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February 9, 2016

Posts in "South Dakota"

October 22, 2014

South Dakota Senate Race Returns to Form

Larry Pressler

Attacks on Pressler appear to have worked. (Amy Sussman/Getty Images File Photo)

Republican attacks on Democrat Rick Weiland and Independent Larry Pressler appear to have worked, making it more likely that the GOP will pick up the seat of retiring Democratic Senator Tim Johnson, as long expected.

Republican Mike Rounds, a former two-term GOP governor, found himself in shockingly uncomfortable position earlier this month, but his standing has improved in the eyes of both strong and weak Republican voters, as well as among Independents. Full story

October 21, 2014

Weak GOP Candidates May Need More Than a Good Year

Thom Tillis

Tillis hopes to unseat Hagan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans have the wind at their backs this year. But not every GOP nominee is taking advantage of that dynamic. As usual, some candidates are under-performing, proving once again that candidates and the campaigns they choose to run actually matter.

That should come as no surprise to anyone who watched Republican Senate nominees Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana implode in 2012 or Delaware Republican Christine O’Donnell and Colorado Republican Ken Buck lose in 2010.

But this year, the problem children are not candidates foisted on the party by the Club for Growth or tea party groups. This cycle, the problem is a handful of candidates favored by most in the Republican “establishment.” They looked like strong nominees (some even like slam dunks) a year before Election Day, but they haven’t acted that way.

Full story

October 13, 2014

Ratings Change: South Dakota Senate

Republican Mike Rounds continues to underperform in what has become a wacky three-way fight (four-way, if you count the Libertarian on the ballot). While the state’s Republican bent could well bail him out in November, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee has allocated money for the race, we can no longer rule out the possibility of a strange outcome.

Former Gov. Rounds holds a narrow lead over former Republican Sen. Larry Pressler, with Democrat Rick Weiland running third but not out of the race. Republican insiders groan about Rounds’ poor campaign and weak fundraising, as well as the candidate’s underwhelming performance on the stump. Full story

September 23, 2014

Presented by Proctor and Gamble

Fight for Senate Control Down to Five States

With six weeks to go, the fight for control of the Senate is down to five states, four of them currently held by Democrats.

Republicans must win only two of those contests to guarantee the 51 seats they need to control the Senate for the last two years of Barack Obama’s presidency. And they need to win only one of the Democratic states if they hold the only GOP seat at serious risk.

While things could still change — and national polls continue to show an environment that may produce a substantial GOP wave in the House and Senate — the Senate battle has boiled down to two reliably red states and three swing states.

Full story

September 8, 2014

Rothenberg: Senate GOP Gains At Least 7 Seats

Senate GOP

Pryor is one incumbent in perilous position. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

While the current Rothenberg Political Report ratings don’t show it, I am now expecting a substantial Republican Senate wave in November, with a net gain of at least seven seats.

But I wouldn’t be shocked by a larger gain.

Rothenberg Political Report ratings reflect both where a race stands and, more importantly, where it is likely headed on Election Day. Since early polls rarely reflect the eventual November environment, either in terms of the candidates’ name recognition and resources or of the election’s dynamic, there is often a gap between how I categorize each race (my ratings) and what I privately assume will happen in November.

That gap closes as Election Day approaches, of course, since polling should reflect changes in name identification, candidate and party spending, and voter attitudes as November approaches.

Full story

December 19, 2013

Race Ratings Change: South Dakota Senate

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

Top 5 Races to Watch in the Plains States

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

Despite Primary, Rounds Remains Favorite in South Dakota

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

Search for Anti-Mike Rounds Continues in South Dakota


Conservatives aren't excited about a potential Noem Senate bid either. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Conservatives aren’t excited about a potential Noem Senate bid either. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

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

A GOP Senate Switch in South Dakota Looks More Likely

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.

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