The PUC battle begins with snipers.

I should have known it was inevitable.

I had simply pointed out that Democrat Steve Kolbeck was running for the Public Utilities Commission, why he thought he should be elected, and that he took a little poke at his opponent as a political appointee.

And then the “students” on both sides of the aisle in the SD War College start taking jabs at me for reporting to “the class.” One Democratic leaning commenter was twisting my words to imply that I was characterizing that the whole SDDP report as negative. And then a Republican leaning commenter called everyone idiots and sang the praises of incumbent Bob Sahr.

But, unruly students aside, it was worthwhile for me to make the report because it brought out what I think some of the issues in the next campaign will be.

(With the disclaimer that I know and support the incumbent, and don't know the new guy) Let’s face it. The PUC will probably be the most competitive statewide race this fall. There’s three Republicans on this board which has had Democrat representation and at times domination over the years. And now that they are shut out (arguably because the candidates have run lackluster campaigns), they are hungry for a seat once again.

In the SDDP podcast, the Democrat, Steve Kolbeck says to vote for him because working for utilities, he's in the trenches, he knows how power gets to the home from substations, and how phone service goes from the switchbox to your desk, etc.

But the Republican commentor to my prior post makes a good point. Good enough that I'm sure we'll see it repeated this next fall. In response to Kolbeck saying that he should be elected because he's a trained phone company employee, The Anonymous commentor said:
A technician figures out why there is no "dial-tone" or "why doesn't my call waiting work"? PUC is regulatory... understanding laws and code. He's got a lot of work ahead of him to marry the knowledge of his current job with that of a PUC commissioner. Sorry, a brusher of teeth does not a dentist make.
I think it's going to mean that this fall's PUC race is going to be a face-off over who is the better person to serve the public's utility interests? An attorney familiar with the regulatory process (who has the advantage of imcumbency), or someone coming from industry?

Good food for thought. I'm sure we'll continue to have it served to us the next 11 1/2 months.

And a parting thought: Partisan sniping, candidates announcing, legislators posturing for the next session? Could it be that we're seeing some signs of the election season already? I'm giddy with anticipation.


Anonymous said…
Wrong again! The most competitive race down ticket will be School and Public Lands Commissioner!
Anonymous said…
Anon –

I just listened to the current Commissioner of School and Public Lands at my ROTARY club. He gave a very engaging talk and had a good Q & A session and had the mostly republican group of 40 singing his praises by the end. He may be a democrat but he is one of the most articulate of the current constitutional officers. I would not want to be running against him.
Anonymous said…
Anon #1 - Joel, is that you? Wearing the kneepads for Sahr and pushing Jarrod Johnson can only mean that's you..
PP said…

please keep it civil....
Anonymous said…
If I'm the left-leaning poster you refer to in your post, I can hardly be said to be a sniper. My only dipute is with your analysis of the announcement. You hold yourself out as some sort of expert (or arm chair campaign manager), and I am challenging you on your assessment of the announcement. The debate I was engaging in was whether or not his rhetoric could be considered negative, not whether he would be a better PUC commissioner based on the type of experience he has. I don't have a dog in that fight.
PP said…
Anon #3, As far as being an arm chair manager, I've going on my 18th year of working with candidates and races in SD from statewide to school board to ballot initiatives.

I certainly might not be the end-all, be all, but I do my little part in trying to help people win elections, and I've had the opportunity to study at the feet of some of the best Republican operatives in SD, and to give back, I try to help young conservative candidates be competitive in their political races.

And I've certainly been around long enough to know how to watch and take the best lessons from campaigns on either side of the aisle, irregardless of party. If you stick in it long enough, party blinders tend to soften a little - and that's when you truly have the opportunity to learn.

And as far as my assessment, I'm saying that the party/candidates tact of using specific buzz words in the interview like "not a political appointee" and "using the office as a stepping stone" is a preview of the strategy that the SDDP is going to employ against Sahr (Given that he was originally, and is still the only political appointee on the PUC, and has been mentioned for running for higher office).

Would you consider political appointee and using the office as a stepping stone as a postive?

Given that Kolbeck is a challenger candidate with no statewide name ID facing a candidate who has run on a statewide basis, I'm predicting that a component of his strategy is going to be to go negative, which IS one way to go about campaigning against him.

If you disagree, that's certainly your perogative. But #1, it's not changing my mind, and #2 point us all to your political weblog where you're posting your words of wisdom.
Anonymous said…
I agree with anon #2. I was at the same meeting that the current Land Commish was speaking and I found him to be the "one".
PP said…
I don't know Bryce. I think he needs to buy a round at Bob's before we pass judgement at the War College.
Anonymous said…
I'm not challenging your experience, I am challenging your assessment of this particular instance.

I posit, although I certainly can't say this with any certainty, that since you desire to see Sahr win, you have a motive for calling this announcement a harbinger of negative campaign tactics.

Raising legitimate distinctions isn't negative. If what this guy think he would be better because he isn't going to run for another office or that he came from the field rather than being appointed that sets up the contrast. Appointee isn't a negative word.

Calling this negative is a way to preempt the substance of the argument. I'd rather here you explain why it is a negative attack than have you tell me how experienced you are in the biz.

And by the way, irregardless isn't a real word.
Anonymous said…
Oh, and sorry I don't have my own blog to share my wisdom. I certainly do appreciate the opportunity to comment on your blog. I enjoy the interactive nature and hope you choose to keep comments on this site. I find it much more satisfying that reading non-commenting blogs.
Anonymous said…

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