SD Dems Have $100K Surplus: Time to Invest in Field Offices!

Mr. Ehrisman treats us to an annoyingly anonymous report (taking shots at individuals but not giving one’s own name? tsk, tsk) from the South Dakota Democratic Party’s executive meeting from Saturday. Amid the unconstructive snarkification, we learn that the SDDP ran a surplus this year of $100,000.

A hundred grand left over from the 2016 election? That’s a lot of dough that could do a lot of practical good for building the party. I return to the suggestion Briggs Tople offered and I seconded at the SDDP’s listening meeting in Aberdeen a couple weeks ago: open party field offices. Our party leaders warned that field offices cost a lot of overhead. $100K would cover a lot of overhead.

Let’s suppose we can land an office space for $2,000 a month. (Earlier this fall, I was hearing lower rates for downtown spots in Aberdeen.) A year’s rent would be $24,000. At that rate, we could cover rent for an Aberdeen office and a Rapid City office right through the 2018 election cycle and have a little extra left for utilities and postage. Or we could focus on this year, open extra field offices in Brookings and Vermillion, and focus on fundraising activities that would allow each office to pay its own way in 2018. Of course, with four SDDP staff members available, we may only be able to staff three field offices (keep the party exec in Sioux Falls, scatter the other three staffers across the state as full-time organizers)… at which point we can debate which campus community offers more opportunity to mobilize young Democrats for petition drives, voter registration, and get-out-the-vote activities (my vote: Brookings, for proximity to more voters and donors, but I’m open to counterarguments from Mark Winegar and others!).

What good would field offices do the party? I suggest, in no particular order…

  1. Visibility: Every day people driving down Main Street (and yes, we go downtown, where all the lights are bright, where foot traffic happens for petitioners) see a big, proud banner shouting “South Dakota Democrats!”
  2. Regional Organizing: Every day there’s a staffer working that town and every burg within 90 miles, hunting up donors, recruiting volunteers and candidates, rebuilding and checking in with county party chapters, promoting petition drives, and registering voters.
  3. Local Activist Synergy: The field office provides local progressive groups (Student Democrats, Green groups, labor organizers, ballot question committees, local foods promoters, gay-straight alliances, pipeline protestors…) a place to meet and a resource person who can help them find information, connect with public officials, and promote their Dem-friendly causes.
  4. Media Access: The field staff work the local media, making sure the weak weekly fluff from Rounds, Noem, et al. is balanced by statements, columns, and interviews from Democrats, including the staffers themselves and leading local Dems.

Allocate that money now, State Dems! An active presence in two or three communities beyond Sioux Falls is an investment that will pay off in good press, good connections, and more money in the coffers!

80 Responses to SD Dems Have $100K Surplus: Time to Invest in Field Offices!

  1. Don Coyote

    @cah: “Let’s suppose we can land an office space for $2,000 a month.” Most commercial space in Sioux Falls is either double net or triple net leases. A double net lease makes property taxes and hazard insurance the responsibility of the lessee. A triple net lease adds maintenance (snow removal, lighting, plumbing, etc) to the mix. Don’t forget your utilities expense.

  2. Overhead for offices don’t win elections. Use that money to help get candidates get into the legislature.

  3. There should be office fronts available right now from the departing loan sharks. An occupied office front is absolutely needed to help people get their needs taken care of from a right wing dominated government that could give a damn about their needs. Have someone who can do voter registration (a notary) as well as being able to bring about the reason why you would consider the candidates in that area for office.

    $100,000.00 bucks in the black at the first of the year! A great start. Find a moderate Republican or Democrat that might be able to give a better deal on the rent.

  4. Douglas Wiken

    I am not sure a storefront adds any votes whatsoever. I have spent some time in such offices and not very many people stop in and most that do are hard-core Democrats who have never failed to vote.

    A basement room in a home with multiple phone lines, computer and good printer can probably do more for much less.

    A storefront might be useful a few weeks before an election. I doubt much would be gained from early use in the election cycle however.

