No surprise here that the bottom is falling out of the SD Democratic party (okay, it fell out a long time ago, but this isn’t helping);

In District 6 Senate, Dick Gors has withdrawn from the ballot.

In District 10 House, Barb Kavanaugh has withdrawn.

Keep encouraging people to support Republicans, like De Knudson, and you will keep disenfranchising your party members. Get behind candidates from YOUR party, and give them FULL support instead of messing around with faux-republicans.

Haven’t you learned your lesson yet?


As I have reported in the past, the SD Democratic party got involved in municipal politics.

But before we dig into the article, I want to commend three people for coming forward;

• Ellis for working hard on this story for weeks to get it out in the mainstream media

• Ben Nesselhuf, chairman of the SD Democratic Party for finally being honest about their involvement (though I do not agree with it).

• Kyle Vanderlinden for telling his story;

In the weeks leading up to this year’s City Council elections, the top official with the South Dakota Democratic Party and Mayor Mike Huether met to discuss the four races.

The meeting lasted about 45 minutes. They talked about family, life and other topics. But they also addressed the upcoming campaigns.

The party was interested in helping Democratic candidates, a step in building the party and grooming candidates who, once successful on the local level, might have a shot at higher office. But first, Democratic Chairman Ben Nesselhuf wanted “to make sure we weren’t stepping on any toes” with the mayor.

Nesselhuf said the meeting was a “courtesy call” to ensure the party’s participation in the races was OK with Huether.

Also present at the meeting were Zach Crago, the party’s legislative director, and Darrin Smith, the city’s director of community development and public parking. The mayor gave the party his blessing.

You get the feeling from reading this first part that the Mayor has pull in the SD Democratic party, and my suspicions of a governor run are in his future. As for Darrin Smith, I wouldn’t take much political advice from a guy who couldn’t even finish his council term.

“I just don’t like to get involved in elections like that when they’re nonpartisan,” said Munson, a Republican. “And that’s the way it should be. In the position, you have to work with Republicans and Democrats.”

Munson is right on one level, I don’t have a problem with the SD Democratic party supporting DEMOCRATS, but when they are throwing their weight behind someone who is a Republican, that’s a NO-NO, and I HOPE they learned a lesson, Knudson got her butt handed to her.

“One of the things he (McGovern) tried to do was to get Democrats to run for as many offices as possible — to not let Republicans run unopposed,” Schaff said.

I totally agree, but like I said above, support candidates with in your party, or at least indies that share some of your political values.

Smith said he attended the meeting to discuss the Democrats’ efforts to repeal Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s economic development program. Smith, a Democrat, supports the governor’s program and he wanted to explain why the Democratic efforts were wrong.

No, Darrin, you are wrong. The city’s economic development plans under your watch is to give as many handouts to private industry as possible. As a former ED office employee told me once, we have plenty to offer businesses that want to relocate here besides giving handouts; High productivity at lower wages, no state income tax, the best parks and schools of any city our size in the country, and top-notch public safety. It’s kinda like selling someone a $200 Weber grill for $100 then also giving them a $100 rebate.

“I remember going out of my way, telling them, look, city staff are available to educate and inform,

Yeah we had a city employee who was good at that job, and you fired her. As for getting an education on city politics from a councilor who quit, wouldn’t that be like an 8th grade dropout teaching calculus?

Kyle Vanderlinden was one of two candidates challenging incumbent Councilor Greg Jamison in the Southwest District. Crago emailed Vanderlinden, writing, “A few folks have asked us about your City Council race against Greg Jamison, and I’d love to be able to tell them a bit more about you, how they can help, and how we might be able to help you in a non-partisan fashion.”

Vanderlinden met with Crago. During the meeting Crago said Vanderlinden would need about $15,000 to beat Jamison. But Vanderlinden said he was uneasy when he was questioned about what he thought of Huether’s achievements. Vanderlinden said he had no problem with Democrats working with him, but he was uneasy that Huether might have been involved. He turned down the help.

This is where the waters get murky. While I do believe the meeting happened, I still question just what kind of involvement Huether had with the races, especially De Knudson’s campaign.

Jamison, a Republican who gets mentioned as a potential mayor candidate, said he appreciates that Vanderlinden declined the help and hopes his challenger runs again. “Kyle Vanderlinden has the exact character and integrity we need on the City Council,” Jamison said.

This is why I endorsed Kyle, I think he is bright with a ton of potential. I also think it takes a lot of integrity to turn down an offer like this. I truly commend Kyle for coming forth with this story and telling both Ellis and I about it, right after the election.

“The one person I probably would have enjoyed working with was De Knudson,” Huether said.

When she lost, however, Huether said he called her opponent, Kermit Staggers, to congratulate him.

This is true, I was standing right next to Kermit when he got the call.

Nesselhuf helped gather signatures to get Knudson, a Republican, on the ballot. Nesselhuf served in the state Senate with Knudson’s husband, former Majority Leader Dave Knudson, and is a family friend. There was no Democrat in the race, and Nesselhuf said, “I didn’t have any problem helping her out.”

Sorry, Ben, still doesn’t make it right, especially after Jesse Vavreck was asked to step out of the race (a Democrat) who I told Kermit had a better chance of beating him then Knudson.

The party didn’t hold a fundraiser and didn’t do anything inappropriate, she added. But individual Democrats cut her checks.

I don’t think they did anything inappropriate either, our 1st Amendment rights guarantee we can support any candidate we want to, whether they are in your party or not. That isn’t the point. I have a problem with the secrecy of the deal and the counter productivity of supporting candidates out of your party.


I received new information today that the SD Democratic Party, or at least one of their operatives, supposedly, was helping De Knudson to raise money for her campaign. I only have two sources, so I’m not going to say whether this is true or not, just speculation at this point, BUT;

1) It would explain why a young Democrat like Jesse Vavreck was asked to step out of the race.

2) It would also explain why Knudson was asked to speak at a Democratic forum and not Staggers.

3) I also found it a bit odd that so many loyal Dems I talked to supported De.

This should come as no surprise, Dave and De Knudson were Democrats for years, but like Bob Litz, they realized if you want to move up that political latter you have to register Republican, except it didn’t work for Dave or De. At least their son is smart enough to stick with the Democratic label running for the State Legislature, even though I think Manny Steele is going to cream him.

I find it a bit humorous, that even when the SD Dems put all of their resources behind a Republican they even lose, in fact I find it completely, side-splitting hilarious. It wasn’t like Kermit beat De by a couple of votes, he handily beat her and did it with a grassroots campaign that spent 20% of what she did.

For the record, I never thought I would support a conservative candidate like Staggers, but I like his record on fiscal responsibility and transparency in government, something the faux Republican Knudson never has had a record on.

I also find it a little disappointing that the Democrats wanted Kermit to lose so bad, they had to back a Republican. Who says the two parties can’t work together? Except this time the result was quite disastrous, and quite embarrassing.

If this all really went down, as I have heard it did, I hope the Dems learned a lesson from it. Support your own next time, you know, like Jesse Vavreck.

(PS – I also heard they tried to help other candidates that were running against Republicans in the council race.)

(Photo, Elisha Page)

Interesting interview (H/T – C & L) (I especially like his foraging dog).

JONATHAN KARL: So, Steve, how bad is it going to be for the Democrats in these mid-terms?

STEVE HILDEBRAND: I don’t think it has to be bad. I think if our Democratic candidates would actually be proud of to stand for their votes that they’ve taken, not all of them, but some. People who have supported health care shouldn’t run from it. They should be as proud of that vote as any vote they’ve taken in their lives. This is actually going to help people in a pretty serious way. It’s not going to hurt people.

JONATHAN KARL: And is that what you see people doing though because they’re afraid this vote is going to be used against them. In fact it’s already being used against them by Republicans they’re running away from it, running away from the President.

STEVE HILDEBRAND: Yeah, and the fact that they’re cowards in such a serious way. I mean, is this about their reelection or is this about helping people? What are they in politics for? What are they in government for, if they’re not in government to help people? They should simply get out. They shouldn’t run for reelection. And we should put people in there who are strong leaders, who want to do something to help people. That health care bill is going to help young people, old people, poor people, middle-income people. It’s vitally important to this country and any one of them that walks away from it, isn’t proud of that vote, is a coward.

JONATHAN KARL: If the current trajectory remains the way it is for the next two months, and the kind of Democratic strategy remains the way it is, do the democrats lose the House?

STEVE HILDEBRAND: The Democratic strategy right now is to run from the president, run from important proposals that help this country. If we’re not going to do something about health care, if we’re not going to do something about climate change, if we’re not going to do something about the economy, about the deficit, about the war, Washington is going to get punished. The Democrats might get punished more because they’re in power, but Washington in general is going to get punished. And you’ve seen it in Republican primaries across the country. You’ve seen it in Democratic primaries across the country. And you’re going to see it with a lot of just pure incumbents from both parties in November. They’re getting punished because they’re not dealing with the issues. They’re not dealing with the real problems that we face as a country. And they should be punished. Stand up and lead or get out of the way. And you might be replaced with someone worse, but you know, those are the options that are sometimes given to people.

Hey, Steve, do what I did when Dems voted for the Iraq War, become an Indy. The two party system is a joke.

One more reason why I think both political parties are lulu. I have said all along that I thought Chris Nelson’s comments were a bit cynical when it came to whether Obama was a legal United States citizen, but it didn’t stop the SD Democratic party from trying to blow it out of proportion;

Clarifying earlier remarks, Secretary of State Chris Nelson has said he believes President Barack Obama is a natural born U.S. citizen and the legitimately elected leader of the nation.

Based on Nelson’s comments on a newspaper’s blog last week, South Dakota Democratic Party executive director Erin McCarrick criticized the Republican congressional candidate for questioning whether Obama qualifies to be president.

This is what Nelson said;

Nelson, South Dakota’s top election official for the past seven years, replied that it’s important that candidates meet constitutional qualifications. “If President Obama isn’t constitutionally qualified, it would be the biggest scam ever perpetuated on the American people.”

Nelson this week said his earlier comments did not question whether Obama is a natural-born citizen or legally the president. “There’s nothing in the comments I made that says that.”

And he is right. There are other issues I have with Nelson, and the Democratic party should to. Stop grasping at straws.