SD Dems to Gather Advice on Four-Stop Statewide Tour

Hey, Democrats! Your party wants to hear you!

When we all get over our Thanksgiving stuffing and shopping hangovers (remember, it’s not the tryptophan!), the South Dakota Democratic Party staff are hitting the road to hold four listening sessions around the state. The stated intent is to “hear from you about what issues are important to you and your community and how we as a Party can come together, move forward, and have a better election cycle in 2018.”

Three days, four locations—take your pick, Democrats!

  1. Sioux Falls: Sunday, November 27, 3:30 p.m. CT, Downtown Public Library, 200 N. Dakota Ave.
  2. Brookings: Monday, November 28, noon CT, Cottonwood Bistro, 1710 6th St.
  3. Aberdeen: Monday, November 28, 6 p.m. CT, Eagles Club, 316 S. 2nd St.
  4. Rapid City: Tuesday, November 29, 5 p.m MT, Computer Village, 601 12th St. #2

Let’s talk turkey!—er, Trump! (whoops, that’s what I just said)—er, practical ideas for organizing, fundraising, and winning some elections in 2018!

39 Responses to SD Dems to Gather Advice on Four-Stop Statewide Tour

  1. Porter Lansing

    Political parties don’t move forward. That’s arrogant thinking. Political parties are pushed forward by the demands of the voters. When the mindset changes the Democrats will be there to respond.

  2. Roger Cornelius

    The SDDP would do well to schedule one of their meeting on one the reservations.
    Indian are traditionally Democrats but registering and voting seems to have fallen off.
    It seems that they should well remember the 500 vote margin that Tim Johnson won over Thune a few years ago.

  3. Just wondering when the last time the party did any real research into who makes up their members and what issues mean the most to them.


    I’m sure I’m a little more left than most, but is there common ground with the independents? Is it possible to start in the middle and move people to the left using facts and logic without going scorched earth and alienating people right off the bat?

    I know…crazy talk.

  4. Terrible weekend for a Sioux Falls listening session (especially since you can’t invite the College Democratic group to take part). By holding it this weekend and not advertising it (the first I heard about it was on here and I live in Sioux Falls) your going to get a few of the diehards but that’s about it. I guess we still haven’t learned how to connect with the tail end of Gen X and the Millennial Generation.

    So I would say the first thing we need to do is have listening sessions not on major Holiday weekends. Also have listening group sessions throughout the state. You have six months to meet with each county in the state to get input before getting candidates out there.

    If the democrats are wanting to listen here is what are the issues the under 40 crowd (which I fall into) around Sioux Falls are concerned about.

    1. The environment: What steps are being taken to keep the land sustainable for future generations, how are we preserving the nature areas, keeping pollution levels in our water and soil low.

    2. Agriculture: Ensuring that the state is going to work to keep the ag industry as the focal point in the future.

    3. Small Schools: Keeping small schools viable

    4. Equal Rights to all people: We are all entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Doesn’t matter race, gender, or sexual orientation.

    We can’t make the election about these two things.

    1. Abortion (Roe vs Wade. Also to make an informed vote on the topic rather then just blindly voting pro life or pro choice. I’m a mixture in between the two)
    2. Gun Ownership (I’m a democrat and I support gun ownership, and I think most democrats would agree that their is a place for this) I’m not saying that we need to post photos of full auto, but it doesn’t hurt to show those candidates who do have a passion for hunting (a combination of environmental interest and gun ownership) in a few photos campaigning. I remember Tim Johnson running for offense when I was a kid and in his commercials it told his story about growing up in a small area, playing high school football

    If I were able to go to a listening session this is what I would have to say. Unfortunately I will be out of town with my family for the weekend.

  5. mike from iowa

    Madman, your items 1 & 2 aren’t compatible since your state and my state don’t give a flying fig about water quality as long as there is a space suitable for a large cafo or cafos.

    Mayhaps iowa and South Dakota should drop all their feeding operations in southern midwest states with earthquakes and polluted water supplies already.

  6. Roger, I’m all for a couple of reservation sessions. Eagle Butte is on the way from Aberdeen to Rapid City; a swing down to Pine Ridge could certainly be arranged.

    Of course, I’m not in charge of this listening tour, so we need to kick that idea upstairs….

  7. @Mike

    The general public would disagree. Issue 1 and 2 is the biggest factor to voters up in the northeastern part of SD after abortion and gun restriction. If the party would begin to campaign back onto 1 and 2 they will find they still have tremendous support. Even Tim Johnson voted when he was in the House for a pro-life bill. We have to understand the voter base and remove obstacles that automatically cause people to be single issue voters.

    By telling people that you will politically make informed decisions about gun control and abortion doesn’t alienate you the way it sounds when you say that you are for gun control and pro abortion. The next step is to educate the public in South Dakota what the party stands for and not just about national party ideology. There is a place for the national party, but South Dakota Democrats need to find our own place in the state again. I do have a dream of seeing a democratic governor that I can remember in this state one day.

  8. The SDDP should also consider a stop in Pierre. We’re the people who are able to show up to the legislature at the drop of a hat, since we live in town (or close to it) – maybe come hang out with us and hear what we have to say.

  9. They need to visit EVERY county. Going to four cities is not a listening tour. Get out there and do the work and begin to develop true grass roots.
    My past experience with the state level office showed me they just want to offer advice and fail to do the work needed to develop local candidates.

  10. Madman, I agree we can’t make the election about guns and fetuses. We Democrats never do. The Republicans make the election about those two issues, pushing us Democrats to respond with our honest positions on those issues.

    (Translation: they started it! ;-) )

  11. On Madman’s broader agenda: Environment, agriculture, small schools, and equal rights—that doesn’t sound like the tunnel vision on economic issues that I’m hearing some folks preach to Dems as a Trump antidote. In many ways, Madman’s four-point agenda is better tailored to South Dakota issues. Tune out the national noise, focus on what matters here. I like that.

    I embrace Madman’s first and fourth immediately. How can we go wrong standing for keeping the Earth healthy, usable, and enjoyable? Clean air, water, and soil are the biological foundation of everything we do. No one can live on a dungheap except dung beetles.

    Ditto equal rights: South Dakota must promise everyone equal access to liberty, justice, and opportunity.

    I’m cautiously skeptical about the middle two, agriculture and small schools, not because they aren’t important but because I wonder if they can swing enough voters to change a party’s fortunes. As Tony Venhuizen argues, the agrarian coalition on which George McGovern built the Democratic Party’s last comeback isn’t available: the 1980s farm crisis drained the farm population. There aren’t enough farmers left to turn an election for us… and consolidation and Monsanto have turned most of the remaining farmers into big-business Republicans.

    The decline of farm numbers matches the decline of small school numbers. Read me carefully here: every community should have a school, and the state has an obligation to make a free, fair, and adequate public education available to every kid in every community. But consider: 23 out of 150 South Dakota school districts have over 1,000 students. Those 23 districts teach 66.69% of South Dakota’s students. Assume K-12 enrollment is a rough proxy for population and voters, and two-thirds of our voters are in big school districts and may view efforts to prop up small schools as cutting into the money they could get for their kids.

    Small schools are an equality issue—kids in Hoven, White Lake, Edgemont, and Bison deserve as good an education as kids in Sioux Falls, Rapid City, and Aberdeen. I’ll stand up for small schools on those terms. But if we are viewing things purely from a party strategy viewpoint, we need to recognize the fiscal terms in which a majority of the voters we need statewide will view that pitch and thus the possibility that focusing on small schools may not win us as many votes as other issues.

  12. ACB, dmj, I’ll pass your FYI to SDDP HQ at confab in ABD Mon.

    A 66-county tour would be great. Maybe turnout for these first four meetings will be strong enough to inspire party staff and board members to expand the tour. If we had field offices, we could coordinate regional tours from each office, divide the work up (22 counties each: RC office takes West River, SF office takes southeast counties from Highway 34 down plus Brookings, Aberdeen office takes northeast), and be done in one-third the time. :-)

  13. Porter, Roger, & Madman nailed it.
    Ignoring Indian Country is akin to Clinton’s arrogantly ignoring the rust belt. Need a 66 county strategy. Can’t have session in each, but gez making a SD-blue town tour is a sure-fire way to “talk amongst yourselves” and go nowhere. Recall that Trump won Michigan by about 15,000 votes while over 90,000 left the president column blank on their ballots. Do not take folks for granted.

    The election was about economics & change. 4% of the nation’s landmass is the urban core (housing slightly more than half the population) – which benefited from the economic recovery while the rural nation did not benefit from the recovery – due to NAFTA, globalization, automation, robotics, etc., and, of course, stubbornness to acquire an education and / or move to where the jobs are (there is a personal responsibility and choice angle here – no one owes anyone a living). This is not a new phenomena – the whale oil plants are gone and not coming back, ditto for the stage coach and buggy whip factories. In this age the economic change occurs quicker and more ruthlessly. Re-read my earlier weblink to the Cracked article by Wong, and Michael Moore’s youtube 44 minutes on Morning Joe (especially the end where Joe has a 2-year voting analysis of the past 16-years).

    Here WAPO via Brookings (the authoritative Brookings) lays out the economic divide. Nationally, the party needs to figure out how to convert the economic discontent io electoral votes – and not write it off (because as Clinton smugged, they’ll pick-up offsetting votes in suburban Philly) or by taking it for granted.
    Note that 83% of US counties barely scrape together 36% of the nation’s economic activity. We truly are flyover country, except when it comes to our over-representation of electoral votes. One man, one vote, my ass. We are about 4 to 6 men for one California vote. Minority rule always fosters challenges of illegitimacy, whether its Saddam or Donald.

    The metrics differ in SD. But the party needs to figure those out.

  14. I agree that Sunday is a less than optimal time for a political meeting. On not hearing about it—aren’t you on the Democratic Party e-mail list yet, Madman? Give HQ a shout and get on that list!

  15. Why only cities? And why only those four cities? This state is mostly rural, like it or not, and why not rural areas? The same old focus on the same old areas (cities, and only certain cities at that) is tiresome and part of what is wrong with the thinking of the party’s leadership. In this state, you’ve got to get out into the ‘hinterlands”, so to speak.

    I live in Eagle Butte, on the Cheyenne River Reservation, and this area is ripe for Democratic outreach. But the party just assumes that reservations are with them, and routinely ignores them. Actually, Republicans act like the reservations don’t even exist (that is, when they’re not trying to come up with ways to screw them over and deepen racism against them), but the Dems really aren’t much better in seeming to take reservations for granted. I’m not a tribal member, but I know plenty of tribal members who agree with most Dem positions but who are disgruntled at the lack of outreach and taking them for granted.

    And, believe it or not, there are plenty of rural areas that would be more ripe than you’d think for Dem outreach. But the party seems to have written them off, taking for granted that rural areas are a lost cause, the same way it’s taken the support of reservations for granted.

  16. CAH @ 21:00 – gez can’t write-off ag, it’s too big. It’s not the paltry number of farmers or ranchers, its the exponential effect of 1st and 2d generation off-the-farm who still have ties, the elevators, tractor supplies, implement shops, bankers (and banksters), ad nausium. In some communities the elevator, etc., IS the community. Now is a great opportunity with prices down 45% from peak – the pass-through effects will cripple some communities next year.

    Schools. Every Bugtussle does not ‘deserve’ a school. If the community is unable to sustain a grocery, 5&Dime, etc.,it’s economically foolish to plant a school there. Each student deserves an educational opportunity on par with others in the state. The state and really rural areas need to figure out how to delivery that without boarding, ungodly bussing, etc. We have the technology, yet lack the will.

  17. AG: did you every wonder why some of these tiny towns have 2, 3, or 4 banks (while not having a NRCS or FSA office)? The former follow the money; the latter march to the dictates of distant bureaucrats. Cannot write off AG; especially with the potential of a farm crisis at the doorstep via combinations of 45% drop in prices and the first drop in land values in over a decade.

  18. Roger Cornelius

    If George McGovern and Rick Weiland can get in their vehicles and at personal expense visit every town in South Dakota so should the SDDP.

  19. Joe Nelson

    Better late than never….

  20. John, fascinating economic map. Interesting that the Clinton/Trump economic divide doesn’t apply here in South Dakota, since the few counties where Democrats are holding legislative seats are likely not the big economic output counties. Frerichs, Heinert, Killer, and Sutton (4 of 6 D Senators) come from rural areas. Only 4 of our 10 D Reps are “urban”, and that’s if we count Brookings (Hawley) and Vermillion (Ring) as “urban”. Even District 15 in Sioux Falls isn’t the richest district in Minnehaha County, is it?

    The problem with applying the national map is that it’s not just a divide between rich and poor. It appears to be a divide between new economy and old economy. Donald Trump doesn’t even understand that divide; his business is wheeling-dealing for land and buildings, not providing goods or services. He doesn’t even know what “the cyber” is, let alone how it has fundamentally reshaped economic activity. He doesn’t grasp the global economy; he wants to throttle it and have us retreat back into some fantasy shell of isolationism that will tank the entire U.S. economy and leave other nations free to trade and innovate and grow, leaving us to become the next Portugal. Trump isn’t promising anything to put his lower-GDP counties in a better situation; he’s just promising to drag the bigger-GDP counties down.

    If I really put on my old GOP-Libertarian hat, I could look at that map and say, “Interesting: Hillary Clinton won the counties that are contributing the most to the economy, while Donald Trump appealed to the areas contributing the least. Hillary Clinton appears to be the candidate of the go-getters, the entrepreneurs, the people who really make America great, while Donald Trump appears to appeal to the slacker areas, the places that are taking more from the economy than they give back.”

    Check this map of state dependence on federal aid: of 17 states marked as low GDP and highly dependent on federal aid, 14 went for Trump (exceptions: NM, ME, VT). Of 19 states marked as high GDP and low dependence on Uncle Sam, Clinton took 13 (exceptions: AK, NE, TX, IA, WI, and PA… and the last five there are closer to the middle “mixed” category).

    Donald Trump wins the red-state-moocher vote. If I were my old Limbaugh-Republican self, I’d say the problem is not that we need to understand the emotions and fears of the Trump voters but that we need to get them off their couches and off the dole and get them contributing to the new economy instead of dreaming that the Trumpist government will give them the things they used to work for.

    The Trump economic victory narrative is rot.

  21. That said, I endorse Laurisa’s hinterlands strategy. Match Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy with an SDDP 66-county strategy. Spreading the field (not just for a listening tour, but for serious campaigning) takes money, but we can do it.

  22. John, I won’t write off ag as an economic driver. But if we’re talking pure party-building and vote-getting, I’m not convinced that those 1st-/2nd-gen farm expats (not to mention growing ranks of urban working and professional millennials with no more active farm ties than city kids in Mpls or NYC, or new urbanites who like gardening and raising their own chickens) will still vote on small-farm ag nostalgia or agribusiness issues in great enough numbers to justify prioritizing ag issues in ads over other potential vote-getters.

    As for small schools, I recognize the economic realities you’re talking about. We have the 100-enrollment cutoff for state aid, right? We have technology for distance learning… but I would argue that telling the kids in Bugtussle (Bison? Eureka? Tripp?) that they don’t get live teachers, only remote instructors beaming in on the Internet while their old school secretary turned hall monitor supervises them in their quiet school building, gives them an unequal education to what kids in real schools with in-the-flesh teachers get. I’m not convinced technology can satisfy the constitutional mandate for “a general and uniform system of public schools.”

  23. 66-county strategy—we need to stop in Miner County and see Joe, too. :-)

  24. ronald fuchs

    yes you can by-pass Davison county- we don’t have enough democrats here for you to care about!!!

  25. Davison County? Ronald, you’ve got Sibby—Mitchell is hopeless! ;-)

  26. The Minnesota DFL seems like a place to start the franchise of building. “About the Minnesota DFL

    The Minnesota DFL supports and elects leaders who embody the ideals and principles of the Democratic Party and the people of Minnesota. We work to enact policies so that all Minnesotans, regardless of background, have the rights of: stable employment, fair wages, quality education, accessible and affordable healthcare, living in safe communities, providing for their family, and retiring with dignity and security.”

    – See more at:

  27. A top strategy for the DFL is immigrant and minority outreach. There are educational seminars on registering to vote and how the political process works and informing them of DFL meetings and educating them on what our party stands for.
    Paul Wellstone’s grass roots level of organizing is still very much alive and well here.

  28. The statement “principles of the Democratic Party and the people of Minnesota” Could be changed to the people of South Dakota and their concerns. The first being in a rural part of the country, the people chosen to represent the party should be able to state their support for the Constitution and the laws of the country. That would include the 2nd Amendment. No doubt about it, go hunting in just about anyplace and this is what you are going to here from those whose love it is to be in the field even if they do not fill, the love of being there and feeling free. Candidates must, without a doubt, be pro 2nd Amendment, or go home. Our state has provided conservation areas of public hunting that is used by local hunters for their food and love. Candidates must not ignore that fact. They must be prepared to understand hunters desire to have the ability for magazines that fit their needs. The ATF makes the rules on national level, be clear on that.

    Abortion is the law of the land. It is that simple. South Dakota has a different set of rules that make it anti woman for sure, so the candidate must deal with that. The answer to abortion is not simple, but the candidate should be clear of his or her intention to be proactive in passing funding requirements by the state to provide for the child via Medicaid as a stand alone for the health and welfare of the child.

    Understand how that change can be done
    That would also include a more generous allocation of SNAP for the nourishment of the child and mother. The pro life law would cover the child until age 18 or emancipation due to marriage or military service. If pro life is the issue, than let it be an issue in whole. The State of South Dakota can deem by law a somewhat forced birth on the mother, be that as it may, the State of South Dakota has the duty then to care, feed, and house these children to nourish them until they are of age. It is time take these two issues and run with them and not away from them. By being proactive, you just might make the difference in the direction this state goes for the good of all its citizens.

  29. South Dakota has its own directions and maybe immigration is not a top priority here. Water should be though and along with that, a clear and better relationship with the Native Governments and its people. The reservations are without a doubt, are very important for many reasons. One of the key ingredients to more jobs and more opportunities for all might well be a coalition between state government and tribal government. There already exists the insidious gaming that has a negative effect on growth, but with that, there could also be ways in which ag plays a huge part in positive economic growth as well. Ag is huge here and disrespected as being moochers. These folks need help as prices are in the crapper. Democrats need to recognize that obvious fact. When an operator is going backwards on their production costs, something is very wrong. For ranchers, Demand COOL, even at the state level as a start. This is not a trade war with other states, this is a fair way to show producers that we are all in this together. We do have local packers and they are federally inspected so the local meat would be a better call than to keep going with boxed beef from IBP. This is also economic growth with more jobs.

  30. @caheidelberger I am not on the email list apparently. I check the democratic facebook and the website for most of my information. Nothing on either of these about listening sessions. Create an event and start inviting people to it.

    As for small schools I agree with you on the most part. Small schools are vital in the state and while some may thing towns need to have qualifying standards to have one, they shouldn’t. There are many areas in the state that can’t support them, but in 2016 what we have left is what we should work on keeping.

    With agriculture this state’s economy still depends on it. So many other industries tie into it.

    Thanks Cory for keeping this one beacon of light up and going in the state.

  31. Douglas Wiken

    “A top strategy for the DFL is immigrant and minority outreach. ” This is the strategy that lost Hillary the election. The minorities don’t vote reliably and for every vote they give, the appeal aggravates the Whites who do vote reliably and regularly.

    One thing to help small schools to exist is reduce the executive overload with internet connections. Every school does not need a superintendent sitting on his butt for 6 hours every day gazing at the ceiling.

    A plan for hitting every county in the state with a well-publicized campaign running for a month or so might actually do some good. The four cities mentioned already should have multiple meetings in different areas of the cities.

    But, hitting the four cities is better than the nothing that has preceded this.