    A weekly column in SD weekly papers might do more good even if some columns just have good recipes. More people would see that presence than a dozen store fronts would provide.

  5. Mr. Wiken, the newspapers from rural areas get read and re read that is for sure. We were at a 4th of July thing at Memorial Park in Rapid City some years back, that had a lot of vendors there. There was a Republican booth that had 4 or 5 people manning the thing with signups and bumper stickers, little flags and so on. The place was busy with a lot of activity. Across the path was the Democratic tent, unmanned with some papers sitting on the table. Not surprising, no activity whatsoever. While we were making the rounds in the area, I kept looking to see if there would be someone who may have had to leave to use the crapper, nope. Stayed empty for the entire time we were there.

    There needs to be a presence. A small storefront would be a great place to start. If the regular voters come in, put them to work as volunteers. A guy in the basement is okay as well as long as that person answers to someone who has visibility.

  6. I do not see a practical value in opening any additional Dem office space outside of Sioux Falls.

    I’ve thought about it for years, and continually come to this same conclusion. Dems don’t have enough viable qualified potential Office staffers, nor voter participation, nor donors to make an additional SDDP office pay for itself outside of Sioux Falls.

    If you want Dems to succeed in South Dakota, it is going to take a massive culture changing exercise (messaging and advertising) that plays the long game and tries to nearly reinvent this octagonal thing we call “a wheel” in South Dakota.

    Today, teleconferencing and telecommuting have replaced centralized physical office locations more than ever. SD is also so scant with population that more than one physical office would likely spread SDDP out too thin financially.

    If SDDP has the money to open up another office, then they should save the money to assist other state parties (approximately 45 other state parties ACTUALLY impact their elections) as they most all have a far more significant population, more political balance and more expertise.

    SD Dems really should consider the value in abandoning their political backyard and playing a more integral role in helping swing states as this country is bigger, greater and more important than South Dakota will ever be. When we recognize this, we will bring to fruit our most viable capacity to contribute to the national conversation.

    Too many elected Democrats in Pierre are only there because of gerrymandering – and don’t really know how to run for office let alone grow a state party… And too many SD Dems look to these folks for leadership and vision. It’s a loosing formula.

  7. rick sterling

    Rick Weiland visited every city in South Dakota in his campaign. That exposure did not seem to help him nor other Democrats. The strangle hold the Republicans have had for so long has led to such regressive policies so as to drive most working-age and young Democrats out of the state. I am not sure field offices are the answer to this. If voters can’t see the magnitude of the detrimental affects of the regressive policies, the pattern will only continue.

  8. Roger Cornelius

    A $100K isn’t a heck of lot of money and would be chewed up quickly by overhead expenses on storefronts.

    What I heard from Democrats in the previous two elections is that SDDP doesn’t work with or help county Democratic parties, that has to change. Some counties don’t even have an active Democratic Party with office holders and hold irregular meetings.
    There are many suggestions that we can make to SDDP, but until we have the grass root support that starts at the county level we will never expand our base.
    I’ve worked plenty of campaigns over the years where those campaigns were organized over someone’s kitchen table and every once in awhile someone would volunteer space or other services.
    Democrats have to reach to supporters and ask for their direct help in rebuilding the party.
    Everything doesn’t have to cost a bunch of money.

  9. Porter Lansing

    Positive responses to Cory’s proposal ~ Jerry – Roger
    Negativity responses to Cory’s proposal ~ Coyote – Spawn – Wiken – Adam
    When this group of negativity biased commenters is against a liberal idea, it must be good. It’s obvious these folks don’t want us to succeed and their advice is not good advice at all. Make sure everybody in your boat is rowing not drilling holes when you’re not looking.

  10. Mr. Wiken’s thoughts on the weekly papers is a must. I like the idea of a counter balance to the propaganda that is able to be read and re read by those in rural areas as well as others. These are voters that do not get to hear anything but the one side. The storefront in Sioux Falls and Rapid City make a whole lot of sense and could be done for not a whole lot of investment. What the hell, why not?

