Democratic candidate for District 27 House Red Dawn Foster just got the endorsement of the President of the United States.
President Barack Obama, in what I must admit sounds like a generic endorsement of [insert candidate name here], issued this audio endorsement posted by the South Dakota Democratic Party:
Hi, this is Barack Obama, and I’m asking you to support Red Dawn Foster.
This election isn’t just about defeating extreme Republican candidates. It’s also about electing strong Democrats like Red Dawn Foster. I know Red Dawn Foster will fight to defend the progress we’ve made over the past eight years. Our children need us to keep working to make this country stronger, fairer, safe, and cleaner, and Red Dawn Foster will do just that.
Again, this is Barack Obama, urging you to get to the polls to vote for the candidate who has my back and yours, Red Dawn Foster. Thanks, and go vote! [President Barack Obama, audio endorsement, posted by South Dakota Democratic Party, 2016.10.26]
President Obama may not have time to record unique, district-specific statements for every candidate he’s endorsing. He does have a country to run, and Foster is just one of 150 candidates in 20 states who are getting the Commander-in-Chief’s nod. President Obama is also issuing “robocalls, social media posts, mailers, photos of Obama with the candidates taken as he’s been traveling to campaign in recent weeks, and even a few radio ads.” The President has realized that winning at the national level won’t secure Democratic Party strength if we keep ceding Legislatures to Republicans:
Six years ago, Democrats felt they couldn’t even get Obama interested in House races. But now, after years of the Democratic bench being depleted on his watch, Obama’s looking to build it back. On top of all that: a concern within the Oval Office and through the West Wing with how much policy is being crafted in state capitals, from laws on reproductive health to climate change to voting rights [Edward-Isaac Dovere, “Obama Endorses All the Way Down Ballot,” Politico, 2016.10.23].
Ballotpedia is cataloguing the Obama endorsements, but as of this writing, their writers haven’t caught up with the Foster shout-out.
On Monday, Foster returned to the Oceti Sakowin Camp to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. As a general rule, I’d say the last two weeks before Election Day are no time for a candidate to be out of the state. The President’s endorsement in a strongly Democratic district, along with the good press Foster may get with the home folks for standing against Dakota Access in the biggest demonstration of tribal power in this century, may boost Foster’s vote count no matter where she is. Foster may also gain credibility with her neighbors by arguing that resistance to the pipeline is more important than her political fortunes.
But we shouldn’t assume that President Obama’s endorsement in a heavily American Indian district sews up victory for a Democratic Oglala Sioux and Navajo woman. Republican Rep. Elizabeth May won her District 27 seat in 2012 thanks to Democrats’ failing to field a second candidate, but she won reëlection in 2014 against a two-Democrat team fair and square. Rep. May is a Republican in Democratic country, but she’s also a well-known Republican who runs a grocery store and sees lots of voters every day.
If Foster wants to turn the Presidential endorsement into GOTV gold, she needs to be on the ground, knocking on doors with a print copy of the President’s statement in hand, and saying, “I’m Red Dawn Foster, and the President says you need to go vote!”
Foster and Rep. May are part of a five-candidate field which includes Democratic Senator Jim Bradford, Republican Steve Livermont, and independent Everette L. McKinley. The top two vote-getters go to Pierre.