OUR VIEW: Voters made good choice with VarilekIf Matt Varilek is to have a chance against Kristi Noem, he has to shed his rather quiet persona and emerge a bar-room brawler.
By: Editorial board, The Daily Republic
Fresh off his primary victory Tuesday, the real election season has just begun for Matt Varilek.
Varilek rolled past Jeff Barth Tuesday in a primary election to determine which candidate the Democrats will put up against U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, a Republican incumbent, in November.
Varilek beat Barth 72 percent to 28 percent, but he cannot rest on those laurels.
We like Varilek, but we are far from ready to make an endorsement in this race. Although he has not held office, he still has experience with government after serving five years as Sen. Tim Johnson’s economic development director and holding related jobs.
Barth, meanwhile, touted himself as an outsider who had little to do with Congress. His government experience is as a county commissioner.
We suspect Barth’s lack of experience was a factor in his defeat. We also didn’t see much of Barth until late in the primary campaign, and we suspect that didn’t sit well with voters, either.
Varilek, meanwhile, was out and about during the primary season but still may lack the pizzazz needed to unseat Noem, who suddenly is experienced, has raised tons of money for her campaign and who always has been a member of the dominant political party in South Dakota.
In past House races, incumbent Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, a Democrat, dominated a series of nice-guy Republican opponents who didn’t seem willing to shed their vanilla image during the election season. They were promptly devoured, politically speaking.
Suddenly, the tables are turned and if Varilek is to have a chance against Noem, he has to shed his rather quiet persona and emerge a bar-room brawler. He needs to shout from the rooftops, to bravely focus on voting records and key issues and he needs debates — lots of them.
That’s what Noem did to Herseth Sandlin two years ago, and now Noem sits in the catbird seat.