Democratic gubernatorial candidate Billie Sutton continues to criticize his Republican opponent, Congresswoman Kristi Noem, as a political insider. Asked by Todd Epp how he responds to Noem’s portrayal of herself as an “outsider” and “reformer,” Senator Sutton manages to stifle a belly laugh and says simply that it’s hard to be an outsider when you’re part of the states quo establishment.
Noem’s out-of-state campaign organizers again demonstrate their ignorance by risibly whining, We know you are but what are we?
“Billie Sutton claims he’ll upset the status quo, but as a long-time Pierre insider and card-carrying member of the Democratic establishment, what would South Dakota’s ‘new normal’ really look like under his administration?” said Justin Brasell, Kristi for Governor campaign manager….
FACT CHECK: Despite claims, Sutton is the ultimate Democratic insider.
• Sutton’s family roots run deep in the Democratic Party. His grandfather was the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor in 1978.
• With nearly a decade spent in Pierre politics, Sutton has risen quickly to become one of the state’s top-ranking Democrats.
Voting for Clinton in 2016 does not make one an insider… unless Kristi contends that South Dakota has 117,458 insiders. What your grandpa did doesn’t make one an insider… unless Kristi wants to contend that I’m an insider at Peavey grain elevators. And serving eight years as a Democratic legislator in South Dakota does not make one an establishment insider. Ask Frank Kloucek and Gerry Lange.
To fully laugh off Noem’s silly attack, we Democrats have to laugh at ourselves. As the Rapid City Journal points out, even the most “inside” Democrats in South Dakota are still outside banging on the doors to where the real power lies:
First, Noem appears a bit out of touch when she calls a Democrat a capitol insider. The party barely registers a blip on the state’s political radar screen and has left little more than a toe print on any significant legislation in recent years. Its record of futility is undeniable.
Noem, on the other hand, is a former assistant majority leader for the political party that dominates every level of government in South Dakota. There is no disputing that Republicans set policy in this state [editorial, “Governor Candidates Need to Discuss Real Issues,” Rapid City Journal, 2018.07.13].
Kristi Noem is practicing the false equivalency that marks so much of Republican campaigning and excuse-making nowadays. Democrats point out real negatives about Republican leaders, and Republicans and their supporters make some what-about shout falsely trying to paint Democrats as just as bad and to distract from the Republicans’ real failings.
Get real: Billie Sutton and pretty much any other South Dakota Democrat on your ballot this fall is an outsider, less beholden to the powers that be and more willing and able to shake up the status quo than Kristi Noem and her fellow members of their exclusive power club.