For Republicans, there should be only one question on our minds right now.
Who is running against Herseth?

In one of the posts one or two down the blog page right now, I have to hand it to Ron Volesky. I agree with him strongly on a point he made. He hit the nail dead on it's head. Specifically as he was quoted in today's Argus Leader:
I don't think any statewide candidate, really - should go uncontested for re-election.
I agree completely. And that brings up a tough, painful question that Republicans need to ask. Who is running against Stephanie Herseth? And they need to keep asking it, increasing the volume every time.

Because it's not like people haven't been asking it. The media has been asking for quite some time.

Barring the latest speculation from Dave Kranz who says Tim Amdahl might jump into the race, (which has yet to be confirmed) we've only been hearing one thing. One phrase that's been only slightly modified and then repeated. And again stated and repeated. Just like a shampoo label it is "use, rinse, repeat."

Republican challengers might surface by summer or fall. "Some people like to come out early," Frederick said. "Some like to stay in the weeds as long as possible. I think there are many people already considering a run for U.S. Congress." (Argus Leader/South Dakota politics 12/23/04)

Frederick was humored by a report in Roll Call, a Washington, D.C., publication, saying state Republicans were waving a white flag in an effort to find a challenger to Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth's re-election bid. "Come this fall, you will see some exploratory committees for House beginning, and you will probably see some of those names we have talked about for governor on that list," he said. (Argus Leader 4/12/05)

That might be changing, though. Randy Frederick, state Republican Party chairman, says two or three serious contenders could emerge in the near future. "When the ball goes up, I assume we will have a pretty good person to go up against her," he said. (Argus 6/9/05)

Randy Frederick, state GOP chairman, says he continues the recruitment process with some people in mind. "It wouldn't be fair to divulge names of individuals I sent letters to, but I am breaking the ice with some people," he said. (Argus 10/30/05)

State GOP chairman Randy Frederick told the crowd in Rapid City that he is frequently asked who is going to challenge Rep. Stephanie Herseth, D-S.D., in next year’s election. "We have a lot of possibilities," he said. He didn't name names, though. (Rapid City Journal 11/22/05)

The Republican Party is courting three or four potential challengers to U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth, the state GOP chairman said Monday. Randy Frederick of Hayti wouldn't name the potential candidates, though. (AP 1/3/06)

State GOP Chairman Randy Frederick says business and family issues are keeping some Republicans from challenging Herseth. He says three or four people are thinking about a run, though it will likely be some time before someone announces. (KELO & AP 1/3/06)

It's not for lack of names. Republicans always have a strong bench..... One promise from Republicans: They won't let the race go uncontested. (Argus 1/22/06)
But aren't you as a reader sensing a pattern here as well? Supposedly there's a list of names. Nobody knows who the names are, but there's about three or four good possibilities on the list. A year ago we were supposed to have several committes looking at it by last fall. And all that's come out of it is whistling in the wind.

I'm getting that uncomfortable feeling in my stomach like we're being fed a line. The scatological term "bullsh*t" is starting to creep in to my vernacular when I hear we might have a candidate. And as of now, you can officially consider me a doubting thomas.

Think I'm the only one noticing this? Others also have picked up on "the name game." Check this post out from the "Proud Liberal Journal" entitled "Does anyone want to run against Herseth?"
State GOP Chairman Randy Frederick says he has three or four people all lined up to take on Herseth this fall. Names? Oh there will be no names. Just rest assured that there will be a candidate of some sort fielded by the Republicans. Maybe Alan Keyes is available. (1/6/06)
Take a gander at these comments from Joel Rosenthal, Randy Frederick's predecessor as chairman of the South Dakota GOP:
(From Where Is Our Candidate) To conduct and sustain a serious campaign, a candidate should come forward now to organize their campaign. There is time to travel South Dakota and become known. The candidate can achieve name identification on parity with the incumbent. The Republican candidate, if diligent and with help of party leaders can raise perhaps 600,000 dollars here in South Dakota. If the candidate can demonstrate the race will be competitive, the national money will come in for perhaps that much or more. (August 2nd, 2005)

