi Heitkamp, Susy Blake, Sharon Stroschien, and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin at the Women’s Rally in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema

Noem and Robinson SDPB debate solidifies who I will vote for in the US House Race

October 17, 2014 3 comments
Kristi Noem speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 08/11/14

Kristi Noem speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 08/11/14

Last night SDPB hosted a debate for the two candidates in the SD US House race. Incumbent Republican Kristi Noem faced off against challenging Democrat Corinna Robinson. At Dakotafest these two faced off in a fairly boring debate. I didn’t expect much better in this debate, but I do think this one was a little bit better. One thing this debate did was solidify what I will likely do for the US House race on my ballot come November 4.

Before looking at my ballot choice I’ll look briefly at some key parts of this debate. When talking about government reform, Noem mentions she supports the REINS Act. The REINS Act would slow down the growth of regulatory agencies by requiring them to get authorization from Congress for any expansion. The REINS Act has a lot of support, and I believe it is a good piece of legislation for Noem to support. Robinson also believes national spending needs to be reigned in. But then she went on to talk about “equity” and making sure the rich in American get taxed more fairly. Unfortunately I don’t think she believes a flat tax would be more fair. From a fiscal conservative viewpoint Noem definitely did better on this question.

Talking about ISIS (or ISIL is apparently the PC way to say it?), Robinson touted the national Democrat Party line from Obama that the US is just acting as advisers in Syria and Iraq. Democrat candidates have been careful this election season to make it look as if the US will not be in another Iraq war. Noem mentioned she supported the Obama administrations plan to train “moderate” groups in the region. I can think of two follow-up questions I wish Noem had been asked in that regard: How many true “moderate” groups choose to enter a war? Has it worked out well in the past for the US to arm factions in a foreign civil war? Sadly both House candidates have quite a war hawk streak in them and will likely support any boots on the ground action that begins after November 4.

When talking about healthcare reform, Robinson said the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was the right way for the US to go. I don’t support her stance on that issue, but it is pretty brave for a politician in SD to support Obamacare. She can maybe be given some points for that. Noem on the other hand mentioned legislation she supports that would include some portions of ACA. I’m not really sure  what legislation she was speaking of, but it sounded similar to the Patient CARE Act that some Republicans have offered. Offering such a plan does allow Republicans such as Noem to say they are offering an alternative (of course some of us would prefer to get government out of healthcare).

When talking about ag questions Kristi did quite well. She went through the  parts of the Farm Bill she thinks are successes and how she thinks the farmers have a better safety net than before. For the most part Robinson kept the ag questions at a higher level. She seemed to be trying to advocate safety nets for more groups than just farmers. And of course Robinson took a swipe at Noem for being part of the groups of legislators that wanted to separate the food stamp program SNAP from the rest of the farm bill. Actually I didn’t like either candidates overall in the ag category. This was especially true when talking about whether the current Farm Bill was sufficient with such high input costs. Personally I believe the input costs are currently so high because of the farm bill. Without the farm bill, actual free market principles would take over and input prices would have to come down.

Corinna Robinson speaking in Kyle, SD. Photo by Ken Santema 05/16/14

Corinna Robinson speaking in Kyle, SD. Photo by Ken Santema 05/16/14

The Keystone XL questions yielded no surprises. Noem supports KXL and touts how great the tax revenues will be from it. She also mentioned the State Department had reported there will be no environmental impact from the pipeline. Robinson took issue with that, and pointed out to Noem that there is a difference between environmental impact and environmental risk. Then Robinson spoke about how all methods of transporting oil has risk. She didn’t say so, but I think Robinson was trying to make the case that no oil should be shipped; and instead solar and wind should be used. The big disconnect there for me is the war hawk streak present in DC, and for Corinna (who worked in the Pentagon). How would the Congress feel about avoiding wars to reduce reliance upon oil? I will give one bit of a kudos to Robinson on that part of the debate though, she was the only one to mention the eminent domain abused in regards to KXL. The Republican candidate Noem apparently forgot to mention the property rights concerns with KXL.

Ebola is understandably a hot topic right now, and it was a good question for this debate. Robinson says the federal government is currently doing a good job of handling the Ebola crisis. On the other hand Noem believes the federal government should be intervening more and supports a travel ban. Let me restate that in other terms: the Democrat candidate says the government is doing good with its current method, the Republican candidate wants to expand the size and scope of government. Those supporting an expansion of federal power to deal with the Ebola situation are stuck in the mind-frame of a hundred years ago when current medical advances didn’t exist. Apparently the Republican candidate is included in that mind-frame.

There were a few questions I won’t bother blogging about. One odd part of some of those questions came from Robinson. She kept coming back to state issues and initiatives that are on the ballot this fall in South Dakota. It almost seemed on a couple of questions that Robinson forgot which office she was running for.

Overall I do think this debate was slightly better than their Dakotafest debate. I think supporters of each candidates will believe their side won. Robinson did a better job this time of keeping focused and realizing who her audience was. Noem did as expected and stuck to pre-packaged talking points.

But from a liberty-minded point of view this was not a good debate. There was no true advocate for civil liberties or truly reducing the power of the federal government as a whole. For that reason I will likely stick with my gut feeling from a couple of months ago and leave both circles blank on this part of the ballot. I don’t feel either candidate will stand for civil liberties and economic freedom. South Dakota may not allow write-ins on ballots, but it sure allows for people to skip voting for certain races or ballot questions. This would be a good one to refrain from voting.

Democrat political events in Aberdeen worth noting today and tommorow

October 16, 2014 2 comments

Updated: Forgot to include Denny Pierson as an attendee for Friday’s meeting. That has been fixed.

Today and tomorrow are a pair of political events worth checking out for anyone in the Aberdeen area wishing to learn more about Democrat candidates on the ballot. Today, October 16, there is a Women’s Rally highlighting Democrat female candidates on the SD ballot. And tomorrow, Oct 17, the Brown County Democrats will have their Dollar-a-Month Club meeting with District 2 Democrat candidates and the Democrat State Treasurer candidate attendance.

Here are the details for each event:

Image sent out by the Brown County Democrats  via email.

Image sent out by the Brown County Democrats via email.

This Women’s Rally will be a good opportunity for local residents to hear from Susan Wismer, Susy Blake and Angelia Schultz. These three ladies are on the ballot this fall in very tough races. Plus I will admit to being curious as to what Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin has to say; I figured she was avoiding this election. North Dakota’s junior Senator Heidi Heitkamp will be in attendance. It will be interesting to see if Heitkamp has any advice for the SD ladies on the ballot. Heitkamp won her election by less than 1%, so she understands how important each vote is.  Finally, it should be noted that Democrat US House candidate Corinna Robinson is pictured above, but not part of the lineup of guests. Since Robinson has a US House debate on SDPB tonight, it would be quite a feat for her to attend this event as well.

Tomorrow the Brown County Democrats will be meeting at Pizza Ranch from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm as part of their monthly Dollar-a-Month club. The guest speakers are the District 2 legislative candidates Chuck Welke (Senate), Natasha Neothlich (House), and John Graham (House). District 2 is one of those races to watch. It might be worth it for anyone from District 2 to attend and hear what these candidates have to say. Also added as a last-minute guest is Denny Pierson, the Democrat candidate for State Treasurer.

I tentatively plan to attend both events. If I do attend either event I will do a post afterwards to let voters know where the above candidates stand.


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