10 questions with.... Sam Kephart

I'd been looking for a good opportunity to resurrect one of my favorite features on the SDWC, and with the official announcement of Republican Sam Kephart as he takes on the challenge of running against incumbent US Senator Tim Johnson, the opportunity presented itself.

Normally, I'd give some biographical information here, but as Sam has provided it as part of the questions I asked him, I'll forgo that part, and leap right into it. Without further ado, here's 10 questions with US Senate Candidate Sam Kephart:

1. You made your "official announcement" this week in Spearfish, but it didn't seem to get much press, especially on the eastern half of the state. As a candidate coming out of West River, are you planning on opening up an office in Sioux Falls?

Yes. Obviously, there are a lot of logistics involved, however, I'm taking recommendations now for an East River staffer. I had a referral conversation Friday morning about it.

2. Now that you've made the announcement official, how much are we going to see you traveling the state to public events? Are you going to hit the State Fair and usual Republican events this summer?

I'm sure I'll be traveling quite a bit. And yes, I expect to hit some of the larger public venues and Republican events of all sizes.

3. With your recent press and announcement this week, have you found that you've garnered any endorsements or support from any of the more visible Republican officials in South Dakota? Who's on the Kephart bandwagon at this point?

I have some of the Republican old-guard who are friendly, albeit not publicly yet, to my cause. I do not have any overt endorsements at this time.

4. Are you at the point where you're hiring staff? There are a lot of young politicos who read this website who might be interested. Do you see your campaign shortly hiring a complement of staff such as campaign manager, press secretary, scheduler, etcetera? Or is that going to be much later down the line?

I'm interested in interviewing anyone who is excited about the prospect of permanently shifting the fundamental nature of our two party political conversation. I'm putting an operating budget together and I do plan to hire some people for this early phase.

5. Along those lines, do you plan to use a consultant in your race (in state or out of state)? If so, has a decision been made yet on campaign or media consulting?

Yes, I plan to use a professional consultant. I've already spoken with one highly qualified out of state advisor and I'm looking to interview some in-state. Insofar as "media consulting" is concerned, I have personally produced more than 250 television programs, so the production end is something I'm comfortable with. The media buys will be determined with professional assistance, yet to be appointed.

6. Do you anticipate you're going to have a primary? Joel Dykstra's name seems to be heard quite a bit in reference to this race, and to a lesser degree Jim Seward's name seems to be coming up from time to time as thinking about it. How are you going to capture the hearts and minds of the primary voters over these people that might be viewed as more in the vein of being party insiders?

Your guess is as good as mine on the primary. I know Joel and Jim, and I have cordial relations with both of them. I know they each have Republican insiders leaning on them to run, but I'm not privy to their calculus. I suspect, quite wisely, they are both keeping their "powder dry" to see if this is the best election on which to spend their political capital. There may well be better odds later for them.... and they may only get to go to the well once, depending on their performance. Regarding the hearts and minds of primary voters, I have heard from many Republicans who are relieved that there is a "fresh voice" on the scene relative to the same core group who apparently have been running things for the last few years here.

7. In your official announcement, you were critical of the president. Do you think that's going to hurt you with support (financial and logistical) with the Republican Senatorial Committee if you're the successful candidate coming out of the primary?

In a democracy, I'm entitled to question some of the President's decisions. This isn't Venezuela, thankfully. Popes are ostensibly infallible, elected leaders, at last report, aren't. Loyalty is a good thing, blind loyalty is foolish and destructive. I voted for our President... twice. Over time, his judgment, particularly regarding the war in Iraq, has lost some credibility with me. I would be inauthentic to tell people otherwise. I have to speak my truth without constantly "triangulating" what others will think or looking over my shoulder.

The people of South Dakota can count on me to level with them without the filters of personal guile and mindless political self-preservation. That's one of the main problems with why the current system in Washington isn't delivering the goods in terms of effective legislation for a whole laundry list of seeming no-resolution issues like health care, social security, education, and tax simplification.

There are some pretty smart people on the RSC. They will have to judge for themselves the quality of my ideas and act accordingly.

8. As I was researching this, I must confess I found myself somewhat lacking in finding information on your candidacy outside of news media reports. Is there a Kephart for website yet? And if so, what's the web address?

The web address is www.samkephart.com. The site is being worked on as we speak. The first iteration should be up by June 1st. I'm enclosing some background info here:

I'm convinced that nothing substantive can be done to shorten the “punch list” of critical to do items on the national agenda, until a significant shift occurs in the underlying nature of political dialogue in Washington and state houses across the country. At issue is our current leadership’s ability to listen for the value in what’s being said, rather than focus on the party affiliation of who’s saying it.

My near-term plans for the campaign include raising money, putting a team together, and traveling the state to interview various constituent groups. I feel there's a lot of pent-up frustration and anxiety amongst all voters and that they have, in general, become resigned and cynical about our political future.

My campaign will focus on generating and becoming a clearinghouse for out-of-the-box, common sense approaches to dealing seeming intractable challenges.

If elected, I would become the 4th generation politician in my family. My great grandfather, Hon. Alvin Evans, served two terms in the US Congress, my grandfather, John W. Kephart, was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and my father, A. Evans Kephart, was a four-term State Senator, representing South Philadelphia at Harrisburg. He was also the first State Court Administrator for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, appointed by then Governor Raymond P. Shafer in 1968. He served in that position until his retirement in 1974.
Sam's Biography
Sam Kephart is Executive Producer and CEO for Virtual Acumen Corp., an independent media production and digital marketing firm, based in Spearfish, South Dakota.

More than 25,000 Registered Nurses worldwide have taken a 45-hour, 64 CEU online course, entitled ECCO, that Sam produced for the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. He has recently delivered another 12 hours of Basic EKG content for them.

In July 2004, Sam produced a series of both long and short format sales videos for the new, billion-dollar cancer chemotherapy drug, Eloxatin, a product of Sanofi-Aventis, the third largest drug company in the world.

Over the last twenty years, Sam has hosted and/or produced over two hundred and fifty TV projects, including a documentary, cable programs, commercials, corporate overviews, training videos, new technology introductions, and a music video which ran on VH-1.

In the fall of 1980, Sam shot a pilot for a weekly talk show series he hosted and produced called Inward Bound…, which covered self-esteem psychology, motivation, positive communications, and alternative healthcare approaches. The show ran in San Diego from 1981-1985 and was seen on Sunday nights at 9PM. 136 half hour episodes were produced in the series.

His other productions have covered a wide variety of subject matter, from the Cowboy Artists of America to San Diego: Technology’s Perfect Climate. He has also created a range of video programs for several noted platform speakers, including Dr. Anthony Alessandra, Anthony Robbins, Brian Tracy, Denis Waitley, Marshall Sylver, and author and alternative healing expert, Dr. Deepak Chopra.

Over the last ten years, Sam has pursued strategic relationships within the internet technology industry. He’s been an active member of the San Diego Digital Multimedia Association and was a Board member, past President, and past Chairman. The DMA represented a wide variety of CD-ROM and software developers, Web site architects, animation/digital design firms, and video production houses. Among others, its members included Time Warner, COX Communications, Comerica Bank, and Pacific Bell.

In addition, from 2003 through summer 2006, he co-produced and co-hosted a weekly internet radio entitled Science and Society (formerly BioTech Today) and conducted more than 400 interviews. His guests were C-Level executives, partners, lead researchers, and key academicians in the areas of biotech, pharma, biomedical devices, nanotechnology, physics, and space sciences.

He regularly coaches and mentors early stage companies. In 2001, he helped co-found The Pinnacle Group, a business networking association that now has about 150 members and 4 chapters in the San Diego area. In 2005, he helped launch a chapter in Rapid City, South Dakota, with the intention of expanding into Sioux Falls at a future point.

Sam is also Founder Emeritus of The Fraud Discovery Institute, a financial fraud investigation and training firm that over the last three years has proactively uncovered (and subsequently stopped) more than one billion dollars in investor fraud.

In addition to his technology and media experience, Sam has been an award-winning salesman with over 35 years experience in direct sales, sales training, sales management and marketing, with a special emphasis in dealing with senior level executives, dealer networks, and independent entrepreneurs. His past clients include Allied Signal, 3M, Coca-Cola, Continental Airlines, Westinghouse, and many prominent professionals, artists, and foreign nationals.

