The following post is mostly academic. The outcome of the June 7 Republican District 3 House primary is immaterial, given that the general electorate will punish mediocrity and Trumpism by electing Democrats Nikki Bootz and Brooks Briscoe to the Legislature in November. Nonetheless….
Republican candidate for District 3 House Todd Kolden enlists his wife Robi to write a letter to the editor promoting his candidacy. Mrs. Kolden continues the Mister’s tack of campaigning as a moderate, which is great if you’re running in the general but is suicide if you’re campaigning for votes of the diehard party animals who will show up for the Republican Party’s Trump affirmation in June.
Robi Kolden says all the wrong things about her husband for the right-wing keepers of the GOP flame:
He has the ability to listen to and process viewpoints that are not his own [Robi Kolden, letter to the editor, Aberdeen American News, 2016.05.06].
Robi Kolden here channels Democratic candidate for U.S. House Rep. Paula Hawks, who said at McGovern Day last weekend that South Dakota Democrats deliver more effective government because, to win elections, they have to demonstrate an ability to see all sides of an issue, rather than just coasting on their party label and waiting for the Governor or the NRA to tell them how to vote.
He truly cares about all people of South Dakota. He supports the rights of everyone, not just a select group who support potentially prejudicial or discriminatory beliefs [R. Kolden, 2016.05.06].
Again, Robi Kolden strikes the right chord for general election voters. But she’s pitching to a group of prejudicial Republicans who spent the last Legislative Session looking for new and needless ways to bully and discriminate against people they don’t like.
Robi Kolden cites the daylight between her husband and the hard right Republicans in the race, incumbent Rep. Dan Kaiser and Drew Dennert, as a reason to vote for him:
He was recently described as a lone wolf. I imagine that was because he has chosen not to align himself with other more conservative candidates. He is certainly not alone in the eyes of his friends, family, or in the eyes of those who know him here in Aberdeen.
…Todd Kolden is the Aberdeen Republican alternative to the ultra-conservative. Please give him your vote [R. Kolden, 2016.05.06].
Robi Kolden is right: not aligning oneself with more conservative candidates is a virtue. District 3 and South Dakota need an alternative to the ultra-conservative distractions that have embarrassed our state and birthed Trumpism. But the people who show up to vote in the Republican primary are not going to give us that alternative. They will demand alignment with conservative purity (unless, of course, you are a billionaire TV star who scratches the itch for Trumpist dumb-dumbism).
Robi and Todd are pitching practical moderation to Republican primary voters who view moderation as betrayal. Republican primary voters can twist the statement “I am personally against abortion” to mean the candidate is “pro-abortion.” Republican primary voters will look at praise for a Senator who crosses the aisle to get things done as an indication that the candidate can’t be trusted.
Robi, you are saying all the right things. You are saying them in the wrong election. And Todd, you’re running with the wrong party.
Bonus Prediction! June 7 GOP primary results for District 3 House:
- Rep. Dan Kaiser: 630 votes, 40.0%
- Drew Dennert: 590 votes, 37.5%
- Todd Kolden: 220 votes, 14.0%
- Voters marking only one candidate instead of two: 134, 8.5%.
- More than half of the voters choosing only one candidate will be Kolden voters who have the courage to reject Trumpism. Under a third will be Kaiser voters who think Dennert is too young to serve. The small remainder will be Dennert voters who will have nothing to do with Kolden’s moderation but quietly wonder why Kaiser is still running when he missed every day of the 2016 Session except for Veto Day.
- Voter turnout: 12% of District 3’s 6,559 Republicans.