Maybe Governor Dennis Daugaard should just stay home during the primaries. As in 2012, the Governor’s contributions to GOP Legislative primary candidates in 2016 appear to have produced no better results than flipping a coin.
As of May 27, Governor Daugaard had blessed nine Republicans with contributions to help them beat fellow Republicans in yesterday’s primary. (Post-primary reports may reveal more assistance from the boss.) Daugaard favorites Senator Larry Tidemann, Senator Deb Peters, Senator Alan Solano, Senator Terri Haverly, and Representative Jeff Partridge all won their Senate primaries against radical right-wing party outsiders. Daugaard-favored incumbents Senator Bruce Rampelberg, Representative Roger Solum, and Representative Jacqueline Sly all lost Senate primaries to radical right-wingers.
In the most stinging rebuke to the Governor, the incorrigible District 19 rejected brand-spankin’-new pol and Rounds yes-boy Caleb Finck in favor of Establishment bête noire Stace Nelson. (No, Bob, Stace didn’t have to be disciplined in 2012; the GOP leadership chose to punish him for challenging their partisan authority, just as they chose to punish Lee Schoenbeck this year for speaking his mind.)
We can argue that Daugaard squeaked out a win in these contests, 5–4. Recovering from a prematurely published story last night that flipped those numbers, Bob Mercer can contend that counting gubernatorial appointees brings Daugaard’s Tuesday tally down to 5–6. Either way, Daugaard’s primary influence seemed to have as little discernible effect in driving victories as it did in 2012.
There’s a strange contradiction here: liberals and conservatives alike grumble that the Governor’s office dominates the direction of the Legislature during Session, yet when primary season rolls around, his dominance over Legislative candidates disappears.