Associated press comments, albeit harshly, on the 2006 Congressional race
Joe Kafka comments tonight on their opinion of the chances of Republican Bruce Whalen against Stephanie Herseth for the Congressional seat:
Real it all here.
With his largely unknown status as a candidate, Whalen, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, faces a tough fight for a variety of reasons:
- South Dakota is about 90 percent white, and Indian candidates fare poorly in off-reservation areas. South Dakota has nine Indian reservations, and while Whalen may get many Indian votes, many Indians do not bother to vote.
- Whalen has little money for his campaign, although state GOP Chairman Randy Frederick said the party will help.
- Herseth is a well-known, blue blood Democrat whose grandfather was governor, grandmother was secretary of state and father was in the Legislature for two decades. She was first seated in the House by winning a special election in 2004 after Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Janklow resigned in disgrace following a manslaughter conviction for killing a motorcyclist in a traffic crash.
- Herseth has raised about $1 million for her re-election bid.
And if those odds against Whalen aren't enough, there's also the fact that the re-election rate of U.S. House members is more than 90 percent.
"Every election is a contest, but as a political scientist I look at the odds of a non-incumbent winning this election and they are not good," said Elizabeth Smith, a University of South Dakota assistant professor who teaches about politics and campaigning.
"When somebody is elected to the House, they tend to be re-elected. Potential candidates look at the odds and say, 'Maybe I'll wait until there's an open seat.'"and...
Whalen believes his advantage lies in the Republican Party's strength in South Dakota, traditionally a well-oiled, highly organized political machine.
"I expect abundant support from the party," he said, adding that his campaign will stress family values, permanent tax cuts and limited federal government.
Frederick said Whalen will be a good candidate, and the GOP will help finance his campaign.
"The South Dakota Republican Party is not without means, and we do plan on supporting our candidate," Frederick said.