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March 24, 2010

RAPID CITY, S.D. -- I have authorized friends and supporters across the state to circulate petitions on my behalf as an independent-Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in the June Democratic primary.

It's official. Well, almost - Weiland needs 1,213 signatures by the end of the day Tuesday to get on the ballot, but petition drives are in progress across the state. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, the Blue Dog Democratic Representative who voted against Obama's Healthcare Reform because it

doesn't do enough to contain costs and was maneuvered through Congress in a way that stoked partisan resentment

has a primary opponent.  

South Dakota progressives are caught between a rock and a hard place.  Despite the conservative leanings of their red state, two of their three Congressional delegates are Democrats.  This may say more about the ability of Democrats to get pork for the state, than the political leanings of their constituents, but is a fact. Democratic leadership though, is a two-edged sword in this state.  Someone like Daschle can be voted out because he drives a Jag and therefore has lost touch with "real" South Dakotans.

So when the state Democrats find a promising candidate it's a proud moment.  Stephanie Herseth was such a candidate.  The daughter of an accomplished state legislator and the granddaughter of a governor and secretary of state, she had fine credentials for a SD Democrat. She was lauded here at Kos

Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, founder of the influential Daily Kos blog, said the netroots played a major role in the special election of... Stephanie Herseth (D-S.D.) in 2004... Kos said the progressive online community raised... $100,000 for Herseth... Russ Levsen, communications director for Herseth, confirmed that the netroots played a major part in her special election victory. We definitely benefited from the activism, the support online ... and a lot of people coming out to South Dakota because they believed in Stephanie's campaign," Levsen said.

And she is, no doubt about it, a better choice for progressives than any of her Republican opponents (Chris Nelson, Blake Curd, Kristi Noem.) But voting against her base and for her misinformed constituents because she is facing Tea party candidates this fall has led to a serious fallout. Opposing the President on health care was a huge disappointment.  And the perceived opposition of South Dakotans is subject to change, as we have seen.

So do we keep our support with her because she is the incumbent and therefore has the best chance to keep a Democratic seat in Congress? This is a seat, that if lost to Republicans this fall, would hurt progressives.  And yet, when are SD progressives allowed to say, enough!  When can they have a representative who supports Democratic policy?  Why can't progressives from the state of George McGovern elect a progressive? Or at least why can't they try?  

Assuming Dr. Weiland gets the necessary signatures in time,

Herseth Sandlin will face her first  primary opponent since 2002, when she topped a field of four Democrats, including second-place finisher Rick Weiland, Kevin's brother.

Weiland's announcement:  <</p>

I enter this race for Congress because I believe I can offer a different kind of leadership.  

Leadership that will challenge the status quo in Washington.

Leadership that will be honest and bold.

Leadership that puts South Dakota first; not my own re-election.

We are different than we were two years ago, as a nation and as a state.  Small business is scared to death because of the credit freeze and the slowdown in the economy.

Working folks are scared to death because of layoffs and the loss of consumer credit, and the lack of savings.  Farmers are scared to death not only because of the economic slowdown, but because of rising cost of agricultural production, the fluctuation of prices and the volatility in the agricultural markets.

Unions are scared for obvious reasons as well as teachers who depend on public funding, which is not doing very well.  

In other words, there is fear and uncertainty everywhere.  When you are afraid and uncertain, who do you look to?  Someone strong and confident, with a plan and a purpose, someone proactive, not someone reactive.

It’s no secret that Washington is broken.  It’s no secret that we have to get out of this never-ending cycle of doom.

For too long, the influence of big money in politics and the power of corporate lobbyists have produced public policies that favor the powerful.  We have a Congress that can’t get things done, deficits that are hard to imagine and political theater that works to advance the needs of politicians.

The political parties are at war with each other like never before.  Even moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans rarely work together.

The winners are the politicians, the lobbyists, the donors and the big corporations.  

The losers are the American people.

I want the American people to be on top again.

Dr. Weiland, a graduate of the Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota trained in internal medicine at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, Wisconsin.  He is the  author of The Dakota Diet

In 2007, Beau LeBeau had had enough. In high school he had been one of the most celebrated athletes in the history of Pine Ridge, but at age 36 he was over-weight, diabetic, and angry at the world. That's when he made the decision to hook up with Dr. Kevin Weiland, a Rapid City physician, and author of The Dakota Diet, in search of the traditional Lakota buffalo diet, and a path to restored health.  Beau's journey was captured in the movie Good Meat, produced by Larry Pourier and Sam Hurst for Native American Public Television.

