SDPB Governor Democratic Primary Forum tonight

Susan Wiser and Joe Lowe at the QA session in Brookings
Susan Wiser and Joe Lowe at the QA session in Brookings

Tonight there will be a forum between Democrat primary gubernatorial candidates Susan Wismer and Joe Lowe. Personally I wish this would have been a debate. Maybe the organizers at SDPB decided against that after the Republican US Senate primary ‘debate’ went so poorly. The details on this debate are shown below. Hopefully the questions asked will be relevant to Democrat primary voters.

South Dakota Governor Democratic Primary Forum

60 minutes
SDPB1 TV & SDPB Online:
Thursday, May 29, 8pm (7 MT)
SDPB Online
Archived at

South Dakota Gubernatorial Race: a look at the five candidates

MM900173989[1]There are now five days until the primary elections are done in South Dakota. Two days ago I wrote about the sorry shape of the US Senate race (I still recommend Republicans vote Stace Nelson!). Today I take a look at the five gubernatorial candidates. At least this race has some variance with the candidates (fewer scandals and less cronyism). Here is the recap of the gubernatorial candidates:

Republican Primary Candidates

Dennis Daugaard – Incumbent – I know most people within the Republican party seem to like Daugaard… Honestly I don’t see why. There are two very big issues I feel Daugaard has gone with big-government DC Republicans on, and forgotten his small-government roots. First there is Common Core. He mentioned it briefly during his State of the State address and his administration has been key in implementing Common Core in South Dakota. I actually find it mind-boggling that anyone could claim to be conservative while advocating for Common Core. Any Republican primary voter that cares about the state of public education should see this as a reason avoid giving Daugaard any votes. The second big issue I have with Daugaard is his lack of faith in the free market. True small-government advocates actually try to promote the ideas of the free market. Instead Dauggard has taken a different approach. Using creative tricks with on-time money Governor Daugaard was able to pre-fund Building South Dakota with an extra $30,000,000. This money will be handled by the Governors Office of Economic Development (GOED). GOED is the very office that is in part responsible for such debacles as the Aberdeen Beef Plant. The problems with GOED go much deeper than that however. At its core the purpose of GOED is to choose winners and losers in the market-place using taxpayers dollars. That is not the way of a small-government conservative. Rather that is the way a large-government crony likes to operate. Between Daugaard and his predecessor Rounds there has been a long run of crony-capitalism going on from the Governors mansion. Daugaard is the presumed winner of the primary; this is one presumption I hope is wrong… especially since he is too chicken to even debate Hubbel…

Lora Hubbel – Hubbel is a true small-government advocate. She has gone through a lot of time an energy to document the steps Rounds and Daugaard took to implement Obamacare in South Dakota (even if you like ACA, you have to dislike Rounds and Daugaard lying about their involvement with it). Lora has been at the forefront of fighting against Common Core in South Dakota. I’ve seen her speak a few times in the last year and each time she focuses on economic development by getting government out of the way. Plus, she has been working hard at discovering all the data mining being done by government agencies and how that might be used. Overall she is a great candidate from a liberty standpoint. Her biggest downside has nothing to do with her. The status-quo Republicans that do not like Hubbel’s message have waged a huge war on her character to make her look as if she is an extremist. Its ironic, she is called an extremist for actually promoting the small-government stances of the Republican Party. I would expect Democrats to attack her in such ways.. but no, it is the establishment in her own party that does the majority of the attacking. And to add to the irony, it is the same establishment Republicans attacking Hubbel personally that says it is out of line for Stace Nelson to attack the voting record of Rounds. This June 3 I will be casting my vote for Lora Hubbel as the Republican candidate for SD Governor and hope other SD voters that happen to be registered Republican will do the same.

Democrat Primary Candidates

Joe Lowe – If I were registered Independent or Democrat this is who I would choose (remember Independents, you can vote in the Democrat primary!). There is very little policy-wise that differentiate Lowe and Wismer. However Lowe has a lot of experience working in the executive branch of government. This includes being the states head fire chief under Janklow, Rounds and Daugaard. Lowe understands Daugaard and his ‘full steam ahead’ attitude gives Democrats the best chance of actually putting up a fight during this election. In addition he was the Mayor of a town of 100,000. I also think he would be more the type to offer solutions; as opposed to passing on party talking points. This would be my recommendation for anyone that can vote in the Democrat primary.

Susan Wismer – Wismer is almost the opposite of Lowe. Her government experience has been as an appropriator in the SD Legislature. That is a very important job. Appropriators learn quite a bit about every government agency in South Dakota. That knowledge would be valuable as a governor. However she is severely handicapped by her timid mouse demeanor. Every time I see Wismer speak it seems that she holds back; almost afraid to say what is on her mind. Anyone going against Daugaard must do so ‘full-on’. For that reason I would recommend anyone able to vote in this primary (Democrats and Independents) to avoid choosing Wismer.

Independent Candidate

Mike Myers – This is the candidate I like best overall in this race. He is also who I will likely support as the general election is closer. Myers has quite a resume ranging from being a CEO for a large healthcare facility to being a law professor. I’ve noted many of his answer are almost libertarian. Myers is campaigning hard on transparency and ending the cronyism currently enjoyed by Sanford and Avera. Hopefull we will get to see of a lot of Myers in the coming months.

Final Abbreviated Summary:

Republican Primary: Vote Hubbel

Democrat Primary: Vote Lowe

Best Candidate: Independent candidate Mike Myers appears to be the best candidate at this time.

South Dakota US Senate Race: am I the only one with a headache?

molumen_Pills_and_bottle_2There are seven days left until the primary elections are done in South Dakota. I’m actually ready for the general election to be done already…  Here is a recap of our current candidates in this US Senate race and some thoughts on each:

Republican Primary Candidates – There are currently 5 candidates in this race.. and more than anything I will be glad when the primary is done in one week.

Stace Nelson – Stace is still my candidate of choice as someone who would actually push for limited-government. I think most of his recent 100 Eyes interview went well.. most.. Stace did irk me a bit when he went after fellow candidate Jason Ravnsborg by calling him just “a truck driver in Iraq”. As a veteran I was disappointed in Stace for this comment. Yes, Jason started this with implying that Stace’s military record was irrelevant. But really? Every member of the armed service takes an oath to protect the country and do their part for the missions they are given. That is true whether they active duty, reserve, or National Guard. All members of the military should be treated with respect for what they are willing to give up. But, with that said, I will continue to support Stace in this race. I still feel he is the small-government candidate of choice and this small transgression is nothing compared to what other candidates in this circus of an election are doing.

Annette Bosworth – I don’t even know where to start with Bosworth. Annette has a few potential scandals (such as land raffle scams, unpaid employees, calling poor & hungry people zoo animal, etc…). But to me the point Bosworth stopped being a legitimate candidate is when she appears to have falsified her nominating petition. I looked at Bosworth’s nominating petitions posted by Cory H. I was able to see with my own eyes her written oath that she witnessed every signature. I was then able to look on social media and see she was in the Philippines during some of those days. Currently I have no faith in AG Marty Jackley to bring Bosworth to court and have her tried for her crime. On that note, I do believe that as a matter of law she is innocent until proven guilty. But at the same time we the voters have to take her actions into account and make sure her behavior is not accepted by anyone that wishes to run for public office. Her “adults only” presser today solidified my thoughts on Bosworth. She did not truly answer any questions about her scandals or the petitions. Actually, on that matter I agree with Mr Heidelberger in that she basically admitted today that she broke the law. I cannot wait for this primary to be done…

Jason Ravnsborg – Jason, Jason, Jason… Ravnsborg entered this race late. He has an interesting mixture of experience ranging from farming, to military deployments, to practicing as an attorney. For months I’ve heard the rumors of him being a “plant” set by Lederman on behalf of Rounds to take votes away from Stace… I’ve tried hard to give Jason credit that he is not a plant. I never gave him much of a chance in this race, but thought if he played his cards right it could lead to a good shot at office in 2016. But then Ravnsborg put out a commercial that implied his military service was “more relevant” than Nelsons. And now a national Tea Party figure, Ken Crow, has left his campaign team. Part of Crows reason for leaving Jason’s team is in part because “Mr. Ravnsborg either isn’t hungry enough for victory or there are hidden agendas that I am unaware of.” (quote copied from Ken Crow Press Release). Crow went on in a later press release about how often Ravnsborg spoke of Lederman and how certain legislators talked Jason into entering the race. I still don’t feel Jason entered this race with the intent of the becoming a Rounds “heat shield”. But no matter what Ravnsborg will forever more be associated with Lederman, and there will always be doubt about his entry as a candidate. I cannot wait for this primary to be done…

