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Notes from the District 23 candidate forum in Ipswich

South Dakota Legislative District 23

South Dakota Legislative District 23

Yesterday evening I attended the District 23 candidate forum in Ipswich. As I noted before, this is one of six forums being held throughout a very geographically large District 23. All five candidates were in attendance. This post will be mostly a ‘note-dump’ with a few thoughts of my own added in. I’ll highlight a piece of each candidates response (and not necessarily the part of their message they tried to center around), so I’m not giving their whole answer here. For anyone that wants their whole answers I would recommend going to one of the three remaining forums.

  • Opening Remarks – I won’t spend a lot of time here. I was more interested in their answers to questions than their bio.
    • Michele Harrison – Harrison highlighted her business and Agricultural experience. It was a good long list. But most interesting probably was her current work as the Executive Director of the Mobridge Economic Development Corporation.
    • Dale Hargens - Hargens was an interesting entry into the Republican primary because he is a legislator that already served for a number of years as  Democrat; and he was a Democrat Minority Whip and Democrat Minority Leader during that time. Hargens said he felt the Democrat party moved away from him in its surge to the left. He said the Democrat Party had “Turned the lights out”. I’ve spoken with non-politicians in the Democrat party who have switched for similar reason, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and accept his answer as he gives it. Beyond that he said it was very important to get more agricultural producers in Pierre.
    • Larry Nielson – Nielson highlighted a history that shows he has been politically active almost his whole life. This includes lobbying in Pierre and DC. Also notable was he said Agricultural interests in Pierre need to be protected.
    • Justin Cronin – As a current legislator Cronin was able to highlight his work on the Ag and Local Government committees. One interesting thing he mentioned is that 10% of the agricultural industry in South Dakota takes place in District 23.
    • Gene Toennies – Toennies has a long history of working in Ag, starting businesses and currently working for the Faulk County Conservation District.
    • My Thoughts on Opening Remarks – On thing that was quite obvious is that all five candidates are running to represent the agricultural industry in District 23. That is probably a good move considering the rural nature of the district.
  • Economic Development – The first question was asking what ideas each candidate had for promoting economic growth, both in Dist 23 and in South Dakota.
    • Toennies – Gene talked about tying to entice businesses to come. But more importantly he said it was important to try keeping young people here.
    • Cronin – Justin said Dist 23 and South Dakota has to work with industries that expanding in the region due to the oil fields in ND. He also said the Building South Dakota program passed by legislators in 2013 was a step forward.
    • Nielson – Larry said the main thing that needs to be addressed is the infrastructure and reduce the red tape for businesses. He did however acknowledge that most of the red tape comes from the Federal government. He also mentioned that when planning economic development programs it is important remember some of those projects will fail, and that must be taken into account when planning ED programs.
    • Hargens - Dale said ethanol is an example of something South Dakota has done right. He said we need to refine our ethanol to a quality where it can become an export in the global market.
    • Harrison – Michele does economic development so this was a question almost tailor-made for her. She said economic development in Dist 23 should focus on tourism. Tourism in the outdoors areas such as hunting, fishing, and lake recreation are perfect for Dist 23. But she noted that before any economic development can really be done in Dist 23 that the housing shortage must be addressed.
    • My Thoughts – Most of the candidates actually at least partially ditto’d Toennies in saying that young people must be enticed to stay in SD. That is probably the goal that should be sought. I did like that Nielson mentioned the crumbling infrastructure and Harrison mentioned the housing shortage. It would be unwise to try expanding development in an area that doesn’t have the infrastructure or housing in place to handle it. Finally I would like to mention I did not agree with Cronin. Building South Dakota was a concept that failed to pass the voters in 2012; and then in 2013 Governor Daugaard and the Republican legislative leadership went ahead with it anyways. I think a much better use of that money would have been to follow the SD Constitution and commit resources to education.
  • Education funding – There was a question about weaning school districts off of their flexibility in utilizing capital outlay.
    • Cronin – Cronin said the local districts and taxpayers are in the best position to choose.
    • Nielson – Nielson said this was a decision best left to the local level.
    • Hargens – Hargens actually gave more of an answer here. One thing of note was his statement that big schools often think they will get a lot more money if they absorb smaller schools. He says that simply doesn’t happen that way. He also said “Why should Pierre give a damn” if locals choose to tax themselves more to pay for schools.
    • Harrison – Said local school boards and superintendents were in the best position to decide.
    • Toennies – Again, local school districts are in best position to decide.
    • My Thoughts – Local control was the unanimous answer here. Each of the candidates did give examples, but I wasn’t sure they were actual examples relevant to the question. I felt a few of candidates weren’t really sure what they were talking about. I think this is a tough question for those that have never actually dealt with the topic from a legislative or school board perspective. Those with legislative experience did give much better answers…
  • RNC Common Core Resolution – The candidates were asked if they supported the RNC resolution concerning Common Core (pg 5 of this PDF).
    • Nielson – Nielson said he has several issues with common core. Specifically he has concern with the curriculum being used with Common Core, the quality of the tests, and privacy concerns that go along with Common Core’s Data Mining. He did however say that he does not have a problem with the test, and believes there should be standards and a test.
    • Hargens – He said there may be some merit to the idea of Common Core. But he concerns with Common Core specifically because he is afraid kids are no longer being taught how to learn. Instead he feels Common Core will push teacher to “teach to the test”.
    • Harrison – She said Common Core is not doing good in public eye, so she cannot support it.
    • Toennies – He said he thought Common Core sounded good when he first heard of it. But now that he has started to look into it he has concerns.
    • Cronin – Cronin actually had the chance to vote on this resolution in the SD legislature this year (HCR 1023, which failed). He admists he voted no. He says he did so because he thought there was no alternative. Now he believes there were alternatives available that should have been looked at. He says he now agrees with this resolution.
    • My Thoughts – I am guessing Cronin was hammered pretty hard by constituents after voting no for the resolution. One thing worth noting is that all of the candidates seem to be recently ‘awakened’ as to the dangers of Common Core. In fact a couple of the candidates really didn’t even know anything about it until they entered this race. I think this shows the groups opposing Common Core have to continue communicating with politicians on the dangers of Common Core.
  • Property Taxes – Charlie Hoffman asked an interesting question about the productivity method of property taxes for ag and if the candidates would go back to the pre-Janklow methods.
    • Hargens – Hargens highlighted problems with Directors of Equalization. He would rather see actual use for land instead of productivity potential. He also said land is headed for a downward correction soon.
    • Harrison – Harrison highlighted some grassland that is getting taxed at a higher rate because of the soil type under than grass. She also said she would like to see a five-year plan or a yearly cap on increases.
