Thought you’d heard the last from Rick Weiland? Think again:
Weiland, who carried the Democratic banner in last year’s U.S. Senate race, and Drey Samuelson, who served Senator Tim Johnson as chief of staff, are starting TakeItBack.org, a political organization that will support candidates and promote ballot measures (ah ha! so that’s why Weiland was so irate about Sen. Corey Brown’s attempt to sandbag ballot measures!) to, in Weiland’s words, “take our government back from the stranglehold of wealthy special interests” and “recreate a government that is truly of, for and by the people.” Huh—now why didn’t Richard Pettigrew think of that?
Weiland says the new PAC will target D.C. and state capitols in its fight against plutocracy:
We’re at a critical juncture, and neither of us feel comfortable simply watching from the sidelines, wringing our hands. The average citizen has, unfortunately, lost faith in our political system. Congress’ approval rating remains at an all-time low, voter turnout last year was the lowest since 1942, people feel that their vote no longer matters and that big money donors and paid lobbyists are calling the shots in Washington and in our state capitols. If we don’t do something about it, and soon, our democracy could perish [Rick Weiland, press release, 2015.03.18].
Samuelson says South Dakota-grown initiatives and referenda will be an important part of TakeItBack.org’s strategy:
We strongly believe that the ballot initiative and referendum process is an important tool allowing the voters a direct voice outside a legislative process that has been corrupted by wealthy special interests. In 1898, South Dakota was the first state in the nation to give its citizens the power to use direct democracy, their vote, to bypass the state legislature believing that legislators were not listening to their concerns. It’s worth noting that it was such a good idea that 23 states followed South Dakota’s lead. We believe that the wisdom of our ancestors is still relevant today, and that we can use the tools that they gave us to affect public policy and restore the people’s trust and faith in their institutions of government [link added; Drey Samuelson, press release, 2015.03.18].
No word yet from Weiland and Samuelson on what topics their organization may bring to the ballot, but they’ll want to hustle: with cannabis advocates brewing two initiatives and Steve Hickey and Steve Hildebrand ready to wage war on payday lenders, TakeItBack.org will want to get its ballot measures in the LRC chute and beat the rush for signatures!
(If you’d like to help Rick and Drey walk petitions, give them a shout at TakeItBack.org.)