Entries Tagged 'Democrats' ↓

Drinking Liberally weighs in on the State of the SDDP

In South Dakota, the South Dakota Democratic Party (SDDP) will choose its Chairman for the next four years next week in Oacoma. There are five Democratic Candidates and one candidate who claims to be a Democrat when it is convenient for her. (Paula Hawks).

Despite a lot of good intentions and whatever the results, the SDDP will probably remain what it is today, a Top Down organization whose leaders will continue to wonder why its members don’t participate and do their bidding. Rather than live up to its name and reform itself and become a truly (small “d”) democratic organization, the SDDP will most likely remain a rural dominated Party in which “one county” rather than “one person” equals one vote and in which a Harding County with its 173 Democratic voters will have as much say in Party affairs as a Minnehaha, Pennington, Beadle or a Brown County with their tens of thousands of Democratic voters.

It was pointed out the other day that South Dakota has more cows per capita than any other state in the Nation. As long as the SDDP is governed on the basis of “one cow equals one vote” it and its candidates will never be able to form a message that resonates with a majority of both urban and rural voters. Instead it will lie moribund on the table as it does now, only partially organized and available to any cohesive interest group to use as a platform for its agenda, no matter how popular or unpopular that interest groups ideas may be to the general public.

It is a sad state of affairs because the Democratic Party affords ordinary people one of the few structures where they can regularly express their political preferences and attempt to influence the public discussion. Alternatively, people can either accept their powerlessness or choose to form and fund an independent organization of their own, an alternative, which for practical purposes, is available only to the wealthy, the well connected or those with a lot of extra time on their hands.

Despite my skepticism, I wish the SDDP well for they are the only alternative in town to the Republican Party, the Party of Trump, an alternative totally unacceptable to me for many reasons but also because, unlike our Senators, I don’t feel like Kowtowing anytime soon.

I need a Drink.

Direct Mail still works! Better than ever.

I noticed this post about the Yankton County Democratic Party Chair Candidate forum on Saturday. First I want to say I don’t have a dog in the fight, not only am I NOT a delegate, I’m not a registered Democrat (just a very bitter and cynical indy). I also have no issues with Paula Hawks, though I think the best person for the chair is John Claussen. I think Paula had her shot but screwed it up so badly it should disqualify her. But I wanted to pick apart some of the things she said on Saturday;

Paula Hawks asserted that the party needs to give members something to believe in rather than just issues to fight against. She also said that party lacks a central message and has not done a good job of showing what it means to be a Democrat.

I agree that the party needs a central message like farming, affordable healthcare and better wages but I also think each candidate needs to mold a special message for the district they are running in. I have felt that the SDDP has too often tried to create the message (simplify it) for each individual candidate. This is painting with too broad of a brush. I think the state party needs to concentrate on raising money for candidates and let the individual candidate create their own unique Democratic message in relation to their district, or even the office they are running for (legislator, city councilor, county commissioner, etc.).

Finally, she claimed that the state party needs to do more with both social media and mainstream media to get the message out. She pointed out that many young voters have moved away from Facebook and rely on Snapchat or Instagram and asserted that the party needs to fashion a message to fit those platforms.

This is where the party has been f’ing the chicken for several years. They keep thinking that the only way to bring in younger voters is by posting on Social Media. While it’s ok to campaign on social media (it’s mostly free) you have to tie it in with a strong direct mail strategy and campaign. In fact, several experts who study direct mail found that the younger generation 18-35ish love getting direct mail, in fact they read it more than voters 55 and older (which come in 2nd place) while middle age has continued to be flat.

A variety of studies have concluded that millennials favor and even enjoy receiving direct mail. InfoTrendsconducted a survey finding that while only 26% of millennials prefer email marketing, 38% prefer direct mail pieces. In addition, millennials are more likely than any other generation to read their mail, in great part due to the fact that they actually enjoy receiving mail; in fact, this study found that 25% of millennials consider reading direct mail a leisure activity. The USPS found that 47% of millennials look forward to checking their mailbox each day, which Harris Diamond, CEO of the global advertising network McCann, affectionately refers to as “The Mail Moment.” It’s important that companies attempting to target millennials effectively tap into this moment.

