Jim Holbeck cries about abortion. That's after losing a race where he made it a major issue.

I read the guest editorial in the Argus Leader today by former State Senate Candidate Jim Holbeck, and as usual when I've read his material, I was left scratching my head.

It's no big secret where I came down on that primary election race. But I'm surprised to see a couple of things coming out of this article. First, Holbeck is coming back three months after the June primary to point out that he was a candidate in June. Of course, nobody but Holbeck cares.

Secondly, and more importantly, he's coming out and scolding the electorate after his loss because in his perception, people should concentrate on other issues than abortion.

Read some of what Holbeck had to say in the Argus article:
So here we go again, sending all of our office holders to Pierre based on one question and on one answer. After being elected to the Legislature in 2000, and then running an unsuccessful Senate campaign (make that a very unsuccessful campaign this year), I found that nothing has changed during the past six years in South Dakota. The question asked most often then and now still is, "How do you stand on abortion?"

This last campaign it was the No. 1 question people asked me as a candidate. And, believe it or not, it also was the No. 1 question asked from all the forms of media when questioning my candidacy. All of this during a year when that particular issue will be 100 percent decided finally by the people of this state, not the Legislature.
Well, if Jim Holbeck is looking for someone to blame, he needs to hold a big mirror up (one large enough to reflect his ego) and glance at himself. Because if he's going to cry about it and point fingers, he needs to shoulder a large part of the blame if he's going to whine about abortion being the big issue in his race.

Why am I saying that? Look at how he ran his campaign. First, he brought the issue up himself when in the press release announcing his race, he alleged that his opponent was a single issue candidate on that issue. And in other places talked about being "personally pro-life" at the same time he was taking money from the pro-choice "People's PAC."

In other words, his stance on abortion became an issue in his race because simultaneously he wouldn't shut up about it, and then wavered back and forth on the issue. Given the sensitized nature of South Dakotans this year, how could people help but notice all the attention he was giving the issue?

One bit of advice I give to candidates - don't pick a fight on your neighbor's lawn. And since Holbeck's opponent was South Dakota Right to Life Executive Director Brock Greenfield, you might say he did exactly that. He started in on the topic, and kept bringing it up. You could say that he set the agenda in the race, but the only way he could have set it more in his opponent's favor would be if he had called him up and asked him.

I said it in an earlier post about the folly of Holbeck's strategy. He was making all of these statements in an area I described as:
This district is mainly made up of rural ag based communities. These are generally smaller communities and the voters are likely to be church-going. And that’s not even starting on the Republicans. Add “very conservative” to the description when you get to the Republicans.
So, he kept talking about abortion in an area dominated by conservative Christians. Where on earth did he think they were going to fall out on that issue?

My final thought on the topic? If candidates want to avoid abortion being the primary issue they consider during the election, talk about education. Talk about wind energy. Heck, for that matter, talk about fishing.

Just don't talk about abortion.

The lesson? If you don't want the electorate to focus on an issue in your election, don't bring it up yourself.

Just as a sidebar, it's not unheard of for candidates with money to poll before choosing what issues they are going to keep mentioning in the campaign. Polling in this race might have given Holbeck a hint what topics to avoid, and which ones to focus on.


Anonymous said…
and he lost to Brock Greenfield, Exec. Dir. of South Dakota Right to Life.

I take Holbeck's column two ways: first its an obvious attempt at undermining support for 1215. He says that abortion is important but there are so many other issues. Well, if that's the case why did you get beat? Obviously the voters who know you best thought otherwise.

He's also implying that Brock is a one issue guy and by sub implication that Brock's lack of public attachment on issues is somehow bad for the state.

Holbeck's column says so much more than what's on paper. He's pissed that Brock beat him and that people put so much stock into abortion politics.

Let's face it pro-life politics matters to many people in this state.

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