(From Where is Our Candidate? II) Do Republicans in South Dakota have hope of retaking the congressional seat from the South Dakota Princess? Five months ago I asked where is our candidate? Republicans still don’t have one and we now have just a little over three months until nominating petitions have to be filed (the first Tuesday in April.) Many prospects have been named and each seems to have come and gone. Nowhere do we see a candidate. (December 26th, 2005)
I even did a little scouting around among legislators. And let me tell you, if one of them is even thinking about running for the bathroom, it gets back to me. So I queried if any of the legislators being asked lately about running against Herseth? And the answer I got was "Nope, haven't heard a thing."

I have to say it does not instill a lot of party pride when we're getting jabbed about this. It's even worse when it's well deserved. At this moment we have nothing. Nothing. And it gets worse. How can it get any worse? Because I think we could make South Dakota History if we let this go.

Republicans have not let a congressional seat in South Dakota go without a Republican at least challenging for the office in decades. I can go back to at least 1986 just off the top of my head. No non-gop congressional race there. I even researched a little farther back on-line. No non-gop congressional race back through 1972.

Maybe one of our historians out there can help me, but I suspect that Republicans have never let a congressional seat go in all of South Dakota's proud history. I'd like to know if we've ever given anyone "a bye" for Congress. Because if we did, I'd like to know how the GOP handled the shame of it. As a party, it looks as if we have consigned ourselves to abandon one of the highest offices in the state.

For my Republican readers and leaders out there, I can only leave you with one suggestion. Contact your Republican County Chairman, and encourage them to attend the South Dakota Republican Party Central Committee Meeting on February 18th to voice their displeasure at the possibility of giving Stephanie a walk on the race. Here's the information on that meeting:
February 18
State Central Committee Meeting
10 a.m., Kings Inn, Pierre, SD
Ask them to go to the meeting and to demand that we have a candidate for the fall Congressional race. Demand it. Because unless we do that, the only thing we'll hear at the meeting is "We won't let the race go uncontested. We've got about three or four good prospects, but we can't tell you their names."

In closing, I just have to apologize. Sorry if this is all a little harsh. But, it's time to stop saying we have three or four names and to start telling us who they are. Because the countdown clock continues to click down.

And we don't need all of the names. One of them will do just fine.


Anonymous said…
I wouldn’t be too hard on Randy Frederick – he is out there talking to candidates. According to the Mitchell Daily Republic you linked to a few weeks ago, he’s talked to Jeff Partridge, Matt Michels Jim Seward, Matt Zabel, Bob Sahr, Gary Hanson, Jim Wooster and, the guy who announced here, Tom Bixler. Larry Diedrich was also mentioned in the article. That’s eight.

Last year the Argus Leader reported that Frederick had talked to Mark Mickelson, Bill Peterson, Barb Everist and Dave Knudson. You reported on a rumor that Rich Sattgast had been mentioned as a candidate, and lot’s of people thought Jim Hagen was resigning so that he could run. Presumably Frederick talked to them as well. That’s fourteen.

So Frederick faces a couple of challenges. In order to deflect some of the criticism that he isn’t doing enough to recruit a Herseth challenger, he’s got to release some names to show he’s doing his job. But that means that Democrats can immediately label any candidate as “the Republican party’s fifteenth choice” (assuming no one else is mentioned between now and then making them the sixteenth or seventeenth choice).

But more importantly, he also has to deal with the fact that just about everyone (except you, of course, pp) is completely conceding the race. Joel Rosenthal (who you quote in this post) has predicted that Herseth will win by a wider margin than Rounds this year! GOP Ag Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte came here on what seemed like a campaign swing. The Argus Leader reported that GOP Congressman Gil Gutknecht was in town with her and said the kinds of kind words that will definitely end up in a campaign ad. Even Larry Diedrich has said she’s doing a good job. The National Republicans seem to have given up, and most of the State Republicans have given up, it seems, as well. That’s going to make it really tough to attract a top tier candidate – and with Herseth having over a half million in the bank already, it gets even harder to make the case.