There is widespread concern in SD that "Weiland will not beat Herseth Sandlin. But the question is: Can he wound her?" Jon Schaff, , a professor of political science at Northern State University in Aberdeen.

Dr. Weiland was essentially unknown before this announcement. But he has a long record of advocacy and public service as a physician and author/speaker on public health issues.  His brother's experience running against John Thune and Herseth Sandlin in the past are an asset.  He may be unknown, but he is not a nobody.  And his campaign is getting help from Steve Hildebrand

a nationally recognized political strategist who helped President Barack Obama claim the White House in 2008. Hildebrand, a Mitchell native who now lives in Sioux Falls, threatened to challenge Herseth Sandlin himself if her "no" vote on health care reform scuttled the bill. It barely passed the House on Sunday without Herseth Sandlin's help, and Hildebrand said on Monday that he wouldn't run.
But by Wednesday, Weiland was preparing an official campaign announcement, and Hildebrand was helping set up media contacts and the petition drive.

Previous diary - re Hildebrand
Previous diary - re Weiland

Petition information here and here

Website here.

He hopes to raise $250,000 before the June 8 primary, which would still put him more than $100,000 behind what Herseth Sandlin had to begin the year.

And Photo here

If Weiland makes it to the primary ... (0+ / 0-)
...please give us a photo of him in your next diary. ;)
I refuse to accept "no can do" as a proper slogan for progressives.

by Meteor Blades on Tue Mar 23, 2010 at 06:41:10 PM CDT

Originally posted to meralda on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 10:22 AM PDT.


South Dakota progressives should

13%5 votes
10%4 votes
75%28 votes

| 37 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    Never separate the life you live from the words you speak - Paul Wellstone

    by meralda on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 10:22:08 AM PDT

  •  Tipped, but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Blue Dog Democratic Senator

    Herseth-Sandlin... is not true. She's a US representative, not a Senator.

    A bit more information on Weiland would be helpful. What's his biography like? Any relevant previous experience, apart from being the brother of a loser in a Democratic Congressional Primary?

  •  I have a question, meralda . . . . (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MsSpentyouth, RoIn

    Do you happen to know why Weiland is referring to himself as an "independent-Democrat?"  That evokes shades of Traitor Joe in my mind, which is not comforting.

    Authentic Native American silverwork, jewelry, photography, and other art here.

    by Aji on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 10:33:50 AM PDT

    •  SD primary (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      is open to Independents and Democrats now. I don't know Weiland's reason but assume he is trying to attrack Independents.

      Badlands Blue

      let me lay out a couple of things for you:

      1. Total number of registered Republicans in SD: 231,766
      1. Total number of registered Libertarians in SD: 1,044
      1. Total number of registered Democrats in SD: 194,788
      1. Total number of registered Independents in SD: 81,514

      Now, let's assume that the Independents are split 50/50 (I know, rough estimate, but really)

      Total numbers - likely conservative voters: 273,567
      Total numbers - likely liberal/dem voters: 235545

      That is a 40,000 voter disadvantage. Even if you said the independents went 75/25 - the Dems would basically be EVEN with the GOP in voter registration.

      1. GOP voters vote more consistently and at higher rates then Dems.
      1. A lot of those Dems are very moderate and have no problem voting for someone as conservative as John Thune!

      **What this all means is that you can't be a liberal and expect to last long in congress**

      Never separate the life you live from the words you speak - Paul Wellstone

      by meralda on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 11:14:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Okay, that's what I wanted to know. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        That makes sense to me.

        Ever since Lieberman's shenanigans in '06, attaching "Independent" to "Democrat" makes me prick up my ears.  But I had some idea of the likely breakdown in S.D. party affiliation, so this strikes me as simply political acuity.

        Authentic Native American silverwork, jewelry, photography, and other art here.

        by Aji on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 11:18:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Devil's advocate (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MsSpentyouth, meralda
    1. Do we know that if her vote had been the difference, would she have voted no?

