So there’s South Dakota Strong, the Rapid City-based group that’s promoting Marty Jackley and other mostly mainstream South Dakota Republicans, and there’s South Dakota Strong, the PAC Senate boss Lee Schoenbeck (R-5/Lake Kampeska) organized on November 29, 2021 to “support Ronald Reagan style fiscal conservatives in South Dakota.” South Dakota Strong the Facebook group started posting on December 14 and started hosting monthly meets and greets in January. Most of South Dakota Strong the PAC’s start-up money came from East River rich guys—Dana Dykhouse of Sioux Falls and Jim Thares and Harvey Jewett of Aberdeen are each in for $10K—but Rapid City Senator Helene Duhamel (R-32) threw in $2,500 as well, and she figures regularly in SD Strong the Facebook group‘s posts.
I don’t know if the Rapid City Facebook group and the Schoenbeck PAC are the same stick, but they are definitely swinging at the same kinds of piñatas. Schoenbeck is launching a campaign like his 2020 effort to root apple-cart upsetters out of his party’s Legislative club. Joe Sneve says Schoenbeck is using his South Dakota Strong PAC to mail attacks on fellow Republican Speaker Spencer Gosch (who is primarying incum bent District 23 Senator Bryan Breitling), Republican Representative Tom Pischke (who’s in a four-way primary for District 25 Senate) and other Republicans in primary races for supporting 2022 House Bill 1053, which would have allowed counties to implement up to a 0.5% gross receipts tax to build or fix up courthouses, jails, cop shops, drug or alcohol treatment centers, and drug courts:
“I think it’s critically important that traditional conservative Republicans are the voice of our party and not these unusual fringe people,” Schoenbeck told the Argus Leader Friday morning, though he declined to say how much his PAC spent on this round of attack ads and how many incumbent lawmakers are being targeted. “This is an election that’s gonna have a lot to say about it” [Joe Sneve, “The Start of Early Voting in South Dakota Is Marked with Republican In-Fighting,” Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 2022.04.22].
Say, I notice that, in the Senate, Al Novstrup (R-3/Aberdeen) was one of four Republicans who voted for that tax, and he’s the only one of those four facing a primary challenge. Will Senator Schonbeck be sending nastygrams to Aberdeen telling the good people of the North to replace tax-and-spend liberAl Novstrup with the more Reaganesque Rachel Dix?
Of course, Gosch, Pischke, and anyone else Schoenbeck targets for suggesting counties take a half-penny for public safety repairs can fire back that Schoenbeck took a half-penny from everybody in 2016 when he single-handedly saved the great tax hike for teacher pay. They can also note that this year, Schoenbeck and his Senate minions rejected the House’s proposal to roll back Schoenbeck’s tax hike. Schoenbeck also killed the House’s proposal to repeal the tax on food.
So if Schoenbeck wants to hang Gosch, Pischke, and other “fringe” House Republicans (and Al! Don’t forget Al, Lee!) for supporting one optional and occasional county tax, Gosch and friends should strike back by flooding Watertown with nastygrams on Senator Schoenbeck’s liberal support for taxing more money out of every South Dakotan’s pocket every day. Schoenbeck has a primary challenger, Watertown city councilman Colin Paulsen. Work up a PAC—and maybe a Facebook page and weekly meetups—of your own. Call it “South Dakota Stronger.” Raise some money, recruit some marchers, recruit some phone bankers (“Callin’ for Colin!”—do it!), and give Schoenbeck a taste of his own medicine! Don’t get mad, fringy House Republicans—get even!