Rosenthal, at least, seems to recognize that 2006 is a lost cause. Joel Rosenthal is very smart – he knows that a prediction like his is going to be heard around Republican circles. He knows that a prediction like his will make it hard to recruit a credible candidate – but he recognizes that the ship has sailed. The top FOURTEEN choices have already said no. Rosenthal is looking ahead -- set high expectations for Herseth so that if she only wins by ten or twelve points, the party at least has an argument for a candidate in 2008. Frederick can’t say that publicly, but I’ll bet that what he’s thinking as well.

Herseth won’t go unchallenged – they’ll find someone out there to run (Tom Bixler, Tim Amdahl, some insurance salesman from Redfield, a. College Republican or someone like that) and help them raise enough money for some yardsigns and gas money. But anyone smart enough to give Herseth a serious challenge is also smart enough to know that she won’t be beat this year, and the party would be better off putting their focus and resources elsewhere.
PP said…
Excellent commentary anon. I agrere with some of it, and would dispute some of it, but overall a well thought out opinion.

I'd say my purpose is not to come down on Randy. He has an unenviable job. in 2004, let's not forget he was at the party helm when Daschle was beaten.

But conversely, he's been the one telling us we'll have a candidate. And we're still waiting.

And you're absolutely correct that I'm not going to concede this race just yet. There are lots of Republicans who would serve as an excellent contrast to the Congresswoman.

If you can get past a few basics that she's not unattractive, she's reasonably intelligent, and she's the incumbent, I think her advantages start to drop off quickly.

A Family man with a military background such as Seward is, coupled with an ability to debate honed in the courtroom would be an ideal contrast.

But alas, we're not going to get Jim this year.

If I could pick out one fault of Stephanie's, it would be that she comes across as too scripted at times.

She's much better about it now than when she first ran, but in the media, she comes across with too much of the politician, and too little of her as a person.

I think you need a Republican to run who has an engaging personality, a person who can think on thier feet, and turn a phrase. Someone who can come across as warm and funny and genuine.

But that's just my 2 cents worth.
the other anonymous said…
As you note in your post about Volesky - "walking away to fight another day is a better option than political suicide."

Every Republcan in the state wishes that Herseth would draw a tough opponent. But when all of the top-tier challengers have decided to "walk away to fight another day" rather than opt for "political suicide," we need to seriously think about how much we want to dump into a sure loser.

Every hour spent recruiting a thrid tier challenger to Herseth is an hour not spent on the races that will be close. Every dollar promised to the Herseth challenger by the State Party is a dollar being poured into a lost cause. We tried. We couldn't come up with a credible candidate. Let's cut our losses now. I’m not being defeatist, I’m being realistic.

Believe me, I want a tough challenge to Herseth. But it's not going to happen in 2006. It's already too late -- she has a half million and we don't even have a bank account. I'd much rather see our party's money used to defend our open seats in the legislature, take on the Demcorats we can beat, and used for a sweep of Constitutional Officers than focusing on what you call "the only question."

It might make us feel good, but it is bad strategy.

I'm sure pp will disagree with me. But if you were the State Party Executive Director, how much money would you put into an effort to defeat Herseth in 2006? How many resources would you divert from other efforts on behalf of a canidate that is, as noted by "anonymous" the fifteenth choice? For me, it wouldn't be much. That money, time and energy is better spent elsewhere.
PP said…
The other Anon -

Again, I don't totally disagree with you, but that still doesn't mean I have to like it.

Not fielding a candidate is like a punch in the eye. And it's going to be a bruise that won't go away soon.

And if the Dems don't field a candidate for Governor as well, then both parties are going to endure the media calling into question the party system in South Dakota.

Anonymous said…
I know of a small-town girl that is more conservative than Janklow, more engaging than Rounds and much easier to look at than Randy Frederick. Let's nominate Stephanie as the Republican candidate.
Anonymous said…
Sorry PP, this one is over. Fire up the grill, there is some sacrificial lamb on the menu - served ala Volesky.

