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Weiland and Samuelson Submit 39K Signatures for Open Nonpartisan Primary; Knobe Cheers

Rick Weiland (1) and Drey Samuelson (3) deliver petition to place open nonpartisan primary on SD 2016 ballot to Secretary of State Shantel Krebs (2) and Deputy SOS Kea Warne (4). Photo from @soskrebs, 2015.11.09.
Rick Weiland (1) and Drey Samuelson (3) deliver petition to place open nonpartisan primary on SD 2016 ballot to Secretary of State Shantel Krebs (2) and Deputy SOS Kea Warne (4). Photo from @soskrebs, 2015.11.09.

Rick Weiland and Drey Samuelson delivered a petition with 39,182 signatures to Pierre yesterday to place a constitutional amendment creating an open nonpartisan primary on South Dakota’s 2016 ballot. Secretary of State Shantel Krebs accepted the petition, then frisked Weiland and Samuelson to make sure they weren’t stealing historic flags from the office (oops, forgot—only Republicans do stuff like that).

Sure, that’s a couple of Democrats walking in the office and proposing a noteworthy change to South Dakota’s election process. The SDGOP has to spin the open nonpartisan primary as Democrats being surrender monkeys trying to sneak a state income tax into effect (and Pat calls us conspiracy theorists for talking about EB-5!), because Republicans don’t have any intelligent argument against allowing more people to participate in the primary process on an equal footing.

But before we portray the open nonpartisan primary proposal as a strictly Democratic ploy, let’s turn to the press release and explanation of the measure sent out yesterday by the chairman of South Dakotans for a Nonpartisan Democracy, registered Independent Rick Knobe:

The proposed constitutional amendment would establish an open, nonpartisan primary where voters choose individual legislative and statewide candidates based on their ideas and merit, regardless of political party. The top two candidates receiving the most votes would then compete in the general election.

“An increasing number of South Dakotans are convinced that the political status quo in Pierre and in Washington is no longer viable,” Knobe said, “and our initiative will make several positive changes, including:

  1. allowing every South Dakotan to vote in primary elections, regardless of partisan registration;
  2. changing the South Dakota Legislature into a nonpartisan body, just as the nonpartisan initiative passed in Nebraska in 1934 has effectively done there;
  3. dispensing with the need for partisan caucuses, as it has in Nebraska, thus ensuring that public policy will no longer be made behind closed doors;
  4. allowing members of both political parties to chair legislative committees; and
  5. sending a message to Washington, DC that South Dakotans are not happy with the partisan division and gridlock that has undermined our system of government.”

“South Dakotans for a Nonpartisan Democracy looks forward to a vigorous debate of the issues once the Secretary of State certifies our amendment as having met the required signature numbers. The people of South Dakota and the United States deserve a government that works in their interest, and our nonpartisan primary measure will go a long ways to restoring our faith in our political institutions,” Knobe concluded [South Dakotans for a Nonpartisan Democracy, press release, 2015.11.09].

Knobe is no Democratic dupe. He does think a state income tax is worth discussing to solve the teacher shortage, but that has nothing to do with the measure his committee submitted yesterday.

The Democratic Party is far from united on the question Knobe, Weiland, Samuelson, and others want to put to a vote. There are reasonable arguments that the primary system boosts party registration and builds the party brand.

But here are some key questions to help frame the debate about the open nonpartisan primary proposal:

  1. Should the state pay for each party’s candidate selection process?
  2. Should the state favor and endorse party affiliation as the most important identifying feature of a candidate and the only such identifier worth printing on the official ballot?
  3. Will an open nonpartisan primary increase voter participation?
  4. Will an open nonpartisan primary increase candidate participation?
  5. Will an open nonpartisan primary make it easier or harder for Independents and third parties to challenge the two major parties?
  6. Will an open nonpartisan primary stop Republicans from stealing flags and losing iPads in the Capitol?

(O.K., not so much the sixth question… but if Pat gets his distractions, I get mine.)

We have 364 days to figure out whether the open nonpartisan primary is a good idea or not. I like Rick and Drey and Rick’s proposal, but I’m open to arguments to vote against it. Fire away!


  1. Tasiyagnunpa 2015-11-10 10:58

    Don’t forget. We already have nonpartisan elections. Which work well. And can be won by real, solid campaigning, not by over-reliance on party mechanisms. Scott Meyer just proved that in the Brookings City Council election last spring.

  2. Disgusted Dakotan 2015-11-10 11:19

    Let the damn RINOs be judged on their tax and spend ways.

    I have no faith that the lying scoundrels will be rooted out.

  3. Richard Schriever 2015-11-10 13:05

    IMO – the state has no business endorsing or promoting any political party – which is what the current elections structure does.

  4. larry kurtz 2015-11-10 13:17

    SDDP should nominate all their candidates at the state convention. Anyone not holding an office, county chair, isn’t a delegate or a candidate should be registered in the earth hater party: it’s just that simple.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-11-10 14:45

    Indeed, someone remind me why some elections are partisan and some are non-partisan.

  6. jerry 2015-11-10 14:50

    As we all knew what kind of a person Gant is, in addition to being frisked upon leaving office, he should also have had to undergo a colonoscopy. They may have found the flag then, way deep though.

  7. Just some guy 2015-11-10 16:46

    All I need to know to realize this is a bad idea is that Rick Weiland thinks it’s a good idea.

  8. bearcreekbat 2015-11-10 17:07

    Ah the old “RINO” label. Mary Barker writes about the other side of the coin: the “CINO” label, Conservative In Name Only.

    First, genuine conservatism: “. . . conservatism at its best emphasizes the limitations of human nature; fears the abuse of power and thus worries about its concentration; cautions prudence and practicality in public policy; warns of the unforeseen consequences of overly-ambitious and untried blueprints to re-make society; and values intelligence, education, and high culture. It has demonstrated an unapologetic elitism, viewing itself as a bulwark against the passion-driven, irrational behavior of ignorant majorities – easily swayed by charlatans – who would trample the rights of individuals and turn power over to benign dictators.”

    . . .

    Compare this to CINO conservatism today: “The movement that once disdained the uneducated has itself become anti-intellectual, denying the findings of science (evolution, global warming), unable to distinguish between theories and “fairy tales” (Ben Carson), equating higher education with snobbery (Rick Santorum) . . . .”

    “They are also John Adams’s worst nightmare, willing to use their social power to deny others’ rights. They demean the First Amendment through their support of bogus religious liberties that suppress actual ones . . . . The historically outrageous claim that the United States was founded as a Christian nation finds even John McCain succumbing. CINOs embrace the imposition of biblical law as constitutional even while they claim that the First Amendment protects communities against the building of a mosque (Cain); and while simultaneously arguing that Muslims shouldn’t be president (Carson).”

    CINOs betrayal of conservatism is even more egregious in areas thought to be firmly in their camp – economic efficiency and national security. . . .”

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-11-10 17:23

    You know, I think Rick Weiland thinks lunch and fatherhood are good ideas.

  10. Roger Elgersma 2015-11-10 17:31

    I think that if a person has to pass some test of a party rather than just run on their own is a good thing. I know that some people do not fit a particular party well but we do not need a large number of names on a ballot just because they think they are good. Working together before the election is part of the test if you can work together with 105 legislators after the election.

  11. Lanny V Stricherz 2015-11-10 18:43

    Let’s dream a little bit. Say that this measure somehow gets passed. Suddenly folks at the federal level take notice and decide that changes to the way we hold national elections needs to be changed as well.

    Say that we had 4 regional primaries as some have suggested. It would eliminate the first in the nation, highly undemocratic caucus choosing of the candidate in Iowa. It would also eliminate, a state as small as New Hampshire, having an inordinate voice in choosing our next president. It would also eliminate the need for the party not in power at the presidential level to have every person in the party who is breathing, think that they should be the next president. (That one I am no so sure of).

    I am sorry Mr Kurtz, but nominating at the party caucus, eliminates democracy. I don’t want to be a party insider. But I still want voice in the choice of candidates and the full voice in choice of officeholder. I cannot see how the change recommended by this initiative can do anything but give me that voice.

  12. larry kurtz 2015-11-11 09:54

    Sorry, Lanny: SDDP is too impotent to run statewide primaries. Even Patrick Lalley wonders why Democrats can’t win local elections in my home state. You guys have a long wait before democracy matters.

  13. Chris S. 2015-11-11 09:58

    While I kind of support some of the ideas behind this petition, I’m not really on board with letting everybody vote in whatever primary they choose. The whole point of having parties (and yes, there’s a lot wrong with our current system) is that people organize themselves according to generally shared beliefs. If you’re an “independent” who wants to vote in somebody else’s primary, tough. Suck it up, get off the holier-than-thou fence, and pick a side already. You think everybody in a party agrees with every position? No. But you weigh your choices and you affiliate yourself (at least temporarily) with the one you agree with most. For better or worse, that’s the way it’s done.

    If you are an above-the-fray “independent,” you don’t get to swoop into the Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, or Green Party primary, and meddle with their selection process. You’ve already declared you don’t agree with them enough to join their party. Why do you get to mess with their candidate selection process? If you’re a member of the Elks Lodge, you don’t get to run over to the Moose Lodge and vote for their officers instead.

    I know that was just one part of the issue being discussed, but it has always bugged me. If you want to pick a party’s nominee, then you ought to be a member of that party. You can’t have your cake and eat it too by preening about being an “independent” and then meddling in the business of people who gave a damn and actually joined (and do the hard work of organizing!) a party.

  14. larry kurtz 2015-11-11 10:02

    Chris, you’re a delegate from Yankton: right?

  15. Chris S. 2015-11-11 10:03

    @Larry — Nope. Not a delegate.

  16. larry kurtz 2015-11-11 10:08

    I think your comment is right on, Chris. Did i meet you at the convention?

  17. Chris S. 2015-11-11 10:11

    @Larry — I’ve been to a couple conventions in the past, but I wasn’t at the most recent one. I apologize if I don’t remember. :)

  18. Bill Fleming 2015-11-11 11:40

    Not exactly a new argument, apparently:

    “So deep went the fear that post-Revolutionary party politics would again degenerate into civil warfare that the Founding Fathers understandably shunned the word party, much less the idea. Scottish philosopher David Hume, learning that his old friend, Benjamin Franklin, was armpit deep in American political intrigues, recoiled in horror. “I am surprised to learn our friend, Dr. Franklin, is a man of faction. Faction, above all, is a dangerous thing.”

    Even when, in 1787, the thorniest political questions of a new nation were thrashed out in secret during the Constitutional Convention, there was no provision for a two-party system. Opposition to the new Constitution, while strong in many states, was so disorganized that it was expected to be short lived.

    Away in France during this reform convention, Thomas Jefferson objected to the lack of any formal provision for a two-party system. “Men are naturally divided into two parties,” he wrote, “those who fear and distrust the people and wish to draw all power from them into the hands of the higher classes [and] those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise, depository of the public interests.”

  19. larry kurtz 2015-11-11 12:05

    This discussion dominates Montana’s progressive blogosphere where anarchists rain on both major parties but especially on Democrats who back down to earth haters and raise the ghost of Bob Kelleher

    A South Dakota analog might be Larry Pressler.

  20. larry kurtz 2015-11-11 12:12

    I laugh at how media based in Rapid City and Sioux Falls print stories that paint each other in the worst possible light.

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-11-11 14:10

    Heavy stuff, BCB. Do any players on the political scene live up to the labels with which they sell themselves?

  22. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-11-11 14:14

    Chris, that’s a fair critique. If a party has a process for picking a candidate, a party has a right to limit who participates in that process.

    The open nonpartisan primary proposal does not prohibit parties from having such a process. We Dems could get together in April 2018 and endorse Joe Lowe for Governor. Mike Huether could still throw his name on the June ballot against Joe, Marty, Mark, Kristi, and Matt. The ONP doesn’t say you can vote in whichever primary you choose; it creates one primary for everyone. Parties seeking control over their candidate selection process may do what they want prior to that primary.

  23. Lanny V Stricherz 2015-11-11 15:50

    Just googled and found nothing recent on the 18% cap on payday loans petition. Here we are 2 days past the filing deadline and no news. Does that mean that they did not get enough signatures? Please, please, please.

  24. leslie 2015-11-11 16:14

    lanny, lisa furlong has a sneering smile in a photo in SOS’s office filing buku petitions last week. can we assume our pure dove Shantel chose not to be photographed with Lisa?

  25. bearcreekbat 2015-11-16 16:51

    Cory, perhaps the reality is that the policies advocated by people and parties change with the times. Republicans who call other Republicans RINOs seem narrow minded and unwilling to think beyond their narrow world view. The CINO label seems a fair response that might help them understand that there may be room for people of differing views in the Republican party.

    I have not seen the same self righteousness expressed by Democrats. There seems to be room there for differing viewpoints, so I would venture that Democrats generally “live up to the labels with which they sell themselves.”

  26. Lanny V Stricherz 2015-11-16 17:02

    Only one problem with your theory bcb. As the Republicans have moved further and further to the right with the resultant labeling of RINO, the Dems have moved further to the right, right along with them. To wit, every Democratic President and nearly every Democratic presidential candidate since Nixon is to the right of and in some cases far to the right of Richard M Nixon. Why do you think that SHS lost the election in 2010? She could no longer even be identified with the Democrats in Congress as being a Democrat.

  27. bearcreekbat 2015-11-16 17:41

    Lanny, what do think about the CINO label as a response to RINO?

    As for the Democrats, your “moving to the right” analysis reflects the viewpoint of some Democrats, but certainly not all. Indeed, Bernie has been moving the Democrats to the left quite effectively, don’t you think?

    And in SD, consider the writings of Cory. He seems very progressive and certainly represents many of our state’s Democrats (as well as a few Teddy Roosevelt Republicans like me!).

  28. Lanny V Stricherz 2015-11-16 17:59

    I like your CINO label. I imagine that Bernie has moved Hillary to the left somewhat, but if she gets the nomination, she will move right back right to counter the Republicans. That is how they have moved to the right, what with Reagan firing the Air traffic Controllers, and the break up and or weakening of the trade unions after that, the Dems lost a lot of their power base and moved right to try to get them back.

    I backed Hillary in ’08 because of her “it takes a village” stance and her stand in the 90’s on public healthcare, which her husband and Dick Gephardt left her hanging out to dry on, because the Republicans were against it. But since then she has been a very war like SOS and will be the same way as President, just to show, just like Madeline Albright and Margaret Thatcher that she is just as tough as the boys. Also as SOS and until just recently, she was in favor of approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline, as was Bill.

  29. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-11-16 19:54

    BCB, can a progressive Bernie Sanders-style Democrat win over enough Theodore Roosevelt Republicans to win in the 2016 election? I might have been a TRR, before Mike Rounds made me understand that the SDGOP had no room for Teddy Roosevelt or any other man of principle.

    Lanny, I will back whomever the Democrats nominate. All three of the Democrats in the race offer more intelligent and sane government than the two front runners and many of the chasers in the GOP race.

    By the way, I hate the CINO label: the C becomes soft in the acronym, which confuses the origin in the word Conservative. :-)

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