Michelle Lavallee; Money & Connections

It’s no secret by now, if you want someone with a lot of money/contribution connections, you call Michelle. TenHaken did it when he ran for mayor and now Billie Sutton has summoned her.

While it’s great to bring someone on your campaign team who can help raise money, do you pick them as your running mate? How does a well-connected former Republican with ties to the healthcare and investment banking industry in South Dakota relate with working class Democrats, Independents and Republicans?

I don’t know.

I have often argued that the Democrats have a platform that stands up for these people. Worker rights, higher wages, education, health care, quality of life, etc. They don’t need to be ‘Republican Light’ to win over these kind of voters, they just need to get the message out. I guess we will see how this plays out in November.


#1 Raul on 06.18.18 at 1:41 pm

This is the dumbest LG pick in modern SD political history. She has zero name ID and zero personal political experience. $$ is hugely important, but this is a craven calculation that it’s the only thing.

#2 JKC on 06.18.18 at 2:08 pm

I normally don’t swear on blogs, nor do I hate on people. I may not like some, but I hate no one. I learned that in Sunday school many years ago. And I generally enjoy discussing facts and theory with people, who I interact with on the blogs; but frankly, the pick of Republican Lavallee as the Democrat’s choice for LG in South Dakota is a God damn joke that strikes at the heart of what it means to be a Democrat.

First of all, it will not work. Republicans in South Dakota are not stupid; and the Republican establishment is not going to allow this to work as the Democrat’s plan it too either.

So you ask, how do Democrats win then? Well, you do it by energizing and organizing your base and not by merely throwing something at the wall to see if it sticks.

So many of our problems today are the result of the collapse of the American middle class and the lack of adequate wages; and if you think bringing a corporatist into the Democratic ranks is the answer to that problem then you are severely mistaken. For such actions merely co-opt our ability as Democrats to work for the people and not merely be stool pigeons for the 1%. Because it is the duty of the Democratic leaders to sit across the table from the business community and not sit next to them and rub elbows.

And we cannot allow our concerns for transparency, workable government, and an end to corruption in Pierre to cloud the true reality or result of allowing the 1% into our ranks merely due to the sake for a mutual distain for what is currently going on in Pierre right now; and then as a further result to somehow magically ignore what will really happen to the soul of our Party, when corporatists are allowed to roam freely within our Party.

Let me also say, that as Democrats we need to start asking ourselves what is really going on here. Because one of the most disheartening things for me about the past mayoral race was when I found out that Jo and her husband had done media work for John Thune, and now we learn that Ten Haken’s co-chair is the Democratic nominee for LG. When you look at the totality of all of this, you must begin to ask your self what is it all about? Are party politics merely a board game for the elite in this state, who do whatever they god damn want to? Add in the 2010 debacle, when the SDDP ran two Republicans for the Governors’ mansion, the unabashed willingness of too many Democrats to hang with the Janklow crowd, and political families, especially in Sioux Falls, who run family members in both political parties to hopeful garner greater political clout, and I am beginning to think the political situation in this state is a joke or a travesty, and as long as it is in this state the people will only continue to suffer with low wages and its collateral damage to society.

So Folks, I hate to quote Sarah Palin at this time – but at least she stands firm in her beliefs as an admitted Republican – but if you want real change in Pierre you have to do more “than just put lipstick on a pig….” And be careful who you allow into the herd too, because it might actually be more of a swamp where all that happens to you is that you get herded by the 1 %….

#3 scott on 06.18.18 at 7:16 pm

you take a look at her facebook page, and with all her republican friends and pictures, have to wonder if she’ll even vote for herself.

#4 JKC on 06.18.18 at 8:22 pm

About nine months after this election, we’ll have to make a point to check her Party affiliation…… Speaking of that, is Arndt still a Democrat? If he is, it would be heartening….

#5 Rachel on 06.18.18 at 9:00 pm

She goes where the money is

#6 The Guy from Guernsey on 06.18.18 at 9:34 pm

Whole lot of marketing “sizzle” in that Cornerstone Financial snippet. Any steak ?

#7 Interesting on 06.19.18 at 11:01 am

I am a republican, so let me state that up front as this blog is very Democrat heavy. I am also just a regular middle class guy. I think the reason the Democrat party gets no play in this state is very simple, the progressive wing of the national party is very unappealing to most in SD. The feelings party does not resonate with me or most in this state. The fact that Bernie Sanders, a devote Socialist, is so popular screams to the fact it scares the hell out of most. I loathe corruption regardless of your party affiliation I do not like Thune, Rounds, or Noem as they are not true conservatives to begin with.

The sad thing is, I think most South Dakotan’s would agree that government sucks and it ruins everything it touches, and the usual solution to our issues from the Democrat party are more laws and regulations and frankly we have too many as it is. Example, smoking bans! I hate smoking but, if I own a private business and I want to let people smoke WHY should anyone tell me I can’t run my business that way. If you dont like it dont patronize my business. I say this as someone who loathes smoking and wished it disappeared but, its not MY job to tell you what to do. Yes I this stuff is passed by Republicans but, like I said they are not conservatives to begin with the just throw an R on their chest to get votes.

I don’t have any real good answers but, I do know most don’t want progressive politics in this state, look what it has done to California, that place is a wreck. Those progressive policies do NOT work and its proven time and time again.

#8 JKC on 06.19.18 at 1:55 pm


The steak was served at the Friday night convention banquet, but I had none, because I couldn’t stomach it.

