« MO-Sen: Talent Flip-Flops on Stem Cells | Main | TX-28: Ciro Has More Cash-on-Hand Than Cuellar »

Thursday, February 23, 2006

SD-Gov: Lone Dem Candidate Drops Out

Posted by DavidNYC

The only Democrat running against super-popular South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds has dropped out. Ron Volesky says it was due to money (he has virtually none, while Rounds has over a mil), and I'm sure that's part of the reason. But I'll bet that Rounds' 72-23 approval rating (sixth-best in the nation) had something to do with it as well.

I'm sure you're asking why you should care about a gubernatorial race we were never going to win in the first place. It actually gets back to Rounds' lofty approval rating. Argus Leader columnist David Kranz explains:

Influential players in the Democratic Party didn't have great hope to topple Rounds anyway, but their mission was different from Volesky's.

This wasn't about winning.

What Democrats need more than anything is a candidate who can ruffle Rounds a bit, remove the polish from his political exterior so that he will be less-inclined to challenge Sen. Tim Johnson in 2008. That was Volesky - the perfect candidate.

Republicans around the country already say they are or will be working hard on Rounds to run against the incumbent Democratic senator.

In other words, chess, not checkers - to see the importance of the SD-Gov race this year, you've got to look a few moves ahead. Losing a Dem senator in a red state will make it much harder to ever re-take and hold the Senate. After Daschle's loss in 2004, we can't afford to see Johnson go as well. (And remember, Johnson won in 2002 by barely 1% - just 500 votes out of over 330K cast.)

All hope is not lost, though. While the people Kranz talked to are not optimistic, the news article I linked to does toss out some possible names. And, interestingly, while Rounds is very popular, he's actually had a hard time getting a number of his proposals past the legislature (even though it's dominated by members of his own party) and has even had some vetoes over-ridden. That suggests at least some vulnerabilities. Rounds may yet be taken down a notch or two before this is all over.

UPDATE: Of course, how could I miss the obvious? Both D. in FL and Mark in comments point out the white elephant in the room: South Dakota's extremely restrictive abortion legislation, which will soon appear on Rounds' desk. He'll probably be compelled to sign it into law, and from that point on, all hell will break loose. The current bill bans all abortions (except when the mother's life is at risk) - it doesn't even contain an exception for rape victims. Rounds realizes the political thicket he's wading into, even in South Dakota - he vetoed a similar bill two years ago on purely technical grounds (which are rectified in the current legislation). Since even some Republican legislators oppose this bill, I have to imagine a Democrat could make some hay out of it.

Posted at 06:53 PM in 2006 Elections - State, South Dakota | Technorati

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


We need to nominate somebody that is in strong opposition to the bill to make Abortion Illegal in SD. since SD seems to be 50-50 on Pro-Choice vs. Pro-life we can probibly hit him a right-wing extremist. While he will probibly be reelected anyway it will keep him below 60% and make him lose traction with Independents.

Posted by: D in FL. [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 23, 2006 08:04 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

D in FL took the words out of my mouth. South Dakota is not the kind of nutty abortion-loathing place that today's actions by its state legislature would suggest. If Rounds aligns himself with the SD legislature's stunt, the already limited public coffers of his state will be stretched to the breaking point in covering the legal fees necessary to finance the court challenge to legalized abortion. The soft-bellied pro-lifers of South Dakota are not likely to want their state dragged through the media mud for months and months, and much like the voters of conservative Dover, Pennsylvania, could penalize the legislators responsible for the expensive and distracting circus.

If this plays out the way the South Dakota GOP wants it to, Rounds will still probably win re-election in the gubernatorial race, but will be seriously weakened in any effort to take down Tim Johnson in 2008.

Posted by: Mark [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 23, 2006 09:18 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Now the hard work of finding somebody who is willing to run... (sigh.) Any state Senator or State Rep. up for it? Man thinking about it it must suck being a Democrat in the state leg. in SD so i would imagine at least one or two would run just to get out of the dead end job at the staet leg.

Posted by: D in FL. [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 23, 2006 10:47 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment