News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Monday, March 14, 2011

Herseth Sandlin closes campaign committee

Stephanie Herseth Sandlin has closed down her campaign committee, according to a report by Chris Cillizza in The Washington Post.  While that does not eliminate the possibility of running again for her old seat or for a Senate seat in the future, as Cillizza says, it is a good indication of her intentions.

Herseth Sandlin has joined a law firm that has a strongly bi-partisan staff of lobbyists on agricultural issues, an area that has been a focal point of her career both in Congress and in prior work.  While she is prevented by law from directly lobbying her former colleagues, she can work on policy and utilize her knowledge and her contacts in its development.  

In December, Herseth Sandlin indicated that the probability of running for office again was less that 50/50.  Those who claim some insight into political thinking have kept asking about her intentions, but she has not fed into the speculations.

The political commentators seldom consider the priorities of family and the assessments of where and how one can make the strongest contribution to public service, if that is the work they choose to do.  Running for political office is a tremendously wasteful process, and the positions and imagery that seem to sway voters have little to do with actual issues.

Rep. Kristi Noem's  two and a half months in the House have demonstrated that her performance has little relationship to what she chose to project on the campaign trail.  She has quickly become involved in the Washington power elite in great contradiction to the qualities she professed in her criticism of Herseth Sandlin.  In assessing political prospects in South Dakota, one cannot ignore the facts of what people have voted for, whether they voted on actuality or campaign mythology.  

The Democratic Party would like to have experienced and highly-regarded people like Tom Daschle and Herseth Sandlin to front campaigns in the future, but the voters of South Dakota have spoken on both the state and national levels and have defined themselves.  If the Democratic Party wants to be a contender in South Dakota, it will have to find and develop new talent.  The forces that motivate the "brain drain" from South Dakota work on the leadership level as powerfully as they do on college graduates.   If one has intellectual talent, one has to forge relationships outside the state to put it to use.  And those relationships create great jealousy, resentment, and animosity in the provincial minds.  

Herseth Sandlin can probably do more for the state through work in Washington, D.C.  While the state legislature deals with internal budget shortfalls, the overriding fact is that South Dakota is dependent upon the federal government for its well-being, despite the fact that it likes to live in the delusion of independence and self-sufficiency.  

Campaigns and elections have consequences.  The irony in South Dakota is that while some will see Herseth Sandlin's direction as a further rejection of South Dakota, she will be engaged in work to protect its people from what they voted for. 

1 comment:

caheidelberger said...

Sounds like a pretty clear signal that 2012 is the year we Dems find our bench! Time for county parties to start cultivating candidates.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States