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First off, I hope you all had a great 4th of July.  Here's a news story I didn't get a chance to talk about before the holiday so I will talk about it today.  Former Governor Mike Rounds (R. SD), who is running for Senator Tim Johnson's (D. SD) seat, is pretty happy about the Supreme Court's decision regarding Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act:

The preclearance requirement, Rounds said, was unnecessary in South Dakota.

“The protections that the state of South Dakota has put in place are good protections,” Rounds said.

He argued some of the federally mandated voting law changes actually hurt Native Americans, saying new district lines drawn as a result of that process led to fewer Native lawmakers by packing more Native Americans into a handful of districts. - Argus Leader, 7/3/13

Meteor Blades has an excellent diary that discusses South Dakota's long history of suppressing the Native American vote and the need for the preclarence requirements:

Rich Lone Elk, 24, a member of the North Side Tre Tre Gangsta' Crips, stands outside of his house, in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, on Wednesday, October 21, 2009.  Rich and the rest of his family live without running water or plumbing.  (Photo by Matthew Williams for The New York Times)
Finally, in 2002, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal court challenge to these laws on behalf of four Lakota voters. Most of the 600 laws passed without pre-clearance were not objectionable. But the ACLU identified a dozen that were discriminatory. The lawsuit sought a court order prohibiting the state from implementing any of the statutes until South Dakota complied with Section 5. The federal court entered a consent order in December 2002 that directed South Dakota to develop a comprehensive plan “that will promptly bring the State into full compliance with its obligations under Section 5.” That process was completed in 2006.

Such slaps in the face haven't stopped South Dakota from trying other shenanigans, such as restrictions on the days allowed for early voting in reservation-dominated counties and limiting the number of polling stations. - Meteor Blades, 6/23/13

Rounds opponent, Rick Weiland (D. SD), has also expressed his opposition to the Supreme Court's decision to strike down Section 4:
“We’re going to have to see how this plays out, but it concerns me in any state, whether it’s South Dakota or Alabama, if there are roadblocks that are set up to discourage from voting,” Weiland said. “What the court’s done is they’ve opened it up now to allow various efforts to discourage voting in this country, or various efforts to discourage protection of the right to vote. I think that’s a big mistake.”

Weiland said he thinks the Voting Rights Act was fine how it was — and still needed to protect minorities.

“I don’t think we’ve advanced as far as the court determined, in terms of no longer needing the Voting Rights Act,” he said. - Argus Leader, 7/3/13

Like I've said before, the people with the most to lose in this Senate race are Native Americans.  I've written about Rounds' controversial decision to delay FEMA emergency funding to the Pine Ridge Reservation:

Unfortunately, there was a delayed response in the Governors office submitting the disaster declaration, for the Christmas blizzard that immobilized the entire state of South Dakota for several days. FEMA was in the field across South Dakota assessing damages, when the January ice storm and blizzard hit causing a crisis in many areas and devastating Cheyenne River Reservation. - NDN News, 3/10/10
Why would Rounds delay federal disaster relief for South Dakota's Native Americans?

That's what this is about:  The state of South Dakota, under the auspices of the Rounds administration, does not want to spend any extra state money to get federal disaster assistance for the reservations.  

And now that private aid is pouring in, thanks in large part to the efforts of Kossacks over the last two weeks, the governor's office has the perfect excuse not to move forward with the federal disaster process.  Inadvertently, we may just have given him exactly what he wanted:  Time to wait out the weather and public sentiment.  (Not that we had a choice in the matter; lives were at risk.  But the fact that some folks are now in a better position thanks to private efforts should in no way excuse the state of South Dakota from its obligations to its citizens.) - Aji's diary, Why is S.D. Gov. Mike Rounds Denying Federal Aid to Indian Reservations in Crisis?, 2/16/10

And not to mention Weiland worked for FEMA and was recently endorsed by The Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association:

The Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association announced Wednesday that it was backing Weiland, who has run for Congress once before, because it believed he had stood strong on native issues.

“Rick Weiland has worked extensively with American Indian Tribes and tribal leaders his entire career and we trust him," the association wrote in a statement. "As the FEMA regional director and later as CEO of the International Code Council, Rick helped forge consensus on complex issues. He has a personal connection with many of our tribal people."

The Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association is composed of leaders from tribes in South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa. - Rapid City Journal, 6/12/13

So yeah, it's no wonder why Rounds agrees with the Supreme Court's decision on the Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act.  It's going to give South Dakota Republicans more opportunities to disenfranchise Native American voters.  Governor Dennis Daugaard (R. SD), Rounds' former Lt. Governor, has been making steps to help his old boss win this Senate seat, including putting one of Rounds' cronies in charge of the South Dakota economic development board:

Rob Skjonsberg, Mike Rounds crony
Rob Skjonsberg, Mike Rounds Crony (Right)

PIERRE — Gov. Dennis Daugaard on Thursday appointed an associate of former Republican Gov. Mike Rounds’ to a board that awards state economic development loans, a move the state’s top Democratic Party official called a blatant effort to help Rounds’ campaign for the U.S. Senate.

