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Republicans, Knobe Dismiss Partisan Distraction-Attacks on Amendment V

Republican opponents say Amendment V, the proposal for open non-partisan primary elections, is really just a plot to help Democrats. Other Republicans disagree:

Republicans Dave Volk, former State Treasurer, Casey Murschel, former Legislator and Sioux Falls City Council Member, and Joe Kirby, one of the creators of Sioux Falls Home Rule Charter, will discuss their support for Amendment V(for Voters) Tuesday Aug. 9 during Viewpoint University.

On the ballot in November, Amendment V(for voters) opens our state’s closed primary system to all voters, including the 115,000 Independents now silenced by state law and Republican establishment control.

Dave Volk, Casey Murschel, and Joe Kirby want to explain why they think the Republican bosses are wrong in denying ballot access, while allowing all taxpayers to pay for their election [Rick Knobe, “Republicans Who Support Amendment V (for Voters),”, 2016.08.08].

Rapid City Republican Chuck Parkinson says Amendment V is stronger than the partisan attacks against it:

Chuck Parkinson, a Rapid City Republican and backer of the amendment, said the comments made about supporters of the measure, including Rick Weiland, former Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, indicate a weakness in their opponent’s arguments.

“When people stoop to name calling on these things, I don’t think they have much substance behind the issue,” Parkinson said [Dana Ferguson, “Non-Partisan Election Backers Call for End to ‘Partisan Attacks’,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.08.04].

Knobe himself, a conservative independent chairing the committee backing Amendment V, sees the same fallacy and asks for a civil discussion of the policy itself:

“I hope we can get past the childish playground attacks on the person and look at what the issue is about,” South Dakotans for Non-Partisan Elections Chair Rick Knobe said Thursday [Ferguson, 2016.08.04].

Listen Live to Knobe’s conversation with his Republican allies this afternoon on KSOO 1140 AM on air or online at 4 p.m. CDT.


  1. Jerry Sweeney 2016-08-09 09:06

    I swan, if the SD GOP were forced to eschew ad hominem attacks when considering policy they would be mute.

  2. Jerry Sweeney 2016-08-09 09:08

    Excuse me! I should have said ‘was’ instead of ‘were’. Next time I’ll use the preview option.

  3. Darin Larson 2016-08-09 09:12

    I like Amendment V because I think it will lead to more moderates being elected to the legislature. There will be many cases where two Republicans are on the ballot for the general election because of this Amendment. However, in the general election the moderate Republican will be favored over the right wing candidate once you add in the Democrats and independents. So instead of the Republicans only electing their hard-right extreme candidates who come out of the Republican primary, there will be a fair number of moderate Republicans who prevail in the general. I’m not sure this Amendment does anything for Democrats (except for more reasonable Republicans being sent to Pierre to work with Democrats) but I think it could do a lot for democracy.

  4. Dicta 2016-08-09 09:21

    “if the SD GOP were forced to eschew ad hominem attacks when considering policy they would be mute.”

    Hi. I’m a SD GOP member who publicly supports V. Tell me more about my need for ad hominem when considering policy.

  5. Ben Cerwinske 2016-08-09 09:41

    Is getting Democrats and moderates elected a key motivation for this amendment? Probably. Is it still a good amendment? I think so.

  6. Troy Jones 2016-08-09 10:06

    Three comments:

    1) The desire to take off party identification by Democrats is a stunning admission of the difference in the two brands credibility with the voters (Republican vs. Democratic). Its analogous to Yugo wanting to take off all branding in the hopes they will sell more cars.

    2) I partially agree with Ben. I think this will make it easier for moderate Republicans to be elected to the Legislature but will make it significantly harder for real Democrats to be elected even in currently reliable districts like District 15 in Sioux Falls. It will have no real effect for statewide elections.

    3) In my mind the most significant problem with this concept is it will feed what is most wrong with politics- the cult of personality pervading elections vs. a discussion of a broad range of issue differences. Party labels give information about the candidate with regard to general philosophy. If one is a Republican, it begs the question of voters where they might disagree with standard party positions. And vice versa for a Democrat. Under this proposal, the primary criteria will devolve into name id and general thoughts of the candidates personality. It won’t be “I like (or dislike) both candidates but I agree with this one on most issues” but, because I don’t have a sense of their general positions, it will be “I like this one better.”

  7. Darin Larson 2016-08-09 10:43

    Troy, “credibility with the voters” isn’t a very good summary of the difference between Republicans and Dems in SD. It may be a recognition of the voter registrations where Republicans outnumber Democrats by 30 % or more. Add in gerrymandering by the Republicans and you have your Republican realm in South Dakota.