    • Toennies – Toennies highlighted many examples of unequal taxes across his county under the old system.
    • Cronin – Cronin mentioned he was a no vote while involved with a productivity task-force. He says the biggest problem he sees is the communication disconnect between Pierre and Assessors.
    • Nielson – Nielson highlighted more issues with the unequal treatment  under the old assessment method. He said any system that is utilized bust focus on equality.
    • My Thoughts – Hoffman threw a good question out, but a tough one to break into a couple minute answer. And unfortunately I don’t know enough about the previous and current methods to really delve into the topic (I feel that was true for a couple of the candidates as well). But based upon what I do no, I agree with Hargens that we should be looking towards a use method.
  • Lack of Education Standards – Another Common Core question. This time the candidates were asked what would happen if there suddenly were no standards in public education.
    • Harrison – Harrison basically said teachers would teach the same.
    • Toennies – Toennies mirrored Harrison’s answer.
    • Cronin – Cronin said the teachers in this state have been continuously changing the standards over the years. He also stated he believes in standards overall.
    • Nielson – He said standards of some sort have exist, because there has to be a target/goal. But he isn’t worried about the standards portions of Common Core; he is more worried about other CC areas such as data mining.
    • Hargens – He said teacher communicate with each other and would continue to teach. He agrees that data mining is a troubling aspect of CC. Also worth noting is that he believes low teacher wages is a big issue in South Dakota.
  • Republican Values – The candidates were asked their stances on abortion, gay marriage, taxes and people’s rights (in 2 minutes or less).
    • Toennies – Toennies said it is important to respect the churches on gay marriage. But he said outside of the church it should be up to people to decide for themselves. He said he is right to life, but that there needs to be flexibility for hard choices that need to be made. He said everyone has to pay taxes.
    • Cronin – Cronin also is pro-life. As to same-sex marriage he had a bigger answer. He mentioned legislation this year (SB7) that provided protect for same-sex couples with its language of “Is or has been in a significant romantic relationship”. I’m not sure this bill proceeded in the way he thinks it did. He seemed to think that language was amended out. It was not, it was simply moved around. On taxes he said they should also be a last resort.
    • Nielson – Nielson spoke mostly about the dichotomy between freedoms and restrictions. He did state he is pro-life, but there need to be exceptions to protect mothers. He does not believe in gay marriage, that it is nothing but a topic brought forth to expand benefits for more people. He says there needs to be less taxes so that money can be used by entrepreneurs to actually grow the economy.
    • Hargens – Hargens said he is pro-life, but he has voted both ways. He made sure to say that exceptions must exist for cases such as rape, incest, etc…  He also said the legislature has to be more careful when bringing forth well-intended but silly abortion legislation. That does nothing but fill pockets of Planned Parenthood lawyers that fight against such laws. He also said government shouldn’t even be involved in marriage.
    • Harrison – Harrison said she is pro-life. She also said abortion and gay marriage are “morality issues”; and as a conservative she doesn’t believe the government has the right to choose these issues for people. On taxes she said “some have to be there”.
    • My Thoughts – This was actually the toughest question. Many voters make their decision based simply upon abortion-related issues. But, I think most of the candidates did well answering it. They all are pro-life, but understand it is not a black & white world. There are cases where abortions may be necessary for medical or wellness of the mother type reasons. Most of them also gave stories related to abortion. Even those who said there need to be exceptions worked hard to show that it should be an absolute last-resort. I believe the Republican party as a whole need to listen to the answer of Hargens on gay marriage: government shouldn’t be involved in marriage. If we get government out of marriage it will become a non-issue. Let marriage return to the churches. As was stated by all the candidates taxes are the way we fund government, but taxes should be kept low to allow the economy to flourish.
  • Homeschool Freedom – The candidates were asked by Linda Schauer if homeschool parents should be allowed to choose curriculum (regarding Common Core).
    • Cronin – He said Dist 23 has a lot of homeschoolers and he supports that.
    • Nielson – He says he supports homeschooler freedoms, but there has to be tests.
    • Hargens – He said he supports homeschooler parents, but the local school boards need to work with them.
    • Harrison – Pointed out homeschoolers seem to be better at testing. Also highlighted that homeshcool parents need flexibility.
    • Toennies – He said his only concern with homeschooling is a potential for lack of social interaction; but that he feels parents should have the right teach as they want to.
    • My Thoughts – This was a pretty standard answer for all involved. They all seem to recognize the growing popularity of homeschooling and seem to think parents should have the ability to set their own curriculum.
  • Core Republican Beliefs – The candidates were asked to talk about their core Republican beliefs.
    • Nielson – Nielson says we need to return back to a smaller government.
    • Hargens – Hargen says there needs to be a smaller and more efficient government.
    • Harrison – Harrison said government needed to be smaller and more local control where appropriate.
    • Toennies – Toennies also ditto’d small government. But also said there needs to be a focus on integrity in government.
    • Cronin – Cronin focused on less government with more efficiency. He also said he would like to return to a unified Republican Party.
    • My Thoughts – It wasn’t a surprise to see all the candidates push for a smaller and more efficient government. I really think Toennies had a winner by also focusing on the integrity of those involved with the government.
  • Keystone XL – The final question was about Keystone XL pipeline and whether it should be approved.
    • Hargens - He said the KXL should be approved because it promotes energy independence. He also said people need to research certain environmental groups opposing KXL, because they are potentially false fronts for other groups. He also mentioned Warren Buffet with his railroad ties fighting against the KXL.
    • Harrison – She would support KXL being approved.
    • Toennies – Would support KXL being approved.
    • Cronin – Cronin mentioned the the many letters Obama talked about receiving asking him to stop the KXL. Cronin then asked whether Obama had also received the many letters asking for Obamacare to be stopped. He also then stated he would support KXL being approved.
    • Nielson - He would support KXL being approved. But did mention problems with it being done to be exported.
    • My Thoughts – I fall with all of them in thinking it should be approved. I am disappointed none of them mentioning the one BIG problem I have with KXL though: the abuse of eminent domain in the project.
  • Wrap-up – Final thoughts from each of the candidates.
    • Harrison – She believes her views are in-line with the conservatives in Dist 23.
    • Toennies – He highlighted the fact he has no platform or agenda. Instead he is focusing on values such as integrity, responsibility, accountability, and trustworthiness.
    • Cronin – He highlighted his work in the legislature to overcome the structural deficit (left from the final year of the Rounds administration, he didn’t mention Rounds by name however).
    • Nielson – He says he focuses a lot on unintended consequences and believes legislators should work hard to make sure bad laws are not passed.
    • Hargens – Hargens likes to think of himself more as a law repealer than as a law-maker. He actually noted that each time a law is passed it takes a freedom away from somewhere.
    • My Thoughts – Overall the candidates did a good job of trying to use conservative talking points they think will resonate in Dist 23. I was actually hoping more people would be in attendance, it was sparse. This primary is the only legislative race in Dist 23 this year. Hopefully the next few events will have more constituents.

