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Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D. SD) had some nice things to about Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head, Richard Cordray:

http://consumerist.com/...

In a statement, the committee’s chairman, Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota, had a number of positive things to say about the CFPB director.

“Since his first confirmation hearing in September 2011, Director Cordray has appeared before this Committee more than any other financial regulator,” said Johnson. “During that time, he has proved to be a strong leader of the CFPB. He has completed many of the rules required by Wall Street Reform, including a well-received final [Qualified Mortgage] rule. He listens, and has crafted strong rules that take into account all sides of an issue. He has laid the groundwork for nonbank regulation. He has brought to light the financial challenges faced by students, elderly Americans, servicemembers and their families. He has taken important enforcement actions against banks that took advantage of customers. So I ask my colleagues, what more can Richard Cordray do to deserve an up-or-down vote? I hope we can finally put aside politics and move forward with Richard Cordray’s confirmation.” - Consumerist, 3/19/13

Cordray ended up passing the Senate Banking Committee's votes based on party lines:

http://www.bloomberg.com/...

The U.S. Senate Banking Committee approved the nomination of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in a party-line vote that reflected the remaining obstacle to his confirmation effort.

Today’s 12-10 vote saw all of the panel’s Democrats back Cordray 53, while Republicans unanimously opposed him.

Despite the committee approval, President Barack Obama’s second nomination of Cordray, the former Ohio attorney general can’t be confirmed unless Senate Republicans and Democrats can overcome a deadlock that has prevented a full-Senate vote.

Cordray’s nomination has been mired since 2011 in a dispute over Republican demands that the agency be restructured with a commission to run it instead of a director and a budget subjected to congressional appropriations. Its budget is currently drawn directly from the Federal Reserve.

Democrats insist that Congress debated the agency’s current structure in passing the Dodd-Frank law in 2010, and that Cordray deserves confirmation after having done the job well for more than a year. - Bloomberg, 3/19/13

Johnson's colleague on the Senate Banking Committee, Senator Jeff Merkley (D. OR), is petitioning for Republicans to not filibuster Cordray's nomination:
Friends –

Quick update: I just voted to send Richard Cordray’s nomination as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to the full Senate.

Thank you for signing the petition calling on Senator Mitch McConnell to drop the planned Republican filibuster so we can have an up or down on Cordray’s nomination.

http://www.jeffmerkley.com/...

Richard Cordray will stand up to the big banks and take on predatory and abusive financial practices. Let’s make sure our voices are heard loud and clear.

Please forward this email to five people, and then share the petition with your friends and family on Facebook.

Thanks,
Senator Jeff Merkley

p.s. Your voice matters. Just last month, Republicans in the House responded to public pressure by reluctantly passing a strong Violence Against Women Act. Let’s keep it up!

You can sign Merkley's petition here:

http://www.jeffmerkley.com/...

We won't know until the end of this month if Senator Johnson will retire or run for a fourth term but the 2014 South Dakota Senate race is already gaining a lot of media traction:

http://www.usatoday.com/...

As the three-term senator prepares to announce whether he will seek a fourth term, positioning already is under way among candidates to replace him should he retire as many political observers think he will.

Johnson said this last week that he will decide soon, and those familiar with the Democratic senator's thinking predict the announcement would come when the Senate breaks for Easter recess during the week of March 25.

Either way, Johnson's decision has historic implications:

Should he run for another term in 2014, he would be reaching to match Karl Mundt as the state's longest-serving senator.

If he retires, it would mark the first open Senate seat in South Dakota since Jim Abourezk retired ahead of the 1978 election. - USA Today, 3/17/13

Both USA Today discussed the pros and cons of possible candidates to succeed Johnson in the U.S. Senate.  First onto the Republicans.  There's Former Governor and the only declared candidate, Mike Rounds (R. SD):
Whichever Democrat does run, they face the prospect of a general election against Rounds, who left the governor's office with high approval ratings. A candidate since last November, Rounds has raised more than $100,000 and is building a campaign organization across the state.

But many political observers expect one or more Republicans to challenge Rounds. For some politicians, it's a rare chance to run for an open Senate seat — generally easier than beating an incumbent. Conservative activists also don't think Rounds is conservative enough and hope to nominate someone further to the right.

"We are far more ideological today than we were (in the past)," said Joel Rosenthal, a former chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party. "We get mad at people within the party who disagree with us." - USA Today, 3/17/13

Now here are Rounds' potential primary opponents:

http://www.argusleader.com/...

Kristi Noem
BACKGROUND:
Two-term congresswoman

STRENGTHS: A tough campaigner who’s shown an ability to raise a lot of money and stay on message, Noem beat a popular incumbent in Herseth Sandlin in 2010. She’s well-versed in modern campaigns and has a rural background that resonates with South Dakota voters.

WEAKNESSES: She’s serving in Washington, D.C., at a time when Congress never has been less popular, and will have to make many tough votes during the next year and a half.

