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Al Novstrup Insults My Family

Al Novstrup is a remarkably clever individual. Recognizing his inability to win an honest policy debate, he knows how to deploy personal attacks to cloak his own dishonesty and meanness.

On the radio this week, Novstrup has mocked me in a variety of ways, claiming I talk more than I listen (um, Al, have you ever listened to my podcasts with Libby Skarin, Randy SeilerLance Russell, Ken Santema, Bob Mercer, and Drew Dennert?) and that I don’t love America, free enterprise, or freedom (see 1:50 in this audio).

But rather than go point-by-point on Novstrup’s every childish jibe, let’s go right to how Al Novstrup attacks my wife and family.

In his worst personal attack yet this year, in response to Adam St. Paul’s question on Dakota Broadcasting Thursday about differences between Novstrup and me, Novstrup claims (at 2:35 in the audio) that a relevant difference between himself and me is our employment history: “I’ve had the same job for 24 years; Cory’s had the same job for two months.”

First, Novstrup again gets his facts wrong: I’ve had my current full-time job for three months.

In addition, I’ve worked as an independent journalist for thirteen years. And I’ve worked in education in a variety of capacities, as a teacher, tutor, coach, speech judge, and now educational technologist and faculty trainer, for 29 years. Novstrup tried teaching, bailed after three years, fixed computers, and now runs go-kart tracks.

I don’t really want to have a pissing contest about whose job is better than whose (because, come on, work is work, right?). I don’t think Novstrup wants to have a serious, critical debate about which of our careers better prepares us for the hard work of researching, writing, critically discussing, and educating the public about policy.

I will point out the insult Novstrup throws here, not just at me (I expect insults when I challenge Republicans) but at my wife.

Ten years ago, my wife decided she wanted to become a pastor. She did seminary online, so she could also stay home and raise our young daughter. I helped by doing my mostly graduate assistantship at DSU, which paid the bills and allowed me to be home to help with our daughter as well, then teaching French in Spearfish. I loved that job in Spearfish, and the Spearfish School District seemed satisfied with me.

But in my second year there, the day that my principal gave me a positive evaluation and said he’d recommend the board hire me back for year three, I told him I’d have to leave.

Why would I leave a job and a town I loved? Because my wife had to go to Spokane for a year for a pastoral internship. Because after that, she would have to spend a semester in St. Paul on campus to get her Master of Divinity. (I’ve always thought my wife mastered divinity, but now she has a piece of paper to prove it.) Because after that and for the rest of our lives, she will get her call to preach God knows where (I use that phrase intentionally), and I will go where she goes.

Besides, we have a daughter. We sacrificed to make sure that one or both of us could be home to raise her as best we can. When she was younger, we didn’t really want both of us to be out at full-time jobs. We didn’t want her stuck in daycare or walking home alone from elementary school. We wanted to be there for her.

So when my wife got her job as a pastor, we said, “Preaching pays better than teaching!” and I stayed out of full-time employment. I supplemented our income with blogging (thank you, readers, for helping!), judging, subbing, and other flexible part-time gigs, but my main job was child patrol.

Our daughter is older now. She can handle more independence. We decided this year that we could afford to have both of us out of the house full-time. The right job came along at just the right time, and I’m now giving my educational and technological skills to Presentation College for a reasonable paycheck.

So yes, among the many things I do, I’ve held my current “regular” job for three months. That job status results from all the decisions my wife and I have made together about her career and her daughter.

So when Al Novstrup mocks the length of my current full-time job, he’s really mocking my wife and me and the decisions we’ve made for our family.

In his Thursday interview, Novstrup repeated his trope about how he’s always respectful and disagrees without being disagreeable. His persistent and specious personal attacks on my family show that he epitomizes the very behavior he says he disdains. Al Novstrup may be rhetorically clever, but he is also disagreeable and disrespectful.


  1. Shelly Alvine 2018-10-28 09:36

    Although you are right about family choices, I wish you hadn’t said that you didn’t want your daughter “stuck in daycare.” Daycare is often the best choice for working families and we need to support all families finding the best way under their individual circumstances. I’m all in on you going to Pierre and shaking up the status quo!

  2. happy camper 2018-10-28 10:16

    So the atheist goes where god tells him there’s humor there – and a dose of insanity. He’s not mocking your wife he’s criticizing your spotty job record while boasting stability that’s fair game you’re acknowledging lack of permanence. You have breadth of knowledge and intelligence but thus far haven’t proved you can apply it in any sustained way (other than blogging) which is probably why you’re being so defensive about it.

  3. OldSarg 2018-10-28 10:23

    If he said you only had a job for two months when you can prove it was three months it is a horrible insulting lie. You dedication and employment record alone should be enough proof that if you decided to hold a job for more than two months you could do it! Just shut out the negativity!

  4. Porter Lansing 2018-10-28 10:33

    It’s takes only a sliver of self-esteem to pick on a teacher. That Novstrup tried it (and either failed or abandoned the calling) and now needs to criticize a dedicated teacher and parent shows the low opinion he has of himself. Keep up the struggle, Cory. Teachers are better than the rest of us, no matter what an edu failure conveys about his personal lack of resolve.

  5. happy camper 2018-10-28 10:56

    Oh lord Porter sometimes the best thing to do is say NOTHING. Reading this Cory admits he will go galavanting off with his wife as soon as she gets a higher paying pastoral job leaving his voters high and dry. It struck a nerve so he deflected and reacted rather than look in the mirror and accept there is a valid point there, then just say I’ve learned a lot from all these varied experiences rather than give more ammunition to the other side.

  6. Donald Pay 2018-10-28 11:03

    This is the kind of nonsense that Republicans come up with when they don’t have anything of value to say. Anyone who is actually threatening the elite Republicans should expect to be attacked, but it’s tough to take when it involves your family. How you are structuring your family life is exactly how we structured ours when our daughter was young. We didn’t want daycare to raise our child, so we made every effort to have one parent at home for her. For a few stretches we had to use day care.

    It’s surprising to me that Al criticizes you for your family. I thought Republicans were supposed to be for what you are doing. Many Christian families structure their family life this way, too. They sacrifice a little money to make sure a parent is there for the children.

    At least Al stopped short of threatening violence against you, which might be the next thing to watch for, Cory, especially if you beat him. He seems mentally unstable.

  7. happy camper 2018-10-28 11:30

    No, Cory needs to learn to make light of these things, that he’s secure enough to find humor in them and use that brain his wife says god gave him. Sorry, this just makes me chuckle. He opened it up unnecessarily, I have to go to work now, but my last words are laugh about some of these things more it would be disarming not everything has to be a fight.

  8. Porter Lansing 2018-10-28 11:35

    Mrs. Lansing and myself also structured our work so our daughter was always with one of us or with her Grandparents. It’s a decision I’ll never regret. Have you put your kids in a daily daycare model, Happy Camper?

  9. Tim Higgins 2018-10-28 11:36

    Sorry Cory you failed to make your case. All I see is pretty thin skin for someone who wants to be a public servant.

  10. jerry 2018-10-28 12:52

    Practice what you preach there hc “sometimes the best thing to do is say NOTHING”. A person has the right to defend himself or herself, so there is that. If you fail to do that, then some may call you thin skinned but most would call it honorable.

    It looks by the legislation shoved down the legislators hog house bills, that Al has feathered his nest for 24 years by making laws that protect his interests.

  11. RJ 2018-10-28 16:07

    It appears that you take the high road Cory and that’s what we need in our elected officials. I on the other hand am not running for office, so given that why do Al and his wife have the same haircut. Wish you the best of luck!

  12. OldSarg 2018-10-28 16:26

    “A person has the right to defend himself or herself” except for Trump, right jerry.

  13. jerry 2018-10-28 16:33

    White nationalists like trump, have no place in public conversation. The hate that trump spews and has always spewed to his rabid white nationalistic base, of which you are very much a part of, is Un-American, more in line with the Russia you support.

  14. mike from iowa 2018-10-28 16:36

    Mr Higgins, if you see Cory as thin-skinned, how do you define the three year old spoiled bawl baby in the Kremlin Annex? Curious iowan wants to know.

  15. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-28 17:01

    Shelly, your point is well-taken. I agree that South Dakota’s daycares provide an essential service to the vast majority of parents who can’t afford to have either parent stay home to tend the children. Our low wages make South Dakota the state with the highest percentage of parents both in the workforce, so we has a community have to pick up the slack and provide not just daycare but public pre-K, as Billie Sutton wants.

    That said, my wife and I still believe that if it’s feasible, a child is better off at home with Mom or Dad or both than in some other care situation, and we chose to give her what believe is the best upbringing possible. Our budget took a hit for that, but we would not go back and do it differently.

  16. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-28 17:02

    Tim, you know I take all sorts of personal attacks. But to attack a decision my wife and I made with respect to how best to raise our daughter is not something I have to take without response. Al Novstrup owes my wife an apology for this undeniable insult.

  17. Debbo 2018-10-28 17:18

    HC said, “galavanting off with his wife as soon as she gets a higher paying pastoral job.”

    It’s clear that you have absolutely Zero Knowledge of how calls to ministry work in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. I am retired from the same denomination so I know it inside out and you’re 180° wrong. Not even close.

    For 95% of real, ordained clergy, not those fakes on tv, serving one or more congregations does not pay a lot. In SD, filled with small congregations, pastors often serve 2 or more churches and scrape by financially.

    Pastors don’t jump ship when the mood strikes. There is a multi stage process involving the church’s synod office and the needs of the family are considered as part of the package.

    I was going to go on HC, but your comment is just so completely ludicrous and totally ignorant . . . . . . smh

  18. OldSarg 2018-10-28 18:56

    Cory, respect your decision when it comes to taking care of your daughter and respecting your wife’s chosen career. In your situation I would have done the same.

  19. OldSarg 2018-10-28 18:56

    Debbo, do you believe in God?

  20. grudznick 2018-10-28 19:27

    For what it’s worth, Mr. OldSarg, and in case Ms. Geelsdottir isn’t clear or her mind fog has erased this from the blackboard of her raggedy mind: grudznick believes God drown in a bowl of cereal. That’s what really makes Mr. Howie upset with me, even beyond me forcing through legal action Mr. Howie repaying those funds I gave him before he overgodded and went all insaner than most.

  21. Joe Nelson 2018-10-28 19:44

    This is quite a stretch Cory, and I think you are reading into this way more than you should be.

    Novstrup brings up three points on which you both differ, one of which is length of a held job. This is not a personal attack, it is a statement of fact (well, he said 2 instead of 3 months.) He did not critique you staying home with your daughter, nor your wife’s life choices; he made a comparison.

    Unless he has said something elsewhere, I really don’t see how you infer so much from a simple statement of fact.

  22. Donald Pay 2018-10-28 19:47

    If you ask me, the apology should be to South Dakotans generally. He insults everyone who makes a similar decision at some point in their children’s lives. That includes one hell of a lot of people, including many who you might think would be in his base of voters. To me it’s not something that is disqualifying.

  23. Donald Pay 2018-10-28 19:59

    Joe Nelson,

    So, you are saying he went off half-cocked, not knowing or caring to find out the facts that led to Cory’s career choices? It seems to me to be very irresponsible in a state Senator. I hardly think gossiping about someone’s life on the radio when you have extremely sketchy information seems like a very responsible way to go about governance. Think about if you come up against Al in a committee meeting and he starts gossiping about your family life to fellow Senators in an effort to negate your otherwise excellent testimony. If it doesn’t have anything to do with the issues or who is the best candidate, it just shows that Al is a prick. How would you react to someone gossiping about you in this way?

    It’s too bad this stuff happens, but it’s not unusual among small minded people who have nothing to offer and lack morality.

  24. Debbo 2018-10-28 20:04

    Really Al (He says he’s not a racist but the racists think he’s a racist) Novstrup should have just kept his mouth shut about Cory’s, or anyone’s choices regarding how to raise their family. It’s just not his business.

    I suspect that what really chaps Al’s butt is that Cory doesn’t stomp through his home, beating his chest, and shouting, “I’m the MAN of this house and we’ll live where I say we’ll live! You’ll stay home woman, and raise the family while I work! Know your place!”

    Of course I’m not saying Al’s a misogynist, but all the misogynists think Al is a misogynist. He must hate having his racist and misogynist secrets come out. Anyone want to bet on homophobia too? He is indeed a fearful little man.

  25. Joe Nelson 2018-10-28 20:12

    Donald Pay,

    Al Norvstrup made a comparison of facts. That is what I am saying. I do not pretend to understand his motivations for doing so, nor do I assume his thought process. He did not gossip, he made a factual statement. He did not ruminate on the topic either, he simply stated it. This is not gossip, nor an attack on Cory’s family. The only person I see going off half cocked is Cory, seeing bogeymen where there are none.

  26. happy camper 2018-10-28 20:14

    Deb I was not making a literal argument which is often the problem around here, and why Trump haters don’t understand Trump supporters. That said Cory was being thin-skinned and reactive like part of the JV team not ready for prime time even after all these years of watching/observing and being part of politics he can’t stand criticism. If you don’t get bitter a sort of deeper acceptance of ourselves comes in time including our shortcomings NOT that I can think of anything off hand!!! Keep laughing even at yourself that’s my advice.

  27. Donald Pay 2018-10-28 20:27

    Joe Nelson,

    Yeah, sure Joe. We all know that game. That game is even more disgusting. State an incomplete “fact” with arched eyebrows and voice that invites the hearer to fill in what you lack the courage to state. The late Joe McCarthy had a list….a list of communists…..and he threatened to name names. Right? Al is a sick, sick person.

