Oct 15

If only Dems had some steelworkers in SoDak

Word comes today that the mighty United Steelworkers union has endorsed Democrat Rick Weiland in his bid to replace the retiring Sen. Tim Johnson. In a release announcing the endorsement, the USW’s District 11 director  Bob Bratulich said Weiland is focused on issues most important to working families.

From the release:

Rick Weiland will fight to end pay-to-play retail politics and reclaim control of our country from the billionaires, corporations and special interests that have hijacked democracy for the benefit of their shareholders,” Bratulich said. “He understands the importance of a clear plan to create family supporting, community sustaining jobs if we hope to improve our struggling economy.

The release claims that USW represents 850,000 members. Data from the U.S. Department of Labor indicates the union has closer to 614,000 members.

And how many of them are in South Dakota? A whopping 173, according to reports filed with the Department of Labor.

In other words, the only way the USW’s endorsement is going to make much of a dent in South Dakota’s Senate race is if the USW opens up its pocketbook on Weiland’s behalf and drops a bunch of money into the race.

Sep 10

Sen. Cruz to visit area

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a leading promoter for defunding the president’s Affordable Care Act, is joining Iowa Rep. Steve King for a hunting trip next month.

King, who represents northwest Iowa, hosts an annual pheasant hunt named after Col. Bud Day, an Iowan who graduated from the University of South Dakota School of Law. Day won the Medal of Honor for his service in Vietnam and died in July. The hunt takes place at the Hole N’ the Wall Lodge north of Akron, Iowa.

Ideologically, King and Cruz are soul mates. They are conservatives and they are outspoken. Cruz wants to defund Obamacare, which has become a rallying cry for Tea Party Republicans. He’s also viewed as a potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate, so a stop in Iowa to do a little hunting doesn’t hurt.

Rick Santorum and Rick Perry have also been King’s hunting guests.

Sep 05

Walmart’s application for Sioux Falls’ voter list

Last night, Secretary of State Jason Gant emailed me the applications submitted on behalf of Walmart requesting the city’s voter list. I had inquired about whether anyone had purchased the list for today’s story on how Walmart is reviewing the more than 6,300 petitions submitted by residents who are challenging the proposed south-side Walmart at 85th Street and Minnesota Avenue.

The only request made in the lasts two months was from a Barbara Stevens of Boyce Greenfield Pashby & Welk. Patrick Knecht is a lawyer at the firm, and Knecht is representing Walmart in its bid to build the new store. Note the request was made Tuesday.

SD State Voter Registration Data Request Form 09-03-2013

Aug 30

Willard mounting appeal on robocallgate

In a post on his blog Political Smokeout last night, the Argus Leader's David Montgomery speculated that Daniel Willard, who was convicted by a Lake County jury yesterday of four misdemeanor campaign finance violations, is angling for an appeal to the South Dakota Supreme Court.

Montgomery nailed it.

R. Shawn Tornow, Willard’s attorney, sent me the following statement:

In response to your question about the potential for appeal of this week’s trial proceedings in Lake County, please note that my client has directed me to take the initial steps to immediately move forward with his desire to appeal his case to the state Supreme Court. As such, Mr. Willard anxiously looks forward to following through with his right to seek judicial review of his case by and through his pending appeal proceedings.

So, as Montgomery notes, Willard may challenge the state’s campaign finance laws based on a claim that they violated his right to free speech.

Stay tuned.

Spotted in Sioux Falls: a Stace Nelson supporter. Who has pretty strong political opinions.

Spotted in Sioux Falls: a Stace Nelson supporter. Who has pretty strong political opinions.

Aug 19

Scott Brown tour of Midwest started in Sioux Falls

Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown is touring Iowa and other Midwestern states in what published reports say is an effort to test his moderate Republican message and to see how it would go over in a potential 2016 presidential bid. The Midwest is a good place to test that message, in my opinion.

Read stories about the tour here and here.

But Brown was in Sioux Falls over the weekend before heading to Iowa. Reason? He attended the wedding of Sen. John Thune’s youngest daughter, Larissa.

Although Brown’s tenure in the Senate was brief, he and Thune struck up a kindred friendship, in part because they are both into athletics and competitive.

