I was on the road navigating the icy mountain pass at Summit, so I missed the Brown County Republicans’ Lincoln Day Dinner. But my Republican neighbors were kind enough to post video of the event, allowing us all to relive the memories and hear Neal Tapio call his party leaders cowards and traitors. Following the other two candidates for U.S. House, the spiritual leader of Brown County’s bigot brigade said Donald Trump (for whom Tapio worked in South Dakota and Colorado) was the only candidate with courage in 2016. Tapio then leveled this counterfactual charge:
Our governor, lieutenant governor, and our senator endorsed Hillary Clinton to be President of the United States when they tweeted out that he should drop out and that Mike Pence should take over three weeks before the election. Meanwhile there were those of us fighting on the ground, giving up very high-paying jobs in order to do it because we wanted to do something for our country [Sen. Neal Tapio, speech to Brown County Republicans, Aberdeen, SD, 2018.04.05].
Tapio is wrong. Dennis Daugaard, Matt Michels, and John Thune never endorsed Hillary Clinton. They correctly denounced Trump’s endorsement of sexual assault and objectification of women as repulsive conduct unbecoming of a Presidential candidate. They each endorsed Mike Pence as a superior nominee. None of them ever said, “Clinton would be a better President than Trump.” Quite to the contrary, three days after they called on Trump to yield to Pence, Daugaard and Michels vowed publicly to cast his Electoral College vote for the Republican nominee. Thune said he would likely vote for Trump but was “certainly not going to vote for Hillary Clinton.”*
Tapio’s disconnection from reality infected his Watertown neighbor Ried Holien, who was tapped to emcee this Aberdeen event. Retaking the podium after Tapio’s harangue, Holien said of Tapio and all the candidates who spoke before him, “I think the Democrats would love to have any one of them running for office.”
Wrong, Ried, especially in the case of Tapio. Even if we could tolerate a bigoted, fearmongering Trumpist, why would we want a candidate who comes to a party dinner and falsely accuses his party leaders of the highest partisan treason possible?
That’s kind of tone-deaf rhetoric we can expect from a narcissist so absorbed in his Trumpist play-acting that he can’t hear what that karaoke sounds like to the fellow Republicans whose support he should be trying to earn.
****Dribs and Drabs****
Dusty Johnson demonstrated more enjoyable and harmless truth-stretching by declaring himself the president of the Char Corenlius Fan Club and saying she’s his favorite GOP county part chair in South Dakota. He also said she’ll surely “kick butt” in her run for Aberdeen City Council against incumbent Rob Ronayne. He also expressed his confidence that Brown County Republican Dan Richardt will win his city commission bid against incumbent Alan Johnson. Hmm… two deeply partisan Republicans, including the party chair, running for non-partisan city commission seats? Should Aberdeen be alarmed? Or should we just consider it an effort to balance the presence of Brown County Democratic Party chair Jennifer Slaight Hansen on the council? (Holy cow, Char and Jennifer would make for fun city council meetings.)
Johnson also mingled religion and sex for the best chuckle of the night: “I grew up in a working-class family in Fort Pierre and Pierre. There were seven of us, which cause a lot of people to think that my parents were Catholic. They were just careless Lutherans.”
Steve Barnett, our auditor now running for secretary of state, lauded the current Secretary of State Shantel Krebs’s ability to get business filings done on time and generate revenue for the state. Then he said he’s running to maintain the integrity of our election system and keep South Dakota a business-friendly state. Sigh—can we get a candidate for chief election officer who talks about election integrity first?
Shantel Krebs took the same tack. She reminded everyone that she walked into “a mess… a crisis” when she took over after complete failure Jason Gant. She said she implemented everything she campaigned on and, like Barnett, emphasized business services first. Democrats, find a Secretary of State nominee who will talk first and foremost about being the voters’ advocate in chief!
Kristi Noem bragged that electing her in 2010 allowed us to “stop a lot of the terrible things that White House was trying to do.” Well, no need for Tim Bjorkman and the rest of us Democrats to reinvent the wheel; that’s the perfect campaign slogan for 2018.
But Noem didn’t really mean that, since she said a couple minutes later, “This country can’t be fixed from Washington D.C.” Noem thus acknowledged the uselessness of her eight years in Washington and undermined the pitches Dusty Johnson and Shantel Krebs both made to go to Washington and fix the country. (Neal Tapio didn’t really talk about fixing any problems—he just beat his own fearmongering drum.)
Noem repeated her claim that South Dakota’s economy is “treading water…. [I]n the states surrounding us, people’s wages are growing more than they are here.” I wonder how long Republicans will put up with nervous Noem sounding like some liberal blog talking up Minnesota’s economic superiority to South Dakota.
Noem said that the Republican primary candidates “probably agree on 60% of the issues“—that’s all?!
Noem said, “Let’s put family values and God back into our families…,” leaving me wondering to just which godless South Dakota families is she could be referring.
Marty Jackley focused on the need to win the Supreme Court case on collecting sales tax from remote sellers and promised to fight for education and infrastructure. Hmmm… urging activist judges to overturn stare decisis and empower governments to collect more taxes, emphasizing government programs he’ll support… maybe Ried was right: maybe Democrats would welcome a liberal like that on their side of the ticket! :-D
In a subtle shout-out to Al Novstrup, Tapio offered the worst, most subliminally suggestive opening line of the night: “Thank you very much, Brown County. After the snowstorm, I’m going to refer to it as White County.”
Tapio also offered the most ironically portentous line of the night: “When politicians fail to understand large systems… the entire economy collapses.” That’s what we’ve been trying to tell you, Neal.
*Update 2018.04.08 08:00 CDT: I just added the information about Daugaard’s, Michels’s, and Thune’s public statements about how they would vote.
Correction 2018.04.08 21:58 CDT: I incorrectly identified Dan Richardt as vice chair of the local GOP. Richardt has served as Brown County GOP secretary and, back in 2015, as vice-chair, but he and Chair Cornelius both tell me he currently holds no party title. I regret offering obsolete information.