 

SD Corruption Press Conference on Wednesday

podiumHere is an interesting press release from Republican Gubernatorial candidate Lora Hubbel and Independent Gubernatorial candidate Mike Myers. I won’t be able to make this event. But if you are in the Sioux Fall area it may be worth checking out.

PRESS CONFERENCE: SD CORRUPTION
Wednesday, April 23, Caille Library,
11:30am – 12:30pm
4100 Carnegie Cir
Sioux Falls

Come hear Lora Hubbel, Republican candidate for Governor and Mike Myers, Independent Candidate for Governor speak this Wednesday.

South Dakota is the second most corrupt state in the nation…why? Because of our poor open records laws. Come see how this effects issues that concern you. When information is stymied and hidden (SD is a master at this) you are denied information in making personal choices…whether that be for your candidates for office, your businesses and even your doctor.

Questions addressed:
…is SD hiding information on the EB5 scandal?
…are you getting the truth on ObamaCare in SD?
…how do Republicans treat women candidates?
…come with your questions, we will answer them.

Lora Hubbel, Candidate for SD Governor

Time to reject status quo politicians, especially in the SD US Senate Race

 

Typical status quo politician...

Typical status quo politician…

A study released from Princeton and Northwestern University (PDF) looked at around 1800 policy changes over a twenty year period to see how these changes compared to wishes of Americans. The results are unsurprising, the United States effectively operates more as an Oligarchy than a Democracy (as generally believed) or Republic (as set out in Art IV Section 4 of the US Constitution). This is important to consider with the current US Senate race going on in South Dakota.

Basically an Oligarchy is a form of government where the wealthiest and most powerful citizens dominate political policy. In the United States this political policy power can best be seen in the form of special interest groups that control status quo politicians. As a result, the wealthy elites that fund the special interest groups have more direct impact upon public policy than the population of the country as a whole.

I think this line from the paper best sums up the ability of the average American to influence public policy:

When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.

So if the average American has no impact public policy is there anything that can be done? Most current populist approaches from the left seem aimed at removing money from politics. The theory being that if rich people and special interest groups cannot give money to politicians, then those politicians cannot be bought. There are two problems with that approach. First it assumes that money can be removed from politics. I have yet to see any proof from any part of history that shows money can be removed from politics. Second, restricting the ability of citizens to spend money in politics is a direct attack on free speech. That includes special interest groups, which are basically organizations of people collectively using their rights together. Attacking free speech arbitrarily to reach an unattainable goal of no money in politics is simply bad policy.

I think the better approach would be to focus on the politicians. It is status quo politicians that enable the current Oligarchy that America has become. We the voters of this country should reject status quo politicians. This is equally true for both Republicans and Democrats; or even status quo politicians running as Independents. Politicians are needed that can resist the money and power of special interest groups.

The current US Senate Race in South Dakota has three examples of status quo politicians that should be outright rejected by the voters. In the Republican primary there is former Governor Mike Rounds. Rounds is a text-book example of a status-quo politician that has been bought and paid for by special interest groups. There is a reason these special interest groups are giving him so much money: they know he will continue the status quo special-interest spending that happens in DC.

The Democrat in the South Dakota Senate Race, Rick Weiland, is another status quo politician. Actually, in my estimation he is worse than Rounds would be as a Senator. On the good side Weiland is campaigning against money in politics; but he  wants to restrict the free speech of everyone with a Constitutional amendment so he can take on “dirty money”. This from a candidate who worked for a status quo politician, Tom Daschle, and also has most of his campaigns monetary backings coming from out-of-state special interest groups. Weiland’s odd mixture of populism and status quo politics may seem appealing to some voters; but hopefully the will reject him for his status quo roots..

The third status quo politician in the South Dakota US Senate Race is Larry Pressler. Pressler already served as an elected official in DC for 22 years, and since then has been a DC resident. He could be used as a perfect example of the type of status quo politician that has allowed this country to become an Oligarchy. His switch of registration from Republican to Independent does not change the fact that he is a DC insider that wants to return to the day when status quo politicians were not opposed by Tea Party or Occupy groups.

America will continue down the path of an Oligarch if things are not changed. It seems the most apparent path away from an Oligarchy is to elect politicians that will actually veer away from the status quo and work for “we the people”. By doing so we can bring this country back to being one founded on a unique mixture of Constitutional Republic and Democracy concepts. Until we stop sending status quo politicians to DC it will be impossible for average Americans to truly have a voice in politics. Perhaps people will start realizing that this election. I hope so…

District 23 Candidate Forums being held over the next two weeks

South Dakota Legislative District 23

South Dakota Legislative District 23

The District 23 House will be one of the more interesting legislative races in South Dakota this year. Any candidate hoping to win a legislative race in this district will have some traveling to do. And since every entry in the race is in the Republican primary, trying to figure out how to reach such a large area before June 3 is going to be a logistical and campaign finance nightmare. Luckily there be a series of Candidate Forums in District 23 to make it easier for constituents and candidates to interface.

The candidate forums are being organized by Concerned Citizens of District 23. Contact info for the group can be seen in the flier at the end of this post. Here are the events scheduled by this group over the next couple of weeks:

  • April 14 – Bowdle – 7pm (Edmunds county)
    Multipurpose/Community Room
  • April 15 – Eureka – 7pm (McPherson County)
    Prime TIme Bar & Restaurant- Main Street
  • April 21 – Ipswich – 7pm (Edmunds County)
    Edmunds County Courthouse Community Room (2nd Floor)
  • April 24 – Gettysburg – 7pm (Potter County)
    Gettysburg Fire Hall – 417 W Garfield Ave
  • April 28 – Miller – 7pm (Hand County)
    Location TBD
  • April 29 – Faulkton – 7pm (Faulk County)
    Community Center (West End of School – South Side of Highway)

I plan to attend at least one of the events, most likely the on in Ipswich since it is just a short drive down Highway 12 from Aberdeen. The physical distance between some of these events shows how great of an area district 23 covers. The map of district 23 (included in this post) shows it includes all of the following 6 counties: Campbell, McPherson, Walworth, Edmunds, Potter, Faulk,and Hand. Plus there is a just a little bit of Spink county that is included in District 23. That is one heck of an area for candidates to try canvassing. The redistricting performed a couple of years ago really left these candidates with a large and odd-shaped district to contend with.

Speaking of candidates. Here are the candidates seeking a legislative seat in District 23 this year.

District 23 House Race.

