When the going gets tough, the losers PAC their bags.
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Three weeks after he lost his bid for the Democratic nomination for governor to Jack Billion, Dennis Wiese wants to set up his own political action committee to help low-budget candidates in the future.The agricultural consultant from Flandreau spent about $50,000 on his campaign, compared to more than $150,000 by Billion, a retired orthopedic surgeon from Sioux Falls. Wiese said the experience showed him that a PAC paid for by small donations from people with "mainstream" South Dakota political values could help candidates of limited financial means.
"I'd like to convert what I started into the campaign into a political action committee," Wiese said. "I'd like to be able to raise some funds, so that whoever might want to run for governor in 2010 has the opportunity to turn to a PAC like this and ask for help. It would be an opportunity for people of lesser means to co-op their funds for a greater cause."
Wiese announced his candidacy in March and never quit his consulting job. Nor did his wife, Julie, quit her jobs working at a Flandreau coffee shop and helping with her husband's consulting business.
They campaigned around those chores and raised money as they could, making a $50,000 primary goal.
"We raised $50,000 in a hurry. And I'm pretty proud of that," Wiese said. "But Julie and I made a conscious decision. We had to work every day up until the Friday before the election at our business. You could ignore your business if you had the wherewithal to do that. We don't."
Wiese said he and his wife also decided not to pour personal funds into the campaign. They spent about $1,000 of their own money on gas and other campaign needs, and they will probably be able to reimburse themselves for that.
"I think that's one consistent piece of advice: Don't spend your own money so that you leave yourself and your family in a bad position later on," Wiese said.
Wiese said a PAC would help him provide a relatively humble infusion of money that could nevertheless make a difference in certain low-budget campaigns.
"I don't know if I can raise enough to compete with the kinds of finances I was up against in my primary," he said. "But this could be a way for people with mainstream views to get involved for $5 or $10 or $50, and maybe have some influence on a race."
Wiese said his PAC would likely lean toward Democratic candidates but also would support Republicans if they brought a reasoned approach to education, health care, water issues and other core issues.