Mike Rounds – I’ve written about Rounds many times. The biggest problem I have with Rounds is that he is an establishment big-government candidate. True, he gives the talking points that he is for ‘limited-government’. Yet he is the Governor that expanded the use of State dollars (taxpayer dollars) for ‘economic development’. He is NOT a true believer in the free market. Rather, by example Rounds has shown himself to be a politician that believes government should pick winners and losers in the market. Yes, Mike is a nice guy; but that doesn’t mean he is right to be a US Senator. I believe it is time for the Republicans to choose a US Senator that actually walks the walk, instead doing what special interest groups pay to be done. And now, he has his buddy Lederman use the Rushmore PAC to create an attack ad on Stace because he had to go to the bathroom during a vote this previous legislative session. Really? Going to the bathroom is a big scandal? Yet wasting millions of taxpayers dollars on economic development crony capitalism isn’t a problem for the supposed conservatives backing Rushmore PAC? It is mind-boggling that Rounds is the presumed winner of the primary election. I cannot wait for this primary to be done…

Larry Rhoden – I don’t really have anything bad to say about Rhoden. He is a nice guy, but so is Rounds; and that is part of the problem. The only different between Rhoden and Rounds is their ability to speak in public. Policy-wise both Rounds and Rhoden have similar records. But as a speaker Rhoden tends to be quite monotone. It is hard for any candidate to gain traction when they appear to be a less charismatic clone of the front-runner. If Rhoden truly wanted to serve in a statewide office he should have looked at something like the Commissioner of School and Public Lands. I cannot wait for this primary to be done…

Democrat Candidate – There is only one Democrat in this race: former Daschle staffer and DC insider Rick Weiland.

Rick Weiland – I was hoping the Democrats would be able to field a good grass-roots South Dakota grounded candidate.. they failed. Rick came out the gate proposing a constitutional amendment that would restrict free speech. When I spoke with after a town-hall he admitted he would have supported Senator Reid in suppressing minority opinions by killing the filibuster. Add to that he is a former Daschle staffer and has made a lot of money in DC as a lobbyist. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problems with people making money… But can someone who makes money as a DC lobbyist truly be trusted to bite the hand that feeds him? Weiland is more of a status-quo politician than Rounds; and that fact alone precludes him from being a true grass-roots South Dakota candidate (traveling town to town isn’t the same as being grass-roots). I cannot wait for the general election to be done…

Independent Candidates – As an independent thinker I would normally be happy to see a few Independent candidates on the roster. Not so much this time…

Larry Pressler – Pressler is a true example of a status quo politician that doesn’t know his time is done. Pressler already served in DC as an elected official for over 20 years. Since serving as an elected official he has been a highly paid DC lobbyist… To me it almost seems that he wants the taxpayers to directly subsidize his living in DC. I cannot wait for the general election to be done…

Gordon Howie – Howie entered this race as a ‘contingency plan’ in the event Stace Nelson does not win the Republican general election. I hate moves like that. Either get in the race, or stay out! Gordon could have entered the race full-force, and then decide to pull out if Stace had not won the Republican Primary. But no, instead he will only begin campaigning once he is sure Nelson doesn’t win. That is no way for any candidate to win a race. Plus I have my doubts about what type of Senator Howie would be. Would he be the Tea Party smalll-government type. Or would be the “government should intervening in people’s social lives uber-christian” conservative. I have no problems with religion, but taken to an extreme it has no place in politics. I cannot wait for the general election to be done…

Clayton Walker – Walker never officially made the ballot due to a slew of illegitimate signatures on his petition. Too bad, we will never know if a good independent option would have been available on this falls ballot. I cannot wait for the general election to be done…

Final Summary – I think I know the cause of my headache. I cannot wait for the primary and general election to be done…

Same-sex couples are rightfully suing SD over right to marry

Gay-Love-Equal-LoveYesterday was a historic day in South Dakota. According to the Argus Leader there were six same-sex couples that filed a lawsuit against the state of South Dakota over its ban on same-sex marriage.

Nancy and Jennie Rosenbrahn and five other South Dakota couples filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court just before 5 p.m. Thursday that seeks recognition of same-sex marriage in South Dakota, their lawyer Joshua Newville said.

The five other couples involved in the lawsuit include: Jeremy Coller and Clay Schweitzer, Lynn and Monica Serling-Swank, Krystal Cosby and Kaitlynn Hoerner, Barbara and Ashley Wright, and Greg Kniffen and Mark Church.

Aside from Cosby and Hoerner, each couple involved in the lawsuit has been legally married outside of South Dakota.

This is the proper move for these same-sex activists. It is also the only logical outcome that can come from allowing government to control marriage.

An important concept in America the right for all citizens to be treated equally under the law. Political activists from all perspectives use this concept to advocate for their beliefs. As a libertarian I believe this means that any law created must apply to all citizens equally and special ‘classes’ of people would be unconstitutional. A more authoritarian person would believe this concept means the government has to use its power to create equal outcomes for all citizens. Ironically both viewpoints should theoretically see same-sex marriage in a similar manner: reserving the right to marry to one subset of the citizenry creates a special class and is therefore unconstitutional.

Many people, such as myself, believe marriage is a commitment between two people and see it as a deeply spiritual/religious experience. But spirituality and religion are not the domain of government. By allowing the government to become involved in marriage the country has decided marriage is a legal status, and not a religious experience/commitment. Anyone that sees marriage as a religious endeavor should be appalled that government has become involved. I would also say that for the marriage-equality movement. A year ago I posted that I wish the marriage-equality movement would take a more libertarian approach:

Having said that I wish the pro-marriage-equality movement would take a more libertarian approach: get government out of the marriage business! There is no reason within the limits of the Constitution for the government to regulate the personal relationships of citizens. Currently the marriage-equality movement is ASKING the government for the privilege to marry! Let me restate that “the marriage-equality movement is ASKING the government for the privilege to marry.” This is not how rights are supposed to work in the United States of America.

I still feel those words to be true. Had the marriage-equality activists chose to get government out of marriage I think marriage as a religious institution would have been all the better for it.

But, that is unrealistic and unlikely to ever happen. At the heart of the matter is the legal benefits that come with marriage. The legal benefits become apparent last summer when the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was found to be a violation of the US Constitution. At that time I noted that DOMA was passed, in part, to prevent people who were in a same-sex marriage or civil union from receiving federal benefits. Now those same-sex couples that are legally married by the State will be allowed access to the same federal benefits and welfare programs that other married citizens enjoy. That is the only part of the expansion of marriage I truly dislike: it will lead to an expansion of federal benefits and entitlements to more people. Yet as distasteful as I find the current entitlement policies in DC, I find it even more distasteful to outright arbitrarily classify citizens based upon the religious beliefs of some Americans. Perhaps this expansion of the entitlement state will now force social conservatives to get the government out of the business of marriage. I doubt it, but I can always hold out a little bit of hope.

For now I will watch the case with interest. I have no doubt SD Attorney General Marty Jackley will defend the case. Yet I cannot see any constitutional grounds for a Judge to side with Jackley. Instead I believe SD will make headlines when this lawsuit is done by being yet another state to rightfully overturn unconstitutional laws that create arbitrary classes of citizens.

PS. Not that it matters. But personally I don’t care one way or the other about same-sex couples getting married. What other people choose to do with their lives is no business of mine.

Constitution Party of SD will hold State Convention in Sioux Falls on June 21

A heads up to all members of the Constitution Party of South Dakota. The party will be hosting the state convention in Sioux Falls on June 21. Tickets can purchased on Constitution Party of South Dakota website. Here is the information on this event:

CP150x150Constitution Party of South Dakota State Convention 2014

The Constitution Party of South Dakota will be holding its state convention on Saturday, June 21st in Sioux Falls.  This fun and informative event takes place in meeting rooms A & B of the main library located at:  200 N. Dakota Avenue in Sioux Falls.