  11. Elle, Doug, and Adam,

    How does it feel to be characterized by Porter as against a liberal idea and negative? LOL

  12. Troy, even more funny – you think I might take offense to a person calling me “negative.”

    I have much thicker skin than you folks, or your President. But it’s par for course when you folks try to transpose your own shortcomings onto people like me.

  13. Roger Cornelius

    Do you think a discussion about organizing and spending the SDDP money is a liberal idea such as Troy has suggested?

  14. Roger, nah, it’s just talk about the business behind making a viable measurable difference. It’s a conversation about increasing the magnitude and breath of our voice. That’s all.

  15. Roger Elgersma

    get one person in congress and you will have about three offices around the state. Spend the money to get someone in. In the mean time we have no offices around the state and at least one more would have some value.

  16. Douglas Wiken

    If there is only one headquarter or office, it should be in Pierre instead of Sioux Falls. It probably makes sense to have something equivalent to talking heads for TV in Sioux Falls and Rapid City, but those should not be headquarters.

    I don’t view the office ideas as liberal or conservative. Such a slanted categorization is that kind of silly anti-intellectul-diversity that drives Democrats into a dark political hole ignored by the majority. The attempt should be to determine what is reality in the real world instead of figuring out new ways to irrelevantly divide.

  17. As a candidate for SDDP Chair, Tornberg said if elected she would open an office in Rapid City. She should keep her word.

  18. Don Coyote

    @Porter: “Negativity responses to Cory’s proposal ~ Coyote – Spawn – Wiken – Adam
    When this group of negativity biased commenters is against a liberal idea, it must be good. It’s obvious these folks don’t want us to succeed and their advice is not good advice at all.”

    Not being negative at all. Maybe pragmatic, but not negative. Just pointing out to Cory that a lease of $2,400 may not be $2,400 in the end. And I didn’t even mention staffing or equipment costs. If I were to focus on a recruiting effort with the limited funds of the SDDP I’d focus on the eastern part of the state in particular the I29 corridor. One office in Sioux Falls can cover the largest city in the state with the two largest universities only an hour drive away. Just saying.

  19. $100,000 for Ann Tornberg’s Golden Parachute! SDDP is the Corporate Party…remember?

  20. Adam, too many South Dakota Democrats have already adopted a swing-state strategy… by moving to swing states. Someone has to stick around and fight for change in Pierre.

    I have no more desire to campaign and donate to swing-state races than I do to blog regularly about them.

  21. Douglas, I disagree with the notion that the headquarters of any statewide political party in South Dakota should be in Pierre rather than Sioux Falls. HQ’ing in Sioux Falls permits office staff to meet face-to-face with twelve times more voters, donors, volunteers, and reporters on any given day. HQ’ing in Sioux Falls also makes meeting with out-of-state visitors far easier.

    Heck, I’m not even sure the Governor should headquarter in Pierre. As your next Governor, I promise to turn “Capital for a Day” into “Capital for a Month” or “Capital for a Season”: Pierre in winter, Aberdeen in spring, Black Hills in summer, Sioux Falls in fall.

  22. Don Coyote, I appreciate your pragmatism. I have never rented commercial property, so I welcome a full financial analysis. If folks can show me that money is better spent elsewhere, I’m fine with that. But I’m certain $100K is better spent than not spent.

    I contend that added storefront visibility and staff presence in even one more city (and yes, Rapid City gets first dibs) will allow us to raise more of the money and recruit more of the candidates Ellee and I both want for Legislature. I’ll even punt the Aberdeen office for the sake of moving two staffers to the Rapid City office: one to hold down the fort, the other to drive all over the Hills and the reservations and the rest of West River rustling up Democrats.

  23. Clara Hart, Bernie delegate, gave $8,500 to SDDP – money from small dollar donors. Chelsea Clinton did a private fundraiser in Sioux Falls and took money from South Dakota Democrats to the National Level instead of spreading that money to real South Dakota Democrat races. Before we start spending this money on field offices, a real accounting needs to take place.

  24. Ann Tornberg inspires SD DEM loyalty in no one.

  25. Too much talk about money, not a lot of talk about action and message.

  26. Dang it – y’all… I just don’t see how a Rapid City SDDP office might pay for itself. Make some gosh darned monetay projections or be quiet. LOL

    I am just simply unable to construct a scenario where a 2nd office can pay for itself!

    However, could make a huge difference.

  27. Recognize

  28. I am definitely for a Rapid City field office! Pennington County Dems will figure this out, I have no doubt.

  29. @South DaCola Pretty sure we can walk and chew gum at the same time.

  30. South Dacola, I do not propose field offices in a vacuum. I propose them as practical bases of operation for action.

    Of course, there could be grounds for fatalism here. If the SDDP had spent every penny of that $100K surplus on field offices, direct mail, or any other proven campaign action, would it have done anything other than flipping the percentages in District 8, preserving one more incumbent Democrat? Is there anything Democrats can spend money on that will help more of them win in South Dakota?

  31. Adam, tell me how teleconferencing helps me recruit new donors.

  32. Instituting a new feild office in RC would serve more as a place for people to go to complain than for a truly constructive colaberation destination. Of course, this paraphrasing of a deeper founded thought is just a paraphrase.

  33. Roger Cornelius

    How many field offices does the SDGOP have and where are they?

  34. SDGOP is just as lost on a county level as Dems. Talk to anyone who ever scheduled an event for your local county party – and ya’all will find that the Republican vote in SD is driven by national politics – that is, if y’all can deduce.

  35. There is a lot of talk about teleconferencing etc. It is the same problem, those who already know will be the ones on the call. I can’t tell you how many times I hear or read that Democrats don’t know how to find the local county party. If you have an office, it lends itself to being a permanent presence. Folks then know where to go to find the local leaders or at least exchange information with staff. Yes, all these things can be done from someone’s basement etc, except when there not at home and with all the problems that go with it. If the Democrat Party of this state wants to get serious for 2018, then establishing a west river office is an absolute necessity. Volunteers can staff and full time paid staff can use as a home base but be out in the field 80% of the time. This would be a good start. You want to get donations, show that you are serious. Our party always plays the part of we don’t have enough money. Folks will donate if they know there is plan of action taking place.

  36. “You just won’t admit… that we are through.”

    Yes, you got me hating things I used to love to do, and it won’t be long… and I’ll be hating you too.

  37. Republican voters get their weekly meeting in the local papers. Those could be daily or they could be weekly or other. They are the connection that the 4 horsemen have over all that is political in the state. They call liberals the culprits behind anything bad. Rounds will tell you that he is out for the scalps of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare. That is pretty simple confidence that you can tell old farts he is gonna steal their lunch money and they applaud. Someone needs to be able to tell Rounds that his plan is not for those down the road, but for those that are currently drawing those same paid for benefits as well. The worm will turn then, but until there is a clear voice to disrupt the blather, he and the rest of the henchmen get their bully platform.

  38. Geesh Adam, come to grips with yourself, Johnny Paycheck as your seasons greetings?

  39. My distain for Republicans is what it is. The specific things I define as “that which I hate” are simply conservative talking points. More and more of which are nothing but the absolute shortest soundbites.

  40. It is not Republicans, it is their leaders who are so corrupt they would sell the country down the tubes for 30 pieces of silver, more or less. Russia has just made the purchase and they are lapping it up. Pence is getting ready to move to Stalingrad while Vlad takes over his spot. Everyone is cashy now with a lot of walking around money.

  41. Sh!t, all cause-a-you, it won’t be long and I’ll be hating you and might end up being my seasons greetings. :)

  42. I am a South Dakota Democrat for these reasons:

    This is the mandatory question for the “listening tour” … is the leadership actually listening?