Incumbent Republican Representative Charlie Hoffman decided not to see reelection in 2014. The other incumbent Republican Representative Justin Cronin is seeking re-election. With Hoffman vacating his seat there are four others seeking to win the Republican primary. Nobody entered the race as a Democrat. The two candidates that win the Republican primary will by default win the general election due to a lack of registered Democrats entering the race. Here are the five that will be in the District 23 House race going after the two seats:

  • Justin Cronin – As the only incumbent in the race it is expected he will easily retain his seat.
  • Larry Nielson – I’ve met with Larry a couple of times and believe he would be a good candidate for those of us that believe in limited government. His biggest handicap in this race is living in Tulare, which puts him in that little piece of District 23 that is in Spink County.
  • Dale Hargens – Earlier in this post I was careful to say there weren’t any “registered Democrats” in this race. I say that because Dale Hargens is a former Democrat legislator. In 2003-2004 Hargens was the Democrat Minority Whip and in 2005-2008 he was the Democrat Minority Leader. I’ll wait until I get a chance to speak with him before commenting on his change of party.
  • Gene Toennies – I know very little about Toennies. Hopefully I can speak with him at one of the forums to see how this candidate from Cresbard stands on issues.
  • Michele Harrison – I don’t really know a lot about her as a candidate. But living in Mobridge is a huge advantage in this race. I believe Mobridge is the highest population town in District 23. I will be interested to hear what she has to say at one of the forums.

District 23 Senate race. 

The District 23 Senate race is drastically less interesting. The only candidate in this race is incumbent Republican Senator Corey Brown. It’s sad to see a lack of opposition in any race… I think it can be pretty much assumed the candidate forums are focused purely upon the House primary, and not on Senator Brown.

040914 Updated Sign

040914 Updated Sign

We finally had a US Senate debate in SD with all 5 candidates present

podiumYesterday the South Dakota Newspaper Association hosted a debate for the five Republicans seeking to win the primary in the US Senate race. The replay can be watched on the Argus Leader website. This is actually the first time all five candidates have been together in a debate forum. There were good and bad parts to this debate. Because of some shortcomings in the debate I believe Republican primary voters deserve more of these debates before making their decision on June 3. In this post I will look at how the debate was ran by the SDNA, and then some thoughts on what each candidate said.

How well was the debate run?

First I would like to focus on how the debate was moderated. The SDNA did a great job setting the ground rules and keeping the questions flowing. I hope future debate moderators will look at how this event was run and take notes accordingly. Maybe each question could be allowed a little more time, but not too much more.

The only real problem I had with the debates proceedings were some of the questions. The three asking questions were reporters from within the State of South Dakota. There were a few questions I felt were out-of-place for a Republican primary. In particular one question was staged as a statement disputing the typical Republican response to climate change. If a reporter wants to preach about their favorite political stance of the left they can do that for their newspaper. The audience for the debate was presumably Republican primary voters; who were not tuning in to get a lecture from a high-and-mighty reporter (remember when mainstream media reporters at least pretended to be non-partisan?). Even without that question, I felt there were very few substantive topics being discussed. Hopefully those running future debates will take that into account as well…

Now, on to the candidates! I will go in the order they drew to speak.

Mike Rounds

Many are treating Mike Rounds as the presumed winner of the Senate race this fall; and I believe mistakenly so. Watching him in the debate it is quite obvious why he avoided earlier debates (his supporters claimed the earlier debates were ‘too soon’, this trying to defend a candidate that entered the race 2 years before the election). On the first question he actually said he wouldn’t answer it and spoke on something else. Most of the debate he spent saying his current campaign catchphrase “South Dakota common sense”. He is using the old campaign trick used by politicians to get all statements to fall within that catchphrase; which sounds really good, but says nothing! His campaign staff is probably proud of his performance, but voters should be disappointed in the lack of substance from such a high-profile candidate.

When talking about Obamacare I was disappointed to hear him say that he has always fought against Obamacare. I would have preferred for him to be more honest and admit the legislation he helped implement to align South Dakota law with ACA. He actually could have used that as a point to show how the Federal government is strong-arming states into complying with over-reaching federal laws. Instead he pretended it didn’t happen. Unfortunately all fifty states had to make legislative changes to align with ACA, including SD. Pretending that didn’t happen makes it look like Rounds secretly supports ACA. I don’t really think Rounds supports Obamacare, but he didn’t fight against it or even try to bring attention to what our state was forced to change in our laws to comply with ACA.

EB-5 of course came up. He still fully supports EB-5 as a jobs creator. He also says no South Dakota money was lost in the use of EB-5 funding. That point is debatable.  Rounds continued support of the EB-5 program is disheartening from a fiscal conservative standpoint. I would much rather see Rounds say “Hey, I thought it would work out, it didn’t”. Instead of continuing to support EB-5, Rounds should be fighting to remove the government from choosing winners and losers in the market. Maybe the primary process will bring out some unseen fiscal conservativeness before June 3…

On the good side I was happy to see Rounds mention the War on Coal being waged by the Obama administration. If he does make it to DC I hope he will remember his words and actively fight to protect jobs from over-reaching federal regulations that are killing our economy. He also mentioned the coal we don’t use here simply gets shipped to China and used there; and China does not have the technology in place to burn coal as cleanly as the United States does. If Rounds can stick to talking points like this he might actually sound like a limited-government Republican.

I also hopes he remembers saying the federal Department of Education needs to go away. Perhaps like most people he didn’t understand what Common Core was about when he was Governor and his administration began our state down the path of centralized education. A lack of knowledge of what actually happened while he was Governor is a recurring theme though…….

Stace Nelson

I don’t think it would be a surprise for any reader of this blog to know I support Nelson in this race. His answers were in stark contrast to those of Rounds. EB-5 in particular is an example of how the two are different. Nelson would push for the EB-5 program to be eliminated completely. Nelson listed many ways the EB-5 program is crony capitalistic and a likely place for corruption. This to me is the key as to why I support Nelson in this race: I believe South Dakota would be best served with a US Senator that will fight to remove federal influence from the free market. Currently there are very few portions of our economy that actually has any semblance of free market. We need representation in DC that will actually try to bring some free market principles forth as solutions.

When speaking of Obamacare Nelson mentioned how the Rounds administration, and the legislature at that time, helped to enact laws in South Dakota so the state would align with ACA’s requirements. This is something Nelson has been bringing up this whole campaign. Somehow mentioning these actions is categorized as an ‘attack’ that breaks Reagan’s 11th Commandment. I disagree (I’ve posted on this before). When Nelson says he would fight to repeal Obamcare and implement free market principles in its place I believe him.

To me the area Nelson did best in was when talking about the Ryan budget. Nelson says the Ryan budget is a good start, but doesn’t go far enough. He says his experience working within the military gives him insight into parts of the National Defense budget that could, and should, be cut. This is an area all Republicans should be looking to when balancing the budget. That doesn’t even mean reducing the power of our military. I means finding portions of the military spending that are no longer needed, and are only around so politicians can continue to get special interest money.

The only problem I had with Nelson in this debate is that I thought he went off topic a few more times than he needed to. I agree with him that special interest money’s are bad. But making a variation of the same message each round can make the viewers forget some of the other specifics they viewed during the debate. It might be a good way to get a message out, but its a bad method to use if he wants people to remember more than one takeaway point.

Mike Rounds & Stace Nelson

Before going on I’ll mention Rounds did actually bare his teeth and go on the offensive against Nelson. I was surprised to see him do it. He mentioned Nelson getting kicked out of the Republican Caucus while serving in Pierre. Nelson said that was done by moderates. Stace has been working hard to ensure limited-government concepts are present in Pierre. That at times has had him at odds with leadership in Pierre. I think the fact he was willing to stand up to leadership based upon conservative principles shows Nelson is the type of representative needed in DC!

Rounds also mentioned the press conference that Nelson had held with liberal Senate candidate Rick Weiland. Anyone that actually watched the press conference with Nelson and Weiland could not come away seeing the two as ‘allies’. In fact other than hating special interest money I didn’t hear anything in that news conference that the two agreed upon.

Some will say it was time for Rounds to start attacking back because of the constant attacks from Nelson. The difference though is that Nelson is attacking Rounds record as a SD legislator and executive actions as a SD Governor. Rounds attacks on Nelson had nothing do with actual legislative records or executive actions. But that is how I see it, primary voters may see it differently… It was interesting to see Rounds drop his Mr Nice Guy face though…

Annette Bosworth

Due to the inconsistencies in her nominating petition (which is likely to be fraudulent) and other questionable activities from her campaign, I have previously said I wouldn’t give her campaign much attention. That remains to be true. I think she did horrible and had no substance in this debate anyhow…

Jason Ravnsborg

Jason did a lot better than I thought an inexperienced politician would do. This is his first time running for office, and its a big race at that. Of all the candidates in the attendance he had the most ‘answers’. I disagreed with some of his answers, but I definitely respect that he is offering forth solutions.

When talking about Obamacare Ravnsborg promoted the Patient CARE Act as a replacement to ACA. This is an act brought forth by Sens. Burr, Coburn & Hatch. It includes many of the parts of ACA that people like, without the hundreds of pages of unrealistic regulation. Personally I don’t like the Patient CARE Act, but think it is good for candidates to discuss such alternatives. A big point Ravnsborg was trying to make is that the Republican Party as a whole has been poor at providing alternatives and has become known as the “Party of NO”. I do feel if he is elected Senator he would fight to change that “Party of NO” reputation.

Other areas Ravnsborg had some answers for were the budget by supporting the “penny plan” and supporting Senator Grassley to repeal EB-5. Most of his answers seem to be latching on to solutions already provided by Senators in DC and promoting them. I think that is a fair way for a candidate to proceed. No single person can have the answer to everything and Ravnsborg seems to understand that.

The main negative I have with Ravnsborg is his lack of experience. I think that can be good. But his lack of even a little state legislative experience means there is no record to run on. Maybe if he keeps offering answers to everything like he did in this debate, he can use that as a replacement to an actual record.

Larry Rhoden

Rhoden was typical for him. He made some nice conservative talking points, but he had no fire in him. I actually think many voters that prefer a more moderate conservative would choose Rhoden over Rounds if they could connect with him. Rhoden has to find a way to actually connect with his audience, until that happens a race as the US Senate is out of his reach. Also he wouldn’t answer the EB-5 question because he didn’t have enough facts… That makes him seem somewhat disconnected from issues.

On the good side I really wish he had more time to expand on the strengthening of HSA’s. Part of Obamacare actually reduced the effectiveness of HSA’s, and Rhoden understands that. Here was a taxation part of the medical insurance industry that was actually helping families, and Obamacare has essentially killed it. Other candidates need to latch on to specific parts of ACA like this and show how it is hurting Americans.

Other good areas from Rhoden include using the Indian Reservations as an example of failed federal entitlement systems, opposing the ‘fact’ that climate change as described in the question is correct, and his personal experience as a legislator fighting against the EPA. If he could stick to topics such as these and show some emotion then maybe he can connect with more voters.

So who won?

I don’t think any ‘winner’ can be called for this debate. While I think the format was great, that wasn’t enough to provide an environment for there to be a clear winner. Too many of the questions were setup in a way that made them bad topics for a Republican primary. Personally I think my candidate of choice, Stace Nelson, did quite well. I would also say that Ravnsborg showed a lot more promise than he has in the past. Other than that it wasn’t really a debate anyone could say “X won this debate hands down!”. Maybe in a future debate we can get better questions..

Don’t miss the Brown County Republicans Reagan lunch tomorrow featuring US Senate candidate Stace Nelson

Tomorrow, April 9, will be the monthly Reagan Lunch hosted by the Brown County Republicans in Aberdeen. The event is from noon-1pm at Mavericks. If you are in the Aberdeen area this is a great opportunity to meet Stace Nelson in person.

For those that have yet to hear about Stace Nelson, here is a snippet about him from StaceNelson.com:

staceheadshotStace Nelson is a proud 4th generation South Dakotan, Marine, State Representative and Christian family man. He was raised in Salem, Sioux Falls, and Mitchell area and graduated from Mitchell High School in 1985. Even before graduating, he followed a family tradition of enlisting in the service and served the country as a Marine and federal cop for over 23 years.

In 2010, he was elected to be a State Representative serving District 19 and holds a proud conservative voting record unmatched in the state.
References:
• 2011 Session Republican Platform Voting Score Card
• 2011 South Dakota Freedom Index Report

He and his wife Aiza have six children and two grandchildren.

“I am who I am today because of my relationship with God. He has blessed, guided, and carried me through my whole life. With your support, and His hand on my shoulder, I will serve your interests and protect your rights in the United States Senate.”

-Stace Nelson

In other Brown County Republican news, The Lincoln Day Dinner is set for Tuesday, April 22nd, at the Ramkota in Aberdeen. Governor Dennis Daugaard is the keynote speaker. Get your tickets by calling Char Cornelius, Bud Morris or Wayne Bierman. We will deliver the tickets to you.

I hope to see a good attendance at both events!

Some thoughts on the Nelson & Weiland presser

NelsonWeiland

SD US Senate Candidates Stace Nelson & Rick Weiland. Picture screen captured from the Argus Leader live-stream of the presser.

Earlier today I wrote a blog post saying the US Senate race in South Dakota is going to be one to remember. It appears my words are going to hold true. Today Republican US Senate candidate Stace Nelson joined with Democrat US Senate candidate in a joint presser to discuss big money in politics. This was an odd presser. But I think it was a good one because it allowed people to see candidates that don’t have the money to launch a $500,000 television ad campaign like Rounds has just done. The video of this presser can be watched on the Argus Leader website for anyone to see.

Both candidates definitely agree that Rounds spending most of his campaign time out East trying to fundraise is a big problem. Many politicos and voters have the impression that Rounds has spent more time and energy trying to raise campaign funds from special interests than actually talking with South Dakotan’s. I agree Rounds courting the East coast crowd just for the purpose of fundraising is an issue. To me it isn’t so much about where the money comes from, but how it is coming to Rounds. As a huge advocate of free speech I believe anyone should be allowed to exercise their rights by contributing whatever money they want to any candidate they want. If Rounds were traveling the state and actually trying to engage with voters, the press, and other candidates I don’t think this presser would have even occurred. Even if Rounds had gotten a lot of outside money while traveling South Dakota I don’t there would have been a problem worthy of a presser. That would have simply been a case of contributors exercising their free speech. But in this case we actually have Rounds putting out-of-state fundraising as a priority over engaging with South Dakota voters. Rounds has the right to do so, but that doesn’t mean we the voters have to like it. In fact his approach in this campaign has shown that we the voters are something he is not even worried about until he is forced to. That was the good part of today’s presser. It allowed two diversely different candidates from two different parties to show what is wrong with the current system.

Even though the topic of the presser was agreed to by both candidates, I can’t see many other areas where the two candidates agreed on anything else. Actually I wish Rounds could have been in attendance speaking so we the voters could see if he fell political closer to the Democrat or to the Republican.

Weiland of course was pushing his Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, thereby killing a huge portion of free speech to keep ‘dirty’ money out of politics. I really wish he would work to find other ways around what he calls dirty money. But wait, he has found a way by today’s presser. Simply informing the voters of what is happening is a step. Of course voters need to start caring, but that will have to come in time. What nanny-state politicians like Weiland fail to understand is that a Constitutional amendment curtailing free speech will not remove ‘dirty’ money from politics. As long as there has been politicians there has been special interest money in politics. If Weiland’s amendment were to be passed it would do nothing but change how that money is channeled, potentially in an even less-transparent means. Instead of going down that route, Weiland should be pushing for events such as today’s presser. Also the mainstream media should do something they haven’t done in years: investigative journalism. Journalists should be getting all of this information out to voters and letting we the people decide. The only way for things to change in DC is for the voters and journalists of this country to start taking an interest in the political process.

Conversely, Nelson focused upon the action of Rounds going after that money so he can buy the election. He did not speak about a Constitutional amendment or ask for Citizens United to be overturned. Actually he briefly mentioned free speech worries from that approach. I wish he would have expanded upon that. But even without expansion on that thought I was glad to see Nelson stood up for liberty.

I thought a good question was asked of Weiland. Weiland was called out for talking about the Rounds campaign getting so much out-of-state money while at the same time having a higher percentage of out-of-state money than Rounds. I don’t think Weiland answered that one well. He basically said it was Rounds fault he had to get so much out-of-state money because Rounds wouldn’t agree to limiting donations. I think Weiland should have been more honest and said he had to do so because the Democrat party in South Dakota is currently devastated. The current state of the SD Democrat party lacks the infrastructure needed to raise any true amounts of money within the state. What the SD Democrats need is a new set of leaders that will be willing to work with and grow the party. Instead they keep getting candidates like Weiland who will give an election a go, then get out of the spotlight and move on with life.

The candidates were asked about specific problems with Rounds record as Governor. Personally I think that question was worded poorly, an executive’s actions don’t fit well into the category of a ‘record’ like legislative votes do. Stace Nelson was able to highlight how the EB-5 program as directed by the Rounds administration was the very definition of crony capitalism. I thought it was also good that Stace chose to take this moment to say he is not angry with Rounds for raising money. Instead Stace said he is angry because it appears the race is being bought and paid for by “DC and East Coast” special interest groups. This appears to be the group Rounds is courting, and Nelson is trying to bring attention to that fact. Nelson then mentioned that the Chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party has said the voting records should be used when deciding which candidate is best. That is what Stace has been doing for the duration of this campaign by showing his record compared to that of Rounds and Rhoden. Ironically many Rounds supporters have said the scorecard being shown by Nelson is out of line, even though it is simply an expansion of the same scorecard that Rounds released to attack the record of Rhoden.

Then came the question I think both candidates failed at big time. They were asked their stances on medical marijuana. Wieland said medical marijuana is too off-topic in this presser. I disagree with him. Nelson said he couldn’t see keeping medical marijuana away from terminally ill patients, but also couldn’t see legalizing medical marijuana to the extent that states like California has done. Here is where the libertarian part of me has problems with conservative Republicans and big-government Democrats. I believe the war on drugs on has created far more social and economic devastation upon the United States than any perceived ‘evil’ that ever came from drug usage. Younger generations are waking up to this fact and are willing to end the War on Drugs. However special interests that feed off the millions of dollars spent by the Federal government to continue the war on drugs means DC is unlikely to do anything that would reverse current policy. On the Democrat side there have been many promises to end, or at least reduce, the war on drugs. That always ends up being a failed promise. On the right many of the same politicians that tout small government will simultaneously advocate the war on drugs; which has created a non-stop expansion of government size and reduction of liberties. Yes, I definitely support Nelson in this election. But simply supporting a candidate doesn’t mean I share every viewpoint he has. If he is elected I will lobby hard to get him to understand the war on drugs is against everything he believes in as a small-government Republican. Until then I hope more young people will approach the candidates and let them know it is a time for change in the war on drugs.

At the end of the presser there was a party-crasher! Independent gubernatorial candidate Mike Myers took a minute to plug his campaign party on April 12. The info for the party can be found on his Facebook page. Unfortunately I have other plans this weekend or I would go. Mike Myers is a really good guy and I hope he does well as an independent in the Governor’s race.

Overall I think it was an odd presser. But is was odd in a good way. Maybe some interesting moves such as this in the next couple of months could swing the election away from the presumed winner Mike Rounds. Or maybe such events will do nothing other than keep politicos amused. Either way it should continue to be an interesting US Senate race.

PS. Yes, this was a long post. Apparently my lack of time to blog recently has left me with a lot to say.

South Dakota’s US Senate race is going to be one to remember

checkeredflagI’ve been a bit over-busy at the office so I’ve fallen behind on blogging about the South Dakota US Senate Race. Here is a recap of where the race currently is and my brief thoughts about each of the candidates in the race at this moment (my thoughts are likely to change over the next few months). No matter what happens I think this will end up being a memorable Senate Race.

Republican Primary Candidates:

All five Republicans seeking the Republican nomination turned in the required signatures to make the primary ballot. I have listed them in order of their appearance on the ballot.

Stace Nelson – I have been pretty transparent in my support of Stace as the next US Senator from South Dakota. I believe he is the choice for anyone looking to get rid of status-quo type politicians in DC. An argument I hear against Stace quite often is that he takes a hard stance on certain small government issues and will fight against leadership when he believes they are going outside of the Republican stances on small government. To me that is one of the reasons to actually send him to DC. South Dakota does not need to send another Senator to DC that will simply do what the elite politicians there want him to do.

Mike Rounds – And speaking of status-quo politicians. Between entering this race directly after the 2012 election, his boast to raise $9 million in this race, and incumbent Senator Tim Johnson deciding not run again it gave Rounds the unique opportunity to enter this race almost as an incumbent. A good majority of the politicos have already deemed him the next US Senator from South Dakota. I hope that does not happen. A lot of his campaign seems to revolve around the fact people ‘like Mike’. Is that really a reason to vote for someone who will have so much power? His campaign so far has been a mirror of his time in office as Governor. He does not appear to truly engage the public, or even his own staff for that matter. The Aberdeen Beef Plant EB-5 scandal is a direct result of policies implemented during his tenure as governor. He has gone on record as saying that big government programs such as EB-5 have economic value for the State of South Dakota. I have a feeling if he would be elected in DC he would become just another Senator willing to do whatever leadership there decides is best for the country. Mike may be likable, but I would rather have a politician that will not become part of the status-quo DC political culture.

Annette Bosworth – This is a candidate I hoped would offer something as a Doctor having dealt with Obamacare. Unfortunately she has not only become a disappointment, she has become a liability to the whole process by likely committing fraud in the act of gathering her petitions. I won’t even bother to offer more words on her.

Jason Ravnsborg – I’ve met Ravnsborg a few times and must say I like him as a person. I’m still unsure about him as a US Senator though. He has a good history involving farming, military service, and practicing as an attorney. Yet when I talk with him I get this uneasy feeling that he simply isn’t ready for such a high-profile office such as the US Senate. Personally I would have rather seen Ravnsborg run in the US House primary against Rep Noem. For someone of his unknown history and abilities that would have been a better first step into Federal service. Or run for a statewide office. No matter what I just don’t feel he is ready for this office and don’t see him as a viable candidate at this time. I do however hope he does not become discouraged from running for office in the future. He does have potential.

Larry Rhoden – Rhoden is an entry that makes me think: “why is he in this race”. There is very little to differentiate Rhoden from Rounds. In fact their legislative history in Pierre are remarkably similar. A large problem with Rhoden is his lack of ability to inspire when speaking. He really hasn’t learned how to get a crowd to connect with him. Until he learns that skill I believe an office such as US Senate will be out of his reach. From my viewpoint the only votes he will likely get in this race are from moderately conservative Republicans who don’t like Mike, but aren’t willing to go as conservative as Nelson.

Democrat Candidate:

Unfortunately there is only one Democrat candidate. I really hoped there would be a Democrat primary so the left-leaning portions of the state could decide whether they wanted a more liberal or more moderate candidate. With only one candidate they lose the ability to choose.

Rick Weiland – Weiland came out of the gate speaking against free speech and Citizens United. I agree with him that money from certain rich sources are creating problems with the current political environment, especially in DC. But this is not a new problem, it has existed since politicians have existed. I really wish Weiland could find a way to fight against special interests money without throwing the First Amendment under the bus. One thing I do like about him is his acknowledgement that Obamacare was not the way to go. He supports Medicare for all, basically as a single-payer system. I personally disagree with him. But I do think that would have been better than Obamacare. But unless Independent candidates are able to draw enough votes from the Republican primary winner I don’t see him having much of a chance in winning this election. I do hope he puts up a good fight and maybe even proves me wrong about him not having a chance. Even thought I don’t support him, I do support there always being a close race with actual competition between candidates.

Independent Candidates:

There is not just one, but two independent candidates for South Dakota to choose from this year. I think that is great! More choices at the ballot is always a good thing. Unfortunately there won’t be a Libertarian candidate (Evans pulled out last fall) or a Constitution Party candidate. It is up the independent candidates to try making strides this year. Since most new voters are registering as independent I think this may become the type of candidate to look to in the future. I don’t think either independent candidate has a chance of winning in 2014, but that doesn’t mean they won’t impact the election.

Larry Pressler – I know I just said I like independent candidates on the ballot because it offer choice. Yet this choice is what I stand against in a DC politician. Pressler has already served as  US Senator for 18 years, and another 4 years in the House of Representatives. That is 22 years as a DC politician. Since his time in office he has lived in DC, but ‘maintained’ a South Dakota residence. This is case where we the voters must decide to reject any politician that wishes to remain a permanent part of the DC political culture on the taxpayer dime.

Gordon Howie – This is a more interesting entry into the US Senate race as an Independent. Howie is a former Republican State legislator and hopeful for the Governor’s office. As a part of the Tea Party he has the potential to pick up some liberty-minded votes. I do however wish he would enter the race full-blown to win. Instead he has stated he will withdraw if Stace Nelson wins the Republican primary. I understand that contingency approach, but to me starting a race in that matter won’t give him the ability to actually gain momentum after the Republican primary. Another apprehension I have about Howie as a candidate is his social conservative viewpoints. His adherence to social conservatism will likely turn off many independent voters that have more modern viewpoints on social issues. But, even after mentioning those downsides, I still welcome Howie to the race and am glad to see him as a choice on the ballot this fall.

Stace Nelson endorsed by the Republican Liberty Caucus

There is great news from the Stace Nelson US Senate campaign today: the Republican Liberty Caucus (RLC) has endorsed Stace Nelson as their candidate of choice in South Dakota for the US Senate Race. This is the endorsement I’ve been waiting to see. The RLC is a grassroots organization that backs candidates who actually “advance the principles of individual rights, limited government and free markets”. An example of such candidates that are currently in the spotlight include Rep. Justin Amash, Sen. Rand Paul, and Sen. Ted Cruz. All three of those politicians have different viewpoints and varying methods used of advancing their causes. Yet they all share the same small government core value. I believe Stace Nelson would work will other RLC politicians in DC to actually advance the cause of liberty.

Here is the announcement from the RLC:

rlc_logo_new_color_200x200_15FULTON, SD – A spirit of change and reform is sweeping the country. Incumbents are being voted out and principled reformers are heading to Washington with a dedication to liberty, Constitutionally limited government and free markets.

The Republican Liberty Caucus believes Stace Nelson will be an important part of this movement for change, and we have given him our endorsement in the Republican Primary for the U.S. Senate in South Dakota.

“Stace Nelson’s dedication to Constitutionally limited government and political reform were made very clear in his time in the state legislature, where he demanded real answers from Washington and fought for the rights of the people of South Dakota.” said RLC Chairman Matt Nye. “He truly believes in returning power to the people and the states, restoring free markets and protecting individual liberty.”

