Mike Meyers, independent candidate for governor, strolled into The Daily Republic with a cylindrical jug full of hemp in dietary-supplement form.
"What does that stuff do for you?" came the question from the interviewer.
"What does it do for me?" boomed Meyers in his baritone, deejay-like voice. "I'll show you what it does for me!"
And with that, the 77-year-old man dropped and began doing pushups on the floor.
Nothing about Meyers -- a former law school professor and health care CEO -- is typical, as he proved with that stunt and with the rest of his recent visit to The Daily Republic in Mitchell. He's hoping to unseat Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard in November 2014.
Following are some excerpts from the newspaper's conversation with Meyers.
Q. Why are you running for governor?
A. The parties are both captives of corporate interests. I have a particular interest in health care because I spent 18 years in there and 23 years teaching it. Realistically, health care is going to take this country unimpeded into economic and political bankruptcy. I want to change it.
Q. Can the governor do anything to fix health care?
A. I'd say to [Attorney General] Marty [Jackley], "we're going to take a run at this vertical integration -- seller, provider and payer." Can you envision that? A circular table where they meet and decide how much they should pay themselves for procedures. No caps, no controls. And both Avera and Sanford are incredibly influential, and pretty influential in the media as well.
Q. How old are you?
A. [Turning to companion] Do I have to tell him? [Laughs] I'm 77. I'm a widower and alone in a six-bedroom home. I have seven children, all away from home, although one daughter might be coming home. The beauty of that is that I rotate through six bedrooms, and I only have to change linen every six weeks. I've got to get a theme song: "I don't need no rocking chair."
... There were only two things previously money couldn't buy: true love and homegrown tomatoes. And now you can't buy Mike Meyers, because I'm not for sale. So, when I make mistakes and misjudgments, it's because of my beliefs and not because someone influences me.
Q. If you can't be bought, does that mean you won't accept campaign contributions?
A. I will, for some things, but everything will be "on the wall."
Q. Can you gather enough signatures to get on the ballot?
A. I believe I can get the 3,171 signatures. A guy at my last program was part of Active Generations in Sioux Falls, with more than 4,700 members. So I'm going to go up there and grab a ukulele and sing, and I think I can get some votes. And I think I can move around the state and turn my constituents. As I note here, [pointing to campaign material], I advertise: "Meyers acknowledges his anti-establishment, maverick reputation as a critic of corporate medicine earned through 23 years of teaching health care law and elder law at the USD School of Law."
Friends have told me I am crazy to challenge the state's concentrated political and economic powers. Maybe they are right, but once I'm on the ballot, we will let the voters decide who's crazy.