  43. I don’t want the leadership to listen as much as I want them to plot a successful course forward. I want to be able to trust them in moving forward, that’s all that matters to me.

  44. For the record, if you don’t like country blues then you’re a piss-poor American.

  45. Adam is so sweet. I’m sure he is doing just fine.

  46. Drey Samuelson

    My view, unsurprisingly, is that the SDDP should use any excess funds on ballot initiatives that will change the political dynamic of the state. If, for instance, Amendment T had passed, that would go much further towards electing Democrats not only in one election, but in ALL elections that would follow. It doesn’t seem like even a close call to me…

  47. Clara Hart, Bernie Delegate, funded $22,000 from small dollar donors to Ellie Highstreet for Amendment T consulting fees. Don’t call it SDDP funding Drey.

  48. Roger Cornelius

    South Dakota Democrats have a lot of pride, in themselves. We don’t like to listen to ideas that other Democrats have and end up in a endless unproductive verbal brawl.
    Hold on that $100K, we need it.
    We have two years to began the process of flipping the state from red to blue.
    What Democratic organization are there are on the national scene that can help us do that?
    Who are some of the Democratic fundraisers in Washington, D.C. that maybe able to help us.
    Can our Democratic Chair go to D.C. and sit down with the DNC Chair and tell them face to face we maybe small, but we matter and can make a difference.

  49. Why look to DC Roger? Reid @DSCC shut down Weiland. Warren helped Weiland out! South Dakota Dems need to stop sending their money to Clintons, but to Weilands, Williams, Hawks and Heidelbergers.

  50. What did the Johnsons do for South Dakota Democrats this past election? What did they do for the Clintons? Why?

  51. How about hiring a private detective–a good one–I am sure there are plenty of things to look at.

  52. drey samuelson

    In truth, I have no idea what the SDDP should use any excess funds for, as I don’t know their internal situation, or if these funds are actually “excess.” However, I hope the SDDP (and the SD Republican Party, for that matter) opposes this, an attempt (or attempts) to make state ballot initiatives much harder to qualify! That’s in no one’s interest, unless you believe that all wisdom resides in our 105 legislators and our Governor (and if you do, please explain EB-5, GEAR-UP, no state ethics commission, no limit on gifts from lobbyists to legislators, etc., etc.). If this is going to be stopped, it’s going to take a massive protest by South Dakotans!

  53. Leo, I can tell you that Tim Johnson’s PAC sent $1,000 to my campaign.

  54. Darin Larson

    I agree with Drey that battle initiatives should really be a priority because they are the equivalent of the legislature and governor combined. The people of SD often agree with the Democratic party while Republican legislators vow to fight anything associated with the Democrats. Some of these ballot initiatives should be constitutional amendments where appropriate.

    It would also be nice to have an SDDP office in Rapid City with a staffer that can establish a relationship with the Rapid City Journal staff. This would be more of a long term messaging effort and turning the tide of GOP dominance West River will take many years. I don’t know if the Dems have the money to sustain this effort over the long run and it certainly will seem like beating one’s head against a wall most of the time.

  55. Darin Larson

    “battle” should be “ballot” initiatives, but they will be a battle.

  56. ronald fuchs

    Davison county- George’s hometown- we never have election headquarters, not since Tim Johnson. We never get campaign lit for our booth for Corn Palace week. The candidates rarely visit us. Want to know why the demo party is failing- go figure !!!!!!

  57. Douglas Wiken

    Years ago during the Kneip administration days, I worked as finance director for the SDDP. Trying to get a fundraising letter put together was difficult. Dan Bucks and others in state government were afraid to say anything critical of Republicans. Milquetoast fundraising doesn’t work.

    What I finally figured out was a formal looking invitation to join the “Century Club”–$100 contribution–followed up by phone calls did seem to work, but we had Senator McGovern and Kneip willing to attend Democratic fundraisers.

    I know people around this area in more recent years got fed up with send-money appeals that included zero reasons for sending 1 cent let alone significant money. People want read information. Passive convoluted too wordy sentences don’t work. Hawks were terrible.

