What's been going on over the last 14 months in the search for a Herseth Challenger?

In one of the latest issues of the Mitchell Daily Republic (registration required and hat tip to SDP for pointing it out) Seth Tupper, who is really emerging as one of the better political reporters out there, took some time recently to probe the South Dakota GOP on who our candidate against Herseth might be:
Entries in political Web logs last year said Partridge had decided to run, and he has a political Web site that looks like a candidate's. But his aspirations apparently faded as he talked to Republican leaders in 2005.

Friday, Frederick said Partridge will probably not run this year.

At this point in time, it doesn't look like he's ready to engage in a political race, Frederick said. But from my point of view, it's just a matter of time.

Frederick confirmed that he has talked to numerous other potential candidates. They include state Rep. Matt Michels, of Yankton; Butte County State's Attorney Jim Seward; Matt Zabel, from the staff of U.S. Sen. John Thune; state Public Utilities commissioners Bob Sahr and Gary Hanson; Thomas Bixler, a health-food salesman from Yankton; and agricultural businessman and journalist Jim Woster. Partridge said he would like to see a candidacy by Jafar Karim, a cabinet official under Gov. Mike Rounds.

None of the potential candidates has committed to the race publicly. Michels said Friday that he will not run, and Sahr has said he will seek re-election to the PUC. Frederick said he has not visited with Hanson lately and said neither Zabel nor Woster are likely to run. Bixler is considering a run even though some Republicans in his county organization, Bixler said, have labeled his candidacy 'a joke.'
Take some time and read the whole article here (It's worth it). Aside from the fact I like seeing that the Mitchell Daily Republic is reading the weblogs - I read their dead tree version daily - I'm becoming more distressed by the day that my party has no one that they consider serious to run.

Yes, Tom Bixler is running and more power to him. But if the South Dakota GOP will not seriously consider him their candidate, he's going to have problems in several areas. Not the least of which are going to be volunteers and money. I'm afraid Tom Bixler is probably his worst enemy in being considered valid at this point, as I'm hearing word that he hasn't been making the rounds to Republican events.

If he isn't going to show up, then he shouldn't be offended when some "Republicans in his county organization have labeled his candidacy a joke." Sorry if that's a bit harsh, but it's reality in the South Dakota Republican Party. If you want to be considered serious, go to the events. It's pretty simple, and it's vitally important now that we're hitting the season for Lincoln Day Dinners.

Several months back, I'd heard comments bandied about in party circles that "Herseth's challenger can expect two million dollars for the race." Even if that wasn't the puffery I suspected, with every day that passes, the dollar amount that the party is willing to put into the race is going to shrink.

As campaign reporting notes the state party's coffers are doing pretty good at the moment. But I guarantee you they're not going to put good money to chase after a bad candidate. And I imagine that argument is going also to hold true at the federal level with the National Republican Congressional Committee. Without a "serious candidate" don't expect serious money.

To be considered serious, the biggest thing a candidate is going to have to do is to commit themself to a life of campaigning from now until November. They can expect to have (possibly) one day a week at home to drop off the drycleaning, kiss the spouse and kids, and to go over the itinerary for the following week. But that's about it.

Okay, so here's my pep talk/grumble for my Republican compatriots - - You know what the saddest thing is about all this hand-wringing over finding a candidate? It's a winnable race. For gosh sakes, we beat Daschle didn't we? He had a lot more time, effort, and money invested in being an incumbent than Congresswoman Herseth does.

Yet, when the state chairman has come-a-callin' about this race, everyone seems to go the other way across the street to avoid him. For gosh's sakes, there's already even an independent running in the race. But the State's largest political party can't come up with a serious candidate?

I'd say we could do it if we found a candidate willing to make the sacrifice. You don't need a "name." The party is full of examples of unknowns making solid runs at office. Who'd ever heard of Larry Pressler before his race? Bill Janklow certainly wasn't a household word when he won his first AG race.

If I were going to do it, I'd drop everything I was doing and start today. I'd assemble a crack team of young go-getters. I'd cherry pick people from the prior campaign, and pull together Republican activists who aren't so jaded that they believe the congresswoman invincible. You need agressive activists who don't know the meaning of the word quit or defeat. (Heck, I can probably name half of them off the top of my head).

You build your issues. You figure out differences between you and the incumbent. You don't run the race on her turf, you run it on your own and make your issues the issues that are debated, not hers. You don't play a game of tiddly winks or softball. You run a solid, hard hitting political campaign.

I could go on, but there's little point. Because lately it seems like we're ready to roll over and play dead.


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