    (NOT saying this is a great excuse, but among the no Dems were likely several who would have voted yes if otherwise it meant the bill being defeated)

    1. Look at the GOP Delaware Senate primary - perhaps the most moderate Repub in the House, an almost certain victor in November, vs a right-wing tea party type, railing against Castle for not advocating repeal - we know if the tea-partier wins, the Dems win the election, so we hope (in this case) crazy/non-pragmatic carries the day on the other side - don't you think the Repubs want the same from us (NOT saying the SD challenger is a crazy).

    Just raising these points - I am NOT saying I have a strong opinion on either side. But if it means the majority is at stake, I am not sure this is the best place to extract punishment (as opposed to, say, the Arkansas Senate primary).

    •  the million dollar question - (0+ / 0-)

      Herseth Sandlin's reason's for opposing the bill kept changing and she kept pointed out support for some parts of it, ostensibly leaving some wiggle room; but she seemed to focus on voting as her constituents wished as her primary motivation for a no vote.  And to backtrack on that stand to pass the legislation would prove to her Republican detractors that she is a "pseudoconservative" at heart, a position she seems to be trying very hard to counter.  

      Never separate the life you live from the words you speak - Paul Wellstone

      by meralda on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 11:20:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  South Dakota is a tough place for Dems (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RoIn, meralda

    My great-grandfather was a Republican state senator in South Dakota in the early 1900s. Of course, back then, Republicans stood for many of the principles that we currently attribute to the Democatic Party.  

    He worked hard for rural electrification, supported public education, and spoke out for immigrant rights, social security, and many other efforts and programs that may not seem terribly Republican today.

    Because of his service as a "staunch Republican," many members of my family stay loyal to the Republican name-brand, while others look at what he stood for and realize that we're actually a very Democratic family.

  •  One Size Does Not Fit All (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MsSpentyouth, cacamp, meralda

    If Herseth represented a blue district than yeah, this would make sense.  But to completely throw the baby out with the bathwater risks turning us into a Club for Growth of the left.

    Herseth may have dropped the ball on HCR, but what would a Republican -- who would be all but certain to win against Weiland give us?

    •  Nothing (0+ / 0-)

      given the recent attitude of Republicans in Washington and in Pierre, SD.  Republican winners take all.  Democrats negotiate.  Hence this diary. The question is, is this our only choice? Do we just put up and shut up?  Is there any alternative to giving up a seat in Congress by speaking out in opposition?  Being a state-wide, at-large district makes the progressive voice even more isolated.

      Never separate the life you live from the words you speak - Paul Wellstone

      by meralda on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 11:30:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There are a lot bigger fish to fry than... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cacamp, plankbob, meralda

    ...purging Democrats who manage to get elected in bright red states.  

    And one only has to look and see how well the whole ideological-purity-regardless-of-district thing has worked for Republicans the past few years...

    •  SD Democrats can't win statewide office without (0+ / 0-)

      the support of the Native American vote.  And yet, the return from SHS is a No vote on health care reform that:

      In terms of Indian health, the legislation permanently reauthorizes IHCIA, a law which provides an array of support to IHS and other programs that aid Native American health. It was first made law in 1976.

      Indian advocates have said throughout the lengthy time it took to pass the bill that permanent reauthorization was crucial, so they don’t have to ask Congress every few years to approve policies that a majority already agrees makes sense.

      Congress has failed many times over the years to reauthorize the law in a timely manner, so its permanent reauthorization is seen by many Indian advocates as a major victory.

      According to the NIHB, the legislation’s influence on Indian country is multi-fold. Officials with the organization said it improves workforce development and recruitment of health professionals in Indian country; provides funds for facilities construction as well as maintenance and improvement funds to address priority facility needs; creates opportunities for access to and financing of necessary health care services for Indians; and assists with the modernization in the delivery of health services provided by IHS.

      The answer may well be that this is the cost of keeping a Democrat elected.  But I think the issue should be aired out now and then.

      Never separate the life you live from the words you speak - Paul Wellstone

      by meralda on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 11:45:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wieland won't get our vote (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Yes he helped the Indian you cite with his diet plan but Herseth/Sandilin has helped in many more concrete ways. When I led our protest on Bear Butte two years ago she was the only politician to come to ask what we needed. She comes to the reservations to ask our leaders what they need and works to deliver constitutent services to the rez.

