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Democrats Fill 6 of 7 Constitutional Offices… SOS Still Possible?

The South Dakota Democratic Party nominated candidates for six of seven statewide constitutional offices this afternoon:

  1. Lieutenant Governor: Michelle Lavallee, Sioux Falls
  2. Attorney General: Randy Seiler, Fort Pierre
  3. Commissioner of School and Public Lands: Woody Hauser, Beresford
  4. Auditor: Tom Cool, Sioux Falls
  5. Treasurer: Dr.  Aaron Matson, Sioux Falls
  6. Public Utilities Commissioner: Wayne Frederick, Okreek

The only two fully contested races were the much touted A.G.’s race and the surprise tussle for PUC. In the A.G.’s race, Randy Seiler leveraged experience, outstanding reported fundraising numbers, and news posted on this blog Wednesday and in today’s Rapid City Journal that Republicans are scared of him over Tatewin Means’s youth, passion, and outsider status. The Means campaign enjoyed on-the-ground support from lobbyists from the Democratic Attorney General’s Association and endorsement speeches from fellow Native Americans Senator Troy Heinert, J.R. LaPlante, and Sioux Falls AFL-CIO president Kooper Caraway. Seiler rode a smashing endorsement from his old boss, former U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson and a quick second from Sioux Falls civil rights lawyer Taneeza Islam, who said Seiler will be a key ally in fighting the “rampant Islamophobia” plaguing South Dakota.

Means and Seiler both gave solid speeches. Means showed a genuine compassion for and commitment to the poor and voiceless of our state. Seiler nonetheless gave a better speech, saying, “It isn’t enough to want to do good.” He spoke of a victim of child abuse: “the child holding your hand is daring to believe that justice is real, because you have told her it is…. It is in that moment that I know that experience matters.”

With 229 delegates casting votes weighted by 2014 gubernatorial vote turnout by county, Seiler won 45,501 vote-points versus Means’s 21,025.

The real key to Wayne Fredrick's landslide win today and the Democratic ticket's landslide win in November: Fredrick's awesome sparkle necktie!
The real key to Wayne Frederick’s landslide win today and the Democratic ticket’s landslide win in November: Frederick’s awesome sparkle necktie!

John Schmidt of Woonsocket challenged Frederick for the PUC nomination. As expected, Schmidt spoke of the danger of Arctic methane release. Frederick spoke of changing how the PUC operates and fighting to protect landowners, tribes, and natural resources. Frederick won the vote 56,812 to 8,360.

We almost had a third contest. John Claussen of Sioux Falls rose to nominate Kooper Caraway for lieutenant governor. As he began to explain his challenge to gubernatorial candidate Billie Sutton’s pick as an effort to get Democrats to stand for their beliefs, convention chair Larry Lucas ruled the speech out of order… which is correct by parliamentary procedure, as motions should not be laden with prefatory or postfatory (you know what I mean) material. Harvey Wollman, the last Democratic governor of our fair state, gave a nomination speech for Lavellee. The nominee followed with her own pitch, which sounded pretty much like the things she and Sutton said yesterday at the announcement. Before Claussen could take the mic to give his now in-order nomination speech, Caraway himself took the mic and declined the nomination, encouraging everyone to support the Sutton campaign.

Alas, as you can see, no candidates stepped forward for the Secretary of State’s nomination. We’re working on that; Democrats reconvene again tomorrow to consider platform and resolutions. If a vibrant candidate steps forward with a desire to wage a statewide campaign to talk about voter rights, petition law, and the Republican Legislature’s egregious repeal of IM 22 and war on ballot measures in general, we can suspend the rules and complete our Democratic slate. Stay tuned!


  1. jerry 2018-06-15 18:32

    If you liked the speech this guy gave, then that means he must be a pretty good choice for Secretary of State. I say this guy Kooper Caraway!

  2. Lee Schoenbeck 2018-06-15 19:27

    I owe u $10 on that AG bet

  3. Kurt Evans 2018-06-15 19:50

    Cory writes:

    If a vibrant candidate steps forward with a desire to wage a statewide campaign to talk about voter rights, petition law, and the Republican Legislature’s egregious repeal of IM 22 and war on ballot measures in general, we can suspend the rules and complete our Democratic slate.

    As I understand it, Cory, you had until 5 p.m. today to withdraw from your state senate race and throw your hat into the ring for secretary of state. :-)

    Thanks for the concise summary of the day’s events at the convention.

  4. Debbo 2018-06-15 23:02

    4 of the 6 are from Sioux Falls or nearby. Is that going to make a difference in any of the races?

  5. Fan 2018-06-16 00:50

    Cory, you should run for SOS. Seriously.

  6. John Schmidt 2018-06-16 06:04

    I spoke of the PUC blocking my testimony primarily, and just made mention of albedo effect loss and Arctic methane release. Next time please don’t just pass me off as the Arctic methane release guy. You are one of the most important reports we have. Thank You.

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-06-16 06:24

    John, my perception is colored by the fact that every time we’ve talked, or every time I’ve been in earshot of your talking, that’s what the talk is about. It’s hard to pass a person off as anything other than the single issue that person talks about every time an interaction takes place.

    John, what was the content of your blocked PUC testimony?

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-06-16 06:26

    Fan, thanks. I’d love to run for that important job, as it deals directly with the vital issues of voter rights and our access to the ballot through petitions and initiative and referendum. However, much as I’d like to put my election-nerd skills to work in that office, the place where I can effect the most change is the Legislature.

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-06-16 06:27

    And there’s what Kurt said. Absent my withdrawal from the District 3 Senate race, I am ineligible for the nomination, just like Lance Russell.

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-06-16 06:31

    Good question, Debbo! Krebs and Gant were from Sioux Falls and had no trouble winning SOS against non-Sioux Falls Dems. Can anyone think of other SF data on this question?

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-06-16 06:40

    And consider the top of the ticket, Debbo. Our lead candidates are a judge from Canistota and a financial advisor from Burke. Sutton chose an LG from Sioux Falls apparently to (among other logical reasons) balance his small-town West River appeal with “urban” appeal. If he thought putting Sioux Falls on the ticket would’ve hurt, he would’ve picked someone else (although notice how often so far we hear Sutton and Lavallee emphasize her rural roots, rodeo, yadda yadda).

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-06-16 07:44

    Go figure, Lee! We Democrats didn’t screw something up! Arguably, we did better than expected!

    And note, I didn’t take the bet, but commenter Curt did. I’ll let you guys work out your own resolution.

  13. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-06-16 07:44

    Jerry, Kooper would be a great advocate for voter rights. But he is also a great labor organizer. Even if he’s not on the ticket, he can do great work in Sioux Falls fighting for labor rights, a key part of the Democratic Party’s agenda.

  14. Ed 2018-06-16 07:49

    How about Taetwin Means for Secretary of State?

  15. Porter Lansing 2018-06-16 07:57

    Secretary of State has to actually “live” in Pierre. Don’t do that to your lovely daughter, Mr. Heidelberger. 😉

  16. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-06-16 08:27

    Living in Pierre also prohibits my candidacy for this statewide office. Now if we could set up an auxiliary election office in downtown Aberdeen….

    Ed, great idea—Tatewin’s speech to the convention yesterday demonstrated her commitment serving all South Dakotans. She’d add a lot of value to the Democratic ticket. However, she was focused on the attorney general’s race, and I think the quick turnaround to an office she hasn’t spent the last several weeks (if not more) envisioning herself in is a lot to ask of her. However, if she came to convention this morning and she was willing to make that transition, I’d move to suspend the rules and nominate her in a heartbeat.

  17. Marcia 2018-06-16 10:13

    Let’s be clear as we look forward to this fall’s election on what Democrat Candidates need to do to win in the general election.

    1. Accurately reporting campaign finances. To date this did not always occur. See Cory’s subtle comments in prior posts.
    2. Not allowing outside interests meddling in South Dakota elections. To date this did not always occur. See Cory’s comments regarding DAGA. The last election should teach us that we need to be careful, about election tampering, misinformation, and outside interests affecting the outcome of an election.
    3. Proving to South Dakota voters that we do have the best and most qualified candidates for the positions being sought. I observed a young man very passionate about being a Democratic AND a soon to be voter in a few short months, listening to those around him saying we need more women in office, we need more minorities…unfortunately for him I guess and through no fault of his own, was born neither…I finally spoke up and said to him (and mind you because I apparently was born under some lucky star, am both a woman and a minority), never forget that in the end it should always be the most qualified, the most experienced person for the job. If we are truly a party of inclusion we should always be bringing forth the best candidate for the job; otherwise, we run the risk of turning off many young and bright hopefuls to fill the Democratic ranks. We do not want to be labeled as a party of gender and race baiters.
    4. We should be very careful about who we talk about as great speakers…I was not impressed by some of the speeches made yesterday…in fact over the last several weeks I have observed some of these same speakers use the mic to suit their own agendas. Who I was impressed with, were the candidates themselves. Individuals who are sincere, down to earth people wanting the best for the voters of South Dakota, and their willingness to run for public office as their way to help insure the best possibles lives for everyone in this great State.

  18. leslie 2018-06-16 11:59

    Lee, a lawyer of some experience, seriously questions profoundly experienced AG candidate Randy Seiler? Lee likely was not there for the convention deliberation.

    Of course Tatewin Means would have made an hellava splash too, but Democratic delegates had a very tough call to make on that choice. I would have preferred the female minority member to shake things up in a progressive way, with her added panache of national newsworthiness. Sometimes “age before beauty” :) I guess.

    Pay Curt, Lee. No doubt Dems are capable of shooting themselves in the foot as the infamous cliché reads and then honestly enduring the consequences (Bush v. Gore, Franken, Bill Clinton, Trump Russian treason appearing l, but so are Republicans, who are then masters at the art of criminal deception, covering up official investigations avoiding accountability (EB5, MCEC).

    This is what foolish, politically corrupted (read States Atty Lance Russell) Republican lawyers sound like:

    “Mayor Giuliani … told “Fox & Friends” on Friday that Trump should not sit down with Mueller’s team, because the special counsel investigation is “corrupt,” and demanded that the investigation come to a close.’

    This is a clear ethical violation on Rudy’s part. Clinton lost his law license for lying.

  19. leslie 2018-06-16 14:06

    The nut of the bet was that dems will shoot themselves in the foot with the AG selection, as I recall. Randy Seiler was the choice. So Dems shot themselves in the foot, says Lee?

    Seriously?? I don’t think so. not by any stretch of the imagination.

    Really, Cory!? Lee is a big boy who typically puts his right foot in his mouth. Rose Anne now says the ape-thing was anti-Semitism, as I recall.

  20. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-06-16 14:16

    I will defer to Lee, but I read his bet to mean that he believed Seiler was offering a chance for us to nominate a winning candidate and that we Democrats would find a way to screw up and nominate a less viable candidate. Lee wasn’t saying Randy was an idiot; he was saying the rest of us Dems are idiots. ;-)

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