Don’t count chickens yet
Published: Thursday, May 8th, 2014
It will be a most interesting Republican primary election for the next U.S. Senate candidate to emerge from a crowded field of contenders. On June 3, which is less than a month from now, Republicans will choose the person they believe has the best chance to beat Democrat Rick Weiland and three other Independent candidates in the November general election.
Interested area Republicans had the opportunity to meet and hear the five contenders for the job at a candidate forum Saturday, April 26, in Custer. Mike Rounds is a former two-term governor of the state who has the most name recognition. State lawmakers Larry Rhoden and Stace Nelson have some experience in the Legislature, with Rhoden being the more senior with the most years.
Army Reserve major and attorney Jason Ravnsborg and physician Annette Bosworth both got in the race a little late and are playing catch-up. They have a long way to go in a short amount of time. All five candidates claim to be conservative and want to do away with ObamaCare and help clean up the political mess in Washington. To that we say good luck!
Weiland and the three Independent candidates will sit this one out and wait for the November general election. It seems there is always a slew of Republican primary candidates, but few races on the Democratic side of the aisle.
For some reason, former U.S. Representative and Senator, Larry Pressler, now 72, is taking another run at the seat being vacated by Democrat Tim Johnson. He is running as an Independent. Pressler served the state in the U.S. House from 1975 to 1979 before being elected to three terms in the U.S. Senate. He was defeated in a reelection run by Tim Johnson in 1996.
Two others running as Independents are Clayton Walker and former state District 30 Sen. Gordon Howie. They are the last two to enter the race and just had their nominating petitions approved by Secretary of State Jason Gant May 1. Walker, a 33-year-old Black Hawk resident, is a political unknown. Howie served in the Legislature from 2005 to 2010 as a Republican and is known for his conservative philosophy.
If history is a teacher of anything, it is that most Independent candidates draw votes away from Republicans. If this holds true in the general election, the Independents will siphon votes off from the Republican candidate. If the race for U.S. Senate is a close one, this will definitely benefit the Democratic candidate in November. If any Republican is damaged before the primary election in some way and wins, this will haunt them in the general election against Weiland, whose campaign is sure to exploit any perceived weaknesses.
Whoever wins the Republican nomination should be wary of Weiland who is conducting a grassroots campaign by traveling to every community in the state. The Madison native has already visited Custer twice. He is no political neophyte either, having served as Tom Daschle’s senior advisor and state director. He also has run unsuccessfully for the U.S. House twice.
Recent surveys show that at least three incumbent senators in Alaska, Arkansas and Louisiana are trailing their Republican opponents. Republicans are also leading in open races with Democratic retirements in Montana and Michigan. Republicans need to swing six states, while holding their own seats, to take back control of the Senate. Republicans seem to be taking for granted wins for open Senate seats in South Dakota and West Virginia.
From what we have seen, Republicans in South Dakota need to emerge from the June primary with a strong candidate to go against Democratic and Independent opponents. If they don’t, the seat held by Johnson could stay in the Democratic camp.
The old farm adage holds true. Don’t count your chickens until they are hatched!
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