The South Dakota Democratic Party nominated candidates for six of seven statewide constitutional offices this afternoon:
- Lieutenant Governor: Michelle Lavallee, Sioux Falls
- Attorney General: Randy Seiler, Fort Pierre
- Commissioner of School and Public Lands: Woody Hauser, Beresford
- Auditor: Tom Cool, Sioux Falls
- Treasurer: Dr. Aaron Matson, Sioux Falls
- 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.
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!