Not only do millennials like to read their mail, but they also pay closer attention to it than any other age demographic. In 2016, the USPS found that 40% of millennials read direct mail thoroughly, compared to only 18% of non-millennials. They also discovered that millennials spend more time reading mail compared to other generations: an average of 9.7 minutes each day, compared to 7.9 minutes for Generation X and 8 minutes for Baby Boomers. These reports illustrate that millennials are extremely likely to engage with direct mail marketing material.

So why is that? Because the younger generation has NOT grown up with mail, they have grown up with social media and phones, they are bored with it. A good, old fashioned direct mail campaign towards younger voters tied into social media and good old door knocking is incredibly effective. It also helps to have definitive voting lists of who actually votes. As Cameraman Bruce would say, “Enough of the Facebook games.” Direct mail works if you work it. Every successful campaign I have worked on used direct mail as it’s central messenger.

Blue Ball 2019

Besides the fact that I ate more lamb chops and Baklava in one night than I probably have in my entire life, we got a lot of questions about Kristi Noem. The big question of the night was “Where did Billie go wrong?” Minnesota Democrats continue to be confused by the Republican stronghold we have in our state – me to.

John Kennedy Claussen announces SDDP State Chair Candidacy

Dear Fellow South Dakota Democrats: This past Friday, I turned 58 years old.  But it is was not only a birthday, it was also my 40th anniversary as a registered South Dakota Democrat.  Fore, I vividly remember registering at the Minnehaha County Courthouse back on my eighteenth birthday in 1979, after a day of classes at the old Washington High School.  Since that time much has happen to and with the South Dakota Democratic Party.  In fact, we have all been through a lot as a political party.  There have been victories and there have been many defeats, but in recent years we have drifted into a malaise, which cannot be corrected by staying the course, rather only remedied by taking on a new course and seeking new leadership, and in so doing, that is why I declare my candidacy today for the chairmanship of the South Dakota Democratic Party. I seek this challenge, because I have been a fighter all my life for the values, which the Democratic Party are and are suppose to be about.  In my lifetime, I have been a student, even a student leader as a former Student Body President at a USD, a store clerk, a janitor, a member of a union, even at times a self-proclaimed and recognized ”union steward” in non union employment situations, a political activist, a banker, and an insurance agent. I have worn many hats, which prepared me for this position, and these experiences have further taught, or reassured me, that we as Democrats are right on the issues, but those issues cannot be heard nor implemented here in South Dakota if we continue the same course.… And as I think of the course we must take, I reflect upon the memories of my Democratic life, which stretch over fifty plus years, with some symbolic while others are of substance, which cause me to run today to help my political party to reach the stars of a greater hope.  Fore, I remember attending a Democratic women’s coffee, that my mother hosted at our house in ’64, when I was 3, where one of the local Democratic women leaders gave me a LBJ/HHH button, which flashed, that I still have to this day.  I shook RFK’s hand in ’68.  I attended Democratic Forum for the first time in 1971 at age 10.  I stuffed envelopes for McGovern in ’72.   At age 12, I attended the Ward Clark dinner – a SDDP fundraiser – with fellow family members and with Senators McGovern, Abourezk, and Adlai Stevenson III in attendance. In the mid 1970s, I remember attending a premier showing of  ‘Give’em Hell, Harry!’ at the Western Mall theater in Sioux Falls, which was a Democratic fundraiser, with then Governor Kneip setting right behind me as we all laughed as Truman’s character in the film enlightened us all.  And before much of this, I especially remember as a child working at the fair in Minnehaha County with my older sister, as passerbyers would ask us at the Democratic booth if it was pronounced, “Nip or Nipe?”  With them thinking the “K” was silent.  Then later in life as a young adult, I volunteered and interned for then Rep. Tom Daschle in DC, was Student Body President and Young Democrats President at USD, and a delegate at a national political convention before my 20th birthday, where I heard in person one of the greatest political speeches of the 20th Century, when I and others were reminded that, “The hope still lives and the dream shall never die.” Throughout my Democratic life, I have served many positions within the Democratic Party, too.  