Given that the good ones have said no and it's too late to raise the kind of money needed to compete, Steffi will win in November. We don't have to like it, but that's the way it is.

We ought to focus on the races we can win, invest in the future and get ready for Johnson in 2008. At this point, every nickel taken from a credible candidate and funneled into this race is a wasted nickel.

Like you said - we don't have to like it but we can at least be smart about it.
Anonymous said…
If the state party would set forth resources for the race, they may be able to acquire a candidate. They are sitting on a pile of money, some of which could induce a candidate. The democrats will love it if Stephanie goes unchallenged. She can use her money for down-ticket races, building the base of the party by having competitive candidates at the state and local levels. And frankly, the Governor is not going to drive turnout for the GOP, as he is not a visionary nor even a conservative. Even if Volesky is the democrat nominee and goes negative, he could make that race competitive. There's simply too much incompetence to go unnoticed.

If the democrats actually recruit and have part of Herseth's money, they could give the GOP a competitive run. The worst thing would be for the GOP to continue down the incompetent path of 1. hording its money for an inept governor because they know his vunerabilities and 2. not sincerely searching for a candidate who can light the base on fire.

And, please don't quote Rosenthal. He has been instrumental in way too many GOP defeats. (Abdnor, Pressler, Bell, and Roberts, to name a few). There's a reason we have had a majority of democrats at the Washington level for the past twenty years.
Anonymous said…
Add Thune's loss in 2002 to that litany of losses that happened under Rosenthal's watch. Janklow only card about Janklow (which meant our state chairman, Rosenthal, only cared about helping Janklow and his friends), and he hated to help the Party. 2002 was a perfect example. Rather than working together, the State GOP faught with Thune's campaign. Rosenthal only cared that Janklow defeated Herseth, and I think Rosenthal and Janklow wanted Thune to lose to Johnson.

Randy Frederick is not any better. He is a blundering fool. The State GOP would be much better served with a State Chairman like Dana Randall (Brown County GOP Chairman), Kim Vanneman (Tripp County GOP Chair), Lance Russell (Fall River County GOP Chair), or Bush Fullerton (Beadle County GOP Chair). We need aggressive and progressive thinkers and doers at the State GOP; NOT passive and regressive thinkers and doers.

Another note to make: the State GOP made a HUGE mistake not hiring Ben Ready (Martin, SD native and Field Representative for Sen. Thune). They missed the boat and will be paying for the lack of leadership for years to come.

Rounds, Frederick, and Wetz are not leaders.
PP said…
Wow. You guys are harsh.
Nicholas Nemec said…
PP, I'll put my name on the line here and say that the SD GOP will come up with a candidate for the US House race. Since I'm not a GOP insider I have no idea who the candidate will be. But, I would fall off my horse if that seat went unchallenged.

Are all these anonymous commentators afraid to identity themselves because they will be branded with a big C, have their sword broken in two, and be kicked out of Fort Republican?

Branded, scorned as the one who ran.
What do you do when you are branded,
and you know you're a man?

Wherever you go for the rest life
you must prove,
you're a man.

Apologies to Chuck Connors.
Anonymous said…
It is interesting that the Janklow, Mainstream and DNC constituencies found on this page haven't responded recently, but the fact that the next potential candidate would be 15th is entirely the State GOP's fault. Half-hearted and haphazzard recruitment eventually looks exactly that way. If it acts like a duck . . .

If the party would have leveraged some resources, they'd already have a candidate. Next time you elect a chairman, do not base your vote on cronyism, as that's exactly what you got!
Anonymous said…
There are many Dems who aren't fond of Stephanie right now because she has been a centrist so far. If she angers enough of them, there will be a chink in her armor. But as I said during the last election, cuteness goes a long way. She is also intelligent, of course. She needed to learn how to take a breath and actually end a sentence during a debate though; maybe she has by now.

Do I think she will win another term? Yes. Do I think someone should challenge her? Yes. Someone who doesn't mind losing the first time around but who will stand a good chance of winning next time due to then name recognition. Also she might be more vulnerable next time around because maybe she will be forced to abandon her centrist position and stray either more right or left.

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