Daugaard, a Republican, appointed Rob Skjonsberg, of Pierre, to the state Board of Economic Development. Skjonsberg worked eight years in the banking industry before becoming Rounds’ chief of staff in the governor’s office in 2003. He later worked at POET, an ethanol producer, and is currently chief of staff at Rounds’ real estate and insurance company in Pierre. Skjonsberg also is a partner in a political consulting firm that is helping Rounds’ campaign for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson, who has said he will announce later whether he will seek re-election. - The Daily Republic, 1/4/13

Not to mention Rounds and the GOP establishment are gearing up to stop a more conservative challenger from costing him his party's nominee:

Rounds has reason to worry, said state Rep. Stace Nelson, a Republican from Fulton and a frequent critic of Rounds, current Gov. Dennis Daugaard and the Republican establishment.

Nelson rejects Rounds' contention that the former governor has strong support from conservatives.

"I can't name one real conservative in the state of South Dakota who is in Rounds' camp," Nelson said. "He's trying to recreate himself."

Nelson said Rounds had "an atrocious record" while governor, allowing government to expand, ballooning a structural budget deficit that topped $100 million and readily relying on federal stimulus dollars that conservatives abhorred.

"The fact that he needs $9 million to run in South Dakota should tell you that he knows his record is poor and he needs all that money to distract South Dakotans from his record," Nelson said.

Nelson hasn't yet decided if he will run for the U.S. Senate, but he is considering it. He said he has been contacted by the Tea Party Express, the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservative Fund.

Schaff said a candidate like Nelson might energize conservatives and attract substantial support from out-of-state groups. - Rapid City Journal, 6/23/13

So far conservative groups have yet to find their ideal candidate to go up against up Rounds:

In South Dakota, conservatives blasted the GOP establishment pick, former Gov. Mike Rounds (R), on day one of his candidacy.

Tea Party darling Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) chose not to run, and conservatives insist privately they weren't pleased with her legislative record, citing her lifetime score of 62 percent on the Club for Growth scorecard.

But without her in the race, it’s unclear if a conservative candidate will emerge with the name recognition and fundraising ability to launch a credible challenge. - The Hill, 7/2/13

Of course there's guys like former State Senators Stace Nelson and Bill Napoli who have been very critical of Rounds and State Senator Larry Rhoden is looking into running against Rounds in the primary.  But one potential candidate isn't letting Rounds' $9 million fundraising goal scare her away just yet:

A possible challenger, Sioux Falls Doctor Annette Bosworth, says she's getting close to making a decision.

"The missing piece is the money. I mean Mike Rounds says outwardly $9 million," Bosworth said.

Bosworth has visited a dozen communities in the last few weeks to gauge interest in a run for the Republican nomination but says Rounds' fundraising goal of $9 million is one of the next hurdles in making up her mind.

"I don't want money to be what makes my decision but I'm not a fool. This is a game of politics and you have got to have support and the only way that translates to the larger audience is with George Washington," Bosworth said. - Keoland, 6/28/13

Rounds praising the SCTOUS decision on the Voting Rights Act as well as rejecting Weiland's call for capping campaign contributions proves to me that he's scared of losing his primary and maybe even the general election.  Weiland's record with FEMA could make Rounds' handling of the emergency relief for the Pine Ridge Reservation a serious issue in this campaign and could help generate a big Native American voter turn out.  Now the Native American population in South Dakota may not be as big as the Native American population in Alaska but Democrats like Tim Johnson have always been able to depend on the Pine Ridge Reservation to help him win tight elections.  His statements over these past few weeks show how he can be vulnerable, even if he already has an early lead:

weiland072501 -- Rick Weiland
Nielson Brothers Polling shows Rounds leading Rick Weiland, 54.3 to 27.1 percent, with 18.6 percent undecided.

For Weiland, name recognition is an issue, as 50 percent of respondents say that they do not know his name. Of the remaining respondents, 21.7 percent have a favorable opinion of him and 17.2 percent an unfavorable opinion, with 11.1 percent “undecided.” By contrast, 51.7 percent of respondents give Rounds a favorable rating, 29.1 percent unfavorable and 11.1 percent undecided. Eight percent say they do not know Rounds’ name.

