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One Democrat Determined to Be Unhappy; SDDP May Elect New Chair

Sheldon Osborn, host of the Drinking Liberally events in Sioux Falls, has said more than once that South Dakota Democratic Party chair Ann Tornberg must go. Now, presented with a rumor that a movement is underway to remove Tornberg next weekend and replace her with Paula Hawks, Osborn balks:

The SDDP will hold a state Central Committee meeting in conjunction with the dinner. Constitutional amendments, which could lead to an election of state party officers at this same meeting, have been introduced. To quote from a letter from Rachelle Norberg summarizing the proposed amendments, “One of the most important changes in the proposed amendment is the moving of State Officer elections to a spring window on odd-numbered years, typically held at the same time as the McGovern Day fundraiser. If passed, this change causes an election of new officers to be held April 29th, 2017. Please ensure all potential officer candidates are given adequate notice to the best of your ability”

Oscar the Grouch
For some folks, it’s easy being green…

There could be fireworks at the Central Committee meeting, folks!!! Rumor has it that Paula Hawks wants Ann Tornberg’s job.

I am not a big fan of the current SDDP Chair, but a snap election, initiated in this manner, with almost no notice, seems deeply arrogant on the part of the conspirators and very wrong-headed. This appears to be a palace coup by Powers behind the throne. Changing one Queen for another is not progress even if the new Queen would be substantially taller. Change requires changing the Powers that be [Sheldon Osborn, “McGovern Day Prep at the Taphouse 41 Tonight,” Drinking Liberally Sioux Falls, 2017.04.21].

I take no position on the rumor Osborn publishes. I note with curiosity Osborn’s capitalization of the word “Powers,” as if he is angling for another favorable, gloating, and inaccurate mention from the SDGOP spin blog, which frequently portrays Osborn’s lone voice as multiple Democrats.

I ask this question: if an individual is unhappy with the leadership of his party, and if other individuals come up with a procedural move that will change that leadership 21 months early, in plenty of time to hire key personnel and change strategy for the mid-term election, shouldn’t that individual be excited for an opportunity to make the positive change that individual has been calling for?

If a majority of members attending next week’s Democratic Party Executive Board meeting really want to hold a snap election, I say the same thing I said last November when Paula Hawks and Frank Kloucek issued their calls for a party shake-up: the first question we need to ask is not, “Who will carry out the party’s battle plan?” It is, “What is our battle plan?” Show us the plan. Show us that the plan is substantively different from and more likely to succeed than whatever has been done before and is being done now. Then determine whether current leadership is willing and able to carry out that plan. If they can, great! Then we don’t need a special election or palace coup or whatever. If they can’t, hold the vote, see if you muster a majority, and then, everyone, quit grouching and get to work on the battle plan.


  1. grudznick 2017-04-22 09:27

    It would be interesting to drink liberally with this fellow, but it is curious why he wouldn’t be happier about this strange turn of events. Young Ms. Hawks, who indeed is substantially taller and an imposing woman orator, might be just the ticket for what ails the Democrat Party. Mr. Mercer was reporting another month of fewer and fewer Democrats and Ms. Hawks could cause some of them to come back.

  2. 12 2017-04-22 09:34

    Sheldon likes to bitch for the sake of bitching. It’s what he does. He’s all hot air and no substance.

  3. Porter Lansing 2017-04-22 09:49

    Leadership by a committee of two Dems from each county until a solid platform and battle plan are solid would be foundational; as would meetings by SKYPE. The time is ripe for Dem growth. The Republican Party is backstroking on their foolish repeal of the “People’s IM22” and falling all over themselves to justify their tyranny. The tide is turning. BERNIE FOR SOUTH DAKOTA and SOUTH DAKOTA FOR BERNIE

  4. mike from iowa 2017-04-22 10:27

    Sounds like a full out revolt against Bernie on the national front. Bernie apparently said he would remain in Dem party after running as a Dem for Potus. He is back to being an independent.Feathers are worse than ruffled.

    Dems have serious problems but I still find it hard to believe they can be worse than ignorant winguts running the ignorant wingnut party.

  5. David Newquist 2017-04-22 10:36

    When all a party ever does is put on demonstrations of bitching and back-biting, it is hard to take seriously. And who wants to be associated, let alone involved, with it?

  6. Porter Lansing 2017-04-22 10:45

    Pat Powers is a lying sack of turds. His latest lie debunked easily by SNOPES
    Ira Einhorn’s involvement with the original Earth Day was minor and tangential, and his claims of having had more substantial involvement in the event have been disputed by the accounts of others who took part in it, such as testimony of psychiatrist Donald Nathanson offered during Einhorn’s murder trial.