I got to thinking, imagine what it must have been like for paid State Party leaders to work their you know whats off in late April for Jo, only to then be told six weeks later to help the Sutton campaign launch the announcement of their new LG pick, who had just been Ten Haken’s co-chair…. Now that must have been hard to swallow….. 😉

#9 l3wis on 06.19.18 at 1:56 pm

First off, Clinton won the nomination, Sanders did not. As for the SD Democratic party being ‘Liberal’ or even ‘progressive’ that is hilarious. I left the Democratic Party over a decade ago because the SD party has no liberals or progressives in it, just right leaning moderates. Just look at Sutton, rancher, investment banker, pro-life and pro 2nd amendment. The only thing that makes him a Democrat is the ‘D’ behind his name. If you don’t like Noem, I highly recommend you vote for Sutton, you may get more of a Republican with him than with Noem.

#10 JKC on 06.19.18 at 2:34 pm

The Party regulars, who do a lot to channel the voters they have, really do not represent the people any more, or at least not the real people of their Party, even though they are good at channeling the regulars.

Case in point, Clinton beats Sanders in the SD Democratic primary, yes, but it was Sanders who drew a crowd of 4500 in Sioux Falls, while Bill Clinton drew a crowd of 350; where Clinton staffers told people where to stand to make the crowd look bigger.

I think it is fair to say that one of the reasons the Party is afraid to do greater enfranchisement of the potential vote is because they are afraid they will not be able to control it anymore; and they think that by doing what they are currently doing, that they are controlling the brand to make it more acceptable. But what the voters currently want is Coca-Cola, or the Republicans, and not Shasta Cola, or the Democrats. Well, at least not until we begin to enfranchise the true core of the Democratic Party and offer them all a better drink.

Also, it is an absolute joke that in the age of #METOO, that we have a pro life gubernatorial nominee, a pro life congressional nominee, and a pro life State Chair… What is wrong with some of my fellow Democrats, don’t women matter any more?….. (But, but, that Republican lady we now have is pro choice, though, doesn’t that make it better? (Hahahahahaha, are you kidding me?))

#11 JKC on 06.19.18 at 2:40 pm

Say, Interesting!

Progressive politics has saved capitalism twice in the last 85 years…. Its the conservatives with their laissez faire attitudes, who eventually have us all crash and burn from time to time…

#12 hornguy on 06.19.18 at 6:49 pm

Interesting, in comment #7, gives a good idea of what a GOP alternative in South Dakota probably needs to look like.

Elections can be won in one of two ways. You can appeal to enough voters towards the middle. Or you can stake out ideological positions and hope you can find a bunch of voters who otherwise aren’t turning out to come support you.

But in South Dakota, the latter isn’t an option for progressives because there just aren’t enough progressive non-voters out there to move the needle by bringing them into the fold.

A progressive isn’t going to win statewide office in South Dakota any more than a Tea Party candidate is going to be elected mayor of San Francisco.

So then it comes down to Interesting. What compromises *can* progressives in South Dakota live with if it means having access to political power? Can the Democrats take more libertarian positions on social issues? Can they distance themselves from the Sanders/Pelosi types that probably give a lot of South Dakotans the heebie-jeebies?

A progressive Democratic party in South Dakota is good for about 35% of the vote, tops. Better to be a principled minority, or better to figure out how to pick up another 16% of the vote in exchange for the ability to govern?

#13 JKC on 06.19.18 at 9:31 pm


Democratic politics in this state has become too sanitized and cautious since McGovern left office, but this post-McGovern strategy has now out lasted its self life and is responsible for the “35%” showings that you talk about.

Democrats will not win elections in this state again until we energize the base and understand that there are three components to a victorious race: message, image, and organization.

The problem with Democratic races right now in this state are that they only give us message and image. These current statewide challenger races by Democrats are run as if they are the incumbents, which they are not, and they rely totally on message and image which only an incumbent can do because they already have an established brand name.

I think that Billie will do better than Susan, Scott, Jack, Jim, Bernie, Jim, and Bob all did, but he will still lose because the SDDP does not know how to or is unwilling to spend the time to identify voters and new voters and get them out to vote. Because we need to run McGovern campaigns in this state again and until we do that, the Republican streak will continue…

#14 JKC on 06.19.18 at 9:47 pm

Plus, I don’t want to live in the Democratic world that horn guy is suggesting. Such complacency and compromise is a breeding ground for greater co-opting and corruption. I am sick and tired of living in a Democratic world where our legislative leaders accept the rescission of IM22 by accepting the Republicans watered down alternative; when they should have instead fought the Republican actions on IM22 in the courts arguing that the Republicans violated the separation of powers doctrine of the State Constitution and gamed the system as unique and over empowering plaintiffs…

#15 Interesting on 06.20.18 at 3:36 pm

The only way the Democrats get any traction is to distance themselves from the national party, they are off the rails and at times unhinged. While I am republican I would vote for a candidate with a D that put people first and not corporations, that was pro life and pro 2nd amendment and has a record of that. A candidate that will stand up to the party and say No I am not going to just vote party lines. I would never vote for a candidate not matter how great they are if they want to curb my rights. If your not pro 2nd Amendment, pro life and pro immigration reform and in the business of limiting governments reach I am not going to vote for you. Many like myself are open but, we need candidates that will limit govt involvement and overreach. Lets take the controversial issue of Gay Marriage. This can EASILY be a non issue and just stop the need for marriage license and allow people who meet certain criteria (gay or straight) to claim others on tax returns or file jointly. We don’t have to always agree on the issues so lets make them non issues. These becomes wedge issues that don’t add any real value in the end. Now I am not trying to make this an argument thats not my goal, I am simply stating lets just get government out. Government never really works and we need less not more. If enough people just take that approach of lessening government we would be in a much better place.