The Week in politics - November 15, 2005

As opposed to hammering out an introspective and informative article over the lunch hour, I'm going to “phone it in” on this windy and wintry day and do a quick roundup on the news. The furnace has been on the fritz at the War College’s Pierre location since last night and I’m literally freezing my tail off. (I'm at least shivering).

The Brookings campus has been doing well since we discovered you have to actually order the gas to be turned on for a gas furnace. But the Pierre campus? All I have to say is that furnace part better be here by noon as promised.

So, without further rambling, the week’s SDWC roundup on the news:

State GOP Dinner this week in Sioux Falls and Rapid City.

The State Republican party is having their annual State Dinner this week on November 17th featuring Governor Rounds and John Thune’s Campaign Manager Dick Wadhams.

The Black Hills Pioneer had a good story this last week on Mr. Wadhams in relation to the dinner, which I felt showed the more human side of him. It’s a side that the people behind the political scene all have, despite those who are often deride us as “political hacks.”
His life is centered on politics. His late wife, Susan Wadhams, who died of cancer at the age of 55 in 2001, was also a political animal. She managed campaigns in Colorado and was chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer and the spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.

"She was very political as well and did a lot of things in her political career," Dick Wadhams said of his late wife. "She would have particularly enjoyed the South Dakota race. She would have loved that."

Her husband sure did. And he will share some of the stories and some of the joy he felt from managing a campaign that had a huge national profile and propelled the winner into the national spotlight.
Read all of this excellent article here.

Mainstreamers back in the news

Headline from Sunday's Argus Leader. "Mainstream Coalition members grab GOP's attention"
When seven Republican senators announced formation of the Mainstream Coalition, they wanted to send a message that it was OK to be moderate. They were standing up to those who criticized them for their beliefs.

State Sen. Ed Olson of Mitchell says members knew at the time that they could be targeted for defeat next year because of their involvement with the group.

Olson is one of two coalition members who might have opposition in the Republican Party.

Former state Rep. Dan Matthews of Mitchell says he is weighing a challenge to Olson.

Matthews says he is considering the race for several reasons, including coalition involvement.

"That (coalition) was a catalyst. I have had grass-roots support to think about it," he said.

He says he has heard possibilities of other such primaries, too, including one against state Sen. Stan Adelstein of Rapid City.
Read it all here.

I hit on this 10/22/05 as prompted by Sibby and the Mitchell Daily Republic. It will be interesting to watch and see how many members of the Mainstream coalition are challenged this year.

9000 signatures puts the Tobacco tax people over halfway towards their mark

This story is in several places on the internet:
Three groups are collecting petition signatures to put higher tobacco taxes on South Dakota's 2006 general election ballot. If voters approve, the tax on a pack of cigarettes would increase from the current 53 cents to $1.53, according to an Associated Press report.

Also, under the proposal, the tax on other tobacco products such as chewing tobacco would increase from 10 percent of the wholesale price to 35 percent of the wholesale price. If voters approve, the tobacco tax increase would take effect Jan. 1, 2007.

The organizations circulating petitions are South Dakota Healthy Living, the American Cancer Society and the South Dakota Tobacco-Free Kids Network. The groups need 16,728 signatures by next May 2 to get the question on the November 2006 ballot.

The American Cancer Society says about 9,000 signatures already have been gathered.
What's our take on this? To paraphrase a poem by Martin Niemoller: "In South Dakota, first they came for the smokers, and I did not speak out, because I was not smoker...."


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