  7. Monty 2017-04-22 12:33

    I think the Grouch here is Hawks. Hawks places an outsize amount of blame for her poor showing in the US House race on Tornberg. She made public statements blaming Tornberg’s SDDP. And while Tornberg and others flattered Hawks in to running, if Hawks had the experience and the instincts to read the political climate (and voter registration numbers) she may have made other choices.

    Of far greater concern to me is: no qualified person wants to Chair the SDDP. And I find Hawks forming a PAC with Bob Deelstra’s mother to run as a “non-partisan team” to be disqualifying.

    I wonder why Joe Lowe won’t step up?

  8. owen reitzel 2017-04-22 12:35

    It’s time for a change. Nothing personal against Ann but we need fresh ideas.
    Trump is handing us a great opportunity even here in South Dakota for 2018. As Democrats we can’t squander this chance-even at the local level. We might not get another chance for awhile.
    The sooner we start the better.

  9. Mike 2017-04-22 13:00

    Consistantly, Shelson has not been helpful given his misrepresentations and His friendliness towards pat powers rumor mill. Sheldon is by no means an effective or accurate political operative.

  10. Cully 2017-04-22 13:37

    What PAC are you talking about? Neither Elaine Deelstra nor Hawks are on any state or federal PAC.

  11. Tara Volesky 2017-04-22 13:47

    Tom Kludt would resurrect the Party. Super qualified.

  12. Cully 2017-04-22 15:02

    Monty, that’s her campaign for her race for Pierre. And that’s in 2012. Personally, I’m thinking the ability to work across the aisle is an asset, not a hindrance.

  13. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2017-04-22 16:36

    Oh, how I wish my fellow Democrats would just quit fighting. All of this is merely an exercise in futility. Two years ago, while the Daschle and Johnson forces should have been raising money and finding a candidate to run against Thune, we found the State Party more concerned about amendments to the Party’s constitution than helping to find a senate candidate. And now speed forward two years later and we find the State Party apparatus in an unnecessary political civil war, when our energies should be directed at defeating the Republicans and their agenda, especially when we have open seats for governor and the US House next year.

    But as we watch this battle royale play itself out next week, there is one underlying question which must be asked, and that is how can the Hawk forces have the answers to political success for us as Democrats if the Hawk forces are the ones who blamed the State Party for Paula’s lost last year? Haven’t the Hawks forces with that comment after the election proven they do not have the answer or answers themselves. So how are they miraculously going to have the answer or answers if they take over the Party then?

    Paula, Ann, Sheldon, and Frank all have something positive to offer to the Democratic Party now and in the future, and it is time for us to stop fighting amongst ourselves and start fighting the Republicans….

  14. grudznick 2017-04-22 20:19

    Do not underestimate the power of the Hawks forces.

  15. o 2017-04-22 22:55

    Maybe there is “strategy” that needs to be discussed, but I know that it is very, VERY frustrating for the SD Democrat Party to find people to run for offices; then it becomes frustrating to those who run only to get a first-hand view of the party before issues mindset that seems to exclude some bright people by virtue of party affiliation. Then the ask for candidates gets tougher and the cycle continues.

    Candidates are willing to take on a challenge; they are willing to work, but they are not willing to get into a race where nothing they do, nothing they say, nothing their opponents do or say make a difference to the voters. Nobody wants to pour energy into a campaign that just does not matter.

    How many times can candidates be told, “I’d vote for you if you were not a Democrat,” before it becomes fully impossible to twist someone’s arm to run? Really, whose interests are being served in that (this?) system?

  16. Rorschach 2017-04-23 08:33

    It appears that Bob Deelstra is now going by “Cully.” Hi Bob.

  17. grudznick 2017-04-23 10:09

    Cully the camper colporteur?

  18. Jeff Barth 2017-04-23 11:23

    Without Sheldon’s account of the planned manipulation expected at the next party gathering how would we have found out about it? Yes, the plotters would know and the snoozing apparatchiks on the party executive board would know, but would we know? I don’t think so. So let me start by thanking Sheldon Osborn.

    So what is going on? Most folks should know that I was soundly defeated by Ann and the paid staffers of the party who feared for their jobs despite their “brilliant” results in the 2014 election. Well, now some of those same hacks having thrown in with Hawks are now unemployed and are looking for a job.

    That’s not to say that Ann has done a great job but she has worked hard. We never got the West River office she promised and we went for too many months without an ED… and now Jones-Pranger has left the position vacant again. I don’t see what a new regime would do differently but we love to fight.

