(Note: The following is from Ben Hanten, an executive board member of the South Dakota Democratic Party.
Several months ago our Congressman, long-time son-of-a-bitch, Bill Janklow sped through a stop sign and killed a motorcyclist.
Stephanie Herseth narrowly lost to Janklow in 2002 in a Republican state. Janklow had been governor 16 years (four terms) and was very popular. This newcomer - a bright-eyed, smart, young woman almost beat him. She didn't do any negative campaigning (which is hard when there is so much scum in Janklow's record). When the manslaughter trial came up, she was positioned well.
I called Stephanie and her field director and let them know I would do ANYTHING to help elect her. And I have been helping some over the last few months.
Then these comments came out in the paper that Stephanie supports an amendment banning gay marriage. I'm not gay, but I know when there's a political trap aimed at middle-America's fears. I know several gay people in Sioux Falls that helped on the Dean campaign. They are incredible assets and I couldn't fathom a progressive candidate alienating them.
I talked with a few friends about Herseth's comments and they were all outraged. I, too, felt deflated and thought about backing off my support. I sent her field director my criticisms.
The next day Stephanie called me. She said that obviously she wishes this weren't an issue in the election. She also said that she has acquaintances who happen to be homosexual, and that she's had to address this issues with them.
I'm still disappointed that she said, "I agree with the president on this issue." But I also know that I'm not a single, pro-choice woman running in an extremely conservative sate. I also can envision the advertisements with little kids saying, "Stephanie Herseth is against our family."
This isn't California or Florida, after all. It's South Dakota - we're proud of regressive taxes, paying our teachers $19,000, Citibank and corporate agriculture. Outside of Sioux Falls, people may not even know a single gay person!
South Dakotans would sooner lynch Hillary Clinton and Diane Feinstein than ever elect them. Stephanie Herseth has managed to be a good progressive without being labeled too liberal.
She has taken the issue off the table. South Dakota homosexuals won't have to suffer by being targeted this fall. That is one saving grace. This Saturday we officially nominate Stephanie for the special election. And proudly, I will give the nomination speech.
-- Ben Hanten
I know that many of you can't get past the FMA thing, and that's fine. There's no need to apologize for that. But for the rest of us, here's some extra motivation:
The National Republican Congressional Committee And Chairman Tom Reynolds CORDIALLY INVITE YOU TO MEET THE SD-AL CANDIDATE Larry Diedrich WITH SPECIAL GUEST
THE HONORABLE KARL ROVE
March 30, 2004
US Chamber of Commerce
1615 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20003
6:00pm - 8:00 pm
YES, I WILL ATTEND__
NO, I WILL NOT BE ABLE TO ATTEND__
HOST: $10,000 __
CO-HOST: $5,000 __
SPONSOR: $2,500 __
Suggested PAC Donation $1,000 __
Diedrich is Rove's candidate. And Diedrich will probably raise over $50,000 in this event.
The Daily Kos community brough in $21K for Herseth in one night last week (I'll try to get a full total from the campaign). We can actually keep up, if not exceed, Rove's ability to raise money for his candidates.
We're taking back the House one seat at a time.
Update: A local (SD) blogger also weighs in.