Not only YD President at USD, but I have also been past treasurer and vice-chair of South Dakota Young Democrats, chairman of the Legislative District 12 Democrats, treasurer, vice-chair, and chair of the Minnehaha County Democratic Party, and a Democratic nominee for the State Senate in District 12, a delegate to five state Democratic conventions, and a course was a voting delegate as a part of the South Dakota Delegation to the 1980 Democratic National Convention…..  In fact, I served at that national convention some 40 years ago with Billie’s grandfather.  He was a Carter delegate, while I was a Kennedy delegate. My personal electoral experiences have been very intriguing, too.  Before receiving my BA in political science with minors in history, french, and economics from USD, along with a summer at Georgetown University studying comparative political and economic systems, and having been a Truman Scholarship nominee from South Dakota, I was elected Student Body President at USD, while also being President of Young Democrats on a northern plains campus in the age of Reagan; a time when College Republican could get hundred plus students to show up for a meeting to defeat McGovern, while Young Democrats were in the teens in attendance.  And I accomplished those feats because I understood the math involved and my strategy overcame any issue of popularity; an understanding which then played a great part in allowing me as a 19 year old to be found standing on the floor of Madison Square Garden at the 1980 Democratic National Convention as well.   When running for the state senate, I lost in ’92 by a 49 to 51 margin to a very popular Republican incumbent in a very Republican legislative district.  And for what it is worth, I carried six of the eleven precincts in my district that year; and I often joked prior to the advent of Bush43 and Trump, that I actually won the electoral college in District 12 back in ’92, too.  The last time I ran for the state senate in ’96, I was the only Democratic state senate candidate outside of the heavily dominant Democratic District of 15, in the city of Sioux Falls, to carry more than one precinct, when I stood for election that year.  And the real reason I have had these proud feats is because I understand that it is more than message…. It is also the math…..In fact, before taking early semi-retirement, I worked for a major retailer for almost 30 years, were I was a district ‘All Star Salesperson’ for over 20 years and ranked nationally three times with a 2nd and two 1st place national placings in sales with my employer.  And like my electoral feats, I understood it was the math and not just the art of the sale, which made we successful with my employer.  And I believe, it is now that understanding which needs to be applied to our South Dakota Democratic Party….  And I also ask you to realize that throughout these electoral and employment feats and endeavors, I can proudly claim that I have been married for 31 years, and my wife, Beth, and I have two great children with Master’s degrees, straight teeth ;-), and now good paying jobs.   But that is my story, but what is the story of the SDDP today?  Well, it is a story of a political party that appears to be dependent upon a “Rock Star” strategy, where we throw anything at the wall hoping that something sticks.  In this post McGovern era, our party has become overtime too sanitized, too stale, and too cautious as well.  Realities that worked for a time, but whose self life has now been spent.  Fore, it is time we recognized as Democrats that it is not really 2019, rather it is 1953, and we must begin again to rebuild the party.  Because we have gone full circle as a political party and it is time we seized an opportunity to be proactive in our decision making and accept a frankness of where we really are right now as a political party….Else we will continue to dwell in a world of continual malaise.   2018 was a lost opportunity in my opinion, where we allowed image and an attempted message to ignore the need to understand the math involved in order to truly win elections.  Our culture as a political party needs to change.  We must recognize that if we do not understand the math involved in a political race, then we do not understand what we are really up against.  Currently, we spend a third of our party budget on staff, but to what avail?  Had it not been for the racist comment by a Republican Minnehaha County legislator and the efforts of the women’s organization LEAD in Minnehaha County, we would have actually lost seats in the state legislature this past election cycle – but a cycle we were told was a part of a “Blue Wave.”