The event will start at 10:00 am and admission includes a catered lunch.  A limited number of vendor tables will also be available to showcase your small business or services, set-up will start at 9:00 am.

We are excited to be bringing back Constitutional Attorney Richard D. Fry to South Dakota.  This time he will be teaching a workshop at our state convention titled, “The Dirty Dozen:  What every constitutional officer should know”.   He will be covering all the bases with great information we all should learn.  CP members and the public are welcome to join us!

As we head into the general election season, it is very important that we offer the voters of South Dakota some great choices on the ballot in November.  We will be nominating candidates for the following statewide offices:

  • Attorney General
  • State Auditor
  • State Treasurer
  • Secretary of State
  • Public Utilities Commissioner
  • Commissioner of School and Public Lands

All serious candidates wanting to have their name entered into nomination for any of the above offices will receive complimentary admission into convention.  You MUST contact State Chairwoman Lori Stacey by June 10th to have your name printed on our HAND-COUNTED paper ballots. An additional blank line for each office will be provided on ballot for write-in votes of any additional candidates entered into nomination at convention.  ALL candidates will be entered into nomination from the floor.  The actual voting for nominations will be done by Constitution Party members only.  Voter registration forms will be available for guests wishing to participate that are not currently CP members.


1 Adult (includes lunch)  $17.89
2 Adults (includes lunch) $30.00
Vendor table plus 2 adult admissions & lunch $50.00

Seating and vendor tables are limited.  You must RSVP your advance purchase by either using the drop-down menu on button below by credit/debit card or paypal or contact Lori Stacey for payments by check or cash at

See you at the convention!!!

Lowe comes out ahead of Wismer in Brookings QA session

Susan Wiser and Joe Lowe at the QA session in Brookings
Susan Wiser and Joe Lowe at the QA session in Brookings

Yesterday evening I took a drive down to Brookings in order to see what I thought was going to be a debate between the two Democrats in the SD gubernatorial primary. Unfortunately the event was not a debate, and instead was a QA session. I really had hoped to see candidates Joe Lowe and Susan Wismer go head to head with their ideas. Even though this was not a debate I feel Lowe treated it more like one and provided more actual ideas (he even took some jabs at Wismer).

This is the second time I’ve seen both candidates together. The first time was during the the Oglala Lakota College candidate forum. During the OLC event I felt Lowe trampled over Wismer. My opinion has not changed based upon this QA session. In fact I think Lowe did a much better job at actually providing solutions and answering questions. There were a couple of questions that Wismer spent way too long bashing Republicans, and didn’t really provide any solutions. Joe also took jabs at Republicans, but spent more of his time actually providing his solution to move forward.

I can’t vote in the Democrat primary so I’m not going to provide a question by question analysis. There was a progressive blogger in attendance. See her post over at Sustainable Dakota for a different take on this event. She also has a link to some videos she took during the Brookings QA session.

Below I have embedded the audio from this event for anyone that wants to listen to the candidates own words. The MP3 file can also be downloaded by clicking this link: Lowe & Wismer QA session. The file is 75 minutes long and has a download size of 68MB.

I also live-tweeted the event. Here are my tweets from the QA session in Brookings. (please ignore the many misspellings and blatant grammatical errors).

  • At the Brookings library, waiting for the Lowe/Wiser debate May 20, 2014 
  • Host mentioned this is NOT a debate, rather it is a QA session with the candidates. May 21, 2014 
  • There is already a long list of questions the locals have submitted for answering. May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer up first with opening remarks. May 21, 2014 
  • WIsmer going through her history, including the history of her family in politics as Democrats May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer said South Dakota needs more balance in Pierre, better competition for ideas. May 21, 2014 
  • Wsmer sums up end of her opening statement by saying she is running for young people May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe now with his opening statement, starts saying he has been hitting road hard campaigning. May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe picking up with calling Daugaard mean-spirited for not expanding Medicaid May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe mentions the legislature getting a per-diem raise while state employees didn’t get that (Wismer got that per-diem raise) May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer sums by saying we can do better for the state. May 21, 2014 
  • Question about what to do to replace and enhance Ed funding May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe would get rid of the 3% cap on the districts May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe highlighting how different districts can’t be treated the same. May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe says the sustanability of any solution must be looked at. He would suggest 1% tourist tax for four months to raise Ed money May 21, 2014 
  • He would want the voters to decide if the 1% tourist tax is what the state wants. May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer said she started thinking of running for Governor in the budget cut year May 21, 2014 
  • Highlights the cuts were not actually neccesary May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer says education does not have an advocate in Pierre, and says the Republicans do everything behind closed doors May 21, 2014 
  • WIsmer says someone from Republican party needs to stand up and say things are wrong May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer sharing a story about an administrator job that couldnt’ be filled in a school district, due to low pay May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer often tells that story to show it is not a school district problem at all, but purely the fault of Pierre May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer said the “Powers of the state” (lobbyists) prevents any attempt to raise more revenue to pay for education May 21, 2014 
  • New question. Should Medicaid be expanded, as per ACA, and how to fund it May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer says funding is not an issue, it is such a ‘nominal’ ammount May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer says the state treasury would gain money if Medicaid expansion (presumably from more health services sold). May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer closing that question with “its the law” May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe says Daugaard stepped over the line because he doesn’t trust fed gov on Medicaid expansion, but OK with other half of SD budget May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe implies Daugaard didn’t expand Medicaid because he doesn’t like the administration in the WH May 21, 2014 
  • Question about equality for LGBT in all apsects May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe says absolutely May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe says we have to respect each other and values. May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer says she definitely supports equality May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer mentions PA and Oregon successes in this area recently May 21, 2014 
  • WIsmer is tired of legislators in Pierre with old simple ideas May 21, 2014 
  • Questions about Death Penalty. Good question!f May 21, 2014 
  • WIsmer is opposed to the Death penalty. May 21, 2014 
  • But she also said she has never been in the position of a victimes family. So she understands the other side. May 21, 2014 
  • WIsmer would suppport repealing death penalty May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe said he seen a low of death with him time in fire fighting industry. Says it is not pretty May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe would definitely support the Death Penalty. People who commit ed hanious crimes deserve it May 21, 2014 
  • Live-tweeting the SD Dem gubernatorial QA in Brookings May 21, 2014 
  • Question about uranium mining May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe brings up historical problems with uranium mining. Says we as SD shouldn’t want the Black Hills to have contaminated water May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe said the few jobs aren’t worth the great possible environmental risk May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe brings up problems if there is a uranium fire (using his fire fighter experience to answer this) May 21, 2014 
  • WIsmer relates a story of her husband being part of the cleanup where they built “the bomb” and also cleaning nuclear plants May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer has concern about uranium mining, mentions this new mining would be different than what has been done May 21, 2014 
  • But, Wismer said she is not absolutely opposed to uranium mining, because she doesn’t know enough about it May 21, 2014 
  • Style-wise: Lowe loves to roam in front of podium talking, WIsmer likes to stand behind the podlium May 21, 2014 
  • KXL question May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer asks why would do anything that would hurt our land and tourism industry May 21, 2014 
  • She has concerns about the pipeline and would be very leary of it, especially with its route May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe said he would hever as a legislator or governor take away the ability of state to regulate uranium mining (dig at WIsmer) May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe highlights the jobs promised by KXL are temp, and has many possible economic downsides May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe says Kalimizoo River history shows this is a bad idea, the spill there is still there May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe mentions the steel being made for the pipeline comes from China and India, not America May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe mentions a foreign company exercising eminent domain in US for KXL May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe also mentions KXL will go through land with treaty obligation (reservation) May 21, 2014 
  • Question about Economic Development plan May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe mentions the bad deal with Manpower May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe says he would follow best practices. The new trend he likes is develop the human capital within the state May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe says industry and tech schools should work together May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe mentions tech schools need to look at needs of industries May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe says there need to be transportation hubs to bring good in/out of state, and need qualified workers May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe said make university R&D more available to private sector May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe says public-private partnership work May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer mentioned bad outcomes from companies coming in, and failing after getting taxpayer dollars May 21, 2014 
  • WIsmer mentions the problems with Dairys and EB-5, plus mentions Norther Beef May 21, 2014 
  • WIsmer said it “doesn’t sit well” to buy way into country (EB-5) May 21, 2014 
  • WIsmer mentioned Building South Dakota was allowed more Dem input, after it had failed on ballot last fall May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer highlighting successes she sees in Building South Dakota program May 21, 2014 
  • WIsmer mentioned Building South Dakota was gutted by Daugaard this year (thereby taking away the Dems victories) May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer mentioned vocational programs that had to be cut after Daugaards big budget cut a few years ago May 21, 2014 
  • WIsmer said if state isn’t willing to pay for education, the private sector has to step in May 21, 2014 
  • On that questions: Lowe spent most time saying how he would promote econ dev, Wismer spent most of her time talking about how done now May 21, 2014 
  • WIsmer finished by saying educaiton is important for econ dev May 21, 2014 
  • Asked if SD has a fair tax system May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer said the tax system has been patched for thirty years, said SD has strange tasxes other states don’t May 21, 2014 
  • WIsmer mentions contractor excise tax, lotto tax, unclaimed property. May 21, 2014 
  • WIsmer said a change of priorities would help. She is also promoting the Mainstreet Fairness ACT (Internet tax) May 21, 2014 
  • INternet Sales Tax that is May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe says SD has one of the most regressive tax systems in the US May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe says we have a structural budget deficit. Says it needs to be looked at. And new ways to make taxes fair and sustainable May 21, 2014 
  • Questons about mass transit in SD May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe is surprised there isn’t train service between bigger cities in SD May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe says we need to support mass transit, tying this back to the transportation hubs he spoke about in earlier question May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe says there is mass transit in her county, for senior citizens. (scheduled buses?) May 21, 2014 
  • WIsmer said viability of mass transit have to be looked at, especially west river May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer cannot say she in favor of mass transit in SD May 21, 2014 
  • Question, how can governor promote better family planning May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer wants to get government out of family planning altogether May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer said “I’m not used to expanding on things” May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe said planned parenthood and other organizations exist, no need for governor to get into it May 21, 2014 
  • Question if there is hypocracy in SD (Pierre) because we take so much fed money May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe relates story about this. Too long to tweet, but shows the hypocracy May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer highlights how some state agencies were able to get more money from feds after state budget cut a few years ago May 21, 2014 
  • WIsmer said SD is proud to make things work with little money, says that since the feds “are so far away” we don’t see the hypocricy May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer says Republicans in SD get elected by promising no new taxes May 21, 2014 
  • WIsmer thinks there is a lack of good citizenship causing a decline May 21, 2014 
  • Q: would winner offer Lt Gov to loser May 21, 2014 
  • WIsmer won’t speculate on that May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer mentions LT gov has different strengths that are required May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe backs up a question, and mentions how SD balanced budget on stimulus money May 21, 2014 
  • One more question. What personality traits, abilities, etc make you best suited to be gov May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe says he has proven leadership. (Takes a few good shots at Daugaard) May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe said he got things done working in executive branch, and got respect from people that didn’t agree with his politics May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe mentioned only Cuba, China, and North Korea have one-party rule longer than SD May 21, 2014 
  • Lowe says he is not afraid of Daugaard, and wants to go toe-to-toe with him in the general May 21, 2014 
  • WIsmer said a governor is hired as someone to establish policy May 21, 2014 
  • WIsmer thinks it will be important in the general election to have someone that can appeal to the moderates May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer mentions her “lifelong history in the state”… is she finally taking a dig at Lowe? May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer said her six years in the legislature makes her in a good position to hold Daugaard accountable during general election May 21, 2014 
  • Wismer said frustrations with feds needs to be disconnected from what happens in Pierre May 21, 2014 
  • That is it for the Brookings Dem gubernatorial primary QA May 21, 2014 