  58. It looks like the new legislation coming will be to stop initiatives. That should be the fight. Educate the voters on what this means. Is that not what political parties should strive to do? The message should be clear in the opinion pages of the small newspapers as well as the big’uns. Get the message out on what the elected officials are trying to pull off, the muzzling of the will of the people. It will take money to get that word out, what do you think of that Roger? When that information is going out, then would be the time to discuss the financial needs of the state party with the national one. Clearly show that there is fight in this old dog and they will toss you a bone. As they say, it takes money to make money so here is the primer for the pump. Attack the legislators where they live, by their own words and actions.

  59. “Reid @DSCC shut down Weiland”-i’d like to hear the real story in print, because I like Harry; he did battle against intractable Republican obstructionism that resulted in this election outcome for Donald Trump; and Tom and Rick and Stephanie and Brendan.

    Whether a West River store front office or the $200 a month upstairs downtown office Dems had during the election, the real NEED is a committed, outfitted, paid staffer with a full tank of gas to drive from Pine Ridge to Lemmon and all points between, most days every week.

    We will energize and mobilize those 18,000 dems in Pennington County and every other one we can rustle out of every west river county. Every move doesn’t need to be broadcast here for Republicans to undermine. There is significant enthusiasm here eager to beat Trump at this new reality show. Young and old. Rich and poor. Indian and white. Whatever yah got. Deplorables take a hike.

  60. @leslie History is wonderful: Still think Harry Reid was good for South Dakotans?

  61. I personally wish Reid would have gotten his way and let Johnson run. We may then have found out more answers on what happened to Richard Benda and the EB5 If he would have run against Rounds, there may have been a leak in the bow of the ship of silence.

  62. Mr. Wiken, Here is what a Wisconsin Trump supporter said, from the WAPO, regarding Obamacare”

    And another guy in the group said, “Before Obamacare I couldn’t afford health insurance, so if Trump gets rid of that, I don’t know what I’m going to do. But the thing that really gets us is having to pay a fine unless we get health insurance.”

    So I said, “Even though Obamacare is actually saving you money, you think it’s bad because you’re being told you must buy health insurance?”

    He said, “Yes.”

    In order to find order, the people must believe that government is working for them because they are the government. That has been stolen from them by the shade of those who have the platform. Neutralize the platform and you have a voice. Go to work and make it happen, there is a 100 grand that could be made even stronger when you find the way. Mr. Wiken is correct with the papers. Go to any little village and you can see the weekly paper. You will see that it has been read and then read a few more times. That is the megaphone. Grab it and make it happen. The Winner Advocate has 3,000 readers

  63. We didn’t need Brendan Johnson to run for Senate to find that out. Also, correct me if I am wrong, but there is a thing called a primary. I do not recall anyone challenging Rick Weiland in the Democrat primary – he stepped up and did the hard work of campaigning. I applaud him for that.

  64. It maybe would have helped to find out Leo. Rick ran and was beaten like a pinata, part of that was how he wanted to run his campaign and not take the outside money being offered by Reid Good for him, he sure showed him so much so that we now have Rounds. We just had a presidential race that the nominee did not want to listen to outside advise, she sure showed them and now we have Trump. Now we have to see how this will pan out for us.

  65. Jerry get a clue. National Dems and Republicans at that time did not want any populist candidates of any sort. Same is true today, except they didn’t get their wish, and we have to suffer with Trump rather than Bernie Sanders who would have beat him.

  66. Your right, I have no clue in what it is you are talking about.

  67. I do have a clue though on what message should be given with the 100 grand that is in the bank. That is to let all seniors and those that are gonna be, in on what the plan is for us. Some of us older folks think that Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid will not touch any of us because of our age and what we have paid in. That was the old days, in order to keep that in place and to make sure it is in place for those who follow, we must fight for it.

    Don’t think it will not happen to you. Know that it will if we allow it.

  68. Jerry, your last point is well-taken and a good one!

  69. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr.

    The $100,000 needs to be invested in a credible GOTV and targeted voter registration plan. We need to accept the universe we live in and maximize it as best we can, because that is how George, Tom, and Tim won their tough victories back in the day. As we become more competitive and credible as a political party, because of this strategy, we will then in turn scare off Republican opponents who do not care to run in a hard fight, but would rather be anointed, which in turn, will leave the GOP with second and third tier candidates, which the Democrats can beat, and frankly for the most part, that is how George, Tom, and Tim gained their political footings in this state back in the day….

    A lot of Dems are talking about the need for a more defined message. Well, a message is important, because what is a political party if has no message or belief structure? But increasingly the political messaging of the two major political parties is being defined by their national image and actions and not by their local actions or image, which means as South Dakota Democrats it is primarily out of our control.

    The late great Speaker, Tip O”Neil, might have said “that all politics are local,” but I question if that is as true today in a world of social media and 24/7 cable news with its partisan qualities.

    South Dakota Democrats need to accept the world we live in and find the votes rather than merely trying to woo the voters at large. Because message alone will not do it. Politics is a game of mechanics or math. Just ask Trump, who won it in the electoral college. He may have had a targeted message for the “Brexit States,” but it was the math that made it happen for him or the true mechanics of a presidential run which gave him his victory….

  70. Drey, I offer field offices as a base of operations for friendly ballot question committees.

    JKC, I propose that we can find those votes locally if we have staffers present in communities as often as possible making connections, putting faces to names and pitches, and drawing in those voters, not to mention volunteers and donors.

    Ronald, I can’t put Mitchell ahead of Rapid City and Aberdeen for field offices. But the SDDP should definitely make an effort to get people and lit to your events!

  71. Drey Samuelson

    I wish I believed that that we could organize (with offices and such) our way to being reasonably close to parity, but I don’t. The sad fact is that the electorate is WAY more polarized than it was back in the glory days, and that works against the minority party–especially when the trajectory of new registrations is clearly run the wrong direction. If we don’t change the political system–and the only way to do it is thru ballot initiatives–we’re gonna fade further and further behind. Hell, even if we doubled our legislators–and think about how hard that is to do!–we’d still be at a 70%-30% disadvantage…

  72. Drey,

    Does it ever occur to you to ask why “the trajectory of new registrations is clearly running in the wrong direction?” Since the last time you won a state-wide election, Democrats lost 17% of its registration while the GOP grew 5%. Why are people deciding to not affiliate with you? Also, while 2/3 of the people leaving your party aren’t becoming Republicans but Independents, you still are losing the Independent vote 70-30%. In short, while the Independents are becoming more and more former Democrats, you are even losing them at the ballot box. Republicans are either really, really good or the Democrats are getting worse and worse.

    Might not addressing that be the first place to start? Offices and GOTV efforts to chase a smaller and smaller pool of voters isn’t going to beget success. And neither will passing one or two ballot initiatives an election.

    Sidenote: If you had more Democrats in the Legislature, you will have a deeper pool of people to run for state-wide office.

  73. I’m all for a Rapid City West River Democrat Office. It shouldn’t be that expensive to rent some office space. Look up some Democrat businessmen to help with in finding a place. For gosh sakes, I’m surprised there isn’t an office in RC in the first place.
    Get a landline also and put it in the phonebook.
    GTR is right, you would be surprised how many people want to volunteer and help out in political races but can’t find a phone number to even get started.

  74. Drey Samuelson

    Troy–Thanks for your note. Someone needs to figure that question out, why Democrats are losing altitude all over rural America (not just SD), but it won’t be me, as I’m much more concerned these days with what is wrong with our ailing democracy than I am with the decline of Democratic Party registration numbers, much as that’s a problem, too. My main point in answering was just to state that I’m skeptical that there is an organizational fix for the latter (i.e. more offices/staff), and that the Democrats–and all of us, really–would be better off using ballot initiatives to fix the political system than opening another office or two in the state. Ballot initiatives, say, like Amendment T, which would have fixed the problem of gerrymandering, which I believe is indefensible whether it’s practiced by the Republican-controlled legislature in Pierre, or the Democratic-controlled legislature in Baltimore.