So it is time to ask, if we are better off than we were four years ago as a political party?  I believe the answer is “No.”  It’s “No,” because our party no longer knows or cares to know how to win elections.  Because elections cannot be won without an effect canvass/GOTV effort, which was definitely lacking in 2018.  Nor can a Democratic Party win, if it tries to play the religion card, or does not trust a woman’s choice, or is willing to be an enabler to a culture that contributes to the deaths of many of our children while in schools throughout the land each year; with all of these latter comments illustrating an ill fated attempt to be what we are really not as a political party….and thus no wonder as to why we lost so greatly in 2018.

With 2018 as a missed opportunity, it is time to take advantage of 2020 and beyond, but to do that, we need a strategic plan that takes us through 2030 and here are my ideas: – Establish a more adequate messaging of what exactly our legislators are trying to accomplish in Pierre as a minority political party. – Recognize the importance of a full slate and that no Republican personality is too great to be challenged; i.e. Thune/2010 – Continue work to develop the vote on the reservations, but also attach that strategy to particular legislative districts – like District 15 – which are underperforming for us as a political party. – Develop a boot camp in addition to YELL on how to run elections with an emphasis on the art of canvassing/GOVT to create the next generation of young men and women party leaders in the tradition of Hildebrand, Jarding, Erpenbach, Hauffe, and Samuelson – and the boot camp should be named after the great South Dakota political strategist, Pete Stavrianos.

– Target races in a proactive manner and not rely merely upon a matching funds program.

– Re-establish a political culture in our party that recognizes that is takes more than message to win, noting that we also need to understand the math involved in order to win elections. – Develop a 2030 plan to return the Democratic Party to relevance over the next few years in preparation of the 75th anniversary of McGovern having taken over and organizing our political party – a plan that encompasses ending the Republican super majority in Pierre, regaining a majority on the PUC, and having at least one member of the South Dakota delegation in Washington as a Democrat.

– Develop a 2022 Plan, too, to deal with the pending reality of further Republican gerrymandering in this state and other factors which could uniquely make 2022 a challenging year for Democrats in South Dakota. – Hold state conventions where picking constitutional candidates is the last thing we do and not the first thing we do, so that democracy can breathe.

– Deputize a 100 Democrats throughout the state with a goal of registering 50,000 new Democrats in South Dakota by 2024.  (That’s less than 9 per deputy per month.)

– Seek-out greater contributions from former affluent South Dakota Democrats who now reside outside of South Dakota – especially in D.C.

– Develop a true canvassing and GOTV program to assist statewide candidates, with local candidates then benefitting from this as well. – Keep offices in Rapid City and Sioux Falls with long term plans to add a permanent office in Aberdeen and satellite offices in Brookings, Vermillion, and Pierre during election years, and when the legislature is in session.

– I also agree with some of the ideas of the other candidates for State Chair as well, when they call for expanding relations and coordination with county parties, continuing to develop our use of social medias, and continuing the growth of Founders

Club and other potential fundraising programs.

As far as a running-mate for this chairmanship race, I will also add, that while others have chosen a running mate in hopes of winning, I am running so the Party will win again and my vice-Chair will be your pick – the State Central Committee’s –  and not mine, because we must all work together to get the job done.  Fore, it is time we became once again a political party and not just continue as a social club.  And I am also not running as a part of a ticket, because I have a greater confidence in my beliefs than any need to be dependent upon an other’s personality, or status, to carry me. In conclusion, the struggle regardless of the outcome on March 23rd does not end there, it only begins a new chapter for us all.  Because whoever is the new chairperson will need the support of us all.  So let us make this a positive campaign from the start, knowing that whether you support my candidacy or not, we need a change; and I believe I am that change who also brings a strong understanding of the institutional history of our state political party and where we have been, and what we need to do to be more…..But If you like the status quo on the other hand, then don’t consider my candidacy or vote for me….  And as a fan of the late musician, Prince Rogers Nelson, I think it’s time that we turned something red into purple and will you join me in doing so?….

Thank you very much for your consideration and hopefully for your support,

Respectfully, John Kennedy Claussen, Sr.,

vice-Chair of the Minnehaha County Democratic Party

and Chairman of Legislative District 12 Democrats

UPDATE: Democrats to hold 1st Forum of State Chair candidates

The Brookings County Democrats will be hosting a forum for all of the candidates for State Democratic Chair this Saturday, at 1pm, at the Brookings city library.

The Six  Candidates are: John Claussen (my choice), John Cunningham (my 2nd choice), Paula Hawks, Tom Cool, Allison Renville & Ann Tornberg.

Here is the video from today’s forum;

Posted by Brookings County Democrats on Saturday, February 9, 2019

SD Dem Party finally(?) decides how state chair election will go

From the top down;

Candidates for Chair,

Earlier this week the SDDP Executive Board met to discuss election procedures for officer elections on March 23. The SDDP Constitution does not indicate how the election must be held so the EBoard discussed multiple options before settling on the system below.

Each candidate will have 1 minute for nomination and 3 minutes for a speech. The vote will be cast with paper ballots with the top 2 voter-getters moving on to the final round of voting. If one candidate receives 50% in the first round we will not move to the 2nd round. We will break for a 10 minute caucuses period to whip votes before returning to a final vote.

The Eboard wanted me to run this system by you before it is sent out to the State Central Committee. If you have any questions or concerns don’t hesitate to contact me.

Sam Parkinson

Executive Director 

South Dakota Democratic Party

There is still some debate between candidates about how long they will be able to make their case for the seat. Some of the candidates think 10 minutes would be better. We will see.

UPDATE: Paula Hawks announces she is running for Dem Chair

UPDATE: Last night before I posted this I was told by some upstanding members of the SD Democratic Party that the vote for chair would be decided by a simple plurality. Basically ONE vote, ONE election. Well since than, a new ruling has come down. Now they are claiming there are no specific rules in the Constitution saying it is a simple majority or 50% of the vote. The Constitution does say, however, anything that is not specifically written in the SDDP Constitution will defer to parliamentary procedure and that the Executive Board will be reviewing the rules during their next monthly meeting.

So what does that mean?  If they defer to Robert’s Rules, then we keep having balloting until a candidate gets 50%.  It could go all night.

All this rule changing and indecision is the EXACT reason why the party needs new leadership.

Another hat in the ring;

I am Paula Hawks, former state legislator from District 9 (Hartford) and 2016 Congressional candidate for the South Dakota Democratic Party.  I am announcing my candidacy for the State Chair of the Democratic Party, along with Jack Mortenson for Vice Chair, and Caroline Hansen for Secretary.  Bringing a united, strong leadership team is important to the success of the Party at a time when we need to be developing a strategy for success in 2020.  From the top of the Congressional ticket to local elections all over the state, we must focus our attention on building the Democratic Party’s ability to identify strong candidates and support them in their endeavors.

This adds to the current list of John Cunningham (SF), Ann Tornberg (Beresford) and Tom Cool (SF). There is also another announcement of another Sioux Falls resident that will be running coming soon (who I support). Since the vote is based on plurality, it’s anyone’s game, but I think it will be a close matchup between Hawks and one of the three candidates from Sioux Falls.

Nice knowing you Ann . . .

I do know that Randolph Seiler did consider the volunteer position but decided not to run.

Who is Ann Tornberg kidding?

Ann Tornberg is running for Re-Election as SDDP Chair. I know. Almost more baffling than Constitutional Carry. You can read her BIO and Plea below, but I did get a good barrel laugh out of this;

“There is still much to do and no one understands that more than the person who has the experience, work ethic, and perseverance to take the job despite the challenge and the critics.”

You have ‘CRITICS’ because your tenure has been a total failure! We have had enough of your ‘Experience’. It’s time to Elect a NEW chair that wants to move the party forward instead of incredibly backwards.

Ann Tornberg, Running for Re-Election as SDDP Chair

Background: Ann is a retired high school English teacher, speech and debate coach, having spent 32 years at Beresford and Sioux Falls Lincoln HS.  Prior to retiring in 2010, she was elected President of the Sioux Falls Education Association, the largest public union in the state of SD, at that time. She first ran for the State Legislature in 2010 and did so in three more cycles.  While she lost these races in a highly GOP District (District 16 has 4,000 more Republicans than Democratic voters) she knew there were other ways to serve and became a volunteer legislative aide serving every day in Pierre at four Sessions (2013-2016).  She was elected Chair of the South Dakota Democratic Party in Dec. of 2014, starting her four-year term in Jan. of 2015.

Ann and her husband of 43 years, Mike, own and operate their four-generation family farm south of Beresford.  Their two daughters (one a family physician, the other a teacher) are both married to farmers. Their six grandkids are just as smart and talented as your own (if you are lucky enough to have them).

As with all other Democratic state and county officers, Ann is entirely a volunteer.

Prior to becoming Chair, Ann served on the SDDP Executive Board (2010-2014) and is Chair of the Union County Democrats. Why run again for an unpaid full-time job? Ann explains:

“I have learned, adjusted, and grown through this position. We expanded with a Rapid City office, have five full-time year-round employees, and just approved the 2019 budget to add a full time Tribal Organizer. We’ve grown Founder’s Club from 160 to 430 members in four year. I believe I am best equipped to continue to expand relationships with county leaders, legislators, potential candidates, other progressive groups, and Democratic leaders from other states. I have regular personal communications with DNC Chair Tom Perez.  My experience authoring the Delegate Selection Plan for SD will be essential for the 2020 National Presidential Convention. There is only one direction to move…forward.  I believe I am the person best equipped to keep moving in that direction.

There is still much to do and no one understands that more than the person who has the experience, work ethic, and perseverance to take the job despite the challenge and the critics.

The current Vice Chair, Joe Lowe has decided not to run.  I want to thank him for his service.  If I am re-elected as Chair on March 23, Larry Lucus will run as Vice Chair.  As a former educator, Vice Chair of the SD Education Association, and State Legislator, Larry brings a wealth of experience and connections to this team.  Thank-you Larry for your willingness to serve.

Larry and I would sincerely appreciate your support on March 23 as we elect the officers who will lead us for the next four years.”

What is Bille Sutton up to?

I got word this week about a special project some young Dem leaders are working on in SD;

In one post-election pitch, Sutton wrote that he wasn’t just building a campaign, but a movement that will “keep going and keep fighting for our shared priorities.” Sutton tells The Associated Press that he doesn’t have plans right now to run for anything else, but he says to expect to hear more from him in coming months.

All I have been told is that Billie is just one cog in the wheel and the project is pretty major. Sorry, I wish I had more.

I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Say it ain’t so! Tornberg to seek another 4-year term

According to my sources, Ann Tornberg is seeking another 4-year term as SD Democratic Party chair;

Ann Tornberg, the current Chair of the South Dakota Democratic Party (SDDP) has announced she will seek another 4 year term as State Party Chair despite the continuing decline in Democratic voter registration (down over 13% under her leadership and now resting at 29% of all registered voters, the lowest it has been in living memory) and the lack of success the Democratic Party has enjoyed statewide in recent years (no Democrat has won statewide since 2008 while Democratic representation in the state legislature has declined from 20 seats in 2014 to 16 seats today) . I guess Ann thinks when you are losing, more of the same is a good thing. Needless to say, I oppose her election to another 4 year term. There must be someone out there who can pick up the remnants of the Democratic Party and make it relevant again. Dig deep, Democrats! You need something, but the one thing you don’t need is four more years of the same failed effort.

My suggestion would be Pam Nelson or Bruce Danielson. Let’s see what happens.