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Thune Unbeatable? Why?

Heading into the Fourth of July holiday, Tom Lawrence tapped out an amusing musing on whether the Democrats will give Senator John Thune his second free pass in a row.

Democrats, don’t you dare.

Lawrence’s challenger-for-Thune essay is now making the back-to-work rounds in edited form in the print media this week, gracing my current local paper and my previous local paper. Lawrence’s enhanced e-version offers readers the conventional narrative of Thune as Goliath:

Knocking off Thune would be a tall order, and not just because the man from Murdo is a lanky 6-4. He has millions in the bank, a national profile as the chairman of the influential Senate Commerce Committee and the leader of the Senate GOP Conference, and Thune gets a lot of face time on Fox and in the ever-compliant South Dakota media [Tom Lawrence, “Will Anyone Take on Thune in 2016?Prairie Perspective, 2015.07.01].

That last bit about Fox and the “ever-compliant” media isn’t in the papers.

But even more importantly absent from Lawrence’s e- and p-versions is any mention of the policy achievements that make Thune so unbeatable.

Don’t reach for your Google. Don’t pull up the press release archive. Just think for a moment: off the top of your head, what big policies can you think of that John Thune has passed? Or be conservative: what onerous laws has Thune stricken from the books? In six years as Representative and now eleven years as Senator, what has John Thune done for you? Aside from winning elections and looking good doing it, what Goliath record David-proofs our senior Senator?

I’m sure some deeply attentive Republican boosters can get some talking points from senior Tweet-visor Jon Lauck, and I welcome their additions to the comment section below. But how many voters carry any notion of John Thune beyond his cultivated image? How many voters could say without prompting, “John Thune made South Dakota and our country better by passing [insert real legislation, not Fox confabulation, here]”?

Democrats, that’s why you don’t dare let Thune go without a serious challenger. It doesn’t take $11 million to ask, “Where’s the beef?” and get South Dakota voters asking the same thing.

Challenging Thune in 2016, a presidential election year, when Dems can boost registration and turnout and ride referendum-stoked voter discontent with tone-deaf incumbents, is not suicide. Challenging Thune is an opportunity for the right balls-to-the-wall candidate who’s ready to say that what’s really wrong with the country isn’t President Obama’s list of achievements (ejemplo reciente: ¡Cuba abierta!) but all the do-nothing obstructionism by which John Thune has denied the country even more success.

Democrats, you only get one chance every six years to beat John Thune. You wasted your last shot. Don’t wait until John Thune actually does something in Washington. Carpe diem… et carpe Senatum!

*   *   *

p.s.: Tom called me a “wild card,” which I think is a step up from “joker.” In a line that hasn’t made the print editions, Tom also called me “smart, media-friendly and quick on his feet.” Thank you, Tom. You’re very kind. And he’s right on “media-friendly”: I look great on radio.


  1. SDBlue 2015-07-09

    I have heard Thune touted as the third most powerful Republican in the Senate. I cannot tell you what he has done for our country or for South Dakota. I can tell you what he has voted against. Legislation like the Bring Jobs Home Act (I believe he voted against it twice), and legislation like the Veterans Job Corps Act. He, like Noem, votes the party line. I sickens me that we added one more doofus to the group when the uninformed here elected Rounds. I sincerely hope the Dems do not whiff in 2016. It would be nice to have at least one person in Congress who represents those in SD who don’t tow the GOP party line. As a SD lib, I already feel like I live in a state where I have “taxation without representation”. I also know the three stooges who represent us in Washington don’t give a damn about SD citizens. I just wish those who elected them would figure it out.

  2. mhs 2015-07-09

    Thune is unbeatable because there is no Democratic party in SD. To see the party of McGovern, Daschle, Kneip, et. al. become a laughingstock in one generation is hard to understand, especially given the horrendous performance of the Bush’s leading the GOP nationally during the same time frame. I don’t get it, but, it’s reality that Dems will have to figure out.

    Due respect to Cory’s hard work on the ballot initiatives, but, single-issue elections do not make a party. It takes candidates and leadership. What happened?

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-09

    SDBlue, to whiff implies that we swung and missed. SDDP 2010 didn’t even swing.

    I, too, am sickened by the fact that South Dakota’s Congressional delegation consists entirely of doofi.

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-09

    mhs, “single-issue” elections? How about double-issue elections? We got two issues on the ballot! :-)

    If the party can collapse in one generation, it can resurge in another. Remember, nationally, the Republican Party went from zero to holding the Presidency in six years, and that was without the Internet to help.

  5. Jenny 2015-07-09

    Thune will be SDs Senior Senator for awhile unless there is a very rich SD Dem that has the energy to put up a fight. Follow the money.

  6. larry kurtz 2015-07-09

    If Lawrence was a real journalist he’d expose Thune as the crook he is.

  7. leslie 2015-07-09

    if anyone knows thune intimately (ala’ his weaknesses), it should be tim johnson, who could lead us right up his a—–e like a jedi starfighter and deposit a poison pill. (over the top, huh?)

  8. jerry 2015-07-09

    “Looking good on the radio”, sounds like a good campaign slogan to me Cory. At least you have something going which is more than I can say about Tehran John. I have asked many times if there is anything that he has done for our state, and still await that return. This is the only job he can do, which is clearly nothing but a yes vote for ALEC and a Koch brothers condom.

  9. Jenny 2015-07-09

    Brendan Johnson needs a few more years of grooming apparently.

  10. Donald Pay 2015-07-09

    What’s more important than whether Thune is beatable, is what he is not doing for the state.

    What is Thune doing to halt President Obama’s nuclear war on South Dakota? Nothing. Why isn’t Thune using his substantial power to demand that the Department of Energy release all information it has gathered from in-state and out-of-state consultants and state officials on the shale repository and deep borehole disposal projects in South Dakota? Obama claims to want states and local governments to “consent” to nuclear dumps, but hides information behind exemption 3 to the Freedom of Information Act. A simple change in statutes could open up this information so South Dakotans could know exactly what they are expected to “consent” to.

  11. David Newquist 2015-07-09

    Thune’s tweet about the Affordable Healthcare Act suit, which the Supreme Court dismissed, reveals the real John Thune. He is not only incredibly feckless, he is capable of astounding stupidity. He claims as an accomplishment legislation against a tax on cow farts and burps, which was never even proposed, except in the delusional fears of the national Farm Bureau. And his campaign against Daschle featuring hired character assassin Jon Lauck and sterling moments where he accused Air Force veteran Daschle of giving comfort to the enemy remains an example of crass and craven dishonesty and malice. But it figures significantly in why Thune was unopposed.

    People can blame and denigrate the Democratic Party, but there were attempts to recruit somebody to run against Thune. I know of five very intelligent and capable people who were approached, and who declined because they could not justify exposing their families to the Thune character assassination and family terror squad. If Thune is to be defeated, it is his record which could defeat him–providing you can find a majority of voters in South Dakota who actually want someone with initiative and integrity.

    The five people who I am aware of who were approached to run have all left the state. Teachers are not the only ones who find that to make a decent living and to be treated with some measure of intelligence and respect, one has to shake the dust of South Dakota off of one’s feet and move to other climes. Look where other recent candidates and leaders in the Democratic Party are now. Democrats tend not to be the mindless readers and listeners to inane scripts, which give oral service to the organs of corporate oppression and greed. They move themselves and their families to places where their lives and talents find possibility. To keep teachers and others with talent from leaving the state, those remaining here with some hope will have to find some way to fix stupid. And the demographics are, in fact, trending toward the stupid. It’s a nice place for them.

  12. leslie 2015-07-09

    wow. well said. loucks was the hit man, eh? i knew i didn’t like him and his lobbyist cheering section

  13. 96Tears 2015-07-09

    Maybe it’s time to dust off this nugget from Madville Times’ archives. It’s about John Thune and his best friend, former campaign manager, campaign HQ landlord and convicted and imprisoned car dealer Dan Nelson. It’s about how the SDGOP and the power structure used then-Attorney General Larry Long to stonewall investigations to fraud and theft from MetaBank where Thune served on the Board of Directors (at Nelson’s insistence) and the bank’s Audit Committee. It was quite a racket! And Nelson’s business partner and fellow convict’s mother was the interim U.S. Attorney at the time, another Thune crony. How convenient!

    John Thune didn’t have to face the music on this because the convictions (executed by the Iowa Attorney General, not South Dakota’s) occurred after the election when he and Jon Lauck’s nasty smear campaign defeated Senate Leader Tom Daschle. The SDDP decision to not challenge Thune in 2010 left this scandal unchallenged. Considering three men did jail time on this, it’s still got legs.

    Some of you might be wondering if this story sounds familiar. Here’s the link to the Jan. 24, 2014, Madville post.

  14. larry kurtz 2015-07-09

    I still blame Kevin Weiland for taking on SHS instead of running against Thune. Single stupidest move in South Dakota Democratic Party history.

  15. MOSES 2015-07-09

    dan the automotive nelson where is he now.

  16. 96Tears 2015-07-09

    Daniel A. Nelson and Christian J. Tapken were previously sentenced on identical charges. Nelson was sentenced to 30 months of imprisonment, plus a term of three years of supervised release. Tapken was sentenced to 18 months of imprisonment, plus a term of three years of supervised release. Each of these defendants were also ordered to be responsible for the $7,000,000.00 in restitution.

    From the FBI in April 2011:

  17. leslie 2015-07-09

    think thune (R) would cover-up like rounds (R) likely did w EB5?

  18. Donald Pay 2015-07-09

    The way I approached politics is not from the standpoint of trying to beat someone. It’s not about who smeared whom years ago, and how do we get back at them. To me, politics is about the next issues and next effort at organizing. There are many important issues that need to be addressed.

    If you can get Thune to do what you want him to do, then you win. It doesn’t matter that he’s a suit or a Republican. Yeah, money tilts the scales, so people like Thune just take a little more work to come around.

    I bet if you polled South Dakotans, 75 percent would say they oppose a high-level radioactive waste dump in the state, and if they thought Obama was behind it, that number would increase to 85 percent. What is Thune doing to stop Obama’s attempt to site a radioactive waste dump in the state, because as I see it, that is going to be a huge future issue? Does he support Obama’s fake “consent” idea, now before Congress? Is he going to vote for that monstrosity? If he is, then doesn’t he think all the information should be public, rather than hidden from the public? What is he going to do about making that information public immediately?

    See, Thune will either have to support South Dakotans and their right to know about these machinations and truly “consent” or not, or he will support the interests, including Obama and his Secretary of Energy, who want to rip South Dakota open and pour the nation’s radioactive wastes there. And if he supports interests other than those of South Dakota, he is going to have to answer to about 85 percent of the public who oppose him on that issue.

    The many of us learned from John Sieh and all the other grassroots South Dakotans involved in the Oahe Irrigation Project fight is that you first organize yourselves. The fight was vicious, but it was

  19. Donald Pay 2015-07-09

    …the first, and it taught us all a lot.

  20. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-09

    Jerry, in terms of comparing my record to Thune’s, I suppose that he could accuse me of being a South Dakota obstructionist, standing in the way of two laws passed by the Republican Legislature.

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-09

    All five have left the state, David? Not knowing names, I can only assume we lost a lot of intellectual capacity.

  22. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-09

    Donald, you have the best perspective: winning is not about avenging Tom Daschle or sticking it to John Thune. Winning is about getting the best representation for South Dakota. That’s the truest meaning of positive campaigning.

    That said, given Thune’s lack of a legislative record and his ugly campaigning record, we should the story 96 shares handy for whoever carries the Dem banner. That candidate doesn’t need to tell that story, but that candidate’s surrogates most certainly do.

  23. mike from iowa 2015-07-09

    Some stuff is just too important for peons to know and if Thune wanted you to know,he would tell you instead of admiring hisownself in the mirror. Three day work weeks are hell on his tan.

  24. Roger Cornelius 2015-07-09

    Is John Thune beatable?

    Damn straight he is, I’ve seen far too many political upsets to believe John Thune or any politician to find smugness.

  25. David Newquist 2015-07-09

    There was an agreement not to divulge the names, but two ended up in Minnesota, one each in Colorado, Washington, and Iowa. Then I think of Nesselhuf, Varilek, McGovern, and some local candidates and activists who have left the state. Of those who declined to run against Thune, there was forceful opposition from their families.

  26. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-10

    Indeed, David, our bench has fled. We need some long-term leadership.

    Say, maybe we should run Roger against Thune. Senator Cornelius—sounds pretty cool, don’t you think, Roger?

  27. bearcreekbat 2015-07-12

    I would vote for Roger!

  28. jerry 2015-07-12

    Tehran John does not actually know what obstructionist means. His campaign spouted it about Tom Daschle, but the poor fellow was clueless on what that actually meant. On top of that, Tehran John does not understand anything that happens in South Dakota. If he did, perhaps he would do something for the state. I will put my best into finding a better campaign slogan for you as the radio one, well…

  29. Roger Cornelius 2015-07-12

    Okay Bear, Cory and Jerry, thanks for the compliment, but no thanks for running for any position in South Dakota.
    How about a Senator Bear, Senator Cory or Senator Jerry? I’d be honored to work your campaign
    Thune’s lack of a record for serving South Dakota should be enough of a campaign tool.

  30. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-13

    Senator Bear sounds cool! I’m envisioning ads: “Senator Bear—raawwrr!

    Someone will put you to work, Roger—keep that offer on the counter where a good candidate can use it!

  31. Curtis Price 2016-02-15

    My political introduction to South Dakota was hitting the streets of Rapid for Daschle, seeing first hand the results of Thune’s successful character assassination, visiting houses that bought the Fox noise machine narrative and turned their backs on one of the finest Senators this Nation will ever have.

    I didn’t subscribe the the RC Journal for ten years after it came on election morning in plastic Thune bag. (Finally relented, without a local paper there is no one watching the store at all.)

    Don’t forget our closeted hatchet man and professional companion with a White House pass from “Talon ‘News.'” That election was so…. yucky.

  32. Curtis Price 2016-02-15

    My choice would be Bernie Hunhoff. He is trusted by both sides in Pierre and his air of integrity and high sense of public service could shine over our senior Senator like a klieg light. I would definitely hit the streets for our Bernie.

  33. Lynn 2016-02-15

    Curtis I could see Bernie running for Governor again and he would make a good one but can’t see him having any desire to go to Washington.

  34. larry kurtz 2016-02-15

    Senator Hunhoff is Patrick Lalley’s light at the end of SDDP’s tunnel, too; but, living in Pierre without essential air service is a sentence nobody should have to endure. Only insane people can live there, it’s just that simple.

  35. larry kurtz 2016-02-15

    Mr. Price, there is a conspicuous absence of on the ground reporting in Rapid City from a Democrat’s POV. Can we expect you to resume reportage from that beat any time soon?

  36. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-15

    I second Larry’s motion, Curtis. If you get the writing itch and the time, I welcome your contributions to the blogosphere.

    And while I’d love to see Bernie stage any statewide race, I wouldn’t wish Washington on anyone who wants to stay in South Dakota, and I wouldn’t recommend leaving a seat in the Legislature open to fill the Thune spot. We need to fill every spot with the best we have.

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