Press "Enter" to skip to content

Williams Says Thune Dodging Responsibility to Debate

Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Jay Williams says Senator John Thune “has told Dakotafest sponsor IDEAg Group that he has no plans to debate this year.” The way Williams words that sentence, he appears to be saying Thune has rejected debating not just at Dakotafest but at any venue during this election cycle.

Naturally, Williams is incensed:

Jay Williams
Jay Williams

There are major issues challenging the United States and South Dakota. Senator Thune has a responsibility to debate me and tell the voters of South Dakota his views on these issues. The voters of South Dakota deserve to hear how the incumbent Senator and his challenger stand on the issues.

Senator Thune has voted repeatedly to repeal the Affordable Care Act. This in spite of the fact that the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA), the cornerstone legal authority for the provision of health care to American Indians and Alaska Natives, was made permanent as part of the Affordable Care Act….

We differ on how to address the income inequality in our country and on the importance of eliminating fossil fuels as our source of energy. Senator Thune needs to explain why he endorses the racist, self professed greedy real estate mogul, Donald Trump for President. Let’s have a series of debates to discuss these and other issues important to South Dakota voters [Jay Williams, press release, 2016.07.14].

If Senator Thune really intends to skip all debates, he deserves the same criticism that I leveled at Senator Tim Johnson when he dodged all debates in 2008:

…[D]ebates are still important. Two candidates from opposing parties, occupying the same stage, answering the same questions, interacting with each other, represent the community-wide discussion we all should engage in at every election. Beyond that important symbolism, debates are the traditional practical yardstick we have developed to measure our candidates’ abilities. Public debates do measure the ability of candidates to think on their feet, to marshal facts and figures from memory, and to defend their positions under pressure, all important abilities for a public official. To decline to debate is to deny the voters an opportunity to take that measure [CAH, “Debate Coach Blues: Senator Johnson Dodges Dykstra,” Madville Times, 2008.08.09].

Voters deserve debates. We should see our candidates on the same stage, facing us and each other as equals, and discussing real issues. To dodge debates only deepens the misconception that Republicans and Democrats can’t talk to each other.


  1. Stace Nelson 2016-07-14 17:01

    Dodging debates is a weasel move. Unfortunately, SD’s news is MIA and does not hold these politicians’ feet to the fire. What should be occurring is debates should be scheduled, and sponsored by our news media across SD, give the candidates several dates, settle on a date that works the best for those responding, and those who are too cowardly to toe the mark should be lambasted across the state as being unfit to be on the ballot.

  2. mose11 2016-07-14 17:29

    Its amazing photo op wont come out. but get a camera there and he might show up.

  3. mose11 2016-07-14 17:30

    Stace I will agree with you on that.

  4. bearcreekbat 2016-07-14 19:47

    In a rare occurrence I agree with Stace.

  5. Bob Newland 2016-07-14 21:42

    Bravely, the inconsequential SoDak Senator John Thune came out today in opposition to commercial airliners landing at the wrong airport.

  6. Spike 2016-07-14 22:00

    Good one Bob. Good one. Pretty much says it all.

  7. Loren 2016-07-14 22:15

    But…, but…., but there will be cameras!

  8. Kurt Evans 2016-07-14 23:10

    A debate is a golden opportunity for honest communication. It’s disappointing that Thune would squander such an opportunity, but considering his 20-year track record, it’s hardly surprising. He’s apparently on a mission to keep the public uninformed so he can keep doing things like this:

    Political journalists whose apathy helps to keep the public uninformed undermine the demand for their own services, and that’s a phenomenon I’ve frankly never understood.

  9. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2016-07-15 02:14

    Perhaps, we (or better yet, specifically, Mr. Williams) should all take a page from Donald Trump and start a “Twitter War” with the Senator. It is quite obvious that Twitter is fast replacing traditional debate in our political system…. JFK was the first TV presidential candidate and now Trump is the first Twitter presidential candidate… So “If you can’t beat them, then join them” and their political antics and/or force others into this new reality as well…. as far as I am concerned…;-)….

    We must also remember that Senator Thune is a disciple of the late Senator Jim Abdnor and Abdnor never cared much for debates either….. Here is a rememberable page from South Dakota political history involving Republicans and the idea of political debates:

    (starting with the ninth paragraph)

    Let us also not forget that in 2014, Senator Rounds also began to miss debates as his debate capabilities proved to be lacking…. If my memory serves me right. I believe Rounds’ answer to any question back then before he began to skip debates somehow ended up involving Obamacare…. (……”A noun, a verb, and 9/11″… Anyone?)

