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District 18 Democrats Put People First; Republicans Sign Party Loyalty Oath

At a public forum hosted by Yankton’s media Thursday night, Democratic candidates declared their loyalty to the voters, while Republican candidates declared their loyalty to their party. So reports Jerry Oster of WNAX:

Jerry Oster, tweets from District 18 candidate forum, WNAX, 2018.10.04.
Jerry Oster, tweets from District 18 candidate forum, WNAX, 2018.10.04.

Democratic House candidate Ryan Cwach says he wouldn’t sign a loyalty oath like the one with which Republican House and Senate leaders threatened their candidates this summer. Cwach correctly recognizes that such pledges, conditioning campaign cash and committee seats on party loyalty and complete secrecy in caucus, get in the way of open government. He expressed surprise that Republican leaders would even try such a thing.

Democratic Senator Craig Kennedy concurred, saying people want transparency from the Legislature. He stated (correctly, as far as I know) that the Democratic Party demands no such secret-caucus pledges.

Republican House candidate Max Farver apparently thinks otherwise. He said he signed the GOP loyalty oath because it involved loyalty and party and his party needs to keep secrets. Republican House Candidate Roger Meyer also said he signed the oath, because he’s a Republican.

Republican Representative Jean Hunhoff admitted signing the GOP loyalty oath but thinks she gets out of Dutch by pretending it wasn’t an oath. Hmm… the GOP leaders titled the document a “Memorandum” and required Republican candidates seeking caucus membership to “read, understand and agree with the points of this Memorandum.”  It spoke of “our expectation,” said “history dictates” that “Members of minority caucuses are not considered” for committee chairs or vice-chairs. It “requires” members not to form or join any other caucus. It stated that any caucus member “found to be in violation of this agreement will be expelled” from caucus.

Perhaps Rep. Hunhoff thinks an “oath” needs to include some invocation of Divine power, but an oath can also be “a sworn commitment of allegiance.” Maybe she prefers to call it a “pledge”—a “promise to do something“—or a “contract”—”an agreement with specific terms between two or more persons or entities in which there is a promise to do something in return for a valuable benefit….” But whatever word she calls it, she signed it. Rep. Hunhoff promised to put her loyalty to the Republican caucus, to a few dozen elites in Pierre, over her obligation to serve and inform her thousands of constituents in Yankton County.

Voters in other districts should ask their Legislative candidates where they stand on the Republican loyalty oath. Voters in District 18 have a clear choice: they can elect Republicans who put party first, or they can elect Democrats who put people first.

Related Emergency Response: Democratic House candidate Terry Crandall missed the forum. He’s volunteering with the Red Cross in North Carolina.


  1. Donald Pay 2018-10-06 08:58

    Playing these little games with pledges seems to be the way Republicans do things. I would call it little boy behavior, and laugh at it, but in South Dakota it has come to be part of the culture of corruption. It is more like what organized criminal syndicates expect of their “made men.” It’s completely unsuited for good government. Anyone who makes a pledge or takes and oath like this is someone who will not put the people of his or her district first and who will think first of political advantage rather than what policy is best for the state. That person should automatically be tossed into the scrap heap of history.

  2. bearcreekbat 2018-10-06 10:39

    Why not just require a secret “pinky swear?” It could have the same effect with less adverse publicity.

  3. leslie 2018-10-06 10:46

    This is how Republicans keep beating us. “Winning” means cheating no matter what.

  4. Jerry Roitsch 2018-10-06 18:26

    It is not a loyalty to the Republican party but it is a loyalty to the handful of people that control the republican party.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-06 19:07

    Fair point, Jerry R. I wish more voters would distinguish their real Republican sentiments from the fake power grabbers in Pierre. Real Republicans might realize they are better off voting for honest Democrats than dishonest RINOs.

  6. Debbo 2018-10-06 23:25

    Excellent point Jerry R.

    It reminds me of the no new taxes pledge too. As others have said, it is undemocratic to coerce elected representatives of the People to pledge to anything else but the constitution. Hey! Initiated measure, anyone?

    Really, this is another one of the ways the US system of bribes, colloquially known as “campaign contributions,” is destructive of our republic.

  7. jerry 2018-10-06 23:42

    Loyalty to party over country, defeats democracy every time. We just saw that in the vote in Washington. If you want your country back, vote for Democrats.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-08 10:33

    You’d think pledging loyalty to party over people would be toxic in today’s political environment. But I wonder; could it be that the majority who say they hate partisan politics all split off in different directions—some vote Dem, some vote Indy, some check out of politics completely—while the minority of Republican faithful stay united and mobilized and thus still win at the polls?

  9. mike from iowa 2018-10-08 11:14

    Thought they pledged allegiance to a piece of cloth?

  10. paul h 2018-10-10 16:01

    If you read the loyalty oath or “Memorandum,” it has specific punishments if one does not sign it. They will not be allowed to be in the caucus, they will not be appointed to any important committees, and they will not receive financial report from the party. Um…I think something feels fishy in legislature, more so, than anytime before.

    On would think we are more of a controlled population?? Basically what’s going to happen is that if those elected do not toe the party line and vote the way that is dictated, they will be punished. So, if the local citizens that the legislature is to represent ones one thing and the party wants something different (God forbid if that would ever happen……), the Party wins, citizens lose!!

    And I live in this district!!

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-10 21:27

    Paul H, how many of your District 18 neighbors heard these starkly opposed responses to the party loyalty oath, and how many are appropriately disgusted?

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