Aug 16

Former USD law professor announces run for governor

A former University of South Dakota law professor announced today that he plans to run for governor as an independent candidate.

Michael “Mike” Myers taught health care law and elder law at the university for 23 years. He also worked in the early 1960s for the Argus Leader and the Sioux City Journal.

But it’s in health care where Myers has his most significant experience. He was the CEO of Mayo-St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minn. and he served as an executive with other hospitals.

Myers has been an outspoken critic of the vertically integrated health systems reflected by Sanford Health and Avera McKennan, which he called “oligopolies.” And he said that health care and criticism of “corporate medicine” will be the crux of his campaign.

Myers, 77, said that patients are paying more while hospital executives earn millions of dollars a year. He called for greater transparency in medical pricing and he said he wants to create a South Dakota health insurance co-op.

He said he’s running as an independent because both political parties are captives to corporate interests.

"We’ve got career politicians that are basically controlled by the lobbies," he said.

As an independent candidate, Myers would need to collect 3,171 signatures of registered voters to qualify for the ballot between Jan. 1, 2014 and March 25, 2014.

Myers becomes the first official candidate to enter the race, but Gov. Dennis Daugaard is expected to seek  a second term.

Tony Venhuizen, Daugaard’s director of communications and policy, said the governor has been making preparations for an announcement, but it likely wouldn’t come until the end of the next legislative session. During the next few months, the governor is focusing on putting together a budget for next year and his agenda for the next session.

"I just think the governor is pretty focused on his day job, which is serving as governor and serving the people of the state," Venhuizen said.

Zach Crago, the Democratic Party’s executive director, said he’s confident the party will have a strong candidate who will “fight for South Dakota values.”

"South Dakota needs a governor who believes in rewarding work, respecting women, and investing in our children’s education, and several Democrats have already expressed an interest in the job," Crago said.

Myers grew up in norther Sioux Falls where he worked on the kill lines at John Morrell. He graduated from Cathedral High School in 1954, served in the Navy and then returned home, graduating from South Dakota State University. He is a widower with seven children.

Aug 06

Boehner and Noem ride again

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner comes to our humble land next week to help fundraising guru Kristi Noem raise more money. See invitation below.

Boehner’s been on a rough ride of late. And by of late, I mean since about the day he was elected speaker when Republicans captured the House in the 2010 election. Since then, they’ve been remarkably incompetent at advancing their agenda for smaller government, caught between the pragmatists and a sizable clan that seizes every opportunity to shoot the moon when it comes to reducing government.

Count Noem among the pragmatists. Which is why Boehner is swooping in on a fundraising tour to help her out. As far as we know, he was last in Sioux Falls in August 2011 for another Noem fundraiser. That event took place at the Minnehaha Country Club.

After their French-like August vacation is over, Congress returns to yet another budget showdown. So let’s enjoy the quiet while we can.


Jul 23

Faces of the Jamison announcement

Greg Jamison made his mayoral bid against Mayor Mike Huether today, announcing from Campus Park, his boyhood haunt where he said he and his siblings spent summer days playing and winter days skating on the ice.

There were some interesting people at the event, to be sure. That doesn’t mean they’re supporting Jamison, by the way. Maybe they were just curious. Here’s a quick list:

Joel Rosenthal, for state GOP chairman.

Vernon Brown, former city councilor and two-time mayoral candidate. (Brown has no plans to run for council again. I asked.)

Bill Peterson, 2010 mayoral candidate, former lawmaker and an author of the city Charter.

Sue Aguilar, city councilor.

Rep. Manny Steele.

Rep. Christine Erickson.

Andy Traub, who was a player in the Build it Downtown group.

Joel Arends, former Lincoln County GOP chair and a political operative.

Theresa Stehly. (If you know anything about local politics, you know all about her.)

Palin coming to Sioux Falls

Sarah Palin is making another trip to the Sioux Falls area, this time as the featured speaker For the Ag PhD Field Day, an annual event put on by Brian and Darren Hefty on their farm near Baltic. The event is July 25.

Palin last came to Sioux Falls on Dec. 6, 2009. She was at Barnes & Noble to promote her book, “Going Rogue.”