CHANCE SHE’LL RUN: Unlikely but possible. Conservative groups are pressuring her to run, and she hasn’t said one way or the other which way she’ll go.

OTHER CAREER OPTIONS: Stay in the House of Representatives.

QUOTE: She is “focused on her job and thinks it is too early to focus on politics,” Noem spokeswoman Courtney Heitkamp said.

Bill Napoli
BACKGROUND:
Former seven-term state legislator.

STRENGTHS: A vocal conservative, he’s got backing from many conservative and tea party activists.

WEAKNESSES: Has never run for statewide office. He also has never shied away from controversy and may have difficulty attracting moderate voters.

CHANCE HE’LL RUN: Possible. Napoli said he’s ready to run, but only if Noem doesn’t.

OTHER CAREER OPTIONS: Remain in the private sector, try to return to the Legislature.

QUOTE: “When I was in the Legislature, I voted and worked against every tax increase that came down the pipe,” Napoli said. “I am a solid conservative with a solid conservative voting record.”

Larry Rhoden
BACKGROUND:
Current seven-term state legislator.

STRENGTHS: A well-respected legislator, Rhoden has a solid conservative voting record and rural ties.

WEAKNESSES: No statewide profile or built-in base of support.

CHANCE HE’LL RUN: Possible, but he’s not enthusiastic.

OTHER CAREER OPTIONS: Stay in the Legislature, work on his Union County ranch.

QUOTE: “I’m considering it,” Rhoden said. “Obviously it would be a huge step. It’s not a decision I would make lightly, or even consider lightly.” - Argus Leader, 3/17/13

Now onto the Democrats where the two names mentioned a lot are Former Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D. SD-AL) and Johnson's son, U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson:
Both Brendan Johnson and Herseth Sandlin are likely to be recruited by national committees seeking the strongest possible candidate for Senate, governor and the House seat. Democratic groups have been polling in the state to determine their best candidate, but the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Governors Association did not respond to questions this past week regarding their roles in the polling.

Meanwhile, the two potential candidates have stepped up public appearances. Herseth Sandlin has appeared at the South Dakota Farmer's Union State Convention last month and at the Governors Biofuels' Coalition hosted by ethanol giant POET.

Brendan Johnson also has been making public appearances, speaking to the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce and at several schools.

Johnson attributed those visits and others to his job of trying to stop human sex trafficking. He said men have been grooming high-school-aged girls for sexual exploitation, and as U.S. attorney it's his responsibility to warn girls of the risks. - USA Today, 3/17/13

USA Today notes that Herseth Sandlin's weakness might be how she alienated the more liberal base back in 2010 when she publicly dissed Speaker Nancy Pelosi and voted against the Affordable Health Care Act.  Johnson's weakness is that he's never held public office and that it will look like an act of nepotism.  But one local political expert expressed his arguments against both potential candidates' baggage:
But Dennis Pierson, a former state lawmaker who ran unsuccessfully against Herseth Sandlin in the 2002 House primary, said he thinks those weaknesses can be overcome. He noted that Abraham Lincoln lost elections, only to go on to a storied political career. And he doesn't think Republican charges of nepotism will hurt Johnson.

"That to me is up to the voters," he said. "It's not nepotism at all. Both of those people are very capable, very smart," he added of Brendan Johnson and Herseth Sandlin.

Pierson said that if he were Tim Johnson, he would retire. And if he were in Brendan Johnson's place, he would run for Senate.

"If I were Stephanie," he added, "I wouldn't run for Senate. I would run for governor." - USA Today, 3/17/13

Herseth Sandlin's name has been brought up as a potential Gubernatorial candidate against incumbent Governor Dennis Dugaard (R. SD) in 2014:

http://rapidcityjournal.com/...

Democrats worry about an expensive, hostile Democratic primary between Brendan Johnson and Herseth Sandlin. Some say it would make more sense for Herseth Sandlin to challenge first-term Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard next year.

That's an intriguing possibility. It makes some sense. Herseth Sandlin pondered a gubernatorial run in 2010. Looking back now, she might wish she had run. She is still an appealing candidate, however. And her history of moderation in Congress would play better in a general-election run against Daugaard than in a Democratic primary against Brendan Johnson, where liberals hold more sway.

It's nearly impossible for a Democrat to beat an incumbent Republican governor in South Dakota. Dick Kneip proved it can be done in 1970. Herseth Sandlin doesn't have Kneip's retail political skills. But she is exceptionally bright and brings crucial experience and fund-raising capability to a race. She also has that name. - Rapid City Journal, 3/17/13

All these question will soon be cleared up about South Dakota's political future.  But the first step will be Johnson's announcement which we will be hearing soon.  Stay tuned.

Originally posted to pdc on Tue Mar 19, 2013 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party and South Dakota Kos.

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