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POWERS: SD Democrats continuing a ‘sure-loss strategy’?

  By Pat Powers

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South Dakota War College

Are Democrats going to give Gov. Dennis Daugaard a bye in the 2014 election? Because four years ago at this time, Scott Heidepriem had been declared, raising money and in the race for governor for four months.

Fast forward to today. Where are all the Democrats for the 2014 political races?

Rick Weiland had jumped in on behalf of the left wing POWERS of the Democratic Party, in part to shut out Stephanie Herseth Sandlin who was going to be a candidate if unchallenged in the primary. Corinna Robinson slipped into the race for Congress quietly in recent weeks.

But who are they going to run for governor? (Insert crickets chirping here.)

Democrats, specifically House Democratic Leader Bernie Hunhoff, DYankton, had been noting they had someone who would be in the race. At this same time, Rep. Susan Wismer, D-Britton, was sending out new publicity photos and telling newspaper editors to hang on for news about her.

But days later, Wismer definitively backed out and announced she would not be a candidate for governor.

And once again, even idle speculation of anyone in the Democrats’ slate for governor reveals a vacuum. Not in that race, or any other down-ticket statewide contests, has anyone expressed an interest to be the sacrificial lamb.

With only seven months to go until the June primary, and less than a year to the general, except for the top two slots, Democrats have managed to hang an alltoo-familiar “vacancy sign” on nearly every other race. And there’s not even a rumble that the near-terminal electoral poison it represents is going to abate anytime soon.

As we approach Thanksgiving the year before the election, it appears more and more that Democrats may forgo running anyone for any offices. And that’s not a healthy thing for a political party whose business is running candidates for office.

In this and the immediately past election, as opposed to running candidates, South Dakota Democrats have adopted the increasingly odd position that participating in ballot issues is an antidote to their accelerating decline in South Dakota.

It’s as if they’re saying, “Why run political candidates who attempt to articulate why people should vote for Democrats, when we can expend time, energy and money to attempt to make a point we’re unable to make during the legislative session?”

And given that the last election was a repeat of what was thought to be the prior election’s unmatchable electoral victories by Republicans, it defies conventional wisdom that they would continue on what many consider a sure-loss strategy.

In the meantime, more and more precious weeks slip away that candidates could be using to generate excitement, volunteers and to raise badly needed money to face Republican candidates who have had the prior three years or so to squirrel funds away. Having reported on politics for some time now, as well as working in politics for 25 years, I can honestly say that I’ve never seen such disparity between the major political parties in this state and their ability to run elections this pronounced.

It’s as if Democrats anticipate that their ability to hold on to a few precious state legislative seats is in such jeopardy they can’t entice anyone to consider gambling on higher office.

Far be it from me to disagree.