Hurst Has Skills for Good Senate Race Against Thune

The GOP spin of Kevin Woster’s commentary last week was “Democrats can’t win” the 2016 Senate race against John Thune. Now busy reveling in the fact that my man Frank Kloucek is playing hard to get, the GOP spinsters need to catch up with Kevin Woster’s declaration today that he’s “almost certain” that South Dakota Democrats will field a candidate or two (!) to challenge Thune.

Woster doesn’t name any specific candidate as an “almost certain” entrant, but he reports that some serious people are having serious conversations about recruiting West River journalist and filmmaker Sam Hurst to take up the Senate challenge:

Hurst is tied into a group that has produced professional polling in recent years on a variety of public-policy issues. And there is some talk among the Hurst group about doing some polling to find out where Thune might have weaknesses and how Hurst might be able to exploit them, if he is the Democratic nominee.

As one of his friends said: “I’d raise money for Sam just to see him debate Thune” [Kevin Woster, “Hurst for U.S. Senate in 2016? Well…,” KELO-TV, 2015.08.24].

Hurst is a smart enough researcher and communicator that he doesn’t need my help with debate prep. But Friends of Sam (and that would include the Dakota Poll group which Woster obliquely cites), I suspect you’ll find some of those useful weaknesses listed on this blog (start here and work through the links).

Hurst would be a formidable debate opponent, even as a pronounced underdog in a Senate race. Whether he would connect to South Dakotans on a wide scale and be perceived by likely voters as more than a Democratic bomb-thrower is unclear.

It’s also wise to remember that being sharp and edgy and articulate doesn’t necessarily translate into being a good candidate. But then, Hurst is smart enough to understand that [Woster, 2015.08.24].

Sharp, edgy, and articulate can still lose an election. But dull, docile, and mumbling will lose, guaranteed. Check sharp, edgy, and articulate, and put Sam Hurst next to Frank Kloucek in the bull pen to pitch against Thune.

Woster does raise a concern about the Democratic Party being able to play nicely with Hurst:

Hurst, who has never run from a controversial opinion, has made some insightful-but-edgy evaluations of the state of the party in South Dakota. They stung. This is a wounded party, after all, with a clear and abiding memory of injuries sustained and perceived attackers, particularly those who come from within.

So there’d be some fence mending to find unity, if Hurst could beat whomever the party finds over there east of, say,  Iona (a dividing-line community carefully chosen by the Politics in KELOLAND campaign-coverage team just in case Billie Sutton runs, although the team doubts he will this time) to run [Woster, 2015.08.24].

Sam Hurst
Sam Hurst also looks far more authentic in a baseball cap than Donald Trump. (3834—Dems, stare hard at that number.) Photo from Facebook, 2010.

read, blogged, and appreciated Hurst’s forthright critiques of my party during and right after the 2010 election. Hurst understands that Democrats need a fearless leader. If Hurst is willing and able to fearlessly lead a Senate campaign, there had better not be any Democrats whining, “Oh, but Sam made me feel bad six years ago” and sitting on their hands, especially if no one else is going to pick up the flag and charge the Thune line.

Sam Hurst can bring the fight that Democrats need. Hurst could articulate why South Dakotans deserve better than Thune’s do-nothing tenure in Washington, and he could do it while outdoing Thune on West-River dusty-boots cred.

Of course, we Dems could go nuts and have a Hurst–Kloucek–Abourezk primary….

20 Responses to Hurst Has Skills for Good Senate Race Against Thune

  1. Roger Cornelius

    John Thune has not had to answer to South Dakota voters for years, it’s past time that he does, regardless of who a challenger might be.
    I don’t remember if Thune has any debating skills since he hasn’t had to use any in talking to voters or legislating in the senate.
    Thune only beat Tom D. by bringing big names to campaign for him. Corrupt Senate Majority Leader Tom Delay was just one of many. Phil Jensen even admits he moved to South Dakota to campaign against Tom.
    The only way Thune communicates with South Dakota is through the Powers Dump Site with his lame weekly addresses.
    I suspect many Republicans are fed up with the mum and photo-op Thune.

  2. Roger Elgersma

    We do not need an unknown running against Thune. Kloucek is quit well known and did well in many campaigns. We can point out all Thunes mistakes that we want but this is still a Republican state and Thune is a Republican so we need all the advantages that we can get. Kloucek is not a sure win but is a possible win, so we would need to back him up as well as possible and get him to run.

  3. bearcreekbat

    Sam Hurst would be a great representative for the people of this state. He is well known and a real breath of fresh air who most intelligent South Dakotans would vote for in a second over Thune.

    As for an Abourezk, I could support either Charlie or Mike, as both are bright, caring men who would do a fantastic job for the people of our great state (I do admire Jim immensely, but his time has likely passed for national service).

  4. larry kurtz

    Pressler is credible and Abourezk is too jaded in an alternate universe. Sam should run for a sentence in Pierre from his district then begin measuring the drapes in Hilger Gulch.

  5. larry kurtz

    It’s important to remember that Cory has said an announcement in February is the smart one.

  6. Roger Klouchek is done running, he has done well he will not put the family through that.

  7. I do know of an indepenent that is thinking of running to.

  8. I think Mr. Kloucek is the best and most entertaining option. I sure hope that he does run.

  9. Deb Geelsdottir

    I like Sam. I’d like to see him give it to Thune.

  10. Jake Cummings

    Roger, DeLay was House Majority Leader. Are you thinking of Bill Frist from the Senate?

  11. no maybe’s about it. i have heard things too. but wooster seems to just be about gossip. of course, that is what politics “seems” to be.

  12. anybody see phil jenson at the fair? cweepy. he hung out a lot at the booth next to Penn Dems-watching.

  13. Moses, an Independent other than Kurt Evans? Tell your Independent candidate to call me! We should talk!

  14. Leslie, Woster is enjoying himself, isn’t he? And Jensen at the Fair, hanging around Dems—snap a picture! Ask him for a video interview on your phone! I’ll post!

  15. Name recognition would help any candidate, Roger E. All other things being equal, I would prefer a candidate South Dakotans already know in some context. However, the right candidate, one with some spark and communication skills, could raise her or his name recognition pretty quickly.

  16. i don’t know woster well. i don’t however like his apparent pro-republican bias that evidences itself in his reporting quite often. i do respect however that he is a true journalist, like mercer, in a barren state, who is listened too and carries formidable weight in terms of credibility. therefore he bears a heavy burden to accurately report news. imo

    another thought about sam. dem candidates probably will not be elected their first run so it requires multi-cycle commitment and stamina.

  17. woster’s comment about dems playing nicely seems to fit the definition of gossip. also, his annoying use of “it seems” as a qualifier, is … annoying.

  18. Roger Cornelius

    Jake Cummings,

    I stand corrected, thanks.

  19. Roger Cornelius


    I’ve been reading Woster for years and had quite a few exhanges with him on his Mt. Blogmore back in the day.

    Kevin can lean pro-republican, but I always got the sense that he was actually Libertarian

    Cory’s right about Kevin, he loves the political season as much as he does the hunting season, he’s just enjoying himself.

  20. And Roger, I don’t mind if Kevin enjoys himself. Heck, he gave us another alternative to talk about, as well as a good reminder of the critique Hurst offered the SDDP in 2010 and that party would do well to heed. Even if Hurst isn’t the candidate, his ideas should guide the candidate and the party.

    Leslie, I agree that a first-timer is at a disadvantage, but everyone has to have a first time. And every now and then, we’ll find a candidate who can win the first time. Tom Daschle won on his first run, didn’t he? Did Tim Johnson ever lose an election?