Sam has been an active real estate investor for over 20 years and recently received his Broker Associate license. He’s associated with RE/MAX in the Hills and plans to pursue commercial development interests. He’s recently completed rehabbing two old properties in uptown Butte, Montana, one of which, The Maley Block, is a National Historic Landmark building that was originally built in 1900.

Sam’s principal grade school and high school education was at The Episcopal Academy, in Philadelphia. After graduating in 1969, he attended the University of California at San Diego, where he was a drama major, and graduated Magna cum Laude from National University in 1976 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. He is listed in 1976 Outstanding Young Men of America.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Sam spent his summers as a teenager working on his family’s Bar N Ranch in West Yellowstone, Montana, where he learned to ride, herd cattle, cut firewood, and fix lots of barb wire fence.

Kephart lived in San Diego for thirty-two years before moving to South Dakota in 2004. He currently resides in the beautiful Black Hills with his wife, Sammie (a 4th. generation South Dakotan from Mitchell-they were married there), and daughters, Lexie (11) and Allison (7).
9. Any ideas on how much your campaign is going to cost? Just off the top of my head, the Johnson/Thune contest ran into several millions (if not the ten million range).

My current estimate is about $2.5 - $3 million between now and November 4th. 2008. Obviously, that could scale up significantly if a lot of national money comes into the race and/or if Tom Daschle substitutes in for Johnson.

10. It seems that so far you're taking issue with the Government as a whole, but how do you anticipate drawing a difference between yourself and Tim Johnson? You viewpoints would seem to place you as a more moderate Republican, and Senator Johnson isn't necessarily known for being an ideologue. In other words, why should we pick you over him? In your official announcement, you made issue of his health. Should that be concern #1 of South Dakotans at this point?

Senator Johnson, as best I can tell, is an honest man who has provided quality constituent services to the people of South Dakota, for which the voters are grateful. However, he's been in office for about ten years and, with the exception of BRAC and a few other things, he has not raised hell, or otherwise "led with his chin" about the deplorable conditions regarding the back-biting and lack of communications amongst the parties in Congress. It's interesting, one of the main definitions for the word congress is a "coming together". I haven't seen him go public about what can be done to improve inter-party relations and then insisting that it be acted upon.

Insofar as his health is concerned, I don't think we're being given the whole truth of his prognosis. You'll need to check my facts here, but my recent understanding is that John Thune, Tim's Junior Senator, has not been allowed to see him since his health incident in December. Thune has been in adjacent rooms with family paying his respects, but has yet to see him directly and privately. I wonder why he's been denied that access??

There you have it - the bare bones on the GOP's first 2008 challenger to US Senator Tim Johnson. Sam, thank you very much for participating, and keep your eyes here for the next installment of 10 questions with.....


Anonymous said…
It's not too hard to figure out why Thune was denied access to Tim Johnson. The two may be colleagues, but they are not friends.

Simply put, Thune's every observation would have been reported to the RNC. If Johnson wanted to put on a show for the RNC he'd do it himself.

If Kephart won't admit this, he's no less obtuse than any other politician.
Anonymous said…
He sounds like an arrogant blowhard.
Anonymous said…
Just what we need - another RINO.

Forget Kephart, why don't we just send Adelstein to Washington?

He can't be any worse than Herseth and Stan has lots of money to buy his way in to office.
Anonymous said…
I will grudgingly give Mr. Kephart credit for having the guts not to skirt around Senator Johnson's condition. Beyond that, sorry. He's a transplanted RINO. Surely we can do better than that.
Anonymous said…
7:55, that is ridiculous. Very few people have been allowed access to the Senator (especially the media), which is why people are starting to get restless, and rightly so. And as for Thune...I sincerely doubt that he would have blabbed to the extent you think. Your post is just another excuse to trash him.
Anonymous said…
He makes too much sense, and that's why SD republicans will have nothing to do with him.
Anonymous said…
Why do people think they can move to SD afgter living on the coast their whole lives and start changing the way SD thinks.

Are we broken and need to be fixed or are these people full of ego and want an audience?
Anonymous said…
So this prestigious list of prior politicians in the Kephart family are South Dakota thinking mentors? Give me a break...Kephart won't make it to first base, even in Lawrence Co.
Anonymous said…
If my great-grandfather was a prince, and my grandfather was a duke, and and my father was a lord, then I should be King!

Bow down loyal subjects. Your presence is graced with royalty.

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