        Wieland hasn't even mentioned us in all his statements nor has he been here to seek our advice on his run. I suppose he'll get around to it when he realizes what you said... Democrats don't win in South Dakota without a strong native vote. By then it'll be too late.

        The main thing is this... We don't want to let in a damn Republican.

  •  Tough call (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cacamp, meralda

    Herseth Sandlin isn't progressive but neither is South Dakota. How do you then explain McGovern and Abourezk and Daschle and Johnson? I think Weiland needs to get more well-known, so not this time.

    Dream, that's the thing to do (Johnny Mercer)

    by plankbob on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 11:49:11 AM PDT

    •  South Dakota desparately needs (0+ / 0-)

      new voices in the Statehouse, a new governor, a new attorney general, new legislators.  I hope that the interest in Weiland's candidacy will encourage more progressives to consider these offices too.  Less glory, but maybe more direct impact.

      Never separate the life you live from the words you speak - Paul Wellstone

      by meralda on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 12:23:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  we agree on the statehouse (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I don't see how Wieland would help there but it would be nice. What is needed is a rebuilt Democratic Party that can elect some local candidates who could then work their way into office statewide.

        •  I totally agree. (0+ / 0-)

          If nothing else, seeing a completely new candidate get the support and attention Weiland has in such a short time, might inspire other people to consider a run for state or even local office. There is support in at least some pockets of the state for progressive ideas. And those voices could carry weight in Pierre now, and be a source of statewide candidates in the future.

          Although I have no patience, I understand it is a good quality.

          Never separate the life you live from the words you speak - Paul Wellstone

          by meralda on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 12:52:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I'll stay with Herseth/Sandlin (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The truth is a Democrat can't win in South Dakota without a strong showing on Indian reservations. And another truth is that our people are hurt when republicans are elected so it's imperative we fight to keep the seat in Democratic hands. In the last election we even supported her over a Republican Indian candidate who we thought was merely being used to split our votes. Another truth many progressive don't know is that Dashele lost because he betrayed native people and helped the state steal more of our lands.

    In this primary Stephanie is being challenged by a strong field of wingnuts who smell blood in the water. This revenge challenge in the primary can wound her perhaps but there is no way in hell this jonny-come-lately can either beat her or win in the general. Had that been a possibility Hillidebrand would have taken on the race the fact that he declined is pretty good proof that this isn't a serious candidate.

    This election is far too important for native people for us to back an unserious candidate. We'll stay with Herseth/Sandlin and I hope kossacks thinking about wasting their money in South Dakota will reconsider.

    •  I hope discussion is good (0+ / 0-)

      I value your comments. In the national political sphere, South Dakota is such an inconsequential asterisk, that you can debate strategy and theory without much risk.

      There are a lot bigger fish to fry

      But like you, I am a South Dakotan, and when it is personal, the game is a lot more serious.

      This election is far too important for native people.

      It really does matter to us every day, not just when there is a vote in Congress.  And that is why I am asking - now that is looks like there is a primary, what is our best course? I don't have the answer. I am looking for it.

      Never separate the life you live from the words you speak - Paul Wellstone

      by meralda on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 12:18:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  thanks to Hillary Clinton... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        staying doggedly in the race South Dakota got some play in the last presidential election and the native vote went for Obama big time. We are generally progressive and support progressive issues except on abortion. But both Senator Johnson and Herseth/Sandlin take a more conservative tack than we would like at times. In the case of HCR this state like many red states is solidly against it and imo independents and most democrats also oppose it. Had she voted for HCR she would have given the GOP too much ammo to use against her, so she really had no choice.

        here's my opinion, for a progressive candidate to make a credible run he/she must have a lot of name recognition and some special factors in their favor such as Herseth/Sandlins family or a solid record in state government. Without that there is no chance to win so unfortunatly we have to hold our noses and vote for a conservadem to keep the seat out of rethug hands.

  •  New diary just put up about SD Senate race (0+ / 0-)

    where Sen. John Thune-R is so far running unopposed.

    Different problem - same issues for the state.

    link here

    Never separate the life you live from the words you speak - Paul Wellstone

    by meralda on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 01:09:59 PM PDT

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