Tuesday, June 06, 2006

New Mexico, South Dakota Results Open Thread

Posted by James L.

Hmm, okay, how about this: given everything else going on, I don't care what happens in New Mexico tonight. But if anyone's dying to discuss who the GOP nominee to take on Sen. Bingaman is this year, feel free to liveblog that baby in the comments. Anyway...

SD-Gov, 18.12% 67.99% Precincts Reporting:

Jack Billion (D): 5,455 (64.78) 16,616 (61.44)
Dennis Wiese (D): 2,966 (35.22) 10,430 (38.56)

The AP's calling it for Billion.

Posted at 09:14 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, 2006 Elections - State, New Mexico, South Dakota | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Other Races to Watch on June 6

Posted by James L.

Earlier in the week, we gave you the rundown of all the hot primary races in California and Montana. Lost in the shuffle is the fact that primaries are being held in six other states, as well: Alabama, Iowa, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota. Here's what you should be keeping your eye on:

AL-Gov: This is one race that sure didn't live up to its billing. Last year, it looked like former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore (of "Ten Commandments" fame) might knock off unpopular Alabama Gov. Bob Riley in the Republican primary on the strength of the religious right, setting up the Democratic nominee with a chance to pick up the votes of, well, the sane faction of Alabama's Republican Party. But a year is a long time in politics, and Riley has looked stronger than ever since his performance during Hurricane Katrina boosted his popularity. The latest SUSA poll shows Moore tanking, so all the action is on the Democratic side, where former Gov. Don Siegelman's ongoing corruption trial is turning the primary against Lt-Gov. Lucy Baxley into a bit of a gong show, especially since Siegelman has been running neck-and-neck with Baxley in the polls for much of the campaign. Fortunately, Baxley has been surging ahead lately in the polls as Siegelman's trial has been dominating the local headlines. The only hope for Siegelman is that he can force a run-off, and in the meantime, find himself miraculously acquitted and get a boost from voters who may just buy into his assertion that the corruption/bribery charges were all a "political plot". But let's be real here: if Baxley can't win outright on Tuesday against this indicted punching bag, she's going to be destroyed by the much more formidable Riley this November.

IA-Gov: Given the importance of Iowa in Presidential elections, you'd think that there'd be more ink spilled on the national blogs over this race; Tom Vilsack is retiring, and other potential White House contenders would love to have a friend in the Iowa Governor's mansion during the next campaign season. The Republicans have already settled on IA-01 Rep. Jim Nussle for the nod, a deft politician who survived a decade of tough campaigns in a Democratic district. The Democratic field looks to be a two or three-way race between Secretary of State Chet Culver, former Rep. Mike Blouin, and State Senator Ed Fallon. The National Journal has a good summary of the field. Blouin, who hasn't run for elected office since losing his congressional seat in 1978, seems to be the establishment choice, and has racked up a huge amount of endorsements from major party players. Still, Culver is seen as the front-runner, and he was the only Democrat to lead Nussle in the most recent round of Rasmussen polls. Fallon is running a Wellstone-inspired outsider campaign.

MS-02: Of the four Democratic House incumbents facing moderate-to-serious primary challenges this Tuesday (the other two being CA-06's Lynn Woolsey, CA-36's Jane Harman and CA-51's Bob Filner), perhaps the most competitive is State Rep. Chuck Espy's challenge to seven-term Rep. Bennie Thompson. Espy's uncle, Mike Espy, is the former Congressman of the same district--and his election in 1986 made him the first black Congressman in Mississippi since Reconstruction. Mike Espy later went on to be Clinton's Agriculture Secretary and retains some popularity in the district, so the family connection gives his nephew a lift at the polls. I don't have a moose in this race, but for what it's worth, Thompson has sharply criticized Espy for being the beneficiary of a Republican-linked PAC that's hoping to topple Thompson by flooding the Democratic primary with Republican voters. Mississippi has an open primary system and no official party registration, but some establishment Democrats hoped to tighten the primary election rules by filing an unsuccessful lawsuit on the issue (a move apparently orchestrated to help protect Thompson.) Larry Sabato put this race in the top five primary challenges to watch back in February, and ranked the race as "Leans Thompson", but that was before Espy's fundraising kicked into gear. This AP article gives a decent overview of the race, for further information.