    Given the differences between many Republicans, the argument that voters need the information supplied by the party identification in the primary is weak. You mean voters might actually have to do some research on candidates and review the issues before going to the ballot box? The horror!

    The problem that Amendment V will help fix is the race to the extreme in both parties. Instead of a plurality electing an extreme right or left wing candidate in the primary who then wins the general because of party registration, we will have true democracy and a push to moderation.

  8. Stace Nelson 2016-08-09 11:24

    Heck! Political opportunists have been doing this for decades. Can’t get elected as a liberal Democrat? Change parties and claim you’re a “lifelong conservative Reagan Republican” to fool the voters and then betray GOP principles by voting for more govt, more taxes, more spending, etc.

    This is just another ploy by those whose policies are not acceptable to the majority, to try and sneak them in en masse vice the infiltration of the GOP that they have been so successful at.

  9. Jerry Sweeney 2016-08-09 11:37

    Re: Dicta

    Clearly there are exceptions to every rule. Please accept my apology.

  10. Troy Jones 2016-08-09 15:05


    Yes credibility with the voters. Just do an analysis of how many Democrats don’t even get Democratic registration support in both statewide and legislative races.

    A few years ago, I put together a spreadsheet which compared Democrat and Republican Legislative candidates in contested races who got % support in excess of their party registration plus 50% of the Independents which I called “fair share” and negates any gerrymandering argument. While you like to blame gerrymandering etc. and a voter registration disadvantage, the reality is by a wide margin that year Democrats rarely got their “fair share” of support. Beyond voter registration (which is in and of itself a measure of credibility with voters since they increasingly identify as Republicans vs. Democrats when you look at registration trends), Democrats either field bad candidates or stand on issues not sufficiently conforming to the general view of voters.

  11. Darin Larson 2016-08-09 16:18

    Troy, have you considered the fact that if you know you are going to lose by 20 points based on registration if both parties turn out equally, there is a disincentive for the minority party voters to turn out.

    Second, by your logic then, Democrats have more credibility nationally than Republicans? Good to know.

    When red state SD had three Democrats in Congress, where was the Republican credibility? Democrats getting elected by Republicans and vice-versa have to be the most credible by your logic.

  12. Troy Jones 2016-08-09 19:04


    If your first point is Democrats only turn-out if they think they can win, I guess it says something about their commitment to the democratic process. I happen to think better than that of Democrats in South Dakota but maybe your right.

    Regarding your second point, actually, by my logic, nationally Republicans get more than their “fair share” (Republican % plus half the Independents). That said, the voter registration differential does mitigate that. National polling goes back and forth on generic party preference in a relatively small range. Finally, the split between GOP in Congress, control of Governorships and Democrat in White House is a mixed message regarding credibility. In any case, it is relatively inconclusive or minor on this front, especially when compared to what the differential is in South Dakota.

    Finally, regarding your third point, I concede that Democrat’s brand vs. the GOP brand prior to the last six years was close to equal and you offered quality candidates. But, that was then, this was now which takes me back to my point in my first post: Amendment V “is a stunning admission of the difference in the two brands credibility with the voters (Republican vs. Democratic).”

  13. Darin Larson 2016-08-09 19:40

    Troy, twist words much?

    You say: “If your first point is Democrats only turn-out if they think they can win, I guess it says something about their commitment to the democratic process.”

    I thought I was pretty clear that is a common and well-known issue of voter suppression when people who don’t think their candidate has a reasonable chance to win. This is not something which happens particularly for Democrats. It happens with all voters of any party affiliation. Bernie Sanders was worried about it when the media was anointing Hillary Clinton in advance of the California primary. Republicans are worried about it on the national stage because Trump may cause Republicans not to show up to vote especially if he is down double digits in the polls. There are many examples of this and I resent having to spell this out for you, frankly, as I’m sure you are aware of this.

    You say also “I concede that Democrat’s brand vs. the GOP brand prior to the last six years was close to equal.”

    It is not exactly big of you to say this when there was a far higher percentage of independents and Republicans voting for Democrats in these elections than independents and Democrats voting for Republicans. Isn’t this the definition of greater credibility under your test?

  14. Troy Jones 2016-08-09 20:00


    I disagree with your first point. I’ve never seen analysis which shows turn-out is materially (if at all) suppressed because of expectation on outcome. I have seen turn-out being suppressed based on enthusiasm towards one’s candidates. If you have such analysis, I’ll look at it.

    With your first point, I’m not looking to “be big.” I’m just looking at the data and it does indicate either the pre-Obama era Democrat brand was comparable in general or in those few races (Daschle, Johnson, Herseth) Democrats offered good solid candidates (and maybe of superior quality). The sample size isn’t large enough to reach a definite conclusion using just those three races except the Democrat brand was at least such it wasn’t a rock around the neck of your candidates.

