At a press conference with supporters of Amendment R in Sioux Falls yesterday, Governor Dennis Daugaard staked out his position on all ten of the ballot measures on which we get to vote this fall:
“Vote yes on Amendment R,” Daugaard said in a press conference to launch the campaign Tuesday afternoon. “You can vote no on all the others if you want to, but at least on Amendment R, vote yes” [Megan Raposa, “Gov.: ‘Vote yes on Amendment R, You Can Vote No on the Others’,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.06.28].
That’s a step up from the deceptive contrarianism trial-ballooned by Daugaard’s favored but ultimately failed candidate in the District 19 Senate GOP primary. But vote for my ballot measure, ditch everything else is still lazy political thinking. In another demonstration of the paucity of his leadership, Governor Daugaard is braving a position on the picayuniest of the ballot measures, a minor clarification of the constitutional provision for governance of the vo-tech schools for which supporters are over-promising workforce impacts, while hiding behind a default No on nine matters of greater consequence.
Governor Daugaard isn’t even showing the courage to stand up for measures that ought to be political priorities for his party:
- The Governor is abandoning Referred Law 19, the Incumbent Protection Plan that his fellow Republicans in the Legislature worked very hard to amend into more key advantages for their party.
- The Governor is abandoning Referred Law 20, the youth minimum wage that his party passed to punish Democrats for their successful use of ballot initiatives to enact Democratic policies.
- The Governor is abandoning Amendment S, the astroturf bill of rights for crime victims that SDGOP consultant and former party exec Jason Glodt has been working very hard to pass. Maybe the party doesn’t care about the policy, but one would think the SDGOP would at least do a favor to maintain the value of one of their prime consultant’s stock. The Governor’s No on S is Glodt’s second bruising repudiation from people who should be his allies in less than a week; last week, everyone but Glodt at the state bar convention voted to oppose Amendment S.
Governor Daugaard’s lazy No on everything but R stance makes my life easier. He’s endorsing my negative position on the two referenda I sponsored. Whether I’m stumping for the No vote on 19 and 20 or campaigning for the District 3 Senate seat, I can tell voters, “Even the Governor agrees with me that my opponent made the wrong call in supporting the Incumbent Protection Plan and the youth minimum wage.” He’s backing me up on Amendment S and Amendment U, the payday lenders decoy measure that writes unlimited interest rates for loan sharks into our constitution. The Governor’s laziness buys me some laziness: instead of working hard on all ten ballot measures, I can embrace the four gubernatorial Nos that agree with me, shrug at Daugaard’s Yes on the most inconsequential measure, and focus my advocacy on the five measures where Yes votes can make a big difference in South Dakota’s political and economic landscape.
But South Dakota, wouldn’t you rather have a leader who can give you good reasons for or against each ballot measure, instead of a Governor who seems more like a figurehead, trotting out a blanket No on nine diverse and complicated policies for the sake of focusing attention on the one ballot measure his business pals want?