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Sutton Asks Dems to Nominate Lavallee; Only Political Experience Is Donations to Daschle, Johnson, Thune, Herseth, Bush, and Krebs

Michelle Lavallee
Michelle Lavallee

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Billie Sutton is asking Democrats to nominate marketer/consultant, longtime Republican, and Paul TenHaken’s campaign co-chair Michelle Lavallee for lieutenant governor.

Republican spin blog Dakota War College gets credit for announcing the Lavallee pick two weeks ago… which suggests Team Sutton might want to check for leaks.

Republican swami Tony Venhuizen gets credit for predicting the criteria that would dictate Sutton’s choice:

The selection of Lavallee is entirely consistent with this blog’s predictions, based on historical patterns. This blog predicted that:

  • Sutton was almost certain to select a running mate from East River, likely but not certainly from Minnehaha or Lincoln county.
    • Correct – Lavallee is a Tulare native who lives in Sioux Falls.
  • Sutton needn’t select a running mate with legislative experience, but easily could.
    • Correct – Lavallee has no experience in the legislature or other elected office.
  • Professional background is not a primary consideration, given Sutton’s background in ag and banking.
    • Lavallee’s background is in marketing.
  • Age is a factor, but could go for balance with an older running mate, or “double-down” with youth.
    • Lavallee is certainly older than Sutton but her age was likely not a primary consideration.
  • As an underdog to the Republican ticket, Sutton was most likely to make an “unconventional” choice – a Republican party-switcher, a non-politician, or a Native American or member of another racial or ethnic minority.

Team Sutton says Lavallee recently changed her voter registration to Democratic, thus making herself eligible for nomination at convention Friday.

A quick review of campaign finance records shows that, before helping elect a conservative Republican mayor of Sioux Falls over a progressive Democrat, Lavallee made the following donations to federal candidates and parties:

  • $5,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2000
  • $1,000 to Senator Tom Daschle in 2000 and another $500 in 2003
  • $1,000 to Senator Tim Johnson in 2000 and another $1,000 in 2001
  • $1,000 to Rep. John Thune in 2000 and another $1,900 in 2002.
  • $4,000 to President George W. Bush in 2003
  • $1,500 to Stephanie Herseth in 2004, $750 to the Congresswoman in 2008 and another $250 in 2010
  • $500 to Shantel Krebs in 2017.

As Venhuizen emphasizes, Lavallee brings no political experience to this task. But Lavallee apparently has big money and connections to big money. We’ll see how much of that money she can bring to the cause of sending a Democrat to the Second Floor of the Capitol for the first time since the 1970s.


  1. Porter Lansing 2018-06-14 12:05

    Impressive … ✯✯✯✯✯ Senior Global Strategy & Marketing Executive with significant experience in a broad range of complex industries including healthcare, financial services, banking, manufacturing, energy, and education. Key skills include brand development and content management, digital marketing and sales planning, strategic planning, product and service launch, growth and innovation. Especially skilled in motivating teams to high performance . Strong business development and growth oriented professional with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) focused in Marketing/Marketing Management from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, consistently ranked as the top marketing program in the world.

  2. Michael L. Wyland 2018-06-14 12:24

    I’ve known Michelle since she got her MBA from Northwestern. She’s held senior positions with Northwestern Energy, Avera McKennan, and Raven Industries, as well as doing consulting work. She led marketing and communications at USD when the “U-dot” (U.) campaign was conceived and launched. People who underestimate her will be surprised by her talents.

  3. Debbie 2018-06-14 12:38

    Conservatives could not have received a better gift.

  4. Porter Lansing 2018-06-14 12:41

    @Debbie … Do you mean fiscal conservatives or social conservatives or moderate conservatives?

  5. 96Tears 2018-06-14 13:16

    Will Democrats again form the circular firing squad? Since they have failed to win the Governor’s race since 1974 and failed to elect a single statewide candidate for anything in the last handful of elections (what’s the number?) and are on their way to becoming the third largest group of voters behind independents, it becomes the only thing too many of them can do to affect a statewide election outcome. Piss on their own party and on their candidates. You might also notice these whiners don’t contribute work or money to help Democrats.

    A very good reason Sutton chose someone with no political experience is THERE ARE NOT THAT MANY DEMOCRAT CANDIDATES WITH STATEHOUSE EXPERIENCE TO CHOOSE FROM. Gee, why is that?

    I’ve seen the whining on social media today and it makes me sick. Michelle is eminently qualified to be Lt. Governor and to stir up voters as a great candidate. And if a Republican starts knocking her lack of political experience, ask why they support Trump. With Michelle, you get someone with real successful business experience, a great personality, real intellect and none of the sleaze that Republican detractors seem to embrace with Trump.

    Billy Sutton made a terrific pick. Now get out there and work!

  6. Greg Deplorable 2018-06-14 13:39

    This is awesome watching Liberals praise the nomination of a Republican to their own ticket.
    Please keep the compliments coming.

  7. Adam 2018-06-14 13:39

    Big money and connections won’t carry over unless Billie shows way more grit in his personality and demonstrates real actual balls – I’ve never heard him attack an opponent nor talk about what’s wrong in the state of South Dakota – so that he might be able to qualify a new proposition.

    His running mate seems to be one of those, “I just want to be in the game” sort of people. I am not yet sure that this quite early announcement makes much sense to me.

    As ALWAYS, Mr. Positive will get destroyed in 2018 rural America, and when it happens again for the umpteenth time, perhaps rural Dems limp attitudes will change, and they’ll one day develop the passion and toughness required to compete.

    If/when she comes up with a high leverage contrast ad, Billie seems to be the kind of guy who’ll shut it down internally before it airs because of insufficient guts.

    Just calling it like I see it. Sorry for the not so positive message.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-06-14 14:05

    On the good side, Sutton chose a running mate who agrees with me that Sutton is wrong about women’s reproductive rights:

    “I happen to believe that a woman and her doctor make those decisions best,” she said.

    Lavallee says her views are shaped from working in health care while Sutton’s small town roots and spirituality shaped his [Todd Epp, “Sutton, Lavallee Differ on Abortion,” KELO Radio, 2018.06.14].

    Maybe Lavallee can have some positive influence on the top of the ticket.

  9. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2018-06-14 14:27

    Wasn’t it Truman who warned us Democrats not to run as Republicans, because the voters will pick the real Republican every time?

    Isn’t us as Democrats who often complain that Republicans only want to save Medicare in name only?Well, how is this LG choice any different?

    Sure, we haven’t won the Governor’s Mansion since ’74, so that means we run as Republicans just for the hope that a governor can have a “D” behind their name?

    Some of my fellow Democrats suffer from an inferiority complex, which allows them to do this nonsense and they think that its all about manipulation and message to win, when it is really about math and building a viable opposition party in this state that stands for something.

    But some of my fellow Democrats have lost the will to stand for something, because they would rather raise the sales tax on the working poor, while at the same time teachers are still at 49th in the country; and they would rather nominate for LG a person who was the past president of the the SF Downtown Rotary Club, the same Club, which a national Republican economist recently chastised in their presence because the business establishment at that Club does not pay its workers enough; and then those same Club members want to know why there are not enough workers in South Dakota…. Anyone who is associated with the SF DR Club is not a friend of the worker!

    I don’t know the present LG candidate, I am sure she is a good person, but do we really want to nominate as Democrats a LG candidate who was Ten Haken co-chair? Need I remind you, that Ten Haken in recent weeks has “conveniently” missed a debate on diversity and will not be attending the Pride Festival in Sioux Falls this weekend (something that even Huether did), so with a track record like that, do we really want one of his disciples to now “conveniently” call herself a Democrat?

  10. Debbie 2018-06-14 15:01

    Your average South Dakotan is more worried about their pocketbook than reproductive rights. Only people who are making well over the poverty line can afford the luxury of the politics of the body.
    SD has the highest poverty rate of all surrounding states. It fares a little better in the national numbers but can’t even to the 1/4 mark.
    Voters feel this everyday and it’s getting worse- It’s going to take a lot more than voting on my lady parts.

  11. Debbie 2018-06-14 15:05

    John Kennedy Claussen,
    Thank you for naming the elephant in the room !

  12. Debbie 2018-06-14 15:39

    The kind of Conservative that will move money from your pocket to the pockets of her friends.

  13. Wayne Gilbert 2018-06-14 15:53

    I wouldn’t call that list of donations “big money.” That’s a silly accusation that is worthy of Cal Thomas.

    And yes it is important enough to have a Democrat governor to vote for a centrist or blue dog. Pouting about the Democrat nominee is exactly why we are a solid one-party state. The Sutton ticket will bring ethics to state government, as well as a real focus on education, and will put an end to the cronyism that created Eb-5 and the education scandals. Wouldn’t that be a nice start?

  14. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2018-06-14 16:02


    We are a one party state because Party strategy has and continues to be dictated by our once and recent congressional Party, which was a Party dictated by message and manipulation because it had the convenience of incumbency. The mistake that the Party and its leaders keep making now, and in recent times, is that they continue to run that type of campaign that works for incumbents but not challengers…. And this pick for LG is a continual example of that mistake.

    We need to build a viable opposition party in order to matter and that is done with math and issues. We need to accept the universal which we live in and maximize it. We need not waste our time trying to fool the electorate. The electorate are not idiots, but a sequel to 2010 is like the definition of insanity, is it not?

  15. Donald Pay 2018-06-14 16:39

    Not my choice, but probably politically smart. The main problem is going to be convincing people of the need to make changes in state government while not being too threatening. Kneip faced similar issues, and if I remember correctly, voters picked a Sioux Falls businessman with deep roots in the business community of East River’s largest city, at the same time they picked Kneip. I think that was still when voters chose the LG separately. So, this combination of interests and geography has worked before.

    The Democratic wing of the Democratic Party needs something substantial, though, in terms of commitment to issues and programs to get them energized. Health care, education, and clean water, and cleaning up the corruption would be issues that would unite everyone.

  16. Robin Friday 2018-06-14 16:42

    I don’t know her, but I’m going to give her a “like” for now. I’m hoping it means that Billie is thinking a bit more about women’s issues and women’s rights, Not that that is those are the only issues that matter, but still hoping for more open-mindedness than we’ve seen in the last century in South Dakota. Wish I could be there.

  17. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2018-06-14 16:49

    Robin, if Billie cared about women’s issues, then he would be pro-choice, but he isn’t. Michelle’s association with the Sioux Falls Downtown Rotary Club means that she is pro-business and anti-worker. This ticket is only Democratic in name only.

    Donald, District 15 is the most Democratic Legislative District in Sioux Falls. It is also a legislative district which takes the least amount of signatures to get on the ballot as a Democrat to run for the legislature…. And why is that?…. Because Democrats don’t vote and because many Democrats are not registered… If Democrats want to win in South Dakota, they will do it by carrying Minnehaha County first and foremost, but they won’t carry Minnehaha County by manipulation, rather they will do it by being organized and getting their vote out, and until we do that, all other strategies like this pick are merely a “Hail Mary” try…..

  18. owen reitzel 2018-06-14 16:52

    She seems like a good pick and I’ll have to get to know her. The one thing I won’t call her is a DINO (Democrat in name only).

    Unlike Republicans, Democrats have a big tent

  19. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2018-06-14 16:57

    A “big tent” alright and here comes the elephant….

  20. Debbie 2018-06-14 16:59

    Yeah Owen the more desperate a party gets the bigger the tent gets.

  21. Debbie 2018-06-14 17:06

    I totally agree with your assessment of the ticket. Just what the workers need a loss no matter who wins.

  22. jerry 2018-06-14 17:06

    A few days ago, we were all discussing the dwindling of Democrats. A couple of posters had indicated that they switched party affiliation to vote against NOem. So now, here we are.

    I am confident in Billie Sutton and have said so on many occasions right here. I think if Billie Sutton sees and feels the need for this gifted lady, then that is his choice to make. So she was a republican and now is a Democrat, that, and the fact that our choice for governor of the South Dakota, feels she is important to being able to get things done for all South Dakotan’s be they Democrat, Republican or Independent.

    NOem is probably gonna go with loopy Larry Rhoden, mr. grudznick go to feller, for taters and gravy. Now he was once a Democrat and then changed horses. So there is that. Let’s be united in knowing that we are going to be seeing the start of change here.

  23. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2018-06-14 17:29


    We are not organized to win. Manipulation will not do it alone. The people are not fools, but the party regulars who go along with this just might be.

    And actually a smart Democrat would have changed their voter registration to vote for Noem, because in theory she is more beatable than Jackley.

    Let’s not forget, that when Billie spoke to the SF Downtown Rotary Club alongside Mark Mickelson, Billie claimed he votes for Republicans sometimes. Well, that might be true or just cute, but it speaks to how some are willing to lower the brand name for their own gain… Because it is not the duty, nor the calling, of a Democratic leader to be a Republican or a Democratic apologist…

  24. grudznick 2018-06-14 17:33

    This young lady seems interesting. This could get me to take a harder listen to what she and Mr. Sutton have to say.

    I place the grudznick stamp of approval on this choice.

  25. owen reitzel 2018-06-14 17:34

    I’ll be interested Debbie on where she stands on the issues. I’m guessing that I’ll have some disagreements with her. I have some with Billie.
    But in the end we can’t have NOem in the governor’s chair. She is totally with Trump and when Trump goes down she will as well. At least I hope so.

  26. grudznick 2018-06-14 17:47

    The grudznick stamp of approval did not show up. I shall try again.

    I place the grudznick stamp of approval on this choice.
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  27. jerry 2018-06-14 18:07

    Mr. Claussen, I am certainly not declaring that anyone is a fool. What I am trying to point out is that Billie Sutton should have the right to make the choice for his lt. This lady was a republican and now she is a Democrat, so what. No different than any other citizen who changes party to vote or for whatever reason. I say good for her. She is not the only one who has either switched or cannot be counted on to rubber stamp corrupted republican politics any longer in our state.

    Billie Sutton has been working in the best interests of South Dakota from the time he has been in the legislature. In order to get legislation done, you must be able to work always with everyone to make a difference. This is called getting stuff done. The last thing we need to see in South Dakota is more of the same one party rule. It is smart politics to pick the best person available to be your running mate to bring the most avenues of problem solutions to advance the state. Clearly his choice is well versed in making big decisions and able to articulate them to solve problems. In the long run, isn’t that what we should expect from a leader, someone who can work with others to advance our state and make us all stronger and better for it?

  28. Donald Pay 2018-06-14 18:09

    There are a lot of elephants, many with college degrees, leaving the Republican Party in Wisconsin. It’s not a stampede, but it’s enough to win elections.

  29. Debbie 2018-06-14 18:10

    It’s easy to stand anywhere you want on the issues before you get elected.
    You simply send someone out to listen to conversations , and then you gear all your answers according to the temperature that was taken before you arrive.
    Lavallee has never done anything remotely consumer oriented other than moving a portion of your check to her clients- Does a Tiger stop being a Tiger simply because tomorrow he calls himself a cat ?
    Billie marketed himself to the wealthy South Dakotans and left the ordinary people in the vomit bucket. Non Profits are even turning their back on Dem representation in SD which is HUGE !
    As far as Ethics they all say that. Billie was vehemently against opensource data which is the biggest protection against being accused of corruption . Wonder why he is so against public accountability when you give him a non biased legitimate way ?

  30. grudznick 2018-06-14 18:12

    Mr. jerry, are you trying to take over my job as the Voice of Reason?

  31. Debbie 2018-06-14 18:24

    Doesn’t mean much- Lot’s of college educated Dems left the Dem party as well and gave us Trump-
    Education is just is known as a causal factor , not a primary factor. Wisconsin has a huge base of progressives that are storming within the Dem party.
    Not the case with SD

  32. grudznick 2018-06-14 18:42

    We conservatives have young, smart, scientist types like Dr. McTaggart and his friends who are swarming in South Dakota. Mr. Sutton and Ms. Noem will split the rodeo vote. It will probably turn into a beauty contest. About eyebrows.

  33. jerry 2018-06-14 18:45

    I think abuse was more of the reason we now have trump. In my opinion, rural voters either educated or not, have felt left behind. When President Obama ran for office, many rural voters supported him because they thought they were going to see change. He did bring about positive change with healthcare first and foremost. Alas, it did not take too long for the opposition to gain the power back and start to dismantling it. We are seeing that now, that alarm bells are going off around the country with the fear of loosing that positive change that was never yelled about at the top of Democrats voices. I look forward to Sutton/Lavallee issuing statements of clarity on their direction for our healthcare issues and how to deal with them with Medicaid Expansion. I look to them to work with the new Democratic Attorney General to find republican support in dealing with the most outlandish and out in the open corruption that plagues us to punish those lawbreakers. That is how you bring about change, you have to have courage.