OLC candidate forum part 4: questions from the public

QA portion of the OLC candidate forum
QA portion of the OLC candidate forum

This last Friday, May 16,  the the Oglala Lakota College (OLC) hosted a South Dakota Congressional, Senatorial and Gubernatorial Candidates forum. So far I’ve written three posts dealing with this event: a brief recap of the event, a look at the SD gubernatorial candidates, and then a look at the SD US Senate and US House candidates. Now it is time for the final post in this series: the quests asked of the candidates by the public. 

Two of the candidates from the gubernatorial forum (Hubbel and Wismer) had to leave by this time due to other commitments. That left five candidates still around to answer questions from the crowd. Still left from the gubernatorial forum was Joe Lowe (D) and Mike Myers (I). Remaining from the US Senate race was Stace Nelson (R) and Jason Ravnsborg (R). And finally from the US House race was Corinna Robinson (D).

This portion of the forum was quite short, clocking in at only 30 minutes (by this point the event had already gone on about 3 1/2 hours). I’ve embedded the audio from the QA session below. The MP3 of this portion can also be downloaded by clicking this link: OLC Forum Q&A. The file is 30 minutes long and has a download size of 28MB.

Here are some notes/thoughts on the questions and answers portion of the candidates forum:

  • One Party Rule Question – The first audience member mentioned that people tend to vote how their parents and grandparents vote. He also noted it is quite unusual that the Republican candidates are asking something odd by pleading with reservation voters to temporarily switch their registration just to vote in the primary. The audience member calls Rounds a “one issue candidate” with no real plans beyond killing Obamacare. He also notes the Republican party has been in charge in SD a long time, and has a bad reputation (I think he means on the reservations in particular). The question was then directed at Nelson asking him why the voters should trust his Republican party when the party has destroyed this state.
    • Nelson – Nelson makes the case that there are a lot of people going around calling themselves Republicans that truly are not Republicans. He specifically goes after Rounds for his record of exploded government spending and crony capitalism. Nelson says he doesn’t consider that to be asking like a Republican, and he won’t be held responsible for what Rounds does. Nelson says there are a lot of people in the Republican party register that way just to be elected. Nelson then brought up Rounds by mentioning a millionaire insurance agent ‘loosing sleep’ over his dad’s health insurance. Stace also said that traditionally native Americans have been limited government people, and he called native Americans the ‘epitome of libertarians”.
    • My Thoughts – This was a tough question. I think Stace did pretty good on it… But… I do think there is a lot of reason for there to be mistrust of the Republican party by the tribes. It will take more effort from the party as a whole to fix the disconnect between the establishment SD GOP and the reservations. All I could think during this question was that another Russel Means is needed in the modern world.
  • Native American Adoptions – This is a story everyone should listen to. I’m not going to try summarizing what this audience member (Doug) has to say. Most of the real bad parts of the story are not in this audio because I heard those details later. The question was then asked as to how are the politicians going to help people if they are going to run away (Daugaard had avoided talking to this person). This couple had spoken to a LOT of people in all the right places and is getting no help; and children are suffering due to it.
    • Robinson – Said congressional delegates should continue to bring attention to the issue. (from what I’ve heard of the situation, our current congressional delegates have not tried bringing attention to the issue).
    • Ravnsborg – Jason is an attorney. He offered to speak with the couple after the event (which he did).
    • Lowe – Brought up the fact he has never ran from anything and has heard other says Daugaard has run from issues like this. Lowe outright said Daugaard will not look people in the eye and help people in situations such as this.
    • Nelson – Mentions he had talked to Doug before, and that he had recommended going through the California AG (that is where the children are now). He also recommended Doug take up Ravnsborg’s offer to speak with him, since he is a practicing attorney.
    • Doug – The audience member brought up the candidates need to work on communications between the tribes and state. He said both sides need to stop worrying about who gets credit, and focus on the children. Doug also mentioned Sen Johnson sits on the committee that handles ICWA. That is very relevant to Nelson and Ravnsborg, since they are running for Johnson’s Senate seat.
    • Lowe – Lowe mentioned working for Janklow, and the fact he would listen to people. He said Jankow would have called the CA governor. The implication being that Daugaard isn’t the type to do that.
    • My Thoughts – I’m not going to go into this topic at this time. I heard a few other adoption stories that evening in Kadoka, a couple of which were even worse than the one shared this audience member. This is an issue I am looking more into. Previously I had ignored this issue due to my own bias; my bias is to think anything to do with government is bad, so yes government involvement with adoptions and foster homes is going to create problems. Unfortunately I let me bias for thinking something was bad keep myself from looking more into the topic. If I had done so I would have realized the situation was much worse than even I would have expected. This is a time where people (especially the senatorial and congressional candidates) need to drop any pre-conceived notions and dig deeper into the issue.
  • Media Missing From this Event. Tara Volesky  (Mike Myers campaign staff) took a moment to tear into the white mainstream media for not covering this event. Tara mentioned the great amount of work done by the OLC library staff to hold this event. Then she specifically called out Daugaard for not attending; and Rounds for not even replying to the invitation. Tara then asked the candidates if they knew of any more televised debates from the mainstream media coming up.
    • Ravsnborg – Jason mentioned he believes there is a KELO GOP Senatorial debate being televised on May 28. As far as he knows Nelson and himself have confirmed the event. He also has the understanding that Rounds is not attending the debate.
    • Lowe – Joe mentioned the SDPB Democrat Primary debate on SDPB TV May 29th.
    • My Thoughts – The tragedy here is the debate that is missing: the Republican Primary Gubernatorial debate that Dauggard declined. There was no attempt to try rescheduling the debate. Daugaard apparently doesn’t feel the need to answer to constituents.
  • Cryptocurrency Question – Payu Harris mentions the Mazacoin, the cryptocurrency officially adopted by the Traditional Lakota Nation. He asked the candidates is they would work on appropriate regulations for cryptocurrency that would take into account sales tax, income tax, etc. This would basically show the currency is ready for primetime and allow it to grow.
    • Nelson – He supports cryptocurrency in principle. He would have to see legislation before he could do anything about it.
    • Robinson – Thinks it would be worth looking into.
    • Ravnsborg – Has interest in the topic.
    • Myers – I like Myers, but he didn’t really answer this. Just said it was disappointing establishment politicians were not here.
    • My Thoughts – This is an issue I have a lot of hope for. It is also a tough question because few people understand cryptocurrencies and what they are truly about. I’ve used Bitcoins and Litecoins before, and advocate for their use. Regarding politics, cryptocurrencies such as Mazacoin have even greater potential when it comes to transparency. Yes it is true that often cryptocurrencies are used to ‘hide’ transactions. But the reality is this: all transactions using cryptocurrencies are out in the open. If used correctly, cryptocurrencies could bring a whole new level of transparency to campaign finances.