    Isn’t it also true, that Rep. Noem does not plan to debate Paula Hawks at Dakotafest as well? First, Rounds (actually Abdnor), then Noem, and now Thune. It seems we have a trend here.….. What gives other than a true lack of transparency?….. Could it be because of Trump?…;-)…….Or how about the real truth behind past sequestrations which gave us the current IHS problems?….Or maybe it has something to do with the lack of a ninth Justice?… Who knows, but there truly is so much to discuss… Come on Senator, what are you scared of?….. How could a Senate candidate with 12.5 million dollars in the bank be so scared?

    Enclosing, I have always felt that candidates should be required to debate, in order, to legally stand and be elected to public office. Absence a true emergency, political candidates should be required to report to specific debate formats and a given number of debates much as citizens are required to report for jury duty…. It is only fair. Especially since, most of us do not have 12.5 million dollars in the bank just lying around like one particular non-debating US Senator does…..

  10. Tim 2016-07-15 06:18

    I have said it before and stand by it, until SD voters hold them responsible at the ballot box nothing will change, and will probably get worse, they don’t fear losing in SD. If Thune and Noem would somehow lose this November you can bet your ass things would change when crook Rounds turn comes around again.

  11. mike from iowa 2016-07-15 07:03

    Not debating opponents must be some more of the award winning constituent services provided by the party of rich family values.

    Williams could debate a cardboard cutout of Marlboro Barbie because he already knows wingnut talking points and could repeat them verbatim.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-07-15 07:13

    I’m intrigued by John KC’s suggestion of making attendance at debates a legal pre-requisite for standing for office, but the issue boils down to Tim’s point: as long as Thune and Noem get re-elected, it doesn’t matter. We need people to take this point seriously. No debate, no vote!

  13. jerry 2016-07-15 07:39

    Agreed sir! Twitter wars! Indeed, that may be the nasty ticket to get to the proletariat. Nursing home dwellers would not be impressed, but their caretakers might. Also, the small town newspapers are read completely and thoroughly. The four crooks and liars put their view points in these papers weekly. I am sure the SDDP knows all of this though, not. Time to put another view in the minds of voters, wouldn’t you say so? Use some of that downstream money that was raised for Hillary for that purpose and then keep it up even after the election.

    Hey, did you hear the latest one about the 14.1 million dollar surplus that Daugaard is bloviating about? When can I expect a rebate from all of this? Why should I, as a taxpayer not get a return for paying to much in to a state that does nothing in return but cut services?

  14. Jenny 2016-07-15 07:58

    Thune needs to get his lazy ass off his DC chair and fly back to SD and debate.
    South Dakotans make it so easy for Thune. He can just sit back and relax this August while most of low wage South Dakota will be lucky if they get a couple weeks off a year.
    In other states the media would demand debates if their Senators didn’t show up. 12.5 million campaign dollars and SD doesn’t even get a debate out of it.
    Pathetic, but that’s what you expect in a tiny rural republican state where their GOP boy can do no wrong.

  15. Steve Sibson 2016-07-15 08:00

    While I agree that Senator Thune should be debating this guy, I do understand hesitating when the opponent says this:

    “Senator Thune needs to explain why he endorses the racist, self professed greedy real estate mogul, Donald Trump for President.”

    Sounds like Williams wants to promote a Hatefest at Dakotafest. Democrats would do better, and so would America, if they would drop the cultural Neo-Marxist mantras.

  16. Hank 2016-07-15 08:01

    The debate is only as good as the moderator anyway. I watched the SHS and Noem debates and the one debate specifically at the state fair was ridiculous. The questions from the moderator were asked and answered by SHS, but candidate Noem just deflected and wandered about the party line and didn’t even come close to answering a question and the moderator didn’t hold her accountable. I watched in disbelief as people would nod there heads as candidate Noem ignored question after question just to spew rhetoric. Debate should be required and the people should demand it. Good luck with that here.

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-07-15 08:07

    Jenny, now that Congress is taking its seven-week summer recess, Thune and Noem should have plenty of time to debate.

    Hank, I agree: that 2010 State Fair debate should have destroyed Noem’s chances. Herseth Sandlin crushed Noem exactly as you describe. Debates are important… but apparently not to every voter.

  18. Rorschach 2016-07-15 08:21

    And Noem hasn’t debated since 2010 when she was the challenger.

  19. jerry 2016-07-15 08:36

    Williams and Hawks could just put their debate in the papers each week as they should have been doing for weeks now. They can start by saying the obvious, Thune, NOem, Rounds and Daugaard are anti-government. Simple as that. They seek to destroy it. Now this is not new news, but it is and should be news to those who depend on government for survival. What needs to be pointed out is that the subsidies that are given out for drought, for crop failure for nursing home needs are all part of the government they seek to destroy for their benefactors. If all fails then the wealthy pick up the pieces.

  20. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-07-15 08:38

    Jerry, I agree, the papers should not just offer the candidates more opportunities to engage the public and each other in public debate but should demand regular statements for publication and ridicule the candidates when they fail to respond.