  32. Say: why, when the majority of South Dakotans have twice turned down abortion restrictions at the polls, can’t we Democrats stand up on abortion and say, “We support the recognized constitutional right to abort a pregnancy”? Again, Republican mythmaking makes us forget pretty recent facts about how the majority votes our way on policy.

  33. Madman, I’m happy to be a beacon. Now (I’m genuinely curious to hear your socioeconomic analysis) flesh out for me how agriculture occupies a different place of importance and connection to other sectors of the South Dakota economy than other (bigger?) industries like financial services and health care.

  34. Douglas has a point. Minority outreach and GOTV is harder than reaching out to people who look like us. We have to overcome language and cultural barriers. We may encounter more people who aren’t registered. On the reservations, we run into people with more practical barriers to voting (distance, no reliable car). It would be a lot easier if all we had to do was get our white friends to come out and vote for us.

    Four responses:

    1. Nobody said winning would be easy. Obviously it isn’t. In South Dakota, we Democrats have to work harder.

    2. Working the white vote alone isn’t working for us, is it?

    3. Minority voters may be harder to reach, but that means that once we get ’em, we’ve got ’em, because Republicans are going to have an even harder time making that effort because their policies kick minorities in the crotch.

    4. Douglas, is your thesis that, when I speak Spanish to immigrant voters, I turn white voters off? What turns them off about reaching people, Douglas? And does that bad attitude from those white voters really justify my ignoring Hispanic voters?

  35. I would like to discuss this more in detail on Monday with some numbers and statistics. I just want to say that 46,000 producers in this state make a form of their income from farming. Factor in the supporting industries (banking, insurance, etc), farm supply/medical needs (seed, implement, veterinarians, elevators, stockyards, shipping, etc), the specialty farm businesses (soil testing, agronomists, etc) and the bi product industries (egg layers, meat processing, cheese making, etc) you have quite a huge base to start focusing on drawing their support. I will fill in a lot of these holes on Monday with stats and figures, once I return home.

    As for abortion while you may win a public vote on the topic, people are so hardwired to vote against candidates that your already turning people away. Even Tim Johnson understood his base and voted pro-life. To be on an even playing field in South Dakota you must field candidates that don’t hammer the abortion issue (you can have a stand on it, but politically you can’t campaign on it here). When Paula Hawks came out as this was one of her main topics it really weakened her campaign as many people immediately tuned her out. I’m not happy with discussing this idea (of not basing a campaign around women’s rights) but it’s something the party has to be ok with to regain traction in the state.

  36. Darin Larson

    From the SD Ag Department website:

    South Dakota’s agriculture industry has a $25.6 billion economic impact each year. With more than 19 million  acres of cropland and 23 million acres of pastureland, our farmers and ranchers are one of our economy’s key drivers.
    In addition to generating 20% of our state’s economic activity, production agriculture and its value added industries employ over 122,000 South Dakotans.

  37. Darin, I think the DOA’s stats are hokum. The whole state economy is only $45B. $25.6B includes all the indirect magic math that overlaps with every other sector. I do look forward to Madman’s numbers to see if he can identify 122K workers in production and “value-added industries.”

    Of course, I’ll probably lose us Dems votes just by questioning such numbers, even though my questioning has no policy implications whatsoever.

    We Democrats can’t run away from abortion. We can’t stop voting to protect women’s constitutional rights. Even if we say nothing about abortion, the GOP and SDRTL will. We can’t run around looking scared. We have an obligation to be moral leaders and say to the majority who vote down abortion bans that they don’t have to be intimidated by the vocal minority.

  38. Mike Henriksen

    Sioux Falls meeting was full! A diverse crowd, and thing got contentious on occasion. There was a lot of history, some gnashing of teeth, some good ideas, and some (IMO) bad ones. A steady topic was communication. Another was getting a solid message to stand on.

    It was a little like a family gathering the first couple of days after a death. A bit of a wild ride, but all part of the grieving, and healing, process. I thought it was a good start.

  39. Thanks for the update, Mike! I’m glad to hear there was a good mix of people there and not just the usual suspects. Any good specific actions recommended by the crowd?