Want to help the Democratic Party implement the 50-state strategy and organize big American Indian participation in the 2018 election? Then apply to be a tribal organizer for the South Dakota Democratic Party this summer!
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
Crow Creek Sioux Tribe and Lower Brule Sioux Tribe
Oglala Sioux Tribe
Rosebud Sioux Tribe and Yankton Sioux Tribe
Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate
Sioux Falls and Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe
These are just part-time positions—ten hours a week for twelve weeks, $15 an hour—but you’ll do important work getting your neighbors onto the voter roles and motivated to make meaningful change in our politics in 2018. Here’s what SDDP says it’s looking for:
Preferred Applicants will be SD Tribal members living in the community where they will organize
Develop a professional work relationship with tribal community members and leaders as the key stakeholders
Represent the South Dakota Democratic Party in a professional manner
Work with Statewide Field and Communication Directors on a weekly, or as needed, basis
Handle voter tracking through the My Voter and My Campaign functions in VoteBuilder. Training will be provided to all hires on VoteBuilder.
Register 30-40 voters per week. Continue to develop and refine voter contact goals.
Mobilize consistent volunteer and voter registration efforts. Each community organizer will recruit a “Circle of 10.” Each Tribal Community Organizer will work with these key volunteers, and mobilize this team through the “Summer of Resistance” and continue this relationship throughout the 2018 election cycle, especially for early voting and GOTV efforts.
Promote the message of the national Democratic Party and the South Dakota Democratic Party to tribal communities.
Once training is completed, organizers should spend the 10 hours per week roughly divided in the following manner: 6 hours/voter registration;1 hour conference call with statewide leaders and trainers; 1 hour volunteer recruiting and training; and 2 hours community outreach attending events, meeting leaders, and distributing contact information. This could include school visit, attending pow-wows, local tribal council meetings, visiting tribal headquarters, IHS facilities, etc.
SDDP wants tribal organizers to start June 5. They’ll take your application letters and résumés via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, Perez’s opponent for chair and now his top deputy, said the intent is to help local Democrats manage everything from rallies, town halls and neighborhood meetings to registration drives and voter database improvements.
“We’re asking them to engage neighbors not just in this whole mess about Trump but on what kind of vision we have for our country,” Ellison said, adding that he and Perez are talking regularly to many of the independent groups on the left.
Party leaders hope to use the anti-Trump groundswell to improve voter turnout, and swing elections back in their favor.
Initial recipients of the funds include Arizona, Massachusetts, Michigan, Kansas and South Dakota. Those states span the spectrum of Democratic fortunes: Massachusetts is a liberal bastion; Michigan is a presidential battleground; Arizona is nearing swing-state status; Kansas and South Dakota are Republican strongholds [“DNC Funds ‘Resistance Summer’ in Hopes of Harnessing Trump Opposition,” AP via Fox News, 2017.05.17].
A source familiar with the South Dakota Democratic Party tells Dakota Free Press that South Dakota Democrats will raise matching funds and use the DNC dollars to register voters, mobilize volunteers, organize local teams, and boost voter turnout among our American Indian neighbors. The effort will include hiring seven organizers part-time over the summer based in five reservation communities and in Rapid City and Sioux Falls.
Related: In other organizing, the South Dakota Democratic Party is hosting a Summer Issues Caucus at Augustana on June 9 and 10. That Friday afternoon and evening, Democrats will discuss seniors, women, youth, and LGBT issues. Saturday morning and afternoon, Dems will discuss rural and small business, veterans and military, Native Americans, and diversity. The caucuses are free; Saturday lunch is a measly $7!
Student: With Gov. Daugaard’s time coming to a close, who do you think is most likely to be the next governor of South Dakota?
Thune: The next governor of South Dakota? Well, I don’t want to jinx anyone by saying who I predict will win. There are a lot of good candidates out there. There are already a few good Republicans who have put their name out there. I don’t know if there is a Democrat out there yet. I am sure there will be. It is kind of a year where with the open seat it will be a very competitive race. I don’t think that anyone at this point has the inside track. I think you have to assume in our state, that unless something goes terribly wrong, the Republican nominee has a built in advantage. That said, good Democrats in South Dakota can get elected. That has been proven in the past, particularly in the federal races. If a good Democrat is nominated it will be a competitive race. In terms of the Republican primary, we have a couple of top tier candidates, and I assume there will be a few more who put their name in the ring [Senator John Thune, transcript, Q&A with Yankton High School students, 2017.05.12].
I’m sure there’s some trick there in Thune’s use of the words good and Democrat in the same sentence. But for now, let’s take our senior Senator at his word and keep an eye out for that competitive nominee.
Let’s also be patient. The primary is more than a year away. Let Thune and everyone else wonder….
So for the five of you readers who care about this tiff, let us turn to Powers’s Wednesday post (the only thing he wrote that day) responding to my analysis of the McGovern Day muddle and my recommendation that South Dakota Democrats focus on grassroots activism rather than further internal power struggles. What you’ll find, if you bother (and I really don’t recommend bothering, even though I’m about to), is that, much like what happens when Trump opens his mouth, Powers’s critiques of me are really exercises in Republican projection of their own insecurity and shame.
First, pictures. Powers keeps running a picture of me borrowed from KELO-TV in 2001. Powers seems to find this photo unflattering. He could more accurately portray my fall from youthful beauty by updating his photo box with any number of recent, publicly available photos:
Heck, even the fall 2016 photo he ran of me on my campaign bike to great chortlage and mockery more accurately depicts me in my current state than his old TV file photo:
But old photos are par for the course for Pat and his GOP pals. How old is Senator Mike Rounds’s Twitter profile photo?
Now to the headline: “Democrat Mouthpiece Finally Breaks News Blackout on Failed Democrat Party Revolt.”
The adjective is Democratic. Responsible writers do not write Democrat Party any more than they would Republic Party.
“News Blackout”? This from a Republican political blogger who, according to his own search engine, hasn’t mentioned the Republican President since March 20. When information about the snap election push became public, I discussed it a fair amount on these pages, because I wanted to offer analysis that people on all sides of the tussle could use to make their decisions. When that push failed, I took eleven days to talk to Democrats who attended McGovern Day, to read other responses, and to think about the next best course of action for the party. That’s not a news blackout; that’s thoughtful deliberation.
For someone who pretends to understand me, Pat Powers really doesn’t know me at all. Ann Tornberg has known me for 30 years. If she has an “inner circle”, she has yet to place me in it. But Ann can tell you, as can anyone else who knows me, that I have never really given a hoot about getting into anyone’s “inner circle”. Unlike Pat Powers, whose entire blogging career reads like one long fawning to atone for his past political gaffes and get back into the good graces of the Republican rich and powerful, I am my own man. I appreciate my friends, I respect their trust, but I do not chase favor. I report facts, I analyze and opine, and I let others throw whichever chips, poker or buffalo, they see fit.
One Democrat present for the show tells me that the folks seeking to oust Tornberg had the votes but were foiled by mere procedural tricks by Tornberg and her supporters. That sounds like a weak excuse for failure to execute. “Having the votes” means having the votes to overcome an opposing minority in everything leading to the final vote, including any filibuster, motion to table, or any other foreseeable parliamentary maneuver.
Contrary to the baldly false assertion of former Democratic legislator Larry Lucas, there were plenty of Democrats in the room who felt a “shotgun election” would have been entirely appropriate. As I said to my local party leaders before McGovern Day, if someone has a plan to produce better election results for Democrats in 2018, and if the current party leadership is unwilling or unable to carry out that plan, then get out that shotgun. No personal niceties should stand in the way of good plan for doing what the party should be doing.
But the failure of the snap election push is evidence that the agitators had no such plan. One observer says one roll call vote that Saturday morning was less than 90. Two thirds—60 votes—should insulate any move from parliamentary tricks. If you can’t round up 60 Democrats to ram an agenda through a party meeting, you aren’t equipped to rally the 200,000 votes you need to win a statewide election. If you argue Ann Tornberg is ineffective and then you lose to Ann Tornberg, you lose your argument.
To whoever is circulating the petition to recall the party chair, I say, stop and redirect. A continued, extended effort to replace the party chair is at best substitutive, if not subtractive. Drop the recall and try an additive approach. Instead of directing all that energy inward, toward Democratic Central Committee members for one limited internal action, aim outward. Make recruiting calls. Go to protest marches to register voters, seek donations, and spread the Democratic message that we are on the people’s side. Take over your local county party, organize four fundraising picnics and potlucks, and get candidates in the chute for every legislative and local office on your 2018 ballot.
Forget the party chair. You don’t need a party chair to organize locally. Nobody in the Sioux Falls office is going to stop eager, earnest Democrats from raising money and running good people for office. If you really want to be state party chair, go win an election. Put some Democrats in office in 2018. Then come to the first Central Committee meeting in 2019, say, “This is how it’s done,” and the world (or at least the party) will be yours.
Like Todd Epp, I am disappointed with the outcome of McGovern Day. The party needs to make progress. Individuals promising progress showed no ability to make progress, at least not in that internal setting.
So let’s drop the internal effort. Look outward. Look to voters. Look to the 549,000 registered voters whose attention we need in 2018, not the maybe 500 wonky neighbors who care about or can even name the chairs of our state political parties.
Picking a new executive director requires no constitutional changes.
Hawks has already submitted her résumé for the job by running a statewide Congressional campaign that was at least as respectable as any campaigning done by the state party in 2016.
Everyone on the Central Committee and in the South Dakota Democratic Party places the common good of the party and South Dakota above any personal consideration of minor issues like who gets to have which title.
I’m sure readers can add to that list of dangers, Trump-inspired or otherwise. Electing a South Dakota Democrat to Congress to help retake the House and stop the blindly destructive Trump agenda, as well as electing Democrats as Governor, Attorney General, and legislators to use all the tools available to our state government to resist Trump’s predations on the common wealth, should be the guiding theme of every decision South Dakota Democrats make at their Central Committee meeting tomorrow and every decision our party chair, staff, and volunteers make in the coming eighteen months.
Heather Halverson, chair of the Minnehaha County Democratic Party, said she felt the efforts to elect a new chair nearly half way through Tornberg’s term seemed “sudden.” Despite that, she said she would listen to arguments on both sides and decide how to vote on Saturday.
“If it seems like something that might help the party move forward, then I might vote to support it,” Halverson said. “But if it’s too much of an upheaval, I’m not sure I can vote for that.”
Jeff Barth, who challenged Tornberg for her position in 2014, said he wouldn’t be in attendance at the meetings Saturday but felt the effort to oust the party head was being brought in poor taste.
Commissioner Barth usually chooses words sharply, but “last second” doesn’t quite capture what’s happening here. A “last-second” change in this case might be right before the 2018 election, or before the 2018 convention, with all the candidates, strategy, and messaging in place. The snap election that Rachelle Norberg and other Democrats are calling for at Saturday’s meeting in Sioux Falls is about as early and sensibly timed as such a move can be. We’re a year out from the primary, before any Democrats have declared for major offices. We have a vacancy in the party executive director position, an opportunity for the chair, current or new, to put a key person in place to help define the direction and tone of the 2018 campaign. The move for a snap election is happening in conjunction with McGovern Day, the party’s flagship statewide fundraiser and a speech by DNC vice-chair Rep. Keith Ellison, which should draw greater attendance than a typical Central Committee meeting. That party event also includes caucuses of the College, High School, and Young Democrats and a panel discussion with leaders from numerous blossoming activist groups, making it a prime event for the chair, current or new, to have meaningful conversations with key groups that can bring new energy and play an integral role in planning an executing a Democratic recovery.
Chair Halvorson’s concern about “suddenness” also seems misplaced. Prominent Democrats Paula Hawks and Frank Kloucek called for a party shake-up last November; Democrats have spent five months mulling this possibility. I’d argue that, as a party that should have been implementing a vigorous and visible multi-pronged recovery and resistance plan since November 9, the South Dakota Democratic Party doesn’t have time for much more deliberation. If we need upheaval (and heading toward an election in which we will be calling for wresting power from the Trump/Daugaard/Lederman regime, we need to use upheaval as a good word!), we need it right away. Think of “sudden” as an acronym for “Should’ve Undertaken Democratic Doings Earlier than Now!” (Yeah, I had to stretch for that.)
Planning a snap election for new Democratic Party leadership on McGovern Day is not sudden, last-second upheaval. It does not show “bad taste.” It shows courage, inclusiveness, and good timing… all of which are good characteristics for a Democratic Party leader.
Epp forgets: South Dakota is already the gulag for Democrats. Pass the butter, comrade!
Epp appears to share my concern that, amidst calls for new leadership in the SDDP, no one has publicly offered names or plans for that new leadership. (Remember the names of the guys who overthrew Gorbachev? Neither do I!)
If the Night of Long Butter Knives actually occurs, it could put the state party in a better position. God knows we can’t do any worse, could we? But as is often the case for South Dakota Democrats, just when you thought it wasn’t possible to go any lower, we sink deeper into the prairie gumbo because we will have no chair and no plan and just a bunch of ticked off Democrats [Epp, 2017.04.26].
A friend of the blog asked me this morning to envision the best possible outcome of Saturday’s votes. The best possible outcome is not a person but a plan. We’ve talked about all sorts of components of a serious Democratic offensive on this blog—voter registration, letter-writing, field offices, clear messaging on kitchen-table economics. Based on some notes I took and shared after the election, here’s a plan of action for reviving the South Dakota Democratic Party:
Split the office: instead of concentrating in Sioux Falls, base the exec there, then base other staff in field offices in Rapid City and Aberdeen. All staff have same job: field organizing, building county parties in designated region, fundraising, and registering voters.
Give each field office some level of autonomy for regional activities.
Organize party dinners in every county as an opportunity to (a) register new voters, (b) give Democrats an opportunity to get face time with voters and the press (yes, the events should be open to the press), and (c) raise money.
For every fancy, big-ticket fundraiser like McGovern Day, hold two low-ticket/no-ticket hot dog picnics or spaghetti feeds to attract students, blue-collar workers, retirees, and other regular folks who find $100 a plate too pricey for any meal. Recruit big-name Dems like Keith Ellison, Al Franken, and Bernie Sanders to come speak at those low-ticket events as surely as we recruit them for banner events like McGovern Day and the convention. And at the door, register voters.
Deploy multiple visible, forceful leaders to demand media coverage every week. These don’t all have to be candidates, just a team of local experts in each newspaper/radio market who can speak to various issues in the media. Send that list of local experts to TV and each local paper and radio station and say that every time they quote Thune/Rounds/Noem/Daugaard/Krebs/local GOP legislators, these Democratic experts are available for comment to provide balance to every story.
When the local press don’t call us, we call them: those local experts put at least one letter in the local paper every week.
Include these local leaders in regular, short, punchy videos boosted on Facebook: strong 30-second/1-minute content with real faces selling our platform, policies, people, and brand.
Pursue ballot measure synergy:
Get behind one winning initiative petition in 2017 and conduct strong, attention-grabbing petition activities from the new Democratic field offices in conjunction with voter registration drives and other activities.
Be on alert for opportunity to refer one law from 2018 Session and continue visible, attention-grabbing petition activity in spring 2018 alongside primary activity.
Encourage gubernatorial and legislative candidates (and, if relevant to the sought office, SOS/AG/etc. candidates) to campaign on the Democratic-endorsed ballot measure(s).
Make the voter database available to every filed candidate; pay for access with state-level fundraising.
Recruit candidates from Governor and U.S. House on down who are committed to the idea that they can win in November 2018 and who will throw punches to do so. No caution, no triangulation—we choose candidates who build the Democratic brand and run on it without apology.
Organize early (start week of early voting) targeted door-to-door campaigning for candidates in every urban district.
Organize early targeted phone-banking for candidates in every rural district. Goal: ensure contact with 5,000 voters in every district.
Renew tribal outreach with fundraising pitches aimed specifically at funding specific projects like GOTV buses and chili feeds on the reservations.
Target every RV mailbox center in South Dakota with direct mail and/or calls.
That’s a lot of action (and I can think of more), but Democratic revival here in Siberia won’t happen by itself.
Who emerges from McGovern Day as Democratic Party chair matters far less than what our chair, executive board, and central committee are willing to do to win in 2018. The best possible outcome is that everyone meets, speaks, and departs as allies united around a common plan of action. Anyone who talks about anything other than our practical goals and action, anyone who gripes and moans about personal grievances, should be slapped back to reality or, if they keep griping and moaning, thrown out as snacks for the David Horowitz wolves that the Lederman spin blog is so sweatily and effectively pitching. Gripers and moaners add no value to the party; doers do.
Butter your bread, Democrats, and let’s get to work!
A supporter of the snap election gets me in touch with Norberg, who provides this guest column on what’s afoot and why her contingent (I’m pretty sure her “we” is not editorial) wants to replace current SDDP chair Ann Tornberg:
Thanks to the Dakota Free Press for hosting our editorial input here! We really appreciate the opportunity to explain and expand a bit on the proposed amendments to the SD Democratic Party’s Constitution.
The amendments as proposed make a number of grammatical changes, and clean up a few areas, but the heart of the proposed amendment would change the term and election date of the State Party Chair. Currently that election is held in the same year as a Gubernatorial election, a point, which we feel, does not serve the interest of having a strong Chairperson in place to layout a plan and lead us through an election. Moving the election prior to May 1 of each odd numbered year allows the chair to be elected at the same time as other party leaders across the state. And, more importantly, gives the incoming chair time to take the reins and build momentum through the next election cycle.
Secondly, we believe that the move to a four-year term for Chairperson has not served the party well and we should return to a 2-year term. Any person who finds success in the office would be able to run for unlimited terms of re-election but it would give us an opportunity to make changes in leadership when needed.
If these amendments pass, we intend to hold an immediate election.
According to the SDDP constitution, there is no requirement to give notice of an election, but in an attempt to be transparent and give adequate notice, we included a notice of this intended election in the cover letter that was submitted to all SDDP State Central Committee members more than 10 days ahead of the coming meeting as required by the Constitution. Anyone interested in running for the Chair or other position has had time to make that intention known and to work for or against the proposed changes. We encourage anyone interested in seeking these offices to make their intentions known.
As for the optics and the “politics” of it, we know this isn’t pleasant and it’s not fun. But, can we really be worried that the SDDP is going to get worse press than this? Do we really think the status quo is worth protecting?
We don’t hold Ann Tornberg responsible for all that ails the SDDP. She has tried her best, and for that we thank her. What we do hold her responsible for is a severe lack of management ability that has led to low fundraising, dropping voter registration numbers, a nearly invisible message, and at the center, zero of anything resembling a strategic action plan for the State Party. The Executive Board has made numerous attempts to initiate strategic planning processes and set goals, which were either ignored, or misguided into “listening sessions” that fell on deaf ears. Many of your Democratic Party participating readers will likely share their own frustrations and experiences of Tornberg’s inability to lay out clear pathways to success despite her two years of trying.
So, without any attempt to conceal our intentions, we ask SDDP Central Committee members to stand with us for bold, decisive action that can unite our party behind new leadership.
Vermillion, South Dakota [submitted to Dakota Free Press, 2017.04.24
I’ll second at least one of Norberg’s motions: Democrats, if you want to be chair, let Dakota Free Press know! Let’s discuss your qualifications here on the blog and, if the snap election takes place, get an idea of who’s best for the job!
*p.s.: Norberg sits on the SDDP Executive Board and Central Committee by dint of her presiding over the South Dakota Young Democrats; however, the proposed SDDP constitutional amendments are not sponsored by the Young Dems, and Norberg is promoting these amendments and the snap election as an individual activist, not in her leadership role.