“This race hasn’t even started yet. I am running against nine million dollar political campaigns,” Rick Weiland said in an email response to The Daily Republic. “They are the way big money buys our Congress. They are the reason our country has been hijacked by special interests. Mike Rounds says he has to run a campaign with nine million big money dollars to win. I am going to convince everyday South Dakotans that we can take our country back and we’ll find out who is right next year.” - The Daily Republic, 6/29/13

Weiland might be the underdog with low name recognition but he's planning on running a populist campaign advocating getting big money out of politics.  And it just might work for him:

A new Gallup poll shows half the voters in the United States would approve publicly financed campaigns for federal elections. It is a timely poll as campaign funding becomes a focus in South Dakota's 2014 U.S. Senate race.

On Monday, Gallup released the findings of the poll it conducted June 15-16. Gallup interviewed 1,015 U.S. adults ages 18 older in the poll. Nationally, the results show 50 percent of adults polled would vote for a law creating a new, 100 percent government-funded campaign finance system for federal elections; 44 percent voted against it.

Breaking down Gallup's poll to geography and party affiliation, more Democrats (60%) were in favor of such a law than Republicans that opposed it (54%). Most approval came from the East (56%) and most opposition was held in the South (52%).

The poll also asked participants if they would support limiting the amount of money congressional candidates can raise and spend on campaigns. Close to 80 percent of nearly every major demographic and political group favored the idea. 83 percent of Midwest participants also supported the idea.

Campaign funds have been the recent focus of the 2014 US Senate race in South Dakota. Earlier this month, Governor Mike Rounds, running for the Republican Party nomination, announced he is seeking to raise $9 million for his senate campaign. - KSFY, 6/25/13

So it's clear that Weiland is the candidate who truly has the people's best interests in mind and truly represent what the majority of South Dakota voters and voters around the country feel in regards to campaign finance reform.  The challenge for Weiland is getting that message out to the voters, which he has time to do.  This is why Democrats and progressives cannot write this race off just yet.  Weiland's running a campaign that all of us want to see Democrats running.  He maybe running in a red, rural state in a midterm year but I still believe this race could be ground zero for getting a message across to not only the GOP but also D.C. that campaign finance reform is an important issue all over the country.  But we're only going to get that message across if we seriously try to help Weiland win.  Right now, Rounds did better this past fundraising quarter:

Former Gov. Mike Rounds (R) raised more than $600,000 for his campaign for Senate in South Dakota in the second quarter of the year, bringing his total raised for the race since he announced to more than $1 million.

The second-quarter sum is much-improved over his first-quarter $184,000 haul, a total that caused some observers of the race to wonder whether he could launch a credible campaign for the seat. - The Hill, 7/2/13

And of course Rounds will depend on his Super PAC backers to help him win just like they did in the 2002 Republican Governor Primary:
Rounds might very well owe his political career to the state's loose campaign finance regulations.

He benefited from large PAC contributions as a fledgling gubernatorial candidate in 2002. Rapid City lawmaker and philanthropist Stan Adelstein funneled $60,000 to Rounds' campaign via two contributions from the Building Rapid City PAC, which was almost entirely funded by Adelstein. Of that $60,000, $25,000 came at a critical point late in a three-way primary race when Rounds was gaining momentum but running out of money.

Candidate Rounds also received more than $200,000 in 2002 in two separate contributions from Adelstein's A Better South Dakota PAC. While that PAC was organized by Adelstein, it was funded by a series of $5,000 contributions from several individuals.

Adelstein's fortune hasn't reached the heights of Sanford's, but he has been actively involved in South Dakota politics on both sides of the aisle since taking over the family construction business as a young man in the 1950s.

Rounds won a Cinderella victory in that three-way GOP primary in 2002, and went on to easily win the general election and serve two terms as a popular governor, from 2003 through 2010. - The Center For Public Integrity, 10/24/12

So Weiland is going to need all the help he can get from us.  This race is important because it's about defeating big outside money and preserving Native Americans' right to vote.  If you would like to get involved with Weiland's campaign, you can check out his new official campaign website here:

Originally posted to pdc on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 12:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by South Dakota Kos, The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, and Native American Netroots.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (12+ / 0-)

    Funny Stuff at

    by poopdogcomedy on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 12:30:20 PM PDT

  •  We need some verbiage adjustment here. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ichibon, jasan

    Rounds did NOT "raise" hundreds of thousands of dollars. His campaign is a beg and borrow operation by a person who apparently doesn't know that donors expect a return when they lend dollars to a politician.
    It seems strange, but the candidates put forward by the party of business apparently don't know how money works.

    On the other hand, " not hurting voters" is a really low bar, or blow. Politicians are supposed to be about serving/helping the electorate. Imposing restrictions on citizens is an insubordinate act. Servants do not impose on employers. If they do, they are worse than thieves because thieves have not represented themselves as trustworthy. Dogs not biting the hand that feeds them are nothing to tout.

    Republicans seem to be used to being abused by politicians. Nevertheless, when authority (the electorate) stands silent in the face of abuse,,it becomes complicit. That goes for the Democratic Party, as well.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 01:17:42 PM PDT

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