    The counter information from the same period which has a bigger sample size would be to look at how Democrats did vs. Republicans in getting their “fair share” in other state-wide races and the legislative races. If you want to do that analysis, knock yourself out. Even if it positive for Democrats (or Republicans), it is a long time ago.

    Today, the data strongly indicates the “middle” (soft Democrats, Independents, & soft Republicans) have not been voting for your candidates from the top of the ticket to the bottom. Maybe it is a brand problem and maybe it is a candidate problem (Wismer not getting her fair share in her own legislative district is an example of it being a broad-based candidate problem).

    But, it is a pretty real problem that Amendment V may exacerbate vs. make better.

  15. Troy Jones 2016-08-09 20:03

    P.S. I forgot to mention that the GOP share of registered voters has remained virtually constant for the past forty years. The democratic share of registered voters has been declining, with it accelerating the past 8 years. Reach your own conclusion on what that means but it isn’t a ringing endorsement of the Democrat brand. But it explains why you want to take it off your candidates at the ballot box.

  16. Darin Larson 2016-08-09 21:11

    Troy, as I stated previously, I’m not in favor of Amendment V because I think it will necessarily help Democrats. I actually think it is more valuable to the Republicans because you guys won’t keep having a race to the bottom (or the right as some people call it). It won’t be all about the Republican primary and who can posture to be the “most conservative.” You will probably see two Republicans in a lot of general election contests and the majority coalition of moderate Republicans, Democrats and independents will elect more moderate mainstream Republicans. It will help your party and it will help our state which is why I am for it.

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-08-09 21:22

    Ben, theoretically, V should work both ways. In South Dakota’s current political climate, it would give moderates a leg up over Tea Party/Trumpist extremists. But it would have the same tempering effect in a South Dakota changed by immigration and other social forces that give Democrats a majority. We shouldn’t make law baed just on our perception of the current situation; we should consider the possibility that the advantaged and disadvantaged groups could change over time.

  18. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-08-09 21:30

    Let’s cut one bit of crap on V: we aren’t taking off all party branding, as Troy suggests in his Yugo analogy (and yes, I notice Troy is trying to compare us Democrats to a crappy, low-powered car from a Communist country). V does not stop candidates from branding themselves with their party affiliation. V does not stop citizens and journalists from asking candidates what party they belong to. It doesn’t stop South Dakota Republicans from pointing at their opponents and shouting, “Democrats! Run away! Run away!” It does not stop the public from looking suspiciously at candidates who try to hide their party affiliation in the face of straightforward questions.

    The only branding V scrubs is on the ballot. That branding serves a purpose for one brief instant, for one subset of low-information voters who pay no attention to the election until they look at the ballot and say, “I always vote for Party Q, so I’ll mark all the names here with Q by their names.” What compelling state interest does the state have in providing that instant of branding for low-information voters?

  19. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-08-09 21:39

    Stace! Grrr! Democrats have not infiltrated the Republican Party! The Republican Party is made up of Republicans!

    Think of the Cold War. When the Soviets infiltrated the U.S., their goal was not to make the U.S. stronger. Their intent was to sabotage our country to make it weaker and get intelligence to bring back to the Soviet Union to make their country stronger. Soviet spies who quit spying and defected weren’t Soviets any more. They were new Americans.

    We Democrats haven’t infiltrated your party, Stace. Any Democrats who have joined your ranks have done a pretty poor job of sending us Dems back intel to help destroy you and build our own party. They are defectors. They are now Republicans. Saying otherwise is specious word-gaming that really torques off those of us back at Lubyanka.

  20. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-08-09 21:50

    Troy, I admit nothing about my party with Amendment V. I support V on the following principles:

    1. In races where one party fields multiple candidates while no other party fields a single candidate, all voters should be able to vote to choose who gains office, rather than just the registered members of the party with multiple candidates in their closed primary.
    2. Putting all candidates on the same ballot and making the general election a run-off between the two most popular candidates is a better way to run an election, guaranteeing that the folks we ultimately elect have majority support (but for Pete’s sake, when the general becomes that binary run-off, let’s move our primary to September to shorten the wait!)
    3. If parties want to pick their nominees, party’s should conduct their own primaries or caucuses on their own dime.
    4. If the state has any compelling interest in providing any information other than candidates’ names on the ballot, the state should provide fuller, more descriptive information to help low-information voters make their decision. Otherwise, the state should stay out of advertising anything about candidates on the ballot.

    I support V entirely independently of my party’s current interests in the current climate. I support V despite the fact that several Democrats I trust say V will be bad for our party.