  28. Debbo 2018-10-28 21:17

    I appreciate your explanation HC. Your initial comment sounded very dismissive of all that goes into a call to ministry, and that got my hackles up.

    In the ELCA they’re very thorough in trying to weed out anyone who is disingenuous.

  29. 96Tears 2018-10-28 22:34

    Bed-wetting Third Grader Al Novstrup dishes it out. He can’t take any criticism which is why he’s coming at you like a bitin’ sow right now. He’s scared somebody will realize he goes to Pierre to grab headlines and pretend the big shots respect him. They don’t. Lobbyists have told me he’s a joke and can’t understand why any intelligent people would vote for him.

    Best wishes, Cory. You’re going to be an outstanding public servant in Pierre. A darn sight better than Bed-wetting Third Grader Al Novstrup.

  30. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-28 23:11

    No, Joe. It’s a personal attack.

    It’s certainly not a policy argument.

    It’s an attempt to portray a result of my family’s decisions as a character flaw, a sign that I am inferior to him. Al speaks here from ignorance. I would expect that, seeing the full context of my employment history, he would recognize that and apologize. Al Novstrup lacks the character to do so.

  31. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-28 23:13

    Donald gets me thinking: Al essentially insults everyone who just took a new job this summer. Joseph, are you still working for the same employer since your move? If so, don’t change jobs, because suddenly you too will be subject to Al’s superiority complex.

  32. Debbo 2018-10-28 23:35

    Novstrup is sadly lacking in character. I knew that when I watched the video where he tried so hard to portray himself as a “nice” person. If you have to convince people youre nice– you’re not.

    His most childish behavior followed Cory’s statement that voters could select an honest Democrat or a dishonest Republican. Novstrup tried to shame Cory for his honesty. When Cory didn’t back down, Al looked like a whipped puppy, as if Cory hurt his feelings.

    Novstrup doesn’t have the courage to face Cory directly and take his cheap shots. The man is a character-free grifter with go karts.

  33. Joe Nelson 2018-10-28 23:53

    Novstrup highlights three main differecnes between you and an him:

    1. Policy difference; he is a Reagan Republican and you are a Sanders Democrat.
    2. Style; where he claims you tend to engage in name calling, which will be an unsuccessful strategy if elected to the Legislature.
    3. Employment history; where he he says he has held a job longer than you have.

    Instead of arguing your policy positions are better, instead of dispelling the claims that you engage in name calling or defending your disagreeableness, instead you choose to see a factual claim as a veiled attack against you, your wife, your child. You say that he is “mocking” you. How exactly is he doing that? Please explain to me how this sentence is mocking:

    “The third difference is our employment history. When you hire someone, you look at their job history. I’ve had the same job for 24 years; Cory’s had the same job for two months.”

    He doesn’t even say it with a snide remark. He just says it, and you run with it. Is what he said untrue? To be sure, he is implying that if the people of South Dakota are going to hire someone (with their votes), they should hire the person who appears on paper to have the demonstrated ability to hold a job long-term. You can certainly argue that that is not always the correct decision, but to take what he says as some grand attack against you is down right laughable. Why stop at your and your family? Isn’t he also attacking the ELCA, or Christianity itself?

  34. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-29 07:04

    Come on, Joseph: you know I do all the policy discussion every day here on the blog. I’ve also responded to the hypocrisy and emptiness of Al’s false claims of “name-calling” and “disagreeableness.” I’m allowed to also rebut personal insults and ask Al to do the decent thing and apologize.

    The attack is clear. The context makes the attack clear. Al Novstrup and chooses to pretend (in a Facebook response yesterday afternoon) to claim that he can somehow “respectfully disagree” while maintaining this insult.

    Joseph, you are enabling the word games. Sure, Al stated a fact. But he stated that fact as a relevant difference in why he should be Senator and I should not. That means he intends to say that the choices my family made that affected my professional résumé are bad choices that make me a bad candidate. Therein lies the falsehood and the insult.

  35. Donald Pay 2018-10-29 08:30

    Joe is stuck trying to defend the indefensible, so he tries to minimize it. It’s sad that South Dakota descended so far. Daily they demonstrate fake Christianity disguising bullying and corruption. When they excuse this behavior and try to minimize it, they show what cowards they are. Joe is a coward, and that’s all that needs to be said about that.