  21. Steve Sibson 2016-07-15 09:34

    “They can start by saying the obvious, Thune, NOem, Rounds and Daugaard are anti-government.”

    They are fellow tax and spend liberals. Crony capitalism requires it.

    “news to those who depend on government for survival”

    Those who covet from their taxpaying neighbors. Sad that politics is now a contest on greed, pitting one interest group against another. And we wonder why there is no much hate.

  22. Greg 2016-07-15 09:56

    I would like to see Thune in the Dakotafest debate. Thune and Evans will make a fool out of Jay Williams.

  23. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-07-15 11:50

    Oh, and Jerry, Hawks and Williams both have been issuing press releases; the press just hasn’t been giving them the same place of privilege that our Republicans get.

    Greg, I’ve talked with Jay personally. I disagree with your debate prediction.

  24. Kurt Evans 2016-07-15 22:47

    Greg writes:

    I would like to see Thune in the Dakotafest debate. Thune and Evans will make a fool out of Jay Williams.

    Thanks for what could be interpreted as a vote of confidence, Greg, but I’m not really interested in making a fool out of anyone.

  25. barry freed 2016-07-16 07:34

    Hate on and misquote brother, if that’s all you have to offer, play your cards.

  26. mike from iowa 2016-07-16 07:50

    Put this stuff in the papers and you’ll get surrogate answers for the party of no-show at the debates.

  27. barry freed 2016-07-16 08:32

    What good are debates when the paperless voting machines rigged? The media and blogs like DFP and DWC, ignore it even as it happened in the South Dakota primaries. Cory, invest a little time watching youtube videos on this critical subject and see how investigative reporters work their trade.

  28. mike from iowa 2016-07-16 09:08

    Liberals are fine with giving up the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments. Just don’t touch the 1st as they LOVE to hear themselves lie, misrepresent what others say, and cyber bully.

    Where is the lie and misquote,brother?

  29. Bill Dithmer 2016-07-16 12:05

    The more things change, the more they stay the same,

    The name of the game in elections for an incumbent is to spend as little political capital, money or personal favors, as they need to to stay in office. It looks like Thune and Noem are doing just that. Why would they do anything different?

    I dont like either John or The chearleader, but you have to admit they are doing what they need to win. Its the dim Dems in the SDDP that are having problems finding a winning formula. No suprise there.

    While the GOP can play to their party, after all they control all the power in the state through its voting numbers, the donkeys dont have those numbers working for them. So why is the SDDP trying to play the same damned game that is proven to loose elections?

    You have to do more then preach to the choir if you arent in power but want to be. You need to engage the whole church if you want change. Williams and Hawks are still trying to win their party over when the numbers they need to win cant come from their own party. So why is that the campaign both are running?

    To be a leader when your party is behind, you have to inspire. Like it or not, Jay is about as inspirational as a wet sock. Paula has “bad race horse syndrome, she broke slow, oftentimes not even seeming to be in the race at the start. Now, if she has any moves, its to late. The backstretch is less then four months long and she would need six months to make up any ground.

    Folks when you want to debate and your opponent doesnt, you have to change the game. You stop asking for the debaIte and do or say something that rocks their foundation. You get under their skin so bad they seek the one on one confrontation.

    You will never win as a donkey in SD unless you start campaigning for votes other then those in your party. Saying you have the moral high ground doesnt mean spit if your morals arent the same as everybody elses. That might not make it right, but that is exactly the way it is. If the Dems in SD dont move to the center, their cogragation will just stay the same, no new numbers. And unless I’m mistaking here the math just isnt in your favor if you want to win.

    I hate Trump with a passion, but I can tell you why he is so popular. It isnt because he is a racist, and it isnt penis or money envy, it isnt that he could ever do a better job, its because he refuses to become politically correct. Nuff Said.

    The Blindman

  30. Darin Larson 2016-07-16 12:52

    Donald Trump’s viability as a candidate is the equivalent of a temper tantrum by the electorate. He is viewed as giving the big —-off to the establishment. He benefits from the dysfunction in Washington. His base wants to burn it all down. To heck with the consequences. He is appealing to the angry white bubba vote and pulling along evangelicals and conservatives for political expediency. Lucifer in the flesh is about right.

  31. Kurt Evans 2016-07-16 23:27

    Donald Trump’s viability as a candidate is the equivalent of a temper tantrum by the electorate… He is appealing to the angry white bubba vote and pulling along evangelicals and conservatives for political expediency. Lucifer in the flesh is about right.

    For those of us who accept Jesus Christ’s teachings with regard to Satan and demons, “Lucifer in the flesh” is much more than just a hyperbolic put-down.

  32. mike from iowa 2016-07-17 08:21

    I think Drumpf’s appeal is he refuses to become politically competent.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.