I don’t really have any final thoughts on this portion of the forum. The QA session for me was more about discovering issues that I as a blogger should be digging deeper into. I look forward to attending future events at the  Woksape Tipi Library. It is well worth the drive!

A couple of chances to see Lowe and Wismer this week

Susan Wismer and Joe Lowe at the OLC Candidate Forum
Susan Wismer and Joe Lowe at the OLC Candidate Forum

The Democrat gubernatorial candidates Joe Lowe and Susan Wismer are trying hard to meet voters in eastern South Dakota this week. There is a debate between the two tonight in Brookings. The two will also be in Aberdeen on Thursday for a meeting of the Brown County Democrats.

The Brookings event is tonight from 7 pm to 9 pm at the Public Library. This is an actual debate for the Democrat gubernatorial primary. This event is open for all to attend. I plan to attend, mostly to see how these two fare head to head against each other. The two will also have a debate hosted and televised by SDPB on May 29.

Then on Thursday evening the Brown County Democrats will have Joe Lowe and Susan Wismer speaking at their monthly meeting. The meeting begins at 7 pm at the Eagles Club.  I’m not sure if that meeting is open for all. At that meeting the Brown County Dems will also be selecting their delegates for the SD Democratic State Convention (which is on June 27).

And while I’m on the subject of Brown County Democrats:

Tonight Chuck Welke will kick off his re-election campaign kick-off tour in Warner. Chuck is the Democrat incumbent state Senator for District 2. Republican Brock Greenfield has decided not to run for re-election in the State House and instead is taking Welke on. This will be one of the races worth watching in the 2014 election season. Welke’s event tonight goes from 5:30 – 8:30 at the Dago; and Chuck is providing desert.


OLC candidate forum part 3: the US Senate and US House candidates


US Senate and US House candidates at OLC forum
US Senate and US House candidates at OLC forum

Friday, May 16, the the Oglala Lakota College (OLC) hosted a South Dakota Congressional, Senatorial and Gubernatorial Candidates forum. I’ve already posted a small recap of the event and a look at the SD gubernatorial candidates portion of the forum. Now it is time to look at the US Senate and US House portion of the forum. 

On the US Senate side there were only two of the eight total candidates in attendance. The two Senate candidates that came to the event were Stace Nelson (R) and Jason Ravnsborg (R). The candidates that declined to attend were Larry Rhoden (R), Rick Weiland (D), Larry Pressler (I), and Gordon Howie (I). I’m not surprised Howie declined, he isn’t really in the race unless Nelson loses the primary (an approach I don’t like). I was somewhat surprised at Rhoden declining since he comes from the west side of the state. I was also surprised Weiland didn’t try attending; he has been doing a good job of reaching out to every portion of the state possible. I’m told Pressler did offer to engage the event in other means, but could not attend in person. There are two candidates missing that need to be called out. These two are Mike Rounds (R) and Clayton Walker (I). These two candidates didn’t even have the courtesy to decline attending. It is quite disrespectful to the whole election process to not even acknowledge when constituents are reaching out to them. You might also notice Annette Bosworth is missing from the list. Her name didn’t make the final printed document for the event, which I believe was a mistake. But since I don’t think she should legally (or morally) be on the ballot I will just say that maybe its better her name was overlooked…

With only two candidates in the race, the US House battle is much smaller. The only US House candidate to show up was Corinna Robinson (D). Kristi Noem (R) declined to attend. Since there were only two US Senate candidates and one US House candidate, the three candidates were put together into one forum. This actually worked out pretty good. It allowed more balance in the forum since there were perspectives from more than one party.

As with the gubernatorial post, I will write this post in ‘note dump’ fashion. I will highlight certain parts of each candidates answer to a question and add any thoughts I have from my perspective (I don’t pretend to be non-biased).

For anyone that wishes to listen to the senatorial and house candidates I’ve embedded the audio below. You can also download the MP3 file by clicking this link: US Congressional Candidates Forum. The file is 82 minutes long and has a download size of 75 MB.

Here are my notes/thoughts on the US Senate and US House candidates forum:

