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SD Dems Website Pending Renewal; Sanders Promises Renewal for Red-State Democrats

screen cap of parked domain; image of Brendan Johnson superimposed by CAH, 2015.07.05
Brendan Johnson and Domain Parking Dude—kinda, sorta related?

Mr. Kurtz notices that the South Dakota Democratic Party website,, isn’t working this morning, although the handsome dude in the domain-parking photo reminds me of Brendan Johnson. The party website appears to be parked, pending renewal.

Not parked is the South Dakota Democratic Party Facebook page, where I find photos from an apparently well-attended speech by Bernie Sanders in Sioux City on Thursday. Among the hundreds in attendance was SDDP chair Ann Tornberg:

SDDP chair Ann Tornberg holds a "Bernie for President" sign—Ann! You know they're talking Sanders, not Hunhoff, right? (SDDP Facebook page, Sioux City, IA, 2015.07.02)
SDDP chair Ann Tornberg holds a “Bernie for President” sign—Ann! You know they’re talking Sanders, not Hunhoff, right? (SDDP Facebook page, Sioux City, IA, 2015.07.02)

Ah, I know what happened: the Hillary Clinton wing of the South Dakota Democratic Party saw that photo of our chairwoman promoting Sanders and whacked the website!

But maybe Chairwoman Tornberg is waving the right sign: taking his eight-stop Independence Week tour to Council Bluffs Friday, Senator Sanders drew 2,500 people, the largest crowd yet to assemble for any 2016 Presidential candidate in the first state to caucus.

Maybe Tornberg and other South Dakota progressives like what Sanders is saying about building up the Democratic Party in rural red states others might write off:

…Sanders said he’s committed to building the Democratic Party, even in very conservative states.

“If you claim to be the party of the working people — if that’s what the Democrats are supposed to be, in the legacy of F.D.R., even Harry Truman — how do you abandon the poorest states in America and not talk to those people?” Sanders said to a crowd in Sheldon. “How are you not running strong candidates, putting money into those areas?”

He said Republicans are good at capitalizing on wedge issues such as abortion, gay rights and immigration. But he said Democrats need to go on the offensive by relentlessly focusing on economic issues.

“What you’ve got to do is say to people, ‘Look, we may disagree on that issue, but don’t you think your kid has a right to a college education? Don’t you think you deserve a decent-paying job? Do you really believe we should be giving tax breaks to millionaires?’ ” Sanders said. “Those are the issues we’ve got to take to working people all over this country” [Kevin Hardy and Jennifer Jacobs, “Sanders Urges Iowa Crowd of 2,500 to ‘Think Big’,” Des Moines Register, 2015.07.03].

Play offense, talk pocketbook issues, don’t let economic anxiety translate into scapegoating wingnuttery—boom! Bernie’s got the playbook for the renewal of the South Dakota Democratic Party!

Now if someone would call the party exec and tell her/him to renew the party’s web domain….

Update 2015.07.06 07:11 CDT: An eager reader responds with this June 13 photo from another Sioux City event:

SDDP chair Ann Tornberg with Hillary Clinton, Sioux City, Iowa, 2015.06.13—photo submitted by reader.
SDDP chair Ann Tornberg with Hillary Clinton, Sioux City, Iowa, 2015.06.13—Facebook photo linked by reader (see comments below).

When you’re party chair and one of your party’s presidential candidates is just an hour away, you go!


  1. Roger Cornelius 2015-07-05

    Ann’s support of Bernie is great, but is it a mistake that our party has been making over and over?

    This is early in the primary season and I would expect our state party to support ALL Democratic presidential candidates equally.

    Remember that the party did this last year in the governor’s race, endorsing Wismer over Lowe when we all knew Wismer could not even get out of the gate.

    I like Bernie and may vote for him, but I do expect equity from my party in primary elections.

  2. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-07-05

    I really like the direction Bernie is going.

  3. Kay 2015-07-05

    I agree the party should not take sides in a primary…….we should support all candidates…..

  4. jerry 2015-07-05

    I have missed any support that Hillary, or Jim Webb or Lincoln Chafee or O’Malley have given to populist causes so far. Bernie is the one who has done that. He has shown that he is more progressive than the rest in this race so far and has a better chance of defeating Romney than the others would have.

  5. mike from iowa 2015-07-05

    HRC has already put on her knee pads and got down on her knees for Israel. Run Bernie,Run. You’ve got my vote.

  6. larry kurtz 2015-07-05

    Any chairman backing one primary over another is unfit to serve. Who in hell does she thing she is?

  7. larry kurtz 2015-07-05

    We don’t want a nail-biter on election night we want a crushing blow to the GOP agenda. Most real progressives believe Bernie has no chance of winning the nomination but his working for Secretary Clinton helps us be stronger.

    Clinton/Franken in 2016.

  8. Roger Cornelius 2015-07-05

    Well, at least Larry got my point.

  9. Lynn 2015-07-05


    I believe I understood your point right away. Let the process within the Democratic Party play out to see who the strongest candidate is with the reforms George McGovern help put in place and the winner faces the GOP in the General right? Without bias showing from state party leadership favoring a primary candidate which could alienate some in and outside the party?

  10. Jackilope 2015-07-05

    I would anticipate that when Hillary comes to Iowa, SD Democratic leaders will travel to see her as well. By the time SD has their primary, the nation has already made their pick. 2008 was unusual between Clinton and Obama and rare.

    A group of us also drove up to hear Sen. Sanders. There were at least 6 of us there from Sioux Falls. For me, Sanders is my pick and who has me energized. I may live in a red state, but I can cross the border and volunteer in areas where a meaningful difference can be and can contribute money when I can. He is the sole candidate not taking billionaire dark money from PACs. That alone speaks about the kind of change we need to see.

    I am tired of Corporate Candidates. Period. Our elected should be protecting the people from the corporations, not protecting corporations from the people. Clinton played it safe regarding opinion on the TPP, whereas Sanders rightly opposed it. Has she any opinion on the Keystone Pipeline? My guess is she has friends that have her ear that whisper “Yes to Keystone.”

    If she gets the nomination, because of SCOTUS, I will hold my nose and vote — though does it really even count in SD? Will I donate or volunteer for her? Not a chance. She has such a well oiled corporate flow of cash and corporate friends, my absence won’t be missed.

  11. Lynn 2015-07-05

    my observation of the surge in popularity this Democratic candidate has had with hardly any financial resources or established political machine has really surprised me.

  12. Lynn 2015-07-05

    1st choice Bernie Sanders, 2nd choice Jim Webb, 3rd choice Martin O’Malley, 4th choice HRC

  13. Donald Pay 2015-07-05

    I didn’t go to the Sanders’ rally here in Madison. Sanders has been a regular here over the last 15 years. He speaks about every six months to one progressive group or another, so he has a built a strong grassroots base in Wisconsin. That base turned out at his rally and will turn out for him on primary day. He’s also been a regular on progressive talk radio, which is pretty big here.

    This isn’t unique to Madison. Sanders has put in a lot of effort to build grassroots movements around issues all over the country for years. Most people know him as “Bernie.” I like him a lot, but I’m not sure he’s my choice yet.

  14. Roger Cornelius 2015-07-05

    Should Bernie prevail and win the Democratic primary for president, he has one big problem going up against republicans in the fall.

    Bernie is an admitted socialist and republicans will pound away on that ignoring his populist messages

    As we all know, in this country, socialism is automatically equated with communism in the minds of the weak and vulnerable, they’ll literally see red, Chinese Red.

    For Bernie to succeed in the general election, he’ll have to work hard on defining what socialism is in America. Can he accomplish that?

  15. Jackilope 2015-07-05

    That question came up in the Q and A in Sioux City, Roger. First off, term would be Democratic Socialist. Bernie has been attracting so many people at his events indicates that his ideas aren’t out there, but what we generally embrace and want. Healthcare for all, people in charge — not corporations, campaign finance reform, the wealthy and corporations paying their fair share.

    That said, it is up to us to gently talk to our right winged family and friends. Yesterday at a BBQ, I found common ground with a FB friend that posts far right memes — that being that campaign finance reform. We both agreed the super PACs and corporate buying of our Democracy was bad. What one candidate is not accepting Super PAC money?

    People are getting fed up with politics as usual. If this is what we truly want, it has to be us that demand it and to work for it. Settling for any less will not do. It is hard work to go forward.

  16. jerry 2015-07-05

    Chinese Red..What is that?? The last I looked, those Chinese Reds were holding some serious bonds of US Treasury. Oh, and they are communist that were good enough for EB-5 Rounds and the Daugaard to do business with. Socialism and communism mean nothing as they are just word salad.

  17. jerry 2015-07-05

    South Dakota wants to do business with the Chinese Reds and have sent many to that country for that purpose. South Dakota also wants to do business with Cuba, that is clearly a communist country with socialistic qualities. You cannot have capitalism without socialism, it is impossible as there is always a looser in capitalism that must be addressed.

  18. mike from iowa 2015-07-05

    Roger-right wing nut jobs have been calling Dems socialists since at least the 60’s. iowa’s 2 wingnut senators refused to vote for Medicare because they claimed it was a socialist program. They have no idea what a socialist is or what xocialism means. They just use the term to strike fear in old white people. Cheap campaign theatrics. Wingnuts are good at that and not much else.

  19. jerry 2015-07-05

    Is Social Security Socialist? How about The Farm Bill, Medicare, water lines, power lines….Interstate highways, police, public service, first responders…

  20. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-07-05

    ” . . . they are just word salad . . . ”

    That’s true Jerry, but word salad is very effective for more ignorant voters. That’s why true-defining is critical.

    BTW, it’s not *redefining*. That’s what Republicans did when they began making up new definitions for so many words.

  21. Travis Wicks 2015-07-05

    For the record, Ann Tornberg was at an HRC gathering in Iowa not long ago that was streamed online to other fundraising events for her campaign. I think Ann honestly is trying to show support for all Dem. candidates running for the presidential nomination.

    The picture with her holding a Bernie sign was probably just a photo op for the party’s FB page and website (once it gets up nod running again!).

  22. Donald Pay 2015-07-05

    Well, yeah, the “socialist” label is going to be a bit of an issue, but Bernie has dealt with that in all of his campaigns in Vermont. In Wisconsin the socialists ran Milwaukee for decades when it was a thriving city with a good baseball team. Since the major parties took over the city and country government there has been nothing but scandal, ineptitude and decay (that includes Scott Walker, who was Milwaukee County Executive). Bring back the socialists!!!

  23. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-05

    Donald, I’d love to hear Bernie own that label and beat his opponents with it.

    Jackilope, I’m glad to hear about your enthusiasm and willingness to volunteer for Sanders. I’m curious: would a Sanders nomination energize the grassroots more than would a Clinton nomination? Could there be a lot of volunteers, donors, and voters who would share Jackilope’s thinking, that HRC has all the corporate power she needs to win and thus doesn’t need our help?

  24. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-05

    Travis, do we have any photos available of Ann with an HRC sign or button or other such item that I could put side by side with the photo above to assuage Roger’s and Kay’s concerns that the party may be making an error of throwing in with a candidate pre-primary?

  25. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-05

    Todd, site is still down; looks like we’re taking advantage of the July 4th weekend to change hosts, to

  26. Travis Wicks 2015-07-05

    I’ll check on that, Cory, I think there are some photos of Ann with Hilary on the FB page. I’ll let you know what I find out…

  27. MJL 2015-07-06

    Thanks Travis. I was going to point out that Ann has made several posts when Hillary was near by. She has not picked or endorsed any candidate.

  28. Pat Ginsbach 2015-07-06

    I am the secretary to the county Democratic party. I called the office of the State Democrats 10 days ago and asked for some information. The receptionist said I would get a call back right away. I am still waiting for that information. What is happening with the State Party Headquarters? Is anybody home? Do we have an Executive Director?

  29. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-06

    Pat, your call getting lost in the shuffle may have been partly my fault. Ten days ago, party HQ was in the midst of processing those two petitions I got started back in March. Our new exec has not been announced yet, so I would assume the main office is under-staffed.

  30. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-06

    Thanks, Travis! Now, can we get one of our chair holding a Clinton sign and wearing a Clinton button?

  31. larry kurtz 2015-07-06

    Facebook is malware. If SDDP wants to be more inclusive they have to develop a better way to reach out to voters.

  32. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-06

    Facebook won’t reach everyone. Neither will any other method. SDDP needs multiple channels, all used wisely. I’m fine with Facebook being one of those channels, because evidently, a lot of voters and volunteers are on it. Larry, can you point the party toward an online platform that does what FB does better?

  33. larry kurtz 2015-07-06

    Twitter isn’t working for @sodakdems either: nothing since 26th of June. A county chair is the most effective outreach.

  34. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-06

    If you’re critiquing the absence of content, then the proper statement is, “SoDakDems aren’t working Twitter as hard as they should be.”

    A county chair is the most effective outreach. A county chair on Twitter and Facebook may be even more effective.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Facebook/Twitter superfan. However, linking my posts on those two sources does bring me readers who wouldn’t notice this content otherwise. Done right (and I could do much more), the effort is a net plus in getting messages out.

  35. larry kurtz 2015-07-06

    As I watch Pat’s twitter crawl and Jon Lauck’s shaping of the SDGOP message those guys get a pretty steady diet of RINO propaganda but at this stage of the game all they have to do is stall and run out the clock because they’re eating our lunch.

  36. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-06

    If you view Lauck’s Twitter crawl as useful, then the proper response is for SDDP to staff up and maintain a similar, regular, intentional, and appealing presence.

  37. larry kurtz 2015-07-06

    Cory, you know you’re the bright light in the Party right now. How can we help you?

  38. Jeff Barth 2015-07-06

    You are right about Cory.
    Now we just need to get him a staff, an office and a budget.

  39. Jeff Barth 2015-07-06

    Voter registration numbers.

    Republicans: 243,173, increase of 2,628 since 11/14
    Democrats: 175,535, decrease of 834 since 11/14
    Ind/IPA: 109,742, increase of 7,350 since 11/14

    We need signatures on voter registration forms. We have done a bit of that at the Benson’s Flea Market but it isn’t enough.

  40. Roger Cornelius 2015-07-06

    In 2008 and again in 2012 President Obama successfully used Facebook and Twitter to promote his candidacy, he all used other social media.

    The Obama Team and the national Democratic Party also were able to capture email accounts of their members and use them effectively.

    President Obama was able to address many Democrats personally in these emails and other Democratic leaders and celebrities were able to follow up with why they wanted President Obama elected and re-elected.

    President Obama used the personal email approach to garner support and eventual victory for Obamacare.

    It is good to hear from the state and national Democratic Party, it is even better to hear from county chairs and candidates themselves.

    I remember posting messages from the president on Facebook and Twitter and forwarding the emails to friends and relatives.

    What is going on with the appointment of an executive director of the state party? We were led to believe that this position was to be filled this past April.

    Whatever is happening with the reformation of the state website and the party organization better happen quickly, right now they are starting off on the wrong foot.

  41. leslie 2015-07-06

    i echo jeff’s sentiment about bankrolling cory (by the party, i mean :)

  42. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-07

    Jeff, I have an office! Our new house in Aberdeen has a spare room just for my stuff! It’s great!

    Leslie, not that I want to turn away any money (the Tip Jar is open!), but are you sure you want the party to bankroll this blog? Then this blog becomes beholden to that party’s message, right? Would this blog then be any different from Dakota War College?

    Larry, find me $50K a year from patrons who expect nothing but quality writing, and I do nothing but this work. (That figure is spitballing, and it is negotiable.)

  43. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-07

    Roger makes a good point about Team Obama’s successful online outreach. Malware or not, Facebook is a useful tool in the right hands.

    By the way, appears to be up and running just fine. There’s no big stream of new content: the lead banner calls for referendum petition circulators rather than celebrating our successful petition drives, and the only recent post is the June 23 call for apps for a new communications and compliance director… which were due last Friday.

  44. larry kurtz 2015-07-07

    Kristi makes over $10,000 a week, Cory. Announce for the seat she warms.

  45. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-07

    Campaigning is a full-time job, but it doesn’t feed a family.

  46. larry kurtz 2015-07-07

    Build it and they will come, Cory.

  47. leslie 2015-07-07

    well, that, and the fact that the party cant even open a western office and pay great old hand of a volunteer.

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