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:
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.