  • Opening Statements – Each candidate was allowed an opening statement. 
    • Jason Ravnsborg (R) – Ravnsborg came out mentioning meeting with the tribes already this year, including President Brewer. He mentioned more events like this has to happen, and said if elected he would actually travel the state to meet with every county. Ravnsborg says the US has a debt problem and part of the jobs problem could be relieved by cutting corporate tax rates. Then he mentioned the Penny Plan to reduce the federal defict and balance it in 6 years. To best sum Jason: he wants to focus on solutions and not problems.
    • Stace Nelson (R) – Nelson focused upon the fact he will represent all South Dakotan’s, regardless of what party they belong to. He highlighted his long military and NCIS career he spent as a public servant. Nelson did take a dig at Rounds for missing a lot of forums and/or debates such as the one at OLC. He mentioned Rhoden (who lives in that area) has also missed a good number of forums/debates. Nelson tried to make the case a true public servant will come to as many of these events as they can, because elected officials serve all constituents; and not just ones they agree with ideologically.
    • Corinna Robinson (D) – Robinson mentioned she has also been visiting with the tribes, and President Brewer. She also mentioned receiving an endorsement from the tribal nation in South Dakota. Robinson mentioned being deployed in Iraq where she was able to travel with congressional delegations ( she mentioned Senator McCain, Senator Obama). She told the story of how intrigued she was by what they did and decided she wanted to do that in the future. Later in her opening statement she mentioned she ‘needed’ to move back to SD so she could run for office. I have tried HARD to avoid calling Robinson a carpetbagger because I feel the term has been over-used and I wanted to give her a fair shot. But honestly, this is almost a textbook case of someone acting like a carpetbagger. Robinson did mention she will work hard to protect the sovereignty of the tribes.
    • My Thoughts – It is interesting to note that all three of the candidates that bothered showing up are veterans (Nelson, Robinson) or currently serving in the US Army Reserve (Ravnsborg).
  • Question about healthcare for Indian country. The moderator mentioned treaties between the tribes and the federal government that are not being held up due to lack of enough money to provide healthcare for the tribes.
    • Nelson – Nelson came out mentioning the 10% across-the-board cuts made in 2010 that were caused by excessive spending of former-Governor Mike Rounds. Stace said Rounds exploded government for things like crony-capitalism programs. Nelson also mentioned the millions lost by SD taxpayers in the EB-5 corruption. He then noted that things such as education and other services were cut, but not areas that could have been cut first. Nelson was basically saying that government spending has to be done, but it has to be done smartly so it doesn’t negatively impact people.
    • Ravsnborg – Ravnsborg mentions Coburns Wastebook and noted that DC doesn’t currently have any true priorities when cutting spending. Ravnsborg mentions the debt has doubled under the Obama administration. He also said the treaty obligations are important and something needs to be done to rectify problems that exist.
    • Robinson – Robinson mentioned three of poorest counties in the US are in SD. She also highlighted how the Indian Health Services (IHS) gets very little money compared to government programs of its type.
    • My Thoughts – I think all three had good input on the subject. I’ll maybe give Ravnsborg a little edge in answering this question because he directly acknowledged the treaty obligations and a failure to follow through with them.
  • Question about bringing sense to Congress. It was brought up the House is Republican controlled and won’t even let certain legislation (such as Senate passed Immigration bill) make it out onto the floor. This question was aimed at Robinson asa US House candidate.
    • Robinson – Robinson said there needs to be prioritizations, risk assessments, and then follow through with a decision. She said doing so might mean not getting re-elected, but it would be the right thing to do.
    • My Thoughts – I agree with moderator. Boehner in the House has not been doing the right thing. I would however add that Senator Reid has run the Democrat controlled Senate the exact same way.
  • Question about Senate going back to Republican control. The two Senate candidates were asked if it should scare people if the Senate goes back to Republican control; since there is at least some balance in DC with each party controlling one of the houses.
    • Ravnsborg – Ravnsborg mentions there needs to be a balancing act and that both chambers need to allow votes on more bills. Ravnsborg says DC pols need to start focusing on issues where there is some commonality. He would focus on finding solutions instead of trying to keep the other side from getting a victory. He also threw a dig at Rounds by saying we need to stop sending career politicians to DC.
    • Nelson – Nelson mentions working with everyone in the SD state legislature, including Democrats. He told the story of working with Democrats to fix Native ID problem’s a few years back. Nelson reiterated that he was “uninvited from caucus” because he wasn’t afraid to take on Republican leadership.
    • My Thoughts – I don’t think either one really answered the question. But they gave some good statements.
  • Question about human trafficking. The kidnapped girls in Nigeria was mentioned, and the human trafficking that occurs in the US (including SD).
    • Ravnsborg – Ravnsborg mentions Nigeria has a federalism crisis. This crisis is allowing AlQueda to fill the power vacuum. Jason spoke about the Nigeria situation with confidence (someone has been studying up on the issues). He also ties the Nigeria situation into oil money, and says that is why the US (and SD) needs to utilize more of its own oil.
    • Nelson – Nelson mentioned he worked this kind of case while working for NCIS. He said “we are not the police force for the world”. He says it is not cold and harsh to say we need to stay away from such situation, this is because as a country we put our young soldiers in harm’s way while we have domestic problems are not being attended to. Nelson also mentioned illegal immigration is allowing such exploitation to happen in the US (and SD).
    • Robinson – Robinson said as a Congresswoman she would want to be more involved domestically (echoing Stace), but also more internationally as well. She also said she almost has her doctorate in Homeland Security completed (wow, maybe that is why the libertarian portion of me is wary of her).
    • My Thoughts – Robinson sounds like she wants more interventionism domestically and internationally. This is an answer I have to give to Nelson. From my perspective the US needs to stop being so interventionist in the international scene.
  • Question about KXL. What is being sacrificed environmentally to get more domestic oil. Do the benefits outweigh the negatives?
    • Robinson – Robinson says she does not support the Trans-Canada Pipeline. She brings up there aren’t many benefits for SD. Robinson also mentions uranium mining that will permanently damage areas of the environment. I was also glad to hear her say we need to use caution with eminent domain.
    • Ravnsborg – Ravnsborg said we need an energy policy in the country. He mentioned that Nelson and Rhoden both voted for a bill in the state legislature that took authority away from the state and gave more authority to the EPA. Ravnsborg also mentions the security risks of sending weaponizable resources such as uranium to China. He also mentioned the war on coal that is causing energy rates to go up for people.
    • Nelson – Nelson also mentions the war on coal. He believes the Obama administration has over-regulated coal to where energy can no longer be afforded by the consumer. Then the coal the US is not allowed to use is sent to China; China then burns it less efficiently than the US does. Nelson does support clean energy, but affordability has to also be looked at. Nelson said we have to be “good stewards of the land”. He also is very concerned about eminent domain being used to implement a pipeline for a foreign company.
    • My Thoughts – I think all three candidates had good points on this issue. I definitely agree with Nelson and Ravnsborg that the war on coal has created more problems than it supposedly was intended to fix.
  • Question about balancing civil rights and government power. This is especially for Indian country,where there is a huge trust issue.
    • Ravnsborg – Ravnsborg said we need to start sending people to DC that actually care, instead of caring about being elected. He said there need to be term limits across the country so we can get more fresh blood. Ravnsborg again said more forums like this are needed, to get people involved. Now here is an interesting part from Ravnsborg: he wants voters on the reservation to switch their registration to Republican so they can choose between better candidates this fall and maximize their votes.
    • Nelson – Nelson said people of all political viewpoints say “government is too much”. Nelson mentioned the many freedoms that have been lost over time due to over-regulation. Nelson mentioned the government has routinely trampled civil rights, things the Bill of Rights was created to protect.
    • Robinson – Robinson mentions she was called “gunslinger” while working in the Pentagon. Robinson says there are not enough folks in DC that will pay attention to constituents. She also took a shot at Noem by asking why anyone would vote to cut SNAP and vote to shut down the government.
    • My Thoughts – Robinson didn’t even address the question. Ravnsborg and Nelson kinda skirted the question, but I don’t think either one really answered it either. Too bad, I like the question.
  • Question about dropout rates and youth suicides. Both in the US and even more so in Pine Ridge. Asked how would the candidates relate to such issues in DC.
    • Robinson – Robinson says “we all lead our own lives”. I’m not really sure where she went with her answer. She confused it even further by mentioning how bad it is overseas, and that the US isn’t honest. She had a good heartfelt answer, but I’m just not sure what that answer was.
    • Nelson – Nelson says he has been in poorest of poorest countries in the world.  He said children there would give their left arm for US opportunities. Nelson said he is not making light of issues of poor people in the US, but there are opportunities that don’t exist in other countries. I think that is what Robinson was trying to say before, but I just didn’t hear it that way. Finally Nelson said government cannot fix what is wrong with the communities and our children. He says government cannot provide a fix. Instead personal responsibility is the answer.
    • Ravnsborg – Ravnsborg received a good audience response by saying he wants Indian foster programs taken out of the hands of SD DSS; and put that responsibility in the hands of the tribes. Ravnsborg mirrored what was said by Stace by saying he has been in countries where poor kids would be happy for a single piece of paper.
    • My Thoughts – This was a hard question. I think all three gave heart-felt answers. It’s hard to rate answers to this question.
  • Closing Statements. Each candidate had five minutes for a closing statement.
    • Nelson – Nelson reiterated he will work hard for all South Dakotans and that the voters of SD deserve an honest person in DC. Nelson took another chance to call out Rounds for once again not having the courage to show up for a forum/debate. Nelson said he’s running because he feels it is his duty and asked if voters want to send a public servant to DC; or if they want to send someone already paid for with DC money.
    • Robinson – Robinson came out swinging at Noem with her closing statement. Robinson says she will be present and engaged in every committee meeting. She also says she will not come back to a farm when in recess. Instead she will travel the state talking to people.
    • Ravnsborg – Ravnsborg wants there to be a debate on reservation in the general election. I AGREE! This candidate forum was great and I personally think it is important for the tribes and the rest of the state to work together. Ravnsborg reiterated his talking point that DC needs to work on solutions, instead of focusing on problems. Jason also said it is appalling that politicians such as Rounds have avoided visiting Pine Ridge.
    • My Thoughts – The closing round allowed the candidates to call out their competition (Rounds and Noem).

