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Republicans Oppose Open Non-Partisan Primary; Kochs Oppose Anti-Corruption Act

Conservative opposition to two ballot measures is gearing up. The South Dakota Republican Party passed a resolution at its convention opposing Amendment V, the open non-partisan primary proposal. (The South Dakota Democratic Party has taken no formal position on Amendment V.) The SDGOP now issues formal statements from Senator John Thune and Governor Dennis Daugaard urging No on V:

Thune: Amendment V is an attempt by South Dakota Democrats to hide candidate party affiliation on the ballot from voters. Rather than run on their party’s principles and policies it seems they are desperately looking for a way to run from them. I’m opposing Amendment V because I believe voters deserve more transparency on their ballot, not less.

Daugaard: I believe political parties – all parties – serve an important role in our democracy. They crystalize issues. They bring like-minded people together. They help the electorate make sense of the electoral system.

Of course, if Thune really believed in transparency and if Daugaard really believed in supporting all parties, they would support allowing candidates to designate more than just state-sanctioned party labels to appear next to their names on the ballot. They would support my right to identify myself to voters on the ballot as “teacher, writer, corruption fighter, and Sanders/Kucinich/Wellstone/McGovern Democrat” rather than just the far less illuminating “Democrat.” Thune and Daugaard would let more Earthy candidates call themselves “Green” to promote formation of a new party.

Former Daugaard aide Will Mortenson appears to have created a ballot question committee to support the Republican push against Amendment V. On June 28, the Secretary of State received from Mortenson a Statement of Organization for “No on Amendment V”.

Much of the Republican opposition to Amendment V is purely partisan: Amendment V comes from Democrat Rick Weiland, so Amendment V must be bad. I assume the Republicans will grant me the same latitude to say that Amendment S is bad because is comes from Republican Jason Glodt.

GoDaddy WHOIS entry for, screen cap 2016.07.07.
GoDaddy WHOIS entry for, screen cap 2016.07.07.

Conservatives are also mobilizing against Rick Weiland’s other big ballot measure, Initiated Measure 22, the Anti-Corruption Act. Joining lobbyist Justin Smith in his lonely hashtag war against IM 22 is the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, whose South Dakota lead minion Ben Lee filed a Statement of Organization for on July 1. According to GoDaddy’s WHOIS records, Derek Yale at the national AFP office in Arlington, Virginia, registered the domain name back on June 2. Yesterday, the domain was still parked; this morning I find someone has at least installed WordPress and locked the site under password protection. Stay tuned for some yummy Koch-flavored corporate propaganda!

So to review: the Republicans don’t want more people to be able to participate in primary elections, and they don’t want us to fight corruption. Those two positions should make clear the Republican desire to protect its pocket-lining hegemony… and our popular obligation to rise above such partisan scheming and pass both open non-partisan primaries and the Anti-Corruption Act.


  1. Dicta 2016-07-07 09:28

    I went back and forth on V more than a few times before settling on supporting it. Ultimately, the reason I support it runs directly contrary to the point made by Senator Thune. He argues that it’s a transparency issue, and I agree with him. My assertion, however, is that transparency should come from the candidates and their policy positions, not a simple R or D next to someone’s name. If such a law forces voters to actually investigate the people attempting to govern them and determine if they are worth a —- as their representatives in the legislative body, then it’s a win. THAT is transparency, not a damn letter which allows people to inject meaning into a candidate absent any evidence about what they stand for.

  2. mike from iowa 2016-07-07 13:50

    Did Marlboro Barbie offer up his deepest reflections on photo-ops as the Number 3 Wingnut koch puppet?

    This might be the last election where the koch bros money can buy any and all the congressweasels they want. We need to get a fifth, true liberal voice on the Scotus and roll back Citizen’s Untied and get corrupting cash out of our elections.

  3. Tim 2016-07-07 15:39

    Thune, that name sounds familiar, where have I heard that name before? Is he supposed to represent some people or something?

  4. Donald Pay 2016-07-07 16:34

    Wisconsin has an open primary. It is partisan. I can choose the party I belong to at every election. I can’t go back and forth between parties on the primary ballot.

    Wisconsin is a purple state with a lot of independents. Both parties seem to feel they want to include independents in their primaries because it allows them an outreach toward the independent voter. However, our party primary (for all but presidential) is held in early August. What this late primary means is that there is a shorteer election window, and that may be why each party wants to involve independents early.

    If I were in SD I’d vote for V and 22 to reform the system and counteract corruption. But I’d also suggest shortening the entire election process by moving the primary to September.

  5. mike from iowa 2016-07-07 17:03

    Donald Pay, didn’t Fitzwalkerstan move the primary date to August for the last election so college age voters would still be away from school on vacation? That, I believe, was a major reason the primary date was moved.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-07-07 17:22

    Donald, I would totally support a bill to move our primaries August or September, to the latest practical date.

  7. Greg 2016-07-07 18:03

    I think we should move our primary’s nationwide this year and start over. Let’s get rid of Trump and Hillary. We can do a hell of a lot better than either one of them. As Americans we deserve more. Let’s make America great without Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

  8. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-07-07 19:54

    Greg, I wonder how a one-day national primary would have played out. Given a field of 17 Republicans and 5 Democrats, would we be obliged to have a run-off or ranked choice voting?

  9. Good Sense 2016-07-08 08:00

    Since the Dems have such a hard time winning any elections in SD, they stoop to hiding who they really are.

    VOTE NO!!!!

  10. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-07-08 08:05

    GS, is there any inherent reason other than “Democrats want it” to oppose Amendment V?

    Amendment V does not hide anyone’s political identity. Candidates still have to campaign. They will still be asked by voters and by the press what party they belong to. They will still have to answer questions on policy that will give a much better picture of what they are really about than any single word we apply to their names on the ballot. GS, do you really think you won’t be able to distinguish candidates who align with your views from those who don’t just because the state no longer advertises their party for free on the ballot?

  11. Dicta 2016-07-08 08:54

    God forbid someone actually research a candidate before they vote for them and not let the letter by a candidate’s name make the decision for them, Mr. Sense.

    “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” – Winston Churchill

  12. Don Coyote 2016-07-08 09:51

    @cah: “is there any inherent reason other than “Democrats want it” to oppose Amendment V?”

    You bet there is.

    1) There is a clear advantage to the party that runs fewer candidates for an office.

    2) Because South Dakota is so heavily Republican, it will often be the case that more Republicans than Democrats will run for the same office, especially open seats. The process therefore will give the advantage to Democrats even though Democrat registration figures continue to plummet indicating that South Dakotans have already rejected Democrat’s ideas and policies.

    2) It’s not unusual in jungle primaries to have the top two vote getters from the same party and depending on the number of candidates and voter turnout, it’s not unusual to see candidates with small pluralities advancing to the general election.

    4) Jungle primaries don’t increase voter turnout. Election statistics show independent voters are less engaged in politics than party members resulting in larger percentages failing to show up for primary elections.

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-07-08 10:07

    OK, Coyote:

    (1) Does the state have any compelling interest in ensuring that one party does not gain an advantage by rallying around one candidate while another party fractures around several candidates? Is that the state’s problem or the party’s problem?

    (2) Isn’t the advantage always going to tilt toward the party with more voters in the general election? Doesn’t your supposition of Democratic decline lead us to conclude that there is as much chance that two Republicans will win the primary and be the only choices on the November ballot? Doesn’t your scenario suggest that the Democrats will only have an advantage if they rally around one candidate, and that if they ever run two candidates, they will be hopelessly split and outvoted by the best Republican candidates?

    (3) Primaries now send vote getters to the general on mere plurality votes, the support of small fractions of party members who show up for the primary. The current system also places candidates on the general election ballot without any vote—unchallenged primary candidates and Independents face no vote—and allows the possibility that we may have more than two candidates on the general election ballot, which means our governor, AG, legislators, etc., can win the general on mere plurality vote. Amendment V ensures just two candidates on the general election ballot and a winner chosen by majority.

    (4) Indeed, as I noted last month, primary participation has declined in California since they implemented the jungle primary. But is that caused by the jungle primary or by broader disenchantment with the political process? I don’t think that’s a deterrent inherent in Amendment V. I would actually posit that in South Dakota, you’ll see greater turnout in districts where primaries currently determine who wins office. Consider District 31, where for the last three cycles, no Democrats have run for Legislature. Only Republican primary voters have had the chance to determine who represents them in Pierre. Under V, four Republican House candidates would have gone to the general election ballot instead of the closed GOP primary. Maybe that wouldn’t increase turnout on the voerall ballot, but the legislators would almost inevitably be chosen by more voters—GOP, Dem, and Indy—who would show up anyway for the general election.

  14. Douglas Wiken 2016-07-08 11:23

    Scum and exploiters of public goods use an R after their name to overcome their ethical disadvantage. Rather than transparency, it is another on of those curtains of crap that provide cover for incompetents.

    I am however not sure that removing the Rs and Ds from candidates names is a solution to the problems. The problems result from gerrymandered districts and multiple-member districts. All districts should be single-member. One house should be based on a statewide vote for election slates where parties get their support percentage in a percentage of their slate.

  15. Dicta 2016-07-08 11:28

    “Scum and exploiters of public goods use an R after their name to overcome their ethical disadvantage.”

    Wow. What a thoughtful opinion.

  16. Dicta 2016-07-08 11:32

    Hey, would anyone like to bathe in the blood of puppies and eat the hearts of babies with me, which is apparently my hobby since I’m a registered republican?

  17. Don Coyote 2016-07-08 11:53

    @Dicta: “Hey, would anyone like to bathe in the blood of puppies and eat the hearts of babies with me, which is apparently my hobby since I’m a registered republican?”

    Only if we can shove grandmas down stairs and make grandpas eat dog food.

  18. Dicta 2016-07-08 13:49

    “Only if we can shove grandmas down stairs and make grandpas eat dog food.”

    Of course! Kali ma. KALI MA SHAKTI DE.

  19. Rough Rider 2016-07-10 21:56

    RE: Measure 22

    I have had a lady knock on my door and ask for me by name. She left a “Defeat 22” flier with my wife. I have received two calls from a lady wanting to talk to me about Measure 22 and a lady called asking me to take a surrey. All calls were NOT Robocalls and asked for me by name. We also received a Defeat 22 flyer in the mail.

    Both fliers list this web address: lists this address: 2522 W. 41st Street #132,
    Sioux Falls, SD 57105 does not list the name of the partners.

    Something Stinks.

    IHMO, Campaign Finance Reform is a good thing.

  20. Rough Rider 2016-07-12 08:16

    Cory, I’m emailing you anther piece of Defeat 22 material.

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