  21. drey samuelson 2016-08-10 00:23

    Very thoughtful and compelling comments, Cory, as usual. A few others:

    1. V will not have a dramatic effect on which party wins elections–the Nebraska Legislature (which has had the same system that V emulates for the past 80 years) is 3-1 Republican, so passing V it isn’t going to set up some Democratic “Nirvana.”

    2. If V were some insidious Democratic plot, it wouldn’t have the support of lifelong South Dakota Republicans, including Republican former statewide elected officials, legislators, and county chairmen.

    3. There are 115,000 registered Independents in SD who, currently, cannot fully participate in SD elections, despite the fact that they pay the taxes the same as everyone else. Is this fair? No.

    4. One of the compelling reasons to not list political party on the ballot is because doing so ensures that the winning candidates are more loyal to the voters, not their political party.

    5. It’s worth pointing out that a 2015 poll of Nebraskans (done by national Republican pollster The Tarrance Group) found that they approved of their nonpartisan legislature by a 62%-26% margin (+36%), while a 2016 PPP poll of South Dakotans showed that we approve of our partisan South Dakota Legislature by a 36%-35% (+1%). Confidence in government is at an all-time low across the country, but it’s not in Nebraska, and the fact that they have a nonpartisan state government is not a coincidence.

  22. jake 2016-08-10 08:36

    Drey, your #5 alone is reason enough I think. Confidence in government has been steadily waning for years and years. It is now up to the voters to determine “WHY”–and this means we as a nation have to look deep into ourselves; something that neither party or religions can do ‘for’ us, but it bears deeply on personal responsibility.

  23. Adam 2016-08-10 13:11

    If you take the R away from candidates names on the ballot, conserva-voters might just be completely lost in the voting booth. Rs and Ds on the ballot are like a cheat sheets for dummies – right on the test.

    I marvel at radicals’ insecurity about Amendment V. Radicals don’t trust that other radicals are going to keep voting conservative enough If Amendment V passes. LOL

  24. Nick Reid 2016-08-10 13:32

    Stace, that is exactly why this Amendment needs to pass. The party labels mean nothing. If someone can maintain their liberal views and simply call themselves a Republican, then what does it even mean to be a Republican in this state? Amendment V will force candidates to truly run on what they believe and not simply on a meaningless label. As a conservative Independent (who is also denied any meaningful vote in SD) I am more than willing to have a battle of ideas.

  25. owen reitzel 2016-08-10 18:39

    Stace. Maybe you should start a third party if the Republicans are too moderate for you. That way you can call your own shots.

  26. Stace Nelson 2016-08-10 20:01

    @CAH “if I should call a calf’s tail a leg, how many legs would it have? ‘Five.’ ‘No, only four, for my calling the tail a leg would not make it so.” Abe Lincoln(?)

    @Nick I only see this as a wholesale effort of the individual duplicity that we see in individual cases.

    @Owen The grassroots body of the GOP are my kind of people, that’s why I got a SDGOP platform plank passed in 2012. The GOP platform reflects my conservative beliefs. The tax, spend, create more government, abortion & gun control supporting faux “Republicans” that sneak into office by claiming they are conservatives? Are in the minority, that is why they all claim to be conservatives in an election year. Since your views are more akin to socialism/communism, why don’t you start those parties up in SD?

  27. leslie 2016-08-10 20:26

    “gun control supporting faux ‘Republicans’ that sneak into office”


    Isn’t Trump a faux republican? yet he milks the gun control fear of Hillary by setting up the debate. today of course he said the second amendment crowd could handle Hillary so she won’t appoint judges that won’t do anything about protecting this sacred right to have 30 bullet magazines for AK47 and AR15s, in so many words.

    and of course he also said in January he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and it wouldn’t effect his electability.

    Real republicans, I understand in very large numbers do in fact support sensible gun control in view of tragedies like Aurora, New Town, San Bernadino ect. Regardless of whether NRA members or not. As do democrats. In SD you might get elected, but then so did the guy that highly qualified Haven Stuck is running against in Dist. 33.

  28. leslie 2016-08-10 20:29

    ditca, u use ad hominem attacks every time I respond to you as does stace.

  29. leslie 2016-08-10 20:36

    troy, eb5 and MCEC are not ringing endorsements for your party and you all voters try to pin ineptitude on dead people rather than take political accountability for your party’s mal-administration of SD state government. republicans are startlingly wrong about everything, particularly large issues, all the time. that is in fact what stands out about republicans. that’s why your numbers in SD stay the same and with that big stick, that’s why democrats are being frightened under the eaves, imo. it cuts against one’s ability to do business in the state as a democrat.

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