  19. Donal 2017-04-23 11:46

    I have worked some with Sheldon Osborn and found him to be hard working, honest, intelligent, and has always held the best interest of the people of South Dakota and the Democratic party as a first priority in all the dealings. So it is no surprise to me that many are taking pot shots at him as he is not your go along to get along democrat.
    The establishment democrats have destroyed the Democratic party in South Dakota, and for that matter, the entire country. These “Old Guard Democrats” have held the power in this state and it is time for them to stop playing game of thrones with the party and move on to allow new forward thinking progressives in to resurrect the party.
    I witnessed for years the systematic dismantling of the South Dakota State Democratic Party. The party has sunk to a level where it is indistinguishable from the republican party.
    I firmly believe most people of South Dakota do not hinge their vote to a specific party. I believe that if candidates know they have a party that backs them and will assist them in their fight to bring back democracy and justice for our state we will see qualified progressive candidates step forward and bring the fight to the cowardly republicans and move those corrupt politicians out of office and for some in to prisons.
    The party must support all our candidates with people and money.
    The party must stop propping up weak democrats to run against well funded republicans.
    The party must get the message out and go after the crooked politicians and get the message out about how to make this state grow for all of us. Right now the people of South Dakota are being played as suckers and taken advantage of by the republicans and special inside and outside corporate interests. It is time to support those inside and outside the party who will bring about REAL change to government and bring the benefits back all the people of our state.

  20. Cully Williams 2017-04-23 12:41

    I can promise you I’m definitely Cully Williams, Prez of College Dems and Bernie delegate to the DNC. Everyone wants youth engagement until the youth actually engage with their brains and not just their hands…

    Good guesses though!

  21. Curt 2017-04-23 12:46

    I endorse and agree with everything stated by Jeff Barth in his comment and most points posited by the ‘Donal’ – with a couple of notable exceptions. First, the statement that “establishment” and “Old Guard Democrats” have “destroyed the Party in SD and for that matter the entire country” may be one person’s opinion but requires some evidence as proof. I agree, things are bad. But who specifically has done what specifically? Wasserman-Schultz? OK, I’ll give you that one, but otherwise the statement is way too broad.
    The next statement advocated by the ‘Donal’ is preposterous on its face. The Party is now “indistinguishable from the Republican Party”? I suspect Repubs would dispute that at least as vehemently as Dems would. Such claims weaken the other valid points made in the comment.

  22. jerry 2017-04-23 12:51

    Mr. Williams, your brain and your work ethic are both appreciated. So, what do you think and how would you put your work ethic into play?

  23. Roger Cornelius 2017-04-23 16:51

    Every Democratic gathering I’ve attended the subject of voter registration has been brought up, yet our party registration is steadily sliding away. Is anyone in the SDDP actually doing voter registration drives or are they just talking about it.

    The 2018 mid-terms will be a gold mine for many states, but I suspect the SDDP will not be able to partake of the gift Donald Trump is offering us.

    Regardless of what races we run whether it be city council, county commission or Noem’s House seat, we have to run a strong anti-Trump campaign. We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to elect Democrats but we need leaders and candidates that aren’t afraid to tell the truth about Trump and republicans.

  24. Douglas Wiken 2017-04-23 17:12

    Too many years ago, I worked as Finance Director for the SDDP and sort of managed a couple campaigns. Even from the time of Dick Kneip has been an attitude that the only way to win is to be Republican light and waffle on issues. Over time that removes any perception that the Democratic Party is needed for anything. Every day, the State Democratic Party needs to be demonstrating that Democrats are clear alternatives to GOP fraud and abuse and retrograde policies.

    Even so, I have heard these rumors and that the desire to change rules is cover for supporting a different chairman. I have no dog in the Chairman fight, but do not think playing games with rules is a good idea. Over time, that just builds more internal resentment.

    Democrats and Independents need to push for one SD legislative house being elected from slates. If Democrats slate gets 40%, they get 40% of that house. Same for GOP percentage, Independents, or any other organized party. With the whole state as a district, this prevents gerrrymandering from having an impact in that house and might also prevent it in a chamber being based all on single-member districts.

  25. Douglas Wiken 2017-04-23 17:17

    Perhaps more important than rules for electing party officers may be a need to develop better job descriptions for elected and hired party officials. Perhaps one change would be a requirement that any party executive secretary or whatever be required to visit every Democratic county organization in some specified minimum time. I have lost all track of such in the 40 years since I stumbled along in the system.

  26. o 2017-04-23 20:00

    Donal, “The party has sunk to a level where it is indistinguishable from the republican party.”

    So if the ideology is so similar, the GOP voter adhesion must be brandname politics. What is the discussion to peel the GOP voters from their adhesion to the GOP candidates? Given registration numbers, Democrats will not outgrow the Republican numbers, so how do you bring GOP voters to Democratic candidates? Step one has to be breaking the bond they feel toward the GOP (labeled) candidates.

  27. grudznick 2017-04-23 21:00

    I blame Mr. Obama for the utter and total final steps of the annihilation of the Democrat Party in South Dakota. Maybe blame isn’t the right word. Attribute is probably the right word.

