Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Bed and Breakfast in the Black Hills

Here is an interesting and attractive Bed and Breakfast in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Those of you riding your Hogs to the Sturgis rally in ’08 should take note, by the way. I just discovered that the owners are old friends I haven’t seen in many years, Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Van Patten (he teaches at the law school, therefore I presume she does the real work). He is a regular reader of NLT and just won an NLT mug. Nice place John!

Discussions - 6 Comments

Hello Jon! Been a long time. We'd love to visit you in the Black Hills sometime soon.

If I ever get to South Dakota, I'm going to ask some locals: "What's with your support for George McGovern and Tom Daschle?" I can understand New York and Massachusetts going weird. I can understand Pennsylvania embracing the fraudulent Caseys, father and son. But what I don't get is those citizens of the Mountain West states going for guys like McGovern and Daschle. And I'd like an opinion on that matter from some actual Dakotans.

Read the South Dakota Politics blog, though, of course, Jon Schaff and Ken Blanchard only live in South Dakota, but aren't from there. I don't know about Jason Heppler; I suspect that he's from South Dakota, but doesn't actually live there.

I'm using the new book on the Daschle-Thune race in a class next term. Does anyone know the author? Barone praised it.

Once again, check with Schaff and Blanchard.

For local governance, South Dakota is solidly Republican. It has been almost thirty years since the last Democratic governor and about the same time for control of the state legislature. This is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

As to the House and Senate, the first answer is pork. South Dakotans, especially farmers, like federal money. Democrats are regarded as more reliable on that matter. Second, constituent services are very important. Tom Daschle and Tim Johnson have excellent congressional staffs. Although South Dakota is a relatively large state, the number of people is comparatively small and so it is easier to be responsive. Daschle took pride in visting every county in the state at least once per year. Both he and Johnson are world class at connecting with constituents on a personal level. For that matter, the lone member of the House, Stephanie Herseth, has an outstanding personal presence. South Dakotans will tolerate a lot, if the pork, services, and personal attention are delivered.

Another aspect is that the Dems have done better in fielding congressional candidates. McGovern, Daschle, Johnson, and Herseth, on the one hand, are clearly better candidates than say, Karl Mundt (who in the end was incapacitated), Larry Pressler, Dale Bell, and Larry Diedrich. When the Reps find a star, they do pretty well in the congressional races -- e.g., John Thune and William Janklow.

The SD Dems get into trouble when they get too public with their alignment with the national Dems. It finally caught up to both McGovern and Daschle, but it took a long time because the national stuff is less important. When the election turned on national issues, they did less well. McGovern, for example, could not carry South Dakota in 1972. Nevertheless, McGovern was re-elected for another term in the Senate in 1974. What seemed to be the downfall in the Senate careers of both McGovern and Daschle was the perception that they had lost touch with South Dakota. In 1980, McGovern lost to a modestly talented Republican, Jim Abnor, as part of the Reagan sweep. But McGovern was in trouble when there was a challenge to his eligibility to run for re-election on the ground he was no longer a resident of the state. His response was not to point out the error of the charge, but instead to quickly rent an apartment in Sioux Falls (thereby confirming the charge). In Daschle's case, probably the most effective ad was a video clip showing him proudly announcing that he was a D.C. resident. I think it was for tax purposes, but it was very damaging and undercut what he had spent years establishing. That and the nationalization of the Senate election ultimately made it too difficult to sustain the natural advantages he had in terms of his position in the Senate.

Tim Johnson is much loved in the state and will be very difficult to defeat, unless the election again is nationalized (unlikely) or tied to the reverse coattails of the Dems Presidential nominee (very possible, and maybe even likely if it is Hill the Hun).

To anyone with a desire to visit South Dakota, the Black Hills are beautiful and the accomodations at Normarke Farm B&B (605) 578-2125 will meet with your approval. Stop by for a visit and good conversation. And thank you, Peter, for the mug and the plug.

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