Nelson has been described as the one true conservative in this primary race, but there is much more to recommend him than that. He has a lifetime of public service behind him and a dedication to principles which South Dakotans value. He told us clearly the kind of Senator he wants to be when he said, “Mike Lee, Justin Amash, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul – this is what our country needs. Outspoken, honest people trying to take on the out-of-control federal government and rein it in.”

Nelson lives in Fulton, SD with his wife Aiza and their six children. We strongly urge Republican voters in South Dakota to join us in supporting Stace Nelson for Senate. We cannot afford to let this seat be returned to the Democrats or fall into the hands of a Republican of lesser principles who will be no better than another Democrat. Electing Stace Nelson is a crucial step in restoring the original vision of the Republican Party and restoring our Republic.

Rep Rounds shows disrespect for conservative South Dakotans by hijacking Rep Nelsons resolution

norespectToday Representative Stace Nelson (R-19) asked for support of House Concurrent Resolution 1027. HCR1027 is a resolution commending, honoring, and thanking former Congressman Dr. Ron Paul. This should have been a quick resolution and taken very little floor time. Instead Rep Tim Rounds (R-24) decided to bring forth an amendment that deleted everything in the resolution and write something completely different. It should be noted that Rep Rounds is brother to former South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds. Mike Rounds and Stace Nelson are both seeking the Republican nomination for US Senator in South Dakota.

So what does the resolution actually say? Here is the text of this resolution as introduced by Rep Nelson:

A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION, Commending, honoring, and thanking former Congressman Dr. Ron Paul.
WHEREAS, the Honorable Ron Paul served our country with dignity and integrity as a United States Congressman from the State of Texas for twenty-three years; and
WHEREAS, patriot Ron Paul served our country bravely as an active duty member of the United States Air Force as a Flight Surgeon from 1963-1965 and as an Air Force National Guard member from 1965-1968; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Ron Paul inspired generations of Americans to become involved and get active in our government “of the people, by the people, for the people…” by inspiring countless Americans with his promotion of a limited government philosophy; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Ron Paul has remained consistent in his dedication to the principles of life, the free market, and the defense of our United States Constitution; and
WHEREAS, South Dakotans greatly appreciate the sacrifice, dedication, and service of all such patriotic Americans who have done so much to serve our nation:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the House of Representatives of the Eighty-
Ninth Legislature of the State of South Dakota, the Senate concurring therein, that the Honorable Congressman Dr. Ron Paul is commended, honored, and thanked for his many decades of service to our great nation. Our best wishes are extended to him and his family.

This is a resolution I agree with. As Rep Kaiser (R-3) pointed out during the floor debate: Ron Paul can be seen as the founder of the Tea Party. There are many South Dakota residents with Tea Party or libertarian leanings that would like to thank Dr Paul for his service. During the debate Rep Neslon mentioned he does not agree with all of Dr Paul’s stances, but overall Dr Pauls commitment to liberty is worthy of honoring. I agree.

Having said that, I did not expect the resolution to pass on the House floor. Dr Paul is a leader in the liberty movement, so really only conservative legislators would want to honor him. There might have been a couple of liberal legislator that would also want to honor him for his civil liberties work. But, I fully expected the resolution to fail and be forgotten (I hadn’t even planned on doing a post about the resolution).

Things don’t always go as expected in politics, especially with a US Senate race going on….

Instead of simply speaking against the resolution or voting no, Rounds decided he would make a political statement against the Tea Party and liberty-minded individuals. He proposed an amendment that gutted out Nelson’s resolution and replaced it with a resolution that listed Congressmen that South Dakota had sent to DC in the past (many of whom I would consider horrible legislators). Again, that would have been OK for Rounds to object to the resolution based on the fact Dr Paul is not, nor has he ever been, a resident of South Dakota. But instead Rounds decided to hijack Nelson’s bill; which is considered to be objectionable things one legislator can do to another. Rounds move had nothing to do with the fact Dr Paul is an out of state Congressman. It has everything to do with politics. Rep Rounds acted on behalf of his brother Mike to politically attack Stace Nelson, the Tea Party, fiscal conservatives, and liberty-minded individuals. Whether Mike Rounds had foreknowledge of this attack is irrelevant. Rep Rounds has been around politics enough to know his actions would be tied to those of his brother.

Also during the debate Rep Hajek (R-14) stood to support the bills hijacking. She made it sound like Rep Nelson had come up with this resolution to serve his own self-interest. I wonder if Rep Hajek has bothered to look at the platform and resolutions of the party she represents. The resolution introduced by Rep Nelson was not written by him. Instead this resolution was drafted and adopted by the RNC during the 2013 spring meeting. (The resolutions passed are listed here, the resolution text is here). If Hajek has a problem with resolutions passed by the RNC that is up to her. But it is puzzling that elected members of the Republican party in South Dakota have no idea what their party does or stands for. Perhaps Rep Hajek, and everyone else in Pierre for that matter, should study the party they are a part of and decide if they truly believe the overall principles that their party stands for. Perhaps we would see some party swapping happen in that event…

Finally I would like to mention the fact this hijacking should never have been allowed to happen. Rep Latterell (R-6) made a point of order about the hijacking amendment pursuant to Joint Rule 6E-1:

6E-1. Amendments to be germane to bill. No amendment to a bill or joint resolution may embrace more than one subject, which shall be expressed in the title of the bill.

To call this amendment ‘germane’ is stretching pretty far. The original bill specifically honored one person for stated accomplishments. The amendment lists multiple people, with no specific accomplishments. It could also be argued that the new bill has multiple subjects, especially since Congresswomen Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and Kristi Noem seemed to be added to the amendment as an afterthought. Speaker Gosch could have ended the hijacking right then. But he ruled the amendment was germane, and thus allowed the hijacking to continue.

Going forward I do not think any liberty-minded voters will forget this move by Rounds. The Rounds campaign may believe millions of dollars in the coffers guarantees a victory in the Primary this June. Yet, this move in the SD House may have provided the catalyst needed for conservative activists to rally behind Stace Nelson and expand his network of grass-root supporters. It is one thing to fail voting conservative; sadly, constituents are used to that. It is however a much different issue when a candidate, or the brother of a candidate, directly attacks and disrespects a leader in the liberty movement. The June primary is looking better and better.

PS. Full disclosure: I do support Stace Nelson as the US Senator from South Dakota in the 2014 election. I did not write this post not because he took a political shot at Nelson, that is expected and in itself is not enough to warrant this post. I, like many others I’ve spoken to today, am quite upset that Rounds would so brazenly disrespect Dr Paul, fiscal conservatism, and the liberty movement. It was Rounds disrespectful attack on the liberty movement that made it necessary for me to write this post.

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