  28. Roger Cornelius 2017-04-23 21:03

    I blame grudz and conservative republicans like him that continually elect corrupt politicians.

  29. grudznick 2017-04-23 21:44

    As well you should, Mr. C. Nobody can blame you for that, it is expected that you would interpret and see things with those kind of shades on. Just don’t put Trump on my books, OK?

  30. Mark Winegar 2017-04-24 07:35

    I agree with Cory. Let’s see a plan to achieve the Party’s mission.

  31. o 2017-04-24 08:16

    grudznick voted for Hillary?

  32. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2017-04-24 12:21

    But who are we going to see the plan from?… The group (State Party) which is accused of not having a plan, which then supposedly caused the lost of a congressional candidate, or from the former congressional candidate, who obviously does not have a plan, when she is complaining that she lost because the Party did not have a plan for her?…. It’s like the dog chasing its own tail….

    The bottom line is that it is amateur hour in state Democratic politics and the grown ups need to return to the South Dakota Democratic Party and show us how it is done and do it. And these grown ups know who they are, their first names are Steve (actually there is more than one Steve that I can think of), Drey, and Pete. And absence their renewed involvement, I think it is time to just give a 30 day notice to our landlord, roll up the carpet, turn off the lights, and start opining about the good old days…..

  33. Adam 2017-04-24 18:09

    I don’t ever want to hear another word about those good old days. I’m going on 15 years living out here, and I just can’t see how those good days might have been as good as folks talk about.

  34. Curt 2017-04-24 19:24

    With all due respect, success in the future requires focus on yes, the FUTURE.

  35. grudznick 2017-04-24 20:21

    No, Mr. o. I was a huge Johnson supporter.

  36. owen reitzel 2017-04-24 20:45

    “I blame Mr. Obama for the utter and total final steps of the annihilation of the Democrat Party in South Dakota.”

    why is that Grudz?

  37. Troy 2017-04-24 20:48

    The first Presidential election in which I could vote was 1980.

    SD Voter Registration in 1980: 46% Republican, 45% Democrat
    SD Voter Registration in 1990: 49% Republican, 43% Democrat
    SD Voter Registration in 2000: 48% Republican, 38% Democrat
    SD Voter Registration in 2010: 46% Republican, 37% Democrat
    SD Voter Registration in 2016: 46% Republican, 31% Democrat

    Before you can build yourself back up, I think you’d be wise to understand historically what happened to get you where you are. While the GOP basically has been steady for 36 years, the Democrat registration has had two periods of drop (1990’s and since 2010). There are alot of old hands who lived through these periods. I’d talk to them. By the way, Wiken is one I’d listen to if I were you.

  38. grudznick 2017-04-24 20:59

    Mr. reitzel, because Mr. Obama shoved Obamacare down people’s maws without input from the then minority, he engendered a great deal of hatred. There are other things he did, but unlike no other president he seemed to bring the crazed maniacs out of their holes and also kept Ms. Hillary in a position where she would remain the most hated woman in politics. Mr. Trump could not have beaten anybody else, except with all the ones who are insaner than most loud and obnoxious and the others who normally would have voted for somebody more normal, the Obama-hatred spewed onto Ms. Hillary and allowed Mr. Trump to win. If Mr. Obama had been just a little bit more inclusive in his policies then Ms. Hillary would have had a chance as the crowd of those who are insaner than most would not have grown so much or been so apt to vote. Hence, Mr. Trump the fellow who nobody on earth should have been voting for won, and now we are all in a whole world of deep hurting and pain. But it is entertaining.

  39. jerry 2017-04-25 02:23

    Mr. Obama is Black! Enough said, eh Mr. grudznick? trump would have won if he had run against Jesus Christ for the electoral vote. Clinton whooped his sorry behind by 3 million and yet the electoral college vote gave him the win with a lot of help from his friends the russians. BTW, republicans have just about killed the investigations into the russian matter so the new wing of the republican party seems to be doing well.

  40. Adam 2017-04-25 03:31

    Many people think Obama is still a secret Muslim operative. Some of those people still think Obama wasn’t born in the United States, and all of those people think Trump can’t tell a lie. Vladimir Putin, Bill O’Reilly and plenty of other scam artists tell them what to think and believe, and if it weren’t for crap-for-brains Republican voters, I am not sure government would ever be a problem.

    Thanks GOP – for dumbing your base down so low that they can’t hardly even think at all anymore.

    Trump called Paul Ryan “Ron” 3 or 4 times, until he was corrected, in front of a big room full of people yesterday. A real competent move – getting the Speaker of the House’s name wrong repeatedly after you’ve been President for 100 days.

    …And the brain-hacked conservative voters turn their blind eyes to the obvious madness they, themselves, have produced in this Federal Government.

    Obama should have had an unprecedented 90% approval rating – because nobody is perfect.

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