SD-Gov: Former State Representative and current South Dakota Democratic Party Vice-Chair Jack Billion is squaring off with former SD Farmers Union president Dennis Wiese for the chance to face Gov. Mike Rounds in the general election this November. Rounds, as you may recall, signed a horrendously restrictive abortion ban in March, and SD Democrats have the opportunity to make this an interesting race. As DavidNYC wrote, this isn't necessarily about defeating Rounds, but rather, this is about bruising him badly enough so that he'll be less formidable should he choose to challenge Sen. Tim Johnson for his seat in 2008. It's about thinking two moves ahead.

I realize that I'm missing the IA-01 rundown, but sleep is the imperative right now. I'll post an update tomorrow.

Posted at 04:34 AM in 2006 Elections - House, Alabama, Iowa, Mississippi, South Dakota | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

SD-Gov: Voters Will Decide The Fate of The Abortion Ban And Of Rounds

Posted by RBH

From the group working to squash that law

Today, the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families announced the filing of more than 38,000 signatures on petitions to repeal the extreme abortion ban passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Mike Rounds on March 6. Petitions will be filed with the Secretary of State at 2 pm today.
If at least 16,728 signatures are deemed valid, voters will decide whether the ban should become law. [Source]

I'm liking the odds of this getting on the ballot.

Signing the extreme ban did deflate the numbers of Mike Rounds. Rounds has moved up slightly, but not back to 70%. With this issue on the ballot, I wouldn't expect him to move back up to 70% job approval.

The primary to determine Rounds opponent for the fall is next Tuesday. The two candidates for the Democratic nomination are Jack Billion and Dennis Wiese.

From how I'm reading their sites, both Billion and Wiese are on the record as opposing legislation such as the bill signed this year.

Basically, it'll be a white hot election year in South Dakota, because the Dobson-esque groups will be working hard to try and get the ban retained, while the opponents will be working extremely hard as well. This could have a legitimate effect on the Governor's race when people who oppose HB1215 go out to vote against that bill and against Rounds.

We'll keep our heads up on the Governor's race, it could turn interesting soon.

Posted at 11:22 AM in 2006 Elections - State, South Dakota | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati

Monday, March 06, 2006

SD-Gov: Now We've Got Some Ammo

Posted by DavidNYC

South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds couldn't hide behind technicalities this time. Today, he signed a law banning all abortions in South Dakota except to save a mother's life. Not her health, only her life. It also includes no exceptions for rape and incest. None at all. If some sick father rapes his thirteen-year-old daughter, this law would require that she bear his baby. There are no words to describe the disgust I am feeling right now.

The human rights, civic and legal dimensions of this appalling bill are being widely discussed throughout the blogosphere. The political angle, though, should not be disregarded. Don't get me wrong: I would much, much rather that this bill have never passed. It's a true abomination. But since it has - and especially since Rounds signed it - we now have the opportunity to use it against him.

As I wrote recently, the Democrats currently have no one running against Rounds this fall. This matters not because we have any realistic shot of beating him, but because right now, he's well-poised to take on Sen. Tim Johnson two years from now. However, if Rounds can be taken down a few pegs, that'll make him a less attractive candidate.

If SD Dems can't use this as ammo against Rounds, then I have no idea what would work. But this bill is truly an outrage, and it's already brought all kinds of negative attention to South Dakota. Rounds should be made to suffer for his complicity in this obscenity. The Dems need to find a candidate and start hammering.

UPDATE: HellofaSandwich offers up a suggestion: A comebacker for Tom Daschle.

Posted at 05:39 PM in 2006 Elections - State, South Dakota | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati

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 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati