At the halfway mark. What should be at the top?

As we hit the halfway mark in 2007, I've been thinking about the news stories that I'd consider the top political news stories of 2007 to this point. I often get to this list at the end of the year, and find myself ignoring important or very noticeable stories from the first half of the year.

So I thought I'd do this for an exercise to see if I still think this way when I hit December. What do I see as the top political stories for the first half of 2007? In no particular order:
1. The Dan Sutton Hearings. How can we forget hiding notes behind furniture, the "hand on wiener" statement, and the hundreds of time they referenced a male sexual organ in the hearings? This was political theater at it's most bizarre, and at it's most anticlimactic. In the end, the punishment was simply a legislative statement of how dumb it was for Senator Sutton to share a bed with an 18 year old employee.

2. Gorilla. What a code name, and it's imagery has eastern South Dakota abuzz. Could Gorilla be the economic engine for Union county that Homestake might mean to Western SD? Could be, but until we know anything, we're all a-twitter as to what it might be.

3. Senator Johnson's Health. There are signs that it's improving enough where he will be returning to work soon. And that's good. But does that mean he's going to run? Without the health incident, there was expected to be no interest in the race. But with it? There are at least two, possibly three Republican contenders out there.

4. The Rapid City Mayoral/Council circus. This is a story that has everything under the big tent: Falsified e-mails, an incumbent being turned out, Big PAC money, political machinations, and a candidate being picked up with a drunken transvestite boy at 1am. Now, it's a "friendly" run-off picking up a harsher tone. There are so many goofy sub-stories running on this, if you take it collectively, it's a big one.

5. New campaign finance/PAC limits. It might not seem like a huge political story at the moment, but it will form a new landscape in the next two cycles. Trust me on this one.

6. Ted Klaudt rape accusations. Ick, and double ick. Here's a guy that many Republicans liked and rooted for. He came off as the little guy on Appropriations, but now we find out he's not everyman, he was the bogeyman. Accused of terrorizing and sexually abusing his foster daughters? Ted might have enjoyed more of the benefit of being innocent until proven guilty, but what he admitted to in his statements to police is horrific by itself - not to mention what he's being charged with. In less gentile times, it would have incited a lynch mob. For sexually related political scandals, Democrats have Dan Sutton, and Republicans got Ted. And Ted is worse.

7. The Herseth/Pelosi Greenland trip. This story seems to have taken on a life of it's own, And it isn't just being talked about here. The mainstream media was reporting on this story as it happened, and hung on every word as Congresswoman Herseth Sandlin would report on the drama of the ice melting. Too bad we don't have glaciers in South Dakota. It seems to have generated a minor backlash as our congresswoman "goes green" in red state South Dakota. Much ado about nothing? Maybe. But as this is at least sticking for a moment on the Democrat's seemingly teflon candidate, I'd bet we'll see it brought up in the 2008 cycle.

8. Dennis Daugaard Gubernatorial announcement. This one kind of hit out of the blue. Announcing for Governor way ahead of the pack, Dennis is marking his territory early, citing behind the scenes competition between he and other hopefuls. And to go along with it, he has an endorsement from his boss, current Governor Mike Rounds. Will the strategy work, and allow Dennis success as Rounds' handpicked successor? Could be, but we still have over three years to figure it out.

9. Bob Prieksat. How did the local guy in charge of the US Fish and Wildlife Service become a political issue? When he was made the poster boy of bad GFP/landowner relations. This issue has organized meetings, threats of canceled state-federal cooperation agreements, the direct involvement of the Governor and his chief of staff, and an almost daily review by the Rapid City Journal. With the UFWS continuing to back Bob, this issue will continue to be in the spotlight for a while to come.

This was a tough one, because I had feelings about this issue, versus including the Nanny state issue (one I feel pretty strongly about). But, as I mulled it over, the next one won out to complete the top ten list.

10. Resurgence of the South Dakota Democratic Party. With a new chairman, and after a reasonably successful election where they picked up a few seats, the SDDP is showing signs of life. Can they translate that into more seats with former Republican legislator Scott Heidepreim at the helm? We shall see, but Republicans ignore the SDDP coming off life support to it's peril.
So there's my list for the first 6 months of 2007. Agree? Disagree? What did I leave out?


Haggs said…
I was surprised that the Greenland trip was so high on the list. But I guess I'd only seen it talked about on the SD Republican blogs. I didn't realize it was nationally covered (Well, I figured Fox News would take shots at it, but what about the other networks?).
Anonymous said…
As far as #10, is it really the resurgence of The SDDP or the do nothings at the Republican Party HQ. Laziness seems to be the order of the day at the HQ. The SDDP has it troops marshalled and it's plan battle ready; and you can't even get an answer on the phone half the time at Republican HQ, and the doors are locked promptly at five. Is this the dream team as we approach what could be another big election cycle. More Herseth, More Heidepriem, Goodbye Senate, Look Out House!
PP said…
Haggs -

They're in no particular order as I had noted. I'm calling it one of the bigger political stories to this point. It's entirely possible it will be knocked off the list.
Anonymous said…
11:28, isn't Max rumored to be on his way out as they find him something in the administration?
Anonymous said…
Better Question: Is Max the only problem?
Anonymous said…
“Democrats have Dan Sutton, and Republicans got Ted.”

Sutton should not even be mentioned in the same sentence as Ted.
Anonymous said…
I don't think you can underestimate the impact of Dusty Johnson's decision NOT to run for Congress. He has been elected statewide and has a great personality and energy in abundance. He would have been a tough campaigner and opponent for anybody, including Rep. Herseth-Sandlin. Maybe not quite Top 10, but worth a mention.
Anonymous said…

not really
Anonymous said…
I think the problem, if there is one of small schools, will take care of itself in time. There are statistics out concerning how good kids do on ACT or in college or something from small schools cmopared to large. I'd like to see that. If they beat the larger schools, should the larger schools be closed? Isn't that what the whole argument is about - quality of education??

I do think that the small school factor should be done away with though. Put all the schools on an equal footing as far as aid from the state. Then if they survive,so be it. If they can't, so be that.

Sparsity is another issue though. I do support the sparsity factor. If not this, what's left. Bus rides for hours every day or boarding schools?
Anonymous said…
Ted and Dan were not in the same sentance!

Education was not on the list.
Education is always an issue and it will always be. The SDEA will see to, money, money, that is all they want besides taking the kids away from the parents.
Anonymous said…
I too think state aid to education is a big issue. The state ignores it until the last few days of the session. And with the pending lawsuit and the legality of such, it's even more of an issue. You ignore it too, PP.
PP said…
Actually, the School lawsuit - if it happens this year - would probably be on the list.
Anonymous said…
Your efforts to make an issue out of the trip to Greenland are starting to look quite silly.

Seriously, PP, give it a rest. Ninety percent of South Dakotans have no idea she went on the trip, and with the exception of you, nonnie, Rob and a handful of others, no one cares.
Anonymous said…
The education funding lawsuit is not set for trial until the summer of 2008.
Anonymous said…
That doesn't mean that tax payer money isn't being spent on the lawsuit right this year.
Anonymous said…
SDACC needs to answer to dumping in 46K, how about being accountable for such, how about telling the truth instead of telling us to vote no. This makes one want to vote yes because the County Commissioners are telling us what to do with our tax dollars. Shame on them.
Anonymous said…
Not trying to be picky here, but in regard to the Ted Klaudt item, it's "genteel," not "gentile."
Anonymous said…
I sort of think that item 8, the Daugard entry, should be something like "2010 steps ahead of 2008." The story isn't just Dennis - he's not the only candidate getting ready to run for governor. The story is that everyone seems more interested in 2010 than in 2008, even though we have three statewide elections next year. That is unusual.
Anonymous said…
It's not that we need more Christianity in our prisons. Nobody is saying we do. Lest of all me. What I am saying is that we need more responsibility coming out of the prisons. Prison Fellowship Ministries can help our state acheive that. In fact they are one of the few private organizations that is helping prisoners in South Dakota.

It's the one private religous organization that has successfully helped tens of thousands of prisoners. Are you against helping prisoners become responsible people again. Because what is sounds like is you can't past the fact that Christianity helps people. Imagine that...a private religious organization led by a conservative that helps prisoners escape the chains of addiction and teaches them responsiblity.

Whoda thunk it?
Anonymous said…
6:27 -

Anonymous said…
The silence from south dakota right to life, and all the people claiming about the sanctity of all life this last march is interesting. It sounds like the sanctity of life is fickle.
Anonymous said…
3:07, You will care when the policies that come from this hoax have you paying $8.00 per gallon for gas.
Anonymous said…
7:03, Just so you know, it's back to the incremental approach. Haven't you been watching your CNN, ABC,CBS,PBS,NBC, etc. news on the new sources for stem cells so that Big Abortion won't be able to profit even more on their killed fetuses?? Perhaps you were busy blogging.
Anonymous said…
It's the Daschle Strategy from 1996. Remember when Tom Daschle couldn't debate Ron Schmidt because he had to hurry down to Florida to watch the shuttle lift off?

This is no different...The argus reports this morning that Steph isn't going to start her campaign until September or October.

My guess is that she won't start her campaign until the weekend before election day. That allows her to dodge the debates.

This shows you what kind of character she has. Maybe smart politically but she lacks grit and leadership for dodging debates.
Anonymous said…
This is a good 1/2 year list. The second half will be interesting as well.

1) NSF & Homestake?
2) Rounds for U.S. Senate?
3) Senator Johnson's full recovery & return?
4) Knudsen for U.S. Senate?
5) Michels announced for 2010?
6) State govt adminstration turnover?
7) School board members personally liable for legal expenditures?
8) Sanford donates $500M to himself?
9) DME?
10)Dykstra, B. Johnson et al for House
Anonymous said…
I was under the impression that Dennis D. just answered a reporters question honestly as opposed to making an announcement. Wierd as it may seem to give an honest answer when everyone else dances around the "are you running?" question, isn't it a little refreshing.
Anonymous said…
What do you think, should T. Denny Sanford's $400 million gift be in the mix? The impact is going to be well beyond Sioux Falls and South Dakota.
Anonymous said…
Ted Klaudt should be # 1. That story is already bigger then anything your top 5 and it hasn't even went to trail yet.

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