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Kirby Launches Open Primary Petition Drive with False Both-Sidesism

South Dakota Open Primaries launched its initiative petition drive yesterday to place on the 2024 ballot its constitutional amendment to put all candidates for Congress, Governor, Legislature, and county offices on a single primary ballot. Surrounded by his cross-partisan team, Group leader and petition signer #1 Joe Kirby engaged in some unnecessary and unfounded both-sidesism:

Kirby said he hasn’t heard of any opposition to the Constitutional Amendment but said he could see opposition from the “radical sides of both parties” [Eric Mayer and Tom Hanson, “Getting Signatures for Top-Two Open Primaries in South Dakota,” KELO-TV, 2023.04.19].

  1. There is no radical side to the Democratic Party in South Dakota.
  2. If you want to argue there is a radical side to the Democratic Party in South Dakota, it most likely holes up in the safest Democratic Legislative district in the state, District 15 in central Sioux Falls, and their senior Representative, Democrat Linda Duba, was at the petition launch supporting the amendment:

Democrat Rep. Linda Duba was in attendance at the news conference. The Sioux Falls lawmaker said she is supporting South Dakota Open Primaries because it is the right thing to do. She said she’s not concerned if Democrat candidates would be left off November ballots with the top-two primary system.

“If we worry about that, then we’re worried about the wrong thing,” Duba said. “The more that you get people involved in the process, you can generate interest and hopefully you will generate people that will come out and run for office” [Mayer and Hanson, 2023.04.19].

Meanwhile, the South Dakota Republican Party spin blog is making clear its opposition to more opportunities to vote:

The measure’s main sponsor, Joe Kirby claims “he hasn’t heard of any opposition to the Constitutional Amendment but said he could see opposition from the “radical sides of both parties?”

Well,  let’s try the State Republican Party Chairman John Wiik for one..  John Wiik campaigned to be chair of the SDGOP in part telling groups that the party fundraising needs to be robust “to fight off attempts to establish a “Jungle Primary” system in South Dakota.” