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SDEA Gives Primary Support to 15 Republicans Who Backed Teacher Pay Plan

Bob Mercer notes that the South Dakota Education Association is giving money to Republicans who supported the half-penny sales tax for teacher pay this year.

The South Dakota Educators Political Involvement Committee, SDEA’s PAC, reports five independent expenditures in the form of direct mail for Rapid City Republicans.

SD-EPIC, independent expenditures, reported 2016.06.01
SD-EPIC, independent expenditures, reported 2016.06.01.

Haverly, Partridge, Rampelberg, Sly, and Solano all voted for House Bill 1182 this Session. Sly co-chaired the Blue Ribbon K-12 task force that came up with the plan; Sly also offered the last-minute House floor amendment to the new K-12 funding formula (Senate Bill 131) that knocked about $6 million off the amount the state would put toward teacher pay in schools with declining enrollments. All five of these Republican recipients of SDEA’s support face GOP primary challenges from hard right-wingers—Bob Mercer labels them “ultras”—who are whacking SDEA’s favorites for supporting the biggest tax increase in state history.

SDEA/EPIC’s pre-primary report listed direct contributions to the above five Republicans and several other candidates:

Name of Candidate or Committee (candidates ordered by District) Amount
South Dakota Republican Party $750
The Majority Project $750
South Dakota Democratic Party $1,000
Tidemann for State Senate $1,000
Peters for State Senate $1,500
Willadsen for State House $500
Holmes for State House $500
Zikmund for State House $500
Kirschman for State Senate $500
Peterson for State House $500
Schoenfish for State House $500
Rampelberg for State Senate $1,500
Johns for State House $500
Conzet for State House $500
Solano for State Senate $1,000
Sly for State Senate $1,500
Partridge for State Senate $1,000
Haverly for State Senate $1,500
Werner for State House $500
Total $16,000

SDEA essentially cancelled out the $750 it gave to the South Dakota Republican Party with the $750 it gave to The Majority Project, the South Dakota Democratic Party’s PAC.

The only Democratic candidate on SDEA/EPIC’s list is Rep. Patrick Kirschman, who voted for this year’s teacher pay plan and now is running for the District 15 Senate seat against fellow Democrat Dr. Reynold Nesiba.

If SDEA’s fifteen Republican primary picks prevail on Tuesday, thirteen of them (all except Senator Haverly and Rep. Werner) will face Democratic challengers in the November election. In that scenario, would SDEA continue to support conservative incumbents who have been part of a Republican caucus that resisted teacher pay increases and let South Dakota teacher pay languish in the national cellar for thirty years, or would SDEA swing to support new Democratic legislators who will more reliably protect and enhance the progress we finally made this year on teacher pay?

p.s.: I ask the above question with a keen sense of self-interest. Republican Rep. Al Novstrup is running for the District 3 Senate seat. He voted for HB 1182 and SB 131. He faces a Democratic challenger—me—who advocated raising South Dakota teacher pay to more regionally competitive levels with a less regressive tax plan and no assumed or coerced staff reductions.


  1. Steve Sibson 2016-06-05 15:22

    So how do you Democrats feel about your Educrats supporting the GOP? They are also in bed with the South Dakota Retailers supporting tax and spend Republicans. So who needs Democrats in South Dakota, when you have liberal SDGOP faithfuls. This is what you guys call on-party rule.

  2. owen reitzel 2016-06-05 15:51

    Of course the SDEA is going to support those legislators that supported education-especially when they are in a primary that has a anti-education, anti-progressive far right-wing Republican.
    But you bring up a good point Cory. Will SDEA support these same Republicans who, until last year, did very little for education.
    Hopefully the SDEA will look at the Democrats they are running against and see where they stand and give their money according.

  3. Tim 2016-06-05 16:55

    Knowing that people in this state vote R no matter what, SDEA would be silly not to support these people. If the hardliners win the primary they will most certainly win the general. This move by the SDEA is just common sense.

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-06-05 22:33

    Tim, I can see the logic there: even crazy Rs can win in certain districts, just because they have Rs in front of their names. But I wonder, Tim, especially in the Haverly, Solano, and Partridge races, where the “ultra” opponents may be more radical and less politically savvy than Phil Jensen, might it be worth gambling that the ultras could win the primary but then be such awful candidates that they would drive mainstream Republicans to abandon ship and elect the reasonable Democrats on their ballots? Where could we win by letting wingnuts knock out reasonable Republicans in the primaries, then giving strong support to the reasonable Democrats in the fall?

  5. Roger Cornelius 2016-06-05 22:45

    Today the Rapid City Journal did a similar story but with more concentration on how down and dirty the GOP races have be come.
    The most interesting part of Jake Tupper’s article was in referencing the postcard attacks, some republicans running were linked the Ashley Madison leak.
    Damn Journal, didn’t tell us who they were.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-06-05 23:01

    I, too, find that lack of detail maddening, Roger, but I can understand why it might be happening. Has DWC or American Clarion or anyone else posted the alleged Ashley Madison customer online? I would suspect not, because (a) e-mail addresses in that online database prove nothing, meaning (b) those who would spread such names could invite a defamation suit.

    I am surprised: I thought the Ashley Madison stuff had all blown over. Someone out there must be desperate and losing on the issues. That accusation casts grave doubt on the moral compass of the accuser. It might be more useful to know the accuser’s name than the accused’s.

  7. O 2016-06-06 17:40

    Steve, is it so horrifying that SDEA is looking at the issue of education (you know: the “E” in SDEA) to decide who should have support in an election?

    I find your perpetuation of the party-hack system for decision making deplorable. It is the same sports team mentality that will see droves of GOP faithful going to the polls in November to vote for Trump (and others) because (and ONLY because) of the “R” after his name.

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