    However, the concern that is much more pressing, as far as I’m concerned, is the problem we tried to fix with Amendment V–the problem of how the government (at both the state and federal level) has become infected with hyper-partisanship, to the point that it functions increasingly poorly. That’s a trajectory which I find much more disturbing than the declining registration numbers of the Democrats, much as that’s a problem, too. And it’s one that all of us better figure out how to fix, or the decline of the Democratic Party’s registration numbers in rural America aren’t really going to matter.

  75. Drey,

    I get your time and effort might be somewhere else but you have experience and knowledge which can be applied in your “off hours.” While I want greater parity in the Legislature for the good of Democracy, I don’t believe we are served by the GOP recruiting weaker candidates or not being organized. We need the Democrats to do the basics better (recruit better and be better organized). You can be like me and just spout off hoping things stick. :)

    As you know, in this democracy, first and foremost is what happens at the ballot box and the reality is SDDP is performing bad there. Second, policy is set by those who succeed at the ballot box. Efforts at the margin are just that- of marginal effect. If the SDDP is going to have input on governance on SD they have to win elections. That requires quality candidates who speak to the issues of concern to the public and organization. Everything that is done has to work to those ends. Right now, I not only don’t see those as priorities of the SDDP, I don’t see them even on the to do list.

    P.S. Talking about gerrymandering is a distraction (and an excuse). This past election, there were 21 contested State Senate elections (all of which were won by the Republican). In only three of the races, the Democrat received a voting percentage greater than the Democrat registration % plus 30% of the Independents. When the over-all voter registration is 46%-31% GOP over Democrat, getting less than 30% of the Independents results in losing 62%-38%. We could have had reverse gerrymandering and it is likely the results would have been the same.

  76. Cory, get a ballot initiative going to double legislative pay. $6000 yr is ridiculously low (and so what if they get 150/day for room and board. That doesn’t make up for the ridiculously low wage of a SD legislator.)
    Increase it to a minimum of $12-15,000 for a SD legislator, and even that is low. If the SDDP wants to start winning again, we need to start making it worthwhile for Dems.

  77. I was at the executive board meeting in Mitchell. The state party does not have that kind of surplus. I don’t know where that information came from but it isn’t true. Seems to me we have a lot of complainers and not enough doers. Everyone seems know what we should do to be successful, but when it comes time to take action those same people are awfully busy. I have contributed my time and money for many years to the South Dakota Democrats, there have been many people that come and go with elections and candidates and very few that stick with us through thick and thin. And there has been plenty of thin. Its hard being a democrat in South Dakota, but we are on the right side of the issues as far as I’m concerned. I’m not a fair weather supporter, if we never stick together we will accomplish nothing. Go to your county meetings and get involved.

  78. I just found this post on Facebook: "37% of Republicans now view Putin favorably – while only 17% of Republicans have a favorable view of President Barack Obama. Conservatives are forgetting who our enemies actually are in America. More and more, they think Democrats are worse than Putin and the KGB."

    In a lot of ways, we can find scapegoats on our own team, or we can realize that we now need to do whatever it takes to help our conservative friends and families realize that we have more common ground with them then they do with Putin.

    It’s common ground time. South Dakota Democrats have been victims not of a super strong SDGOP nor incompetence in the SDDP, but because National GOP politics clouds conserva-judgement way beyond any cohesive belief system.

    Just like the Black Equality Movement, we’ve got to prove that we are similar enough to the people who hate us – display our shared humanity – in order to one day receive more equal/fair perception as an organization, as candidates and as a legislative body.

  79. It’s us or Putin—that could be a powerful campaign slogan… if Donald Trump and the FSB don’t cancel our future elections.