Backers of Initiated Measure 21, Initiated Measure 22, and Amendment T claim that the South Dakota Republican Party and the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce are coordinating a “Vote No on Everything” campaign:
“We’ve heard directly from Republican legislators and business people in this state that the state GOP and the state Chamber of Commerce are coming together in an effort to do a blanket “Vote No” campaign,” IM 21 sponsor Steve Hildebrand said [Kelley Smith, “‘Vote No on Everything’ Campaign Controversy,” KSFY, 2016.10.03].
SDGOP exec Ryan Budmayr tells KSFY “There is no concerted effort to work with any group for a ‘No on Everything’ campaign.” Hildebrand says Budmayr is lying. Pat Powers mocks Hildebrand for basing his claim on sources whom he refuses to name… which, coming from a blogger whose non-press-release material consists of unsourced rumors and anonymous commenters, is risible.
I hesitate to accept that the SDGOP leaders would launch a “No on Everything” campaign because it would represent some hard choices and sacrifices. As Chamber chief David Owen notes, the Chamber is publicly backing Amendment R, the vo-tech governance change. The SDGOP would be unlikely to contradict Governor Dennis Daugaard, who has endorsed R… but the Governor’s own lazy ballot measure assessment would support an SDGOP effort to push “No on Everything Else.”
Even excepting R, an SDGOP “No on Everything Else” campaign would mean throwing the good Republican Novstrups under the bus on Referred Laws 19 and 20. Senator David and Representative Al both supported 19 and 20 at every opportunity during the 2015 Session. “No on Everything” would put the final nail in the political coffin David Novstrup jumped into with his affront to voters on 20, and it would undermine the creaking campaign of Al Novstrup, who is struggling to win his son’s seat against a Democratic challenger who is finding lots of popular disgust with the Novstrups’ disrespect to voters. “Vote No on Every Ballot Measure” translates into “Vote No on Al Novstrup.” Would the SDGOP really take an action that could help flip the Novstrups’ District 3 back to Democratic?
“No on Everything” would sacrifice GOP consultant Jason Glodt’s Amendment S, the astroturf crime victims bill of rights. But maybe that sacrifice is no big deal: Jason gets paid by Henry T. Nicholas whether S wins or not, and it’s no skin off the SDGOP’s nose if one of their own takes a clueless California billionaire for a ride.
“No on Everything” does kill the payday lenders’ Amendment U, the fake 18% rate cap, but I get the impression the GOP and the payday lenders don’t care what happens to U, as long as 21, the real 36% rate cap, fails. Maintain the status quo for predatory lenders, and the corporatist SDGOP breathes a sigh of relief as it keeps a wealthy donor pool happy.
Legally, one cannot form a “No on Everything” committee. South Dakotans can’t even form a “No on Two” committee, or a “Yes on Two” committee, or a “Yes on This One, No on That One” committee. When I decided to refer 19 and 20 to a vote, the Secretary of State’s office required me to form two committees, even though I am the sole member of both. When Cathy Brechtelsbauer and Sister Gabriella Crowley tried to form a ballot question that would support IM 21 and campaign against Amendment U, they had to form separate committees, one for 21, the other against U. A “No on Everything” committee might form as a meta-committee, but it would still have to form on paper ten separate “No” committees, one for each ballot measure. If such a meta-committee were to collect money and take out an ad saying, “Vote No on Everything,” that meta-committee would have to file ten separate statements itemizing its expenditure to say no to 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, R, S, T, U, and V.
A “No on Everything” committee is legally and politically complicated. I wouldn’t put it past the SDGOP, but a willingness to sacrifice two referred laws (and the members who supported them), an amendment backed by the Governor, and another amendment promoted by a longtime party golden boy would demonstrate how deathly afraid Republicans are of regulating payday lenders, losing their power to gerrymander, and making elections fairer.