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Democrat Wittman Seeks District 15 House Seat with Lavallee’s Endorsement

Sioux Falls Democrat Kadyn Wittman formally announced her campaign for District 15 House yesterday. Her opening issues make clear she’s ready to embrace the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. On her campaign website, Wittman sandwiches standard economic development-speak with calls for a more inclusive and just South Dakota:

All South Dakotans, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, deserve equal protection and care.

  • Advocate for consistent and explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people across key areas of life, including employment, housing, and education.
  • Bridge the financial gap facing many working families following the birth or adoption of a child as well as personal or family illness requiring leave from work.
  • Champion paid parental leave for all South Dakotans, including fathers.

South Dakota must continue to strive for innovation and growth.

  • Promote private sector development and job creation in order to attract and retain talent.
  • Work with public sector institutions and top-level decision-makers to take initiatives and explore alternative ideas that lead to sustainable solutions and growth.
  • Help to grow a strong network of South Dakota businesses.

All South Dakotans, regardless of socioeconomic status, deserve access to safe and affordable healthcare.

  • Give pregnant people in our state access to safe, affordable prenatal and post pregnancy healthcare.
  • Promote mental health resources and shift funding towards community-based treatment programs.
  • Improve the access and delivery of health services to rural and medically underserved communities [Kadyn Wittman, District 15 House campaign website, retrieved 2022.01.22].

Wittman’s biography page emphasizes Wittman’s social justice credentials, highlighting the sense of justice and equity she developed watching her parents fight for accessible services for her wheelchair-using brother, her service to the poor and houseless during the pandemic at the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House, her organizing efforts for Black and transgender South Dakotans, and her current work at the Multi-Cultural Center in Sioux Falls. This leftish résumé (far from radical, but providing easy fodder for any substanceless Republican challengers who want to cry Liberal!) carries an endorsement from an unexpected moderate Democrat, Billie Sutton’s 2018 running mate Michelle Lavallee:

We always ask ‘where are the good people with a willingness to run for public office?’ I think we have found one in Kadyn [Michelle Lavalleee, quoted in Kadyn Wittman, “Meet Kadyn,” District 15 House campaign website, retrieved 2022.01.22].

Lavallee got Sutton’s nod in 2018 because she underscored his cautious conservatism bipartisanship. Lavallee spent more time affirming the “we all ride horses” narrative than embracing the unapologetic progressive Democratic agenda that Wittman offers. Lavallee was a lifelong Republican before her 2018 conversion. Just months before accepting Sutton’s invitation to run as a Democrat, Lavallee endorsed Republican theocrat Paul TenHaken over Jolene Loetscher, a Democratic candidate arguably only half as openly progressive as Wittman. That Lavallee now would throw her endorsement behind a vocal progressive Democrat who is running in a District represented by the Suttonesquely pragmatic and bipartisan Democratic House Minority Leader Rep. Jamie Smith suggests that either (1) Lavallee has a friendship with Wittman that transcends political spectrum tests or (2, and I wish for this explanation!) Lavallee has enjoyed ongoing transformation from a comfortable establishment Republican to a Democrat who recognizes her party must stop surrendering to the GOP narrative and make the case that the Democratic, progressive, liberal worldview offers real solutions to real problems for real South Dakotans.

7 Comments

  1. Porter Lansing 2022-01-22

    Ms. Wittman says – South Dakota must continue to strive for innovation and growth.
    – Promote private sector development and job creation in order to attract and retain talent.
    – Work with public sector institutions and top-level decision-makers to take initiatives and explore alternative ideas that lead to sustainable solutions and growth.

    *Lose the word “continue” and insert the word “begin” because the opposite is the norm.
    Innovation and growth require “change” and that’s a four-letter word in SD.
    Pandering to voters by telling them they are what they know they should be but obviously aren’t, is just more of why Dems are being dishonest.

  2. Mark Anderson 2022-01-22

    What are the Republican ideas on governance? Besides CRT bashing, transgender bashing, abortion bashing, vaccine bashing( fauci included), book bashing. I could go on and on, but besides all the bootstrap bashing to rile up the base is there anything positive about being a Republican? Apart from the shooting range of course. Do they just bash government and say things to own the libs. I can be bought for a couple million, not cheap but I do have standards

  3. bearcreekbat 2022-01-22

    While I agree with Porter that being honest and straightforward is the best policy for campaigning., in that vein I simply cannot understand why someone would say they “advocate for consistent and explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people across key areas of life.” While that can certainly be a potential positive side effect of government policy positions, it would seem to me to be much more honest to say something like:

    I will oppose the contiued expansion of legislative and executive power so that government is limited in their power to undermine individual rights, such as telling us where we can go to the bathroom, play sports, decide on whether to have a family, wear a mask, get a vaccine, and other fundamental freedoms that government officials and bueaurcrats seek to control in our private lives.

    It seems to me that this is exactly what we are doing when we say we oppose legally sanctioned discrimination, or prohibitions against employers requiring masks or vaccines, especially by publicly funded entititied such as schools – namely, get the government off of our backs.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-01-22

    BCB and Porter both seem to be touching on the challenge SD Dem candidates may perceive they face: they feel like they have to be positive whle standing for change. They de-emphasize the negatives they are seeking to challenge because they’ve been coached to think that the electorate is already against them so they have to “nice” their way into the electorates’ good graces before they start throwing any bombs.

    We need truly disruptive candidates, people who will identify our problems and failings squarely and offer their own straightforward solutions to those problems.

    One of the most straightforward solutions to South Dakota’s problems is to say, “We need to the Legislature to stop being jerks and focus on solving practical problems for all South Dakotans.”

    Will Wittman consistently do that? Will Lavallee muster her connections to support such necessary candidates?

  5. Mark Anderson 2022-01-22

    Well bearcreekbat I would love to say you can be an anti vaxxer but it’s really saying it’s OK to kill more people. Of course it’s the virus that is killing everyone but enabling the virus makes the anti vaxxer complicit. It’s a hard call. On masks, they are great, haven’t shaved, so what. Government off our backs, I agree wholeheartedly, face to face is always better, in separates us from the animals.

  6. ABC 2022-01-22

    “We need truly disruptive candidates, people who will identify our problems and failings squarely and offer their own straightforward solutions to those problems.”

    I agree. The legislature needs to be DISTRUPTIVE.

    We can’t settle for 500 Million in covid funds to build a new prison.

    Is government a conservative frat house, or can it be reflective of the diversity in our state?

    we don’t need to be “governed”.

    We need the Democrats to destroy their Party and REBUILD it, all in 2022!

    We know that 10% of the people aren’t Democratic, it is closer to 40%—the legislature doesn’t look like us

    We need to go up to Alaska and see them operate Ranked Choice Voting, and then bring it here!

    There is only 1 Party in South Dakota, one.

    To save their Party, Democrats need to DESTROY IT, read their FDR, Truman and Bill Clinton, and move HQ to Pierre.
    Lacking that–It is time for a Multi Party system here in SD, not a 2 Party system.

  7. ABC 2022-01-22

    Direct democracy (Switzerland) is the most disruptive and fairest form for a democratic republic.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_forms_of_government

    Elected representatives in SD veer far to the right of the electorate.

    Harvey Wollman says that when he lost the Primary in June 1978, half of the Democratic Party disappeared, and then
    the Party “Sioux Falls-sized” itself instead of trying to make the State Blue.

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