Last week reporter Kevin Woster trial-ballooned his Rapid City neighbor and fellow journalist Sam Hurst as a possible Senate candidate. This week Todd Epp makes similar Twitter noise to draft precip prognosticator and fellow Sioux Falls media man Phil Schreck to change jobs and challenge John Thune:
— Todd Epp (@sufusodak) August 30, 2015
Schreck thumps his chest—his war chest—and hears a faint, echoing jingle:
— Phil Schreck (@philksfy) August 31, 2015
One guy tweeting does not a draft campaign make. But Epp’s suggestion does point toward what we should look for in a candidate to tackle Thune:
- Brains: The SDGOP would try to portray Schreck as an airhead celebrity (because we know Republicans never fall for celebrities who don’t really have anything substantive to say). The SDGOP would be wrong. Schreck is smart, and he applies those smarts to keeping up with state and national politics. He understands the issues that would come up in a Senate campaign as well as almost anyone the Democrats may recruit to run.
- Communication Skills: Schreck can also communicate those issues. As Epp said, Schreck’s articulate. Schreck has kept his job at KSFY for 27 years not out of luck or lack of other applicants; he’s still KSFY’s weatherman because he’s good on camera, with script or without.
- People Skills: I caught the KSFY News crew deliver their five p.m. show live from the Brown County Fair. They stood on the midway tarmac in direct sunshine, 90-degree-plus heat, and humidity that stopped every drop of sweat in its tracks. Between on-air forecasts, Schreck was working the crowd, boosting the KSFY brand with the same smiling energy he mustered for the camera.
- Name Recognition: Schreck’s celebrity has an obvious upside: who else could start a U.S. Senate campaign with more statewide name recognition than all three of the top-tier Democratic candidates in the 2014 election at the beginnings of their campaigns combined?
But this is all academic, right? Phil Schreck and his wife Kristie have five kids and bills to pay. Becoming a political candidate would likely require him to step away from a really good, safe job that pays those bills. (I’m worried that Epp’s mere Tweeting and my mere discussion of that Tweeting could make Schreck’s bosses nervous about a political tinge falling on their veteran weatherman’s media image—hey! KSFY! Please don’t hold the chattering class’s shiny distractions against Phil!)
Schreck’s sole response on the financial elephant in the room indicates Schreck himself will not up and run for Senate. But Epp’s shout at Schreck suggests the kinds of skills we should look for in a candidate to beat John Thune.