Reporter Skewers Nine Southeast SD Candidates for Failure to Respond

Politicians who decline to speak to the media do so at their own peril.

That Sioux Falls paper offered legislative candidates in fourteen southeast South Dakota districts the opportunity to submit bios and answers to three questions. Nine out of 77 candidates chose not to respond. On those nine, reporter Patrick Anderson heaps undisguised scorn:

…I just wanted to highlight the politicians who did not respond to interview requests, even as they seek office as a representative for you, the public.

They couldn’t be bothered to send an email or take a quick phone call. They weren’t willing to answer three quick questions, share their platform with you, the voter [Patrick Anderson, “These Political Candidates Won’t Talk,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.10.31].

The silent targets of Anderson’s scorn are…

  1. Rep. Arch Beal (R-12/Sioux Falls)
  2. Rep. Nancy Rasmussen (R-17/Hurley)
  3. Rep. Mike Stevens (R-18/Yankton)
  4. Mark Guthmiller (D-9/Sioux Falls)
  5. Ellee Spawn (D-13/Sioux Falls)
  6. Mike Myers (I-15/Sioux Falls)
  7. Debbie Pease (R-17/Centerville)
  8. David Allen (D-18/Yankton)*
  9. Peter Rossiter (D-18/Yankton)*

I’m tempted to give the Yankton candidates a pass: they have their own local daily paper and flagship radio station to get out their message. Rossiter, Allen, and Rep. Stevens participated in a candidate forum hosted by Yankton media on October 20 and a local Chamber forum on October 3 (what? Yankton holds two legislative forums, while Aberdeen, the Hub City, twice Yankton’s size, only hosts one? Come on, Aberdeen!) If those Yankton candidates have chosen to focus their energies on reaching local voters through local media… well, the wisdom of that choice is debatable.

But for the other six candidates, turning down free ink in their primary daily newspaper is a really bad idea. From a marketing perspective, a candidate should never miss an opportunity for positive publicity, especially when the only cost is sending copies of text that is probably already on one’s website and other campaign materials. From a principled perspective, candidates have a duty to communicate with the voters. The media have a duty to help us communicate with the voters. When the media comes knocking to do its duty, we candidates should do ours.

Correction 2016.11.02 10:20 CDT: I originally mistyped Allen’s and Rossiter’s party affiliation. They are Democrats… and I should know! I apologize to the two candidates for branding them with the wrong party label!


16 Responses to Reporter Skewers Nine Southeast SD Candidates for Failure to Respond

  1. Not defending Mike Myers, but even if he won, he could not serve. He has been living in Minneapolis now for several months to be closer to family.

  2. Interesting. Has Myers declared his intention not to return? Does he still maintain a residence and voter reg. in SF?

  3. Helpful tip of the day :) Allen and Rossiter from Yankton are both Democrats not Republicans

  4. Bless the fact checkers! These politically motivated bloggers who pose as journalists must be held to account! ;)

  5. Newspapers are a dying media. Candidates have many options available for getting their message out. I can’t speak to each candidate on the list. But I know Ellie Spawn is very active on social media. I live 400 miles away from her district and I know what she stands for. I would never be able to get that information from “that Sioux Falls paper”, as you call it.

  6. Doh! Thanks, John! My bad! I have corrected the above text.

  7. LS, your point is, in part, fair. Ellee has lots of online hustle. But the newspaper still reaches more people and more voters in her district than any social media campaign.

    I’m all over social media, but when the Aberdeen newspaper and radio stations call, I’m on.

  8. “But the newspaper still reaches more people and more voters in her district than any social media campaign”.

    I don’t know if I believe that, and you didn’t support that claim with any evidence. And even if it is true, I am not sure simply reaching the largest number of voters is the best strategy. I know that Social Media allows for a more specific audience targeting. You can target a much more specific audience on social media.

  9. I have never turned down an interview with any media, for any reason. Given we newbies, it only makes sense to let people know who we are and what we stand for. I feel the same way about the candidate surveys I get.

  10. Evidence? I’ve pushed three campaign posts on Facebook with cash. None has reached as many people in one day as the Aberdeen American News.

    Facebook drove an early surge of contributions to my campaign via ActBlue. But later fundraising pitches online have not been as successful as other outreach.

  11. That said, I agree your mileage may vary, and social media allows more targeting and more immediate blasts that print media can’t do. I’m just not convinced that social media is so big that candidates can ignore an invitation for free publicity in print media.

  12. As MC says, if someone sticks a mic in your face, and you’re running for office, start talking!

  13. Unfortunately Cory, your “evidence” doesn’t prove anything to me. Perhaps your social media skills are just extremely poor.

  14. I welcome your counter-evidence. My evidence, so far, is the only evidence. Feel free to show me a South Dakota election where social media as tipped the results from one candidate to the other. And show me the evidence that ignoring a chance for free print media adds any votes to a candidate’s tally.

  15. Albeit late to the party, I feel like my two bits may be warranted here. No. I did not respond to the Argus Leader’s questionnaire. I was only made aware of it two days prior to the deadline. That being said, the printed newspaper is a dying media. If you need evidence of this, actually please pick up a copy of the Argus. You’ll find more locally relevant content in the Shopper’s News. The fact that I’m not included in that article is of little consequence to me. I’ve gotten pretty good at generating earned media and getting my name out there so far and I don’t really feel like this is a deal breaker. I may win tomorrow or I may lose. Either way I know that I worked my ass off for the last two years to reach voters in my district. I may not have signs all over town or fancy billboards. I am about good old fashioned person to person contact whether it be by picking up the phone and calling, knocking on my neighbors’ doors or just stopping people I run into at the grocery store to chat about whatever comes to mind at the moment. I’ll remind you; I’m NOT a politician. I don’t necessarily do all things that politicians traditionally do. I’m just one person fed up with the status quo, hoping to make a difference in South Dakota in my own way.

  16. Ellee gets bonus points for responding the blog… and doesn’t even need me to ask her to do so!

    Hard work door to door matters more than anything else. I agree. However, I’ve found my hard work at the doors gets easier when I get free media in the paper. It’s just like building on prior knowledge in the classroom: when people open the door and recognize me, it’s easier for me to connect with them and make the sale. They aren’t thinking, “Who is this guy?” I can get straight to, “Vote for this guy!” For ten minutes of work responding to a newspaper inquiry, I get far more minutes of easier conversations at the doors.

    Print media are dying. So are some of my 90-year-old voters. There is still no downside to getting their attention and their vote.