I think all three of these candidates did a pretty job during this forum. Ideologically I align closer with Nelson and Ravnsborg on most issues. I think both Republican Senatorial candidates hit some important talking points. I’ll give those two a tie in this event.

Now Corinna Robinson I’m going to be a bit tougher on. She is the only person in this race against incumbent Republican Kristi Noem. As such she has to be a strong candidate that voters can relate to and believe would do a better job for South Dakota than Noem. The problem is Robinson doesn’t seem to be too connected with South Dakota. I expect the carpetbagger term will be thrown at her throughout the campaign. If the Democrats really want to win this race they need to turn Robinson into a much stronger candidate. I’m not big fan of Noem, but honestly at this point I don’t see Robinson unseating Noem based upon what I know so far about her as a candidate. Democrats often say Republicans are the ‘Party of No’, and contend that is a bad way to run policy. I would say the same is true for candidates. “I’m not Noem” is not enough to win a campaign; especially when combined with “I want to be a DC politician because its my dream”.

That concludes this post. Tomorrow I will complete part 4 of this series, which focuses on the QA session.

OLC candidate forum part 2: the gubernatorial candidates

Gubernatorial candidates at the OLC Forum
Gubernatorial candidates at the OLC Forum

On Friday, May 16, the the Oglala Lakota College (OLC) hosted a South Dakota Congressional, Senatorial and Gubernatorial Candidates forum. My first post on the event can be read here. This post will specifically address the gubernatorial portion of the forum. The gubernatorial candidates in attendance were Susan Wismer (D), Joe Lowe (D), Lora Hubbel (R), and Mike Myers (I). The incumbent gubernatorial candidate Dennis Daugaard (R) declined to attend. It was mentioned quite often during this portion of the event that Daugaard declined to attend; his absence was definitely noted. 

This will will be done similar to my “note dump” posts. I will highlight certain parts of each candidates answer to a question and add any thoughts I wish to add from my perspective (I don’t pretend to be non-biased).

For anyone that wishes to listen to the gubernatorial candidates I’ve embedded the audio below. You can also download the MP3 file by clicking this link: Governor Forum. The first five minutes of this audio is all ‘housekeeping’. The file is 92 minutes long and has a download size of 85 MB.

Here are my notes/thoughts on the gubernatorial forum:

  • Opening Statements – Each candidate was allowed 5 minutes for an opening statement.
    • Lora Hubbel (R) – Hubbel began by rightfully pointing out how historic this event was. I agree with her, I hope OLC will continue these forums. During her opening remarks Hubbel mentioned how her husband (a chiropractor) is unable to practice as he sees fit due to regulations. She also went briefly into the privacy concerns of Obamacare that she says Daugaard is helping to implement. Finally, Hubbel also brings up Common Core, which is what she refers to as the Obamacare of education.
    • Joe Lowe (D) – Like all the candidates Lowe went through his history. Most important to note is his experience as a mayor for a town of 100,000 people and his experience in the SD executive branch as the head fire chief (I spoke with Joe after the event, he actually worked for Janklow, Rounds and Daugaard). Most of his opening remarks were focused upon pretty standard Democrat talking points: Medicaid expansion, women pay equality, student debt, and teacher pay. The statement I liked was ‘the corporate interests, keeping their hands out of the cookie jar”. I think this could be a winning topic if Joe wants to attract independent voters that are tired of crony capitalism.
    • Susan Wismer (D) – Wismer pointed out she has spent 6 years in the state legislature, all of which focused on the appropriations committee. Wismer recalled watching the appropriations cuts four years ago, and says it was not necessary. She also mentioned failing to expand Medicaid for “ideologies sake”.
    • Mike Myers (I) – Myers says he will be the oldest governor in the US once he is elected (he would be 78 at that time). He believes he would be qualified because (1) he is old, (2) he has a long resume of relevant experience, and (3) because he has passion. He also brought up that Avera and Sanford should not be treated like non-profits until they start acting like it. Finally he brought up hemp. Hemp in particular is an issue I wish more politicians would bring up.
  • Question about Keystone XL Pipeline. Basically the moderator said Gov Daugaard is supportive of KXL, then asks where each candidate stands on that.
    • Lowe – Lowe called KXL an environment train-wreck. He mentioned the Kalamazoo River oil spill; which he fears could happen with KXL. Lowe then mentioned the tax dollars spent on KXL. KXL was going to proceed with or without the taxpayer subsidies. He implied this is not fiscally conservative behavior. He says KXL is a non-starter for him at this time. I have to agree about the wasteful use of taxpayer dollars; especially when they weren’t necessary.
    • Wismer – Wismer spent a lot of time talking about her families land along the Jim River (the opposite side of the state from KXL). She then mentioned her family not allowing wind towers because they didn’t want to change the land. I understand she was trying to say the KXL is bad because it changes the land… but she also just said she is against wind power, at least if it was on her land anyhow.
    • Myers – Myers said  when is governor he will pick up Stace (“because of his size”) to stand in front of a bulldozer to stop the KXL. He is against KXL for the reasons stated by Lowe and Wismer
    • Hubbel – Mentioned a smaller pipeline could have been done through Canada, but it was not allowed by the Canadian government. She also noted we (SD) cannot use this pipeline (Lowe also made that point). Most importantly for me, Hubbel mentioned that a Canadian company was able to use eminent domain in SD for a pipeline. Anyone worried about government abuse of eminent domain should be against KXL for this reason.
    • My Thoughts – Lowe was the most confident answering this question. Perhaps his time as the State Fire chief gives him experienced insights into possible pipeline disaster. Hubbel did great to bring up the eminent domain abuse. Wismer and Myers really didn’t seem to add much to conversation (but Myers gave us all a laugh with the Stace comment).
  • Question about the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Specifically the candidates were asked about the child placement portions not being properly enacted, with improper placements and faux hearings. The candidates were asked if SD is in the right.
    • Wismer – Wismer said she has seen decisions made by social services that are troubling. She basically says it is a problem of underpaid and understaffed social workers.
    • Myers – To me the best takeaway from Myers was the fact that due process is important. He seemed to imply it has been ignored with ICWA.
    • Hubbel – Said ICWA had been implemented to solve a problem, but maybe had gone too far. By going too far it appears different problems have been created. Hubbel asks why attention is focused on the color of the children; instead thinks we need to look out for the needs of all children.
    • Lowe – Lowe cited teh recent Viken decision, and praised it as a way to give tribes “standing the process.” Joe said as Governor he would overhaul social services.
    • My Thoughts – This is a situation that is worse than many would like to believe. More posts coming directly about this subject in the future.
  • Question about the Indian Gaming Regulator Act. IGRA forced tribes to sign a compact with the State. The tribes didn’t like this at the time. The moderator notes SD takes a “cookie cutter approach to gaming” and doesn’t let the tribes use market-based approaches to gaming. It appears that different attempts by the tribes to change this have been stopped because that would negatively impact the states revenue from Deadwood and state gambling. The moderator asks how SD gets beyond that like MN and WI have.
    • Myers – Myers said he knows little about gambling because the nuns told him it was a sin. He would just follow the MN model.
    • Hubbel – Hubbel targeted in on the moderator saying ‘market-driven’. Hubel said she would rather see other industries grow on the reservations, such as oil and other mineral rights that can lead to tribe wealth. She said the tribes could be so wealthy they won’t need the feds. She did a great job of saying SD needs the reservations, and the talents in it. I don’t feel she really answered the question though, because she opposes gambling.
    • Lowe – Lowe says everything has to be fair and equal. He says Deadwood should not be in control of the issue. He also said anything done has to look at job creation and income.
    • Wismer – She talked about the casinos in the NE corner of the state. She mentioned how large these operations are. She also mentioned a meeting in Sisseton that talked about a new compact she thought was giving them more machines.
    • My Thoughts – None of the candidates did well on this question. The candidates either (1) oppose gambling on principle or (2) had very little knowledge of the subject. Personally I don’t think there should be any restrictions placed on the tribes. Let them run their casinos in a purely market-based approach. The moderator mentioned the drastic unemployment rates on the reservations and what gaming does to brings jobs to the reservations.
  • Question about the States involvement in economic development on the reservations. This is regards to the massive unemployment on the reservation.
    • Hubbel – Hubbel highlighted how over-regulation is hindering all economic development. She talked about over-regulation of raw milk (and issue this legislative session). I found that an odd entry in talking about tribal economic development. Hubel did mention the facilities at OLC and how it could be used to benefit the tribe. She said the favoritism must be stopped in the Governors Office of Economic Development (GOED).
    • Lowe – As the state fire chief, Lowe said he heard years of ‘lip-service” from the states tribal relations. Mentioned a fire crew he had created out of Kyle to work towards that end by creating jobs. Lowe says a huge problem with economic development on the reservation is the shortage of housing. He also mentioned the Teach America commitments failing in the SD Legislature, hurting the education opportunities on the reservations.
    • Wismer – Wismer mentioned bad outcomes with the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribe losing land due to a bad EB-5 Dairy deal setup by GOED. She then went on to say education is the best economic development.
    • Myers – Myers mentioned the $70 million dollars that went missing (diverted) via EB-5. For economic development he highlighted Hemp. Hemp production is a billion-dollar industry he thinks the tribes could use for economic development.
    • My Thoughts – On this issue I liked Myers answer the best. I think industrial hemp could be a huge economic boom for the State, and the tribes. If Daugaard had been here he would have likely had to defend GOED… especially since he gave $30,000,000 of ‘extra’ money to GOED this year instead of reinvesting it in education.
  • Question about education. Basically the candidates are asked if SD backs up its rhetoric that education is important. The 10% education cut by Daugaard was mentioned. The low teacher pay was also mentioned. Also part of the question was the fact that the board of regents will give full support to non-tribal colleges; but not to tribal colleges.
    • Hubbel – Hubbel thinks we are failing education partly because of lowly paid teachers; but she also notes we are also a state where administrators are highly-paid. She points out the legislature doesn’t actually divvy money to the teachers. Hubbel also mentions that all children (including Indian and white) will be negatively impacted by Common Core. She says Common Core on the reservation will remove incentives for tribal cultural education.
    • Lowe – Lowe agrees the tribes not getting treated equally for funding by the state is a problem. Said all colleges need to be funded on an equal basis.
    • Wismer – Wismer jumped on Hubbels comment of over-paid administrators without actually addressing it. Wismer said 85% of school district moneys already go to salaries (i’m not sure how pointing out that fact actually disputes administrators are over-paid compared to teachers). She brought up one case of an administrative position that was hard to fill because of low pay. Wismer says the state does not acknowledge tribal colleges, and that ‘doesn’t make any sense’.
    • Myers – Myers mentioned he spent 26 years “in the Ivory Tower” and that those living in that tower like to protect what they have. He seemed to be saying that colleges are more worried about retaining their status than actually doing what is best for their students.
    • My Thoughts – I don’t think any particular person ‘won’ this question. But I think Wismer lost by using a straw-man argument with administrative pay.
  • Question about healthcare – The candidates were asked if ACA can be perfected, revised, or adjusted.
    • Lowe – Started with “its the law of the land” and says the Republicans haven’t offered a better idea. Says Daugaard not expanding Medicaid was “mean-spirited”. Basically says Daugaard is hypocritical for turning down Medicaid expansion when half of the states budget is from federal dollars.
    • Wismer – Wismer mentioned the partial Medicaid expansion approach tried by Daugaard. Also mentioned the Democrat caucus pointing out the feds weren’t going to accept this, since it was the same proposal that had already been denied before.
    • Myers – Starts with “Access saves, access kills”. He goes on to say how many people die in Avera or Sanford facilities caused not by disease; but by bad medical practices. Myers mentions the third leading cause of death in the US is from medical errors in the Hospitals. He says Obamacare is politicized. He says coops should be setup that allow people to keep healthy and have rewards accordingly (similar to what credit unions used to do for financial health).
    • Hubbel – Hubbel says she was on Medicaid and has seen what it does to a family. She says Medicaid is a failed program and should not be expanded. Hubbel then says Medicaid under Obamacare is a loan program, and money from that has to be paid back. Hubbel mentions the overcharge due to the current way the system is setup. The government and monopolies (Aveara, Sanford) are the biggest parasites costing people money according to Hubbel. Hubbel says Obamacare is not about healthcare, but social engineering.
    • My Thoughts – There was a bit of variety in answering this question. I think Lowe should avoid saying “law of the land”… Unless he wants to associate himself Obama (a move that could hurt him at the ballot box). I would disagree that it is hypocritical to turn down Medicaid expansion money (because it would add to the federal debt, which in my opinion is a bigger long-term problem). But at the same time I don’t believe Daugaard is failing to expand Medicaid for reasons I would like; rather I believe he is failing to expand Medicaid to keep his base happy and oppose anything Obamacare (I also oppose ACA, but like I said I have specific reasons for not wanting to expand Medicaid). So actually I do agree with Lowe that Daugaard is hypocritical, just for a different reason. As for Myers, I do think it is worth looking more into people wrongly dying in Hospitals. Is expanded coverage going to make this problem worse? Its a good question. I think its great that both Hubbel and Myers are willing to mention Avera and Sanford. Mainstream candidates (both Democrats and Republicans) don’t dare say anything bad about Avera or Sanford for fear of losing PAC money….
  • Closing Statements – Each candidate was given time for closing statements. The moderator wanted each candidate to include why people should vote for them, especially in Indian country.
    • Lowe – Lowe says he has a pretty good handle on tribal issues. He told stories about working on the reservation as the state fire chief and ceremonies he had been part of. But he also said we all have the same blood running through us. He also said he was in the executive branch of government and didn’t work only three months a year (a shot at Wismer’s legislative experience compared to him).
    • Wismer – Wismer gave a story about a native american child adopted by her family. This story highlighted one huge problem with Wismer: almost all of her answers contained long personal stories to a point where any of her answers got lost.
    • Myers – Myers was happy to note there were four good candidates for the people to choose from (I wonder if he would have included Daugaard as “five good candidates” if Daugaard was there).
    • Hubbel – Hubbel thinks the reservations are ripe for economic development. She mentioned a local tribe member that created a crypto-currency for the tribe (post forthcoming on this topic). Hubbel said SD needs the tribes because the have a lot to offer and there is great talent there.
    • My Thoughts – I think Lowe and Hubbel did the best at actually answering the question. But I’m not sure anyone really “nailed it”.

Overall I would say the gubernatorial forum went great. This is despite (or maybe because of) the establishment candidate Daugaard declining to attend. Based purely on issues from my viewpoint I liked Myers and Hubbel the best. I have a few problems with each of them, but there isn’t a candidate out there I agree with every issue on. As for the two Democrats: Lowe trampled over Wismer. If the Democrats are smart they will choose him in the primary. He had a best overall grasp of topics from any of the gubernatorial candidates. He took a couple shots at Wismer. He also has much more relevant experience for actually being a governor. Tomorrow there is a debate between the two Democrats in Brookings; I would expect at that event for Lowe to leave Wismer in the dust with his confidence and knowledge of the issues. That is not however an endorsement for Lowe, I still have a lot of problems ideologically with his stances. Instead I think the Democrats in SD should choose Lowe over Wismer because he has the best chance of bring a good fight to Daugaard. I hate blow-out elections and feel Wismer couldn’t get any general election votes beyond the ones that would already vote Democrat.