    But here’s a bigger issue, and one I am familiar with because I used to assist people find employment. People in the real economy these days don’t stay in jobs for that long anymore. They don’t sell themselves to Sears at 23 and retire at 65 with a gold watch from the jewelry department. Certainly the younger generation is working in “the gig economy,” where you do short-term work, maybe several part-time positions at a time. People outside of the pampered elite may have the luxury of working in one job for twenty years, but most people do not. In fact, many younger folks look at Al’s job longevity and think, “What the eff is wrong with you?”

    Cory’s career path is pretty typical of many folks these days. It’s the rule, not the exception in larger cities. A career path like Al’s can only happen when a person is stuck in a rut, as if he drove his go-kart off the track and got stuck in the mud. Cory is what people in my field call “a life-long learner.” He did new things, learned new things, developed new skills. I’d rather hire someone like Cory than a stuck-in-the-mud Al.

    In my own case, I rarely stayed in the same job for more than 7 years. If I wasn’t learning something new, I moved on.

  36. Porter Lansing 2018-10-29 08:38

    ➽Renaissance Man vs Carnival Huckster ⇣

  37. Steve Pearson 2018-10-29 10:57

    Wow, really a stretch there. And teaching isn’t an option for you. Remember? You may think it is but it’s not. And every time you go on a rant regarding Novstrup you just look childish. Can’t you even see it in your own writing????

  38. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-29 12:12

    Teaching has always been an option for me, in several schools that have been glad to have my services. Your and Al’s efforts to impugn my professional abilities are further gratuitous insult, like the insult to my family, unnecessary to the policy debate we should be having to determine our next Senator.

  39. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-29 12:14

    Thank you, Donald. Your mention of my changing career path reminds me: Al is reinforcing the glass ceiling that inordinately affects professional women. The suggestion that an employee is inferior because she has been out of the full-time workforce for a while puts unfair pressure on women who may be as capable as male applicants but who have taken time out to be moms.

    Novstrup’s party talks a lot about family values, but they don’t have much respect for those of us who practice family values.

  40. Donald Pay 2018-10-29 13:47

    I was just looking at my daughter’s job history in China. She’s had 7 employers and 2 stints of freelance work in 13 years. That doesn’t include when she was in a program at a university in Beijing. That’s pretty common in China. She tells me that she strives to stay at a job for at least six months or people will think she’s a job hopper.

  41. Debbo 2018-10-29 14:58

    Don is absolutely right about the gig economy and many jobs. That’s why a business like Uber succeeds. It’s one of the simultaneous jobs an individual has to make ends meet. If an individual stays in the same job for several years that’s Not a plus on her or his resume. Employers wonder if she or he couldn’t make the grade in another place or has no ambition.

    Novstrup is clueless about the economy of the 21st century.

  42. Timoteo 2018-10-29 18:37

    Al Novstrup is sleazy.

  43. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-29 22:12

    Very interesting points, Donald and Debbo. The economy is changing. I thought once I would just settle into one teaching job and one place and stay forever. I’ve managed to stick to one career field and mostly to one state, but the economy does now require constant, nimble change. Beyond the personal insult, for which Al lacks the decency to apologize, there is an important policy point. Al’s thinking is like his cultural thinking. He’s stuck in some past era from which he can’t imagine Aberdeen and South Dakota changing. Jobs can’t change, Aberdeen can’t become more diverse… and nobody can presume to be Senator other than a Novstrup.

  44. Porter Lansing 2018-10-30 03:30

    Rep. Novstrup was willing to use the force of law to protect business owners who would refuse service to certain customers based on their beliefs on marriage, sex, and/or gender. Yet Rep. Novstrup is aghast that I would suggest the logical, reciprocal response: that gay couples, single parents, and transgender folks who want to ride go-karts may want to consider patronizing Wild Water West instead of Al’s Thunder Road in Sioux Falls.
    I point out what happens if customers behave the way Al wants business owners to behave, and Al says that’s the low point of his Legislative career. Yeah. Sure.

  45. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-30 05:10

    Porter reminds us that the truly thin-skinned candidate is Al Novstrup.

  46. Clara Hart 2018-10-30 16:17

    I learned this quote during my teenage years “Never wrestle with a pig as no one may know the difference”. A luta continua, Cory!

  47. MHR 2018-11-02 23:36

    Cory: politics uses deception, half-truths, twisted truths, incompletes, outright lies among many other dirty trick to ‘win’ – a current job for three months should lead the genuinely interested to inquire further and when they do find your book learning and life experiences high qualifiers for the job of state senator! – your dad skills to raise a daughter are valuable, highly transferable and admirable! – laugh off lowlife Novstrup or if you can’t just tell him loudly and with a smile to go to hell!!

  48. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-11-03 08:06

    There is no hell, just politics in South Dakota. ;-)

    Your point is well-taken, MHR. Thanks!

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