    We do not loose because of loss of college educated Dems, we loose because we do not know how to tell our story. This choice will make clear what the Billie Sutton Lavallee message will bring. That message is about real change that can only come when all parties work together to pull the wagon in the same direction.

  34. grudznick 2018-06-14 18:50

    Does anybody else think that Ms. Lavallee looks almost exactly like that young Senator Deb Peters?

  35. mike from iowa 2018-06-14 19:16

    No wonder South Dakota is a mess. You got people saying Dems have to become like wingnuts to win and when they do they get blasted for being too much like the corrupt wingnuts. And you lose anyway.

    It surely appears the majority of voters in your state are either completely unaware of the amount and pervasiveness of government corruption, or they are well aware of it and don’t give a hoot as long as the pol has an R behind their name.

    This needs to change!

  36. Lee Schoenbeck 2018-06-14 19:23

    As a republican who tries to pay attention to both politics and what’s good for our state, much of the above exchange is kind of humorous. I like John Kennedy Clausen, but as between Billy and JKC – you might ask a simple question, since both have been on the ballot: which one knows how to win? Elections matter

  37. Robin Friday 2018-06-14 19:36

    Yes, John, as I said I don’t know her, or anything about her other than what’s posted here, but if she truly is as adamant about human rights as she says she is, then depending on how things are written and passed, I’m thinking MAYBE she could have the governor’s ear if Billie was indeed the governor. I’ll have to leave it to the SD party to get all of the organizing done to get that accomplished. As I’ve said so many times, it’s time for the SD legislature and governor to stop being led around by the nose by RTL, CWA, and the rest of the Christian Right.

  38. Roger Cornelius 2018-06-14 19:57

    Did we learn today what is happening to the Democrat dwindling party with the nomination of a republican as Lt. Governor?

  39. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2018-06-14 20:56

    Lee, I always appreciate constructive criticism, but you are mistaken in the election or elections which need to be evaluated to judge this LG decision today, however. Because if you are going to use past elections to judge wise campaign decisions or thought, then we have already seen this election or movie, or what makes this Sutton/Republican ticket a sequel, and it played at theaters across this state back in 2010 and not a lot of tickets were sold.

    Jerry, anyone can change their party registration. But what you can’t take away is that just a few weeks ago the LG nominee was working for TenHaken, while the SDDP was working for Jo; and unlike TenHaken, Jo went to the diversity debate, and as mayor I am confident she would be at the Pride Festival in SF this weekend too…Not to mention that the LG nominee is a part of the SF DWNTN Rotary Club, which is just a group of business people who do not have the workers’ best interests in hand.

    It comes to a point, where we need to ask ourselves what it is really all about, when it comes to political parties? Now, some talk about a big or bigger tent, but that bigness should be meant in terms of its willingness to fight for economic and social justice for all and not reach out to those who work to fight our positions on economic and social justice, however….. Anyone can claim to be a Democrat, but are you a Democrat if your resume is a resume which either appears to work for or at least facilitates those who fight to prevent economic and social justice?

  40. Debbo 2018-06-14 20:59

    “Only people who are making well over the poverty line can afford the luxury of the politics of the body.”

    I think Debbie said that. I disagree. I worked many years in domestic violence/sexual assault shelters and one of the tools our clients desperately wanted was the ability to control their reproduction. (Especially our poorer clients.) Abusers often use pregnancy as a means of control.

    It’s actually the wealthier women who are less affected by anti-choice/women legislation because they can afford to go elsewhere or buy birth control out of pocket. It’s the poor women who struggle to feed and care for the children they have, who are left without recourse to more children.

    It’s not that poor women don’t care. They are too busy working and caring for the children they already have to attend protests.

  41. Debbo 2018-06-14 21:02

    BTW, I’m sick and tired, SICK AND TIRED of Women’s Basic Human Rights being postponed so that there is a better chance to win an election!

    !@#$%&%#@!##%%%#@! OUTRAGEOUS!!!!!

  42. grudznick 2018-06-14 21:05

    Why didn’t you give them free pills, Ms. Geelsdottir, or teach them to not do the things that make them pregnant? It seems much more expensive to make the taxpayers pay for another baby’s birth and subsequent upbringing than to just give them pills or those fancy new implant things I’ve read about and stop them from costing all of us more for children who are not loved and cared for.

    grudznick does not think children should be stones around a poor woman’s neck, but that the poor woman should be freed from the stones and sent out to work equally like a man, lifting her from the poor into the middle classes like most people are.

  43. Debbo 2018-06-14 21:06

    Let’s postpone farmer’s rights.
    Let’s postpone landowner rights.
    Let’s postpone driver’s rights.
    Let’s postpone homeowner’s rights.
    Let’s postpone 50 yr old males’ rights.
    Let’s postpone 40 yr old males’ rights.
    Let’s postpone 30 yr old males’ rights.
    Let’s postpone 60 yr old males’ rights.

    Go ahead. Pick any one or more of those to postpone. I’ll wait.

  44. Debbo 2018-06-14 21:22

    Tell the men Grudz. That’s how impregnation happens.

    Now which of those other rights did you choose to postpone?

  45. Donald Pay 2018-06-14 21:51

    The argument that Democrats don’t vote, and we have to bend the party to attract them is a losing strategy. Some people will always have an excuse why they won’t vote. The party has to bend to the people who are willing to show up. If a Republican woman is willing to cross party lines to send a message, that person just maybe will find a reason to do that more than once. And if she does that twice, well, maybe she will do it again until she finally decides, “Hey, I’m a Democrat.” People with progressive views shouldn’t wall themselves off from the reality that progressive views are attractive to many people, including Republicans. That doesn’t mean they eat the whole progressive enchilada, but they are willing to take a bite or two.

    In my life I’ve never voted for anyone that I have totally agreed with. If I waited around for the perfect candidate, who hit every one of my issue litmus tests, plus had the perfect biography, I wouldn’t have voted. I think I’ve missed one election in 45 years of voting, all for imperfect candidates. I simply don’t buy that argument.

  46. jerry 2018-06-14 22:02

    Very good Mr. Pay, totally agree. The problem it seems with Ms. Lavallee is not that she was a republican that crossed party lines to become a Democrat, it is because she did work for the new mayor of Sioux Falls. She is not trying to hide that, nor is she trying to hide the fact that she has been generous in the past to Democratic causes along with Democratic politicos. Wonder what Tenhakken thought when he did research on her for his campaign? I am thinking he didn’t give a damn, because what he was looking for was a very professional woman that could get the job done.

  47. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2018-06-14 22:04


    If it takes what you mention to win, then what do we have when we have won, but a compromise to our core beliefs?

    The fact that the Democrats in this state have a pro-life candidate for Governor and the US House is already too much, but this LG nomination is merely the straw which breaks the camel’s back for me.

    No doubt compromise is the art of a smart politician, but appeasement or a vacantness of ones core beliefs under the proud claimed cloak of compromise does no good for the many, but for the politician or politicians who obviously gain from it….

  48. grudznick 2018-06-14 22:17

    Ms. Geelsdottir, I’m on your side here. Please dial back your inner man-hater and focus on why this young woman is, or is not, the best Democratic candidate for the Lt. Governor of South Dakota. And, weigh in on your thoughts of how this puts Paul Ten Hacken in charge of the SD Senate, as well. This will put fear in Mr. Nelson’s maw.

  49. Curt 2018-06-14 23:11

    This debate is entertaining. Sutton can win. He can defeat Noem and government in SD will benefit. People will benefit – not just wealthy and powerful people who are accustomed to reaping rewards from the public trough, but the honest and decent working people whose labors have allowed the privileged to prosper.
    It’s the wagon analogy, I think. You are welcome to ride – or not even come aboard. But I think we need to decide whether we will help push the wagon – and I contend it is the best I’ve seen in decades – or just throw rocks at it. I’m tempted to throw the rocks back at you but would prefer to see Progressives help push for Progress in SD. It’s time. We need it. Please help.

  50. Gary Dickson 2018-06-14 23:33

    Wayne Gilbert: You’re right. Pouting about the democratic nominee is exactly why we are a one party state. I don’t understand what is so damned important about whether the LG nominee used to be Republican or whether she has the right political bloodlines to qualify her to be Sutton’s running mate. Are people afraid she is going to turn on them if the ticket should win in November and start championing Republican and conservative causes? While I don’t like the fact that she was Paul Ten Hacken’s campaign manager, I also consider that a marketing job, not unlike if she was contracting with one of the local banks or hospitals to consult on marketing. Since we no longer elect the LG separately anymore in this state, I think it is critical the candidate for governor choose someone who will provide some type of counter-balance yet have enough shared values to be able to work cooperatively towards shared goals. Regardless of whether Michelle Lavellee used to be a Republican until just recently shouldn’t make a difference. How many of you used to be Republicans or Independents or something else before becoming a Democrat? I came from a family with strong Republican ties in this state going back at least three generations. I became a Democrat in 1972 because I was moved by the message of Sen. George McGovern. I don’t recall having to take any test or go through any interviews with veteran Democrats to prove I was worthy of membership. And yes, I’ve voted for Republicans in the past who’ve I felt would make better elected officials than the Democrat that was running, something I do not regret. There are other candidates who’ve switched as well. In 2010, both candidates for governor had been party switchers. Scott Heidepriem had been a Republican candidate for Congress in the 1980s and then later switched party allegiances to Democrat. Dennis Daugaard, who I knew quite well in college, was a Democrat during that time who actively campaigned for George McGovern. Again, Wayne Gilbert is right on another point when he says, “The Sutton ticket will bring ethics to state government, as well as a real focus on education, and will put an end to the cronyism that created Eb-5 and the education scandals.” And yes, that would be nice. Perhaps the nay-sayers should consider that.

  51. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2018-06-14 23:44


    “Please help” at what? Help a pro-life gubernatorial candidate and his pro-business Republican Lt. governor candidate, so that they can win to assure trickle down hope for “the honest and decent working people whose labors have allowed the privilege to prosper?”

    If a Democrat can pick a Republican for LG, then what else are they capable of doing?…. Could you “please help” me with that answer?

  52. Curt 2018-06-15 00:07

    Happy to help, Mr Claussen. We have 2 choices – OK, 3, but seriously …
    I knew Gov Kneip – and Lt Gov Dougherty. Both were good men and they accomplished good things for this state. Sometime perhaps we’ll meet and I can detail some of them for you. My point is that Dick Kneip was actually elected – 3 consecutive times, btw. If Cong Noem wins we can be fairly certain that little will change and probably nothing for the better. Can we at least agree on that point?
    I have no idea who would have been your ideal choice for Lt Gov, and I’m guessing you would have preferred a candidate other than Billie for Gov. But that’s what we have in our ‘wagon’. I hope you will help us.

  53. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2018-06-15 00:46


    I’ll be at the Convention and happy to talk to you. I knew Bill and know his sons. Kneip was my neighbor in SF after he and Nancy returned from Singapore.

    I like Billie as a person, but his ticket is moving too far to the right and this victory you claim, well, why does it need a “Hail Mary” LG pick then, if its an assured victory?

    As far as a LG choice, well, a Democrat and not a “Johnny come lately Democrat” would be my choice…

    Quite frankly, I am still fuming about 2010. That was the year we ran two Republicans for the governor’s mansion, no one against Thune, and Herseth voted against Obamacare; and then for some strange reason Herseth’s anti-Obamacare vote was also more offensive to some fellow Democrats, then Tim’s vote for the Bush tax cuts, or Tom’s vote for Kemp-Roth… And I am just sick of this phoniest within our Party; and doesn’t this major contradiction involving the SDDP working for Jo recently while our new LG nominee worked for her opponent strike at the heart at what it means to be a Party which stands for anything?

    Respectfully, JKC

  54. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2018-06-15 01:02

    Let me add one other thing to this discussion as well, and that is that there is in my estimation an excitement deficit within the South Dakota Democratic Party today; and this deficit has been growing ever since we lost Senator McGovern as a sitting Senator in 1980.

    Since McGovern’s tenure, our Democratic politics in South Dakota have become too sanitized and or too cautious to the point that it makes it hard to understand what it means to be a Democrat anymore. And Billie’s pick of a Republican to be the LG is nothing but a continuation of that cautiousness to a level that bores or dilutes any chance of real and excited Party activism in my estimation…. And that is one of the major reasons this political stunt will not work along with the fact that the electorate are not stupid. They see what is going on here….They are not stupid…. We are only fooling ourselves with this pick….

  55. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2018-06-15 01:28


    Changing parties is one thing, but doing it in the dark of night is an other thing…

    And to add to your argument, McGovern was raised a Republican, then a Progressive before becoming a Democrat, but no one ever questioned McGovern’s Democratic loyalty, but then again, he didn’t change his registration in the dark of the night either and then run the next day…. Oh, and Reagan was once a Democrat too, then became a Republican and then ran four years later, four years later that is, as a Republican for governor in ’66.

  56. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-06-15 06:31

    Wayne, I’m a lot poorer than Cal Thomas. I consider anybody who can write a $1,000 check for political purposes to be big money.

  57. Lanny Stricherz 2018-06-15 07:27

    The best Democratic candidate for Vice President and who would have been an even better President than FDR, had not J Edgar and some of the Democrats branded him a communist, was a Republican first and was even a Republican when he served as FDR’s Secretary of Agriculture. I’m talking about Henry A Wallace. I wish that some of you super partisan Democrats would take a look at yourselves. You are little better, if better at all, than the extreme right on the other side of the aisle, that have been ruining this state since 2002.

  58. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-06-15 07:47

    I should remind our viewers (and myself) that I was a registered Republican through 2004.

  59. jerry 2018-06-15 08:44

    Mr. Claussen, what exactly is your position on Ms. Lavallee? First you complain that she was the chief of staff for the new mayor of Sioux Falls, a republican. Then that did not get the traction you wanted so you change spots and go on with this, “he didn’t change his registration in the dark of the night either and then run the next day”.

    Is it because you dislike the new mayor of Sioux Falls? Is it because you think there should be pre existing condition on republicans that switch party’s, say 180 day wait? Is it because Ms. Lavallee gave political donations to both parties with a particular edge towards Democrats? Or is it..because she is a woman?

  60. Debbo 2018-06-15 11:38

    ” too sanitized and or too cautious to the point that it makes it hard to understand what it means to be a Democrat anymore.”

    I think JKC has a point. How many years have SD Democrats tried to be SDGOP Lite to win elections? What is their success ratio? You who are math whizzes, what do the bold, black numbers tell you? Is this a winning strategy? My secondary question is, Has it been increasing interest and membership in the party? If not, why continue using it?

  61. Spencer 2018-06-15 12:23

    Lavallee brings big business and some deep-pocketed interest groups to the ticket. It is an interesting pick. I am guessing she would be calling the shots on anything relating to that sector. It is a smart move to win over financial backing for the race and potentially future races. Sutton needed a big money bundler; looks like he found one, and she has the influence and ability to make sure policy matches those donations.

  62. Spencer 2018-06-15 12:30

    Debbo, actually, I expect both Sutton and Bjorkman to do much better than the last Democrat go around largely because of their pro-life stances. That only helps both of their chances. Pro-abortionists and pro-assisted suicide folks are largely going to vote Democrat anyways. Why cater to them and their culture of death? They have no one else to vote for.

  63. Adam 2018-06-15 12:53

    I am saddened that SD Dems never talk about what they are running AGAINST.

    I think we should be running primarily against Doomsday gun cults and alternative Christians – running against South Dakota’s radical demons.

    We can never split the moderate conservatives away from the radicals if we don’t point at the radicals in order to accurately, and passionately, describe there abhorrent recent behavior and defunct belief systems.

    Gotta pin the tail on the donkey – for moderate voters to find a SD Democrat vote-worthy. The nature of politics has always been divisive – reinventing this wheel should be out of the question.

  64. Donald Pay 2018-06-15 13:30

    McGovern is a case in point. He had views that many labeled “liberal,” but weren’t too far left of the moderate Midwestern understanding of what government should do. He was certainly one of the first to question our involvement in Vietnam, but there was a strain of Midwestern Republicanism that tended toward isolationism. The almost universal Midwest Republican isolationism to US involvement in the 1938-1941 stage of World War II was somewhat changed by Pearl Harbor and anti-Communism following the war, but there was still the idea that Democrats started wars and Republicans ended them. McGovern tapped into the Midwest’s tendency toward isolation.

    Also, McGovern was very much in touch with the various Chambers of Commerce, offering his services to obtain infrastructure or other money. He always championed the REAs, the various dam building projects on the MIssouri, and irrigation projects, all of which brought federal money to depressed local economies. As opposition from the left and right built to the Oahe Project, McGovern kept pushing for the moderate, business-friendly line that the project should go forward. Indeed, he helped establish an astro-turf organization to push the project.

    McGovern made a point to ask for advise from business leaders of both parties, and often took it. He particularly valued main street business owners from South Dakota, and small farmers. He got tagged as being anti-business, but he was more an opponent of big business and monopolies. That wasn’t too far to the left of where most South Dakota politicians were at the time.

  65. mike from iowa 2018-06-15 14:14

    Why cater to them and their culture of death? They have no one else to vote for.

    Who do you know that is pro-abortion?
    As for assisted suicide, you’d show compassion for a suffering dumb animal, wouldn’t you? I bet even godless wingnuts would agree.

  66. Spencer 2018-06-15 14:27

    With Lavallee’s corporate connections and Sutton’s ag background, South Dakota could be a leader in cutting edge technology such as Raven-backed chemical application drones. When corporate meets ag, the possibilities are endless. New technologies need a test ground and an ear to the corporate world, Lavallee brings that to the ticket with its financial backing. I do not like her stances on abortion, but she adds a lot to this ticket by balancing Sutton’s liberal positions on regulations, finances, and industry. I think Democrats are going to discover in this election cycle that jettisoning a large portion of their liberal plank will make them far more competitive in South Dakota politics.

  67. jerry 2018-06-15 16:23

    Farmers and ranchers also have something else they think of, infrastructure. The delivery of products to and from the place is the life blood to markets. That railroad that is so close to opening up the western part of the state with the eastern part through Murdo and Presho from Rapid City, is so close. A good team at the head of state government could bring this about. Open those avenues to transportation to and from the state for economic development.

  68. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2018-06-15 16:31


    I am not changing my positions or angles, rather I am just responding to others’ comments which tend to take us down other tributaries at times.

    And did I say “Chief of Staff?” If so, I am mistaken, she was Co-Chair of his campaign…. a Mayor who skipped a diversity debate and now plans to skip the Pride Festival in Sioux Falls too…

  69. jerry 2018-06-15 17:18

    Okay, I get it, you hate the mayor of Sioux Falls, whoppee ding. You and lots of others and that brings up another, so what?

    Now, we have two Democrats, one for governor and one for his lt. Can we just let the good people of Sioux Falls, who voted overwhelmingly for the mayor, deal with their choice? Whatever he was selling, the voters liked it and bought it.

    We need Billie Sutton and his running mate, Ms. Lavallee in Pierre to further our state. I know you dislike her, and that is your decision. I do hope you will rethink that position and put the ballot box seal of approval for the next governor of South Dakota, Billie Sutton/Ms. Lavallee.

    Hey, as a bonus, her first name Michelle, has two e’s and two l’s, as does her last name. Billie has two i’s and two l’s. Think of that when you think of NOem. What is the first thing that pops out?..NO, that says it all. NO to NOem.

  70. Roger Cornelius 2018-06-15 18:41

    In some ways the Bernie/Hillary 2016 primary election is still being fought today according to this dialogue. After Hillary won the 2016 primary there were many progressives that pulled away from the Democrat Party and as a result we got Trump here in South Dakota.
    Going back to the 2008 campaign I was a strong Hillary supporter and worked for her, when Obama won the nomination I was 3 kinds of mad, but in the morning I had to dust myself off and get on the Obama train, which I gladly did.
    I don’t know what Lavallee can bring to the party, but at this point for our party surely she has something to offer.

  71. jerry 2018-06-15 19:07

    Indeed Roger, she has much to offer along with the support of our choice for the next governor of South Dakota! Let’s work to make it all happen!

  72. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2018-06-15 20:27


    “What’s it all about Alfie?”

  73. jerry 2018-06-15 22:40

    Dionne Warwick, 1966 song written by Burt Bacharach / Hal David, Grammy Hall of Fame recording. Great singer to a great song.

    Now, name the piano player in the Jeff Beck Group “Going Down”

  74. Debbo 2018-06-15 22:56

    I know! From the movie soundtrack, “Alfie.” Now i cant get it out of my head. This is all your fault JKC!

    BTW, I loved the Bacharach/David team and Dionne Warwick’s singing.
    “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?”
    I had more than one album by that team. I can’t remember what the big hit was that got them off the ground. I don’t want to look it —- Ah! “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face!” Right? Or was that someone else? Now I’m not sure.

  75. Debbo 2018-06-15 22:57

    Nope, I don’t think it was First Time. That was Roberta Flack. Hmmmm???

  76. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2018-06-15 22:58

    Max Middleton?….. But why “Down?” Don’t we want to go “Up?” (jk)

  77. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2018-06-15 23:02

    Sorry Debbo, but at least you are not Manafort, because in his head he keeps hearing the little known song, “Do You Know the Way to San Quentin?”

  78. Debbo 2018-06-15 23:23


  79. jerry 2018-06-15 23:41

    Very good, most folks say Nicky Hopkins. As you are someone who knows a little something about the late 60’s and 70’s music, then we all should be able to get it together and pull and push this Democratic wagon across the line. We may have disagreements on who is pulling and who is pushing and how hard, but the point should the goal. We need to change and here is the opportunity.

    Mueller was a wounded marine line officer in Vietnam. As a marine, he understands the honor code of that position. Paul Mannafort may well have been behind the attacks on marines in the Crimea that pushed them out in 2006. All indications are that he was involved. Now he is in the hoosegow with the Marine Mueller as the gatekeeper. I look for Manafort to be in for the next 30 years in Sing Sing. The campaign manager for trump is a traitor to this country. Russia is our Enemy.

  80. jerry 2018-06-15 23:55

    Here is Paul Simon apologizing to the good people of Canada. He reminds us all that Canada lost about 158 troops killed in action fighting with us, the US in Afghanistan. They went because the were called, not only by NATO, but by America. trumps distorter’s said that they stabbed us in the back “over milk prices” Canada is not our enemy, we know who are enemy is. Here is Paul and a little music with his words.

  81. Debbo 2018-06-16 14:23

    Thanks Jerry. I think Canadians know us and know that yes, pres Animal Sh*thole is just that, but he only speaks for a small minority of citizens. The overwhelming majority of us love Canada– the people, the land, the culture, their basic human decency.

    They also have a better national anthem. 😁

  82. grudznick 2018-06-20 00:00

    I might have missed this, but did you fellows touch on the prospect of Mr. Sutton nominating this young woman for her prettiness, you know like to offset stuff against Ms. Noem? You know that’s running through his brain and he had to answer the woman side of stuff. Mr. Sutton looks to be the first fellow beaten by a woman for Governor. It’s not a fun place to be for him, I bet you a gravy biscuit.

  83. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-06-20 07:53

    No, Grudz, I did not touch on that prospect, because I don’t think prettiness is a factor. To the extent that anyone will be paying attention to the running mates after this month, there is a possible argument that Sutton is contrasting the GOP pageant princess with a woman of real intelligence and accomplishment. I would enjoy seeing an economic analysis of the jobs Lavallee has created with her business consulting versus the jobs Noem created with her various private sector ventures.

  84. Debi 2018-07-04 13:49

    John Kennedy Claussen— maybe you could volunteer for the Sutton team to help him win? Bring your ideas and try to put them to work. Democrats need help to make this a WIN!

  85. Debbie 2018-07-04 14:26

    That would be great Corey,
    Would you be willing to include subsidies in that cost analysis both for both parties in that analysis ?

  86. mike from iowa 2018-07-04 14:59

    The First Time Ever I saw yer Face was featured in Clint Eastwood’s PLay Misty For Me.

    Max Middleton (I cheated)

    Songs that he co-wrote which have topped the Billboard Hot 100 include “The Look of Love” (1967), “This Guy’s in Love with You” (1968), “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” (1969), “(They Long to Be) Close to You” (1970), “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” (1981), “That’s What Friends Are For” (1986) and “On My Own” (1986).

  87. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-07-05 15:46

    Show me anyone else—Rhoden, Lavallee, Sutton, Evans…—who has received over $3M in farm subsidies and made a living off selling federally subsidized corp insurance, and you’re on.

    But as it stands, Noem is the only candidate in that category, a true welfare queen, campaigning as a small-government Republican. You’ll need to provide some serious data to overcome the stench of that hypocrisy.

  88. Lanny Stricherz 2018-07-05 17:10

    Since I cannot get comments to this thread to end, even when I try to get off the thread because of the inane direction the conversation took, and since this last comment was back on the subject, I will add one other comment, albeit that it is on her Lt Governor running mate.

    Back in 2005 or 2006 when Republican State Senator, Clarence Kooistra, Democrat State Representative Maggie Gillespie and Roger Andal, from the DAV, (now deceased) tried to pass SB184 to ensure that all veterans who served in a field of operations where depleted uranium had been used, would be tested for exposure to DU. The bill passed both houses and to avoid having to veto the bill, then Governor Mike Rounds got then House Majority leader, Rhoden to hog house the bill and make changes to the bill. When it then went to conference committee to reconcile the bill, the Senate would not go along with the changes which had gutted the bill. Hence the bill died and the Governor did not have to veto it. So both he and Rhoden could still appear (but falsely) to be for the troops and veterans.

  89. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-07-05 17:58

    Lanny thus submits more evidence that Rhoden is a very good yes-man.

    Read 2006 Senate Bill 184 here. Rhoden rallied the Republican majority, including my man Al Novstrup, to cancel the action planks and limit the bill to a mere report from the adjutant general of the South Dakota National Guard “on the scope and adequacy of training received by members of the armed forces on detecting whether their service as eligible members is likely to entail, or to have entailed, exposure to depleted uranium or any other factors relating to health issues resulting from service in an area designated as a combat zone by the President of the United States during Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

  90. Debbo 2018-07-05 20:24

    So now Rhoden wants to be LG, which, according to SDGOP Rules will make him gov in 8 years. Whence he can “Yes sir! May I have another sir!” as often as the Kochs desire.

    All the more reason to put an end to SDGOP Rules and elect a governor for the citizens of South Dakota — Billie Sutton.

  91. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-07-06 10:31

    Have hope, Debbo—Matt Michels didn’t advance to Governor after his eight years; there’s no guarantee Rhoden would seek promotion, either.

    But yes, let’s avoid the prospect entirely and elect Sutton now.

  92. mike from iowa 2018-07-06 11:02

    Speaking of the devil, have there been any wingnut pols sprouting cookie dusters per Michel’s call for windbreaks on faces?

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