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Posts in "South Dakota"
December 19, 2013
Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson’s open seat in South Dakota continues to be the most likely seat to change partisan hands next year. It doesn’t help that his party can’t agree on whether to support the only Democratic candidate in the race.
Johnson probably would have been vulnerable had he decided to seek re-election in 2014. Now that he’s gone, the state is a very good Republican takeover opportunity. Full story
July 12, 2013
The Hawkeye State dominates the list of competitive races in the Plains. After the region hosted the high-profile North Dakota and Missouri Senate races in 2012, its trio of Senate races this cycle are likely to see action in the primaries — but not in November.
Here are the top five races to watch in the Plains states:
South Dakota Senate. Gov. Mike Rounds is the front-runner for the GOP nomination and the general election. His new primary challenger, state Sen. Larry Rhoden, does not fundamentally change the race, even if he runs as a conservative alternative to Rounds. Meanwhile, former House candidate Rick Weiland is running on the Democratic side, but his own party’s leadership is openly unhappy with their prospects if he is the nominee. Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating: Lean Republican. Full story
July 10, 2013
State Sen. Larry Rhoden’s formal entry today into the South Dakota GOP Senate race doesn’t fundamentally change the Republican contest. Former Gov. Mike Rounds remains the party’s favorite for the nomination and for the general election.
Some conservatives are still looking for an alternative to Rounds, whom they regard as insufficiently conservative. But Rhoden, who comes from the western part of the state and has spent more than a decade in the Legislature, isn’t seen as a “movement conservative.” And while Rhoden served as state Senate majority whip, he isn’t regarded as Rounds’ political equal. Full story
June 11, 2013
Updated 9:13 pm | Late Tuesday afternoon, Noem announced she would seek re-election. Her decision removes Rounds’ highest-profile challenger in the Senate race but won’t stop conservative groups from looking for a candidate and doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be an expensive primary.
Conservative groups are on the record with their distrust and distaste for former Gov. Mike Rounds in South Dakota, but efforts to find an alternative for the Senate race have come up short so far.
Rounds is the front-runner for the GOP nomination. He’s also the only Republican running for Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson’s open seat.
But some Republicans in Washington, D.C., doubt Rounds’ conservative credentials. And some Republicans in the Mount Rushmore State have never viewed him as a political heavyweight, after he squeaked through his initial gubernatorial primary. Full story
May 14, 2013
Former Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin’s announcement that she is passing on a Senate race in 2014, combined with secondhand reports that U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson (son of retiring South Dakota Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson) has also decided against a Senate bid, must have put big smiles on the faces of Republican strategists.
It’s early in the 2014 election cycle, but these developments in the Mount Rushmore State definitely affect the two parties’ prospects. The GOP now has an advantage in the contest.
Former GOP Gov. Mike Rounds is already in the race. But the lack of a big name Democratic standard-bearer could encourage the state’s at-large congresswoman, Kristi Noem, to enter the Republican primary.
Noem would be a formidable fundraiser, and conservative support might well coalesce around her.
Some Republican insiders are even speculating that Herseth Sandlin passed on the Senate race in the hope of getting Noem to run for the Senate, allowing the Democrat to jump into the race for her old House seat.
Democrats won’t be without a credible Senate candidate, however. Rick Weiland, a former aide to ex-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, has announced his candidacy and has already won the support of his former boss.
But Weiland’s record of success in running for federal office isn’t good. He lost by about 20 points in 1996, when he faced Republican John Thune in an open House seat contest after Tim Johnson had decided to run for the Senate. Weiland then lost a Democratic primary to Herseth in 2002, when Thune left his House seat to run for the Senate. (Thune lost that race by 524 votes to Johnson but came back two years later to defeat Daschle.)
I remember Weiland, and he wasn’t a bad candidate. But that’s not the same thing as saying that he has Herseth Sandlin’s demonstrated skills or Brendan Johnson’s obvious asset (his family name) in a general election, especially during a midterm election with Barack Obama in the White House.
Bob Burns, a South Dakota State University political science professor, is quoted in an article in the Argus-Leader questioning whether someone like Weiland could win, or whether Democrats needed a moderate like Herseth Sandlin.
Without Herseth Sandlin, Democrats’ prospects of retaining this seat sink. A formal announcement from Brendan Johnson that he isn’t interested would be another blow to Democratic hopes. But even now, Tim Johnson’s South Dakota Senate seat looks increasingly likely to switch parties next year.