Here's another diary on South Dakota's 2008 races. This entry will focus mainly on Senator Johnson's fundraising and the on-going speculation about his health, when he will return to work in the Senate (he is currently working from home), and a couple of fundraising numbers from last quarter. Join me on the flip side.
cross posted at USD Dems
Good news on our Senate seat. After conflicting reports late last week regarding a rumor that Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) would resume work in the Senate shortly after Labor Day, Tom Daschle is on-record that Johnson plans to go back to work in September. Johnson has been working from home since he suffered from a brain hemmorage early this year. This is a hopeful sign because Johnson's resumption of Senate attendence will demonstrate that he is healthy and fit for office. Julianne Fisher, Johnson's communication director, said that Johnson's mind is sharp although he is having trouble regaining some motor and speech skills. I'm glad that Johnson's mentally astute although I do worry that damaged motor and speech skills would sink his candidacy should he run without complete recovery.
Johnson's candidacy is still a wild-card. If he runs for re-election and appears healthy this will be a competetive race that he can win. If he does not run for re-election or is otherwise perceived as unfit then the Democrats will have to fight tooth-and-nail to keep the seat. The New York Times said Johnson's candidacy "appears likely." Also, Fisher said that Johnson's candidacy is presummed by his staff.
Financially, our South Dakota Democrats are doing quite well this cycle. Both Johnson and Rep. Stephanie Herseth (D-SD) are reporting more money this time around than they have at this time in previous elections. Herseth is at $420,000 compared to $340,000 this time in 2005. Tim Johnson has $1.7 million cash-on-hand compared with $1.3 in 2001. This is in-line with a strong national trend this year that is heavily favoring Democrats nationwide.
Compare this with the opposition. As far as I know, nobody has declared their intention to run against Herseth. I can't say that I blame them considering that she is an incumbent who won 69% of the vote in the last election.
Johnson is financially well aheadof his two declared opponents Sam Kephart and Joel Dykstra. Dykstra just declared his candidacy after the June 30th 2Q fundraising deadline so he had no report. Kephart has not raised enough money to need to file a report yet although he is going to a fundraiser in California later this month (isn't it funny how Republicans are quick to bash Democrats for going to Hollywood for money yet sell out when they are desparate for money anyway?).
Kephart and Dykstra are both going negative about Johnson and his recovery. Compassionate conservativism at work.
"It wouldn't surprise me if someday the public starts to wonder if that good will has been stretched a little bit," Dykstra said. "I think in other states in similar circumstances, a seantor in a similar situation might not have enjoyed as much latitude as has been the case here."
Kephart said, however, that after seven months, state voters deserve more detailed updates on the seantor's condition and his expected date to return to work.
So Dykstra wants to introduce himself to South Dakotans by implying that by normal standards Johnson's recovery has been too slow. Like he can make it go any faster! Show the man some compassion! And Kephart seems to be ignoring the frequent updates on Johnson's condition. Convenient. I think Kephart just wants everyone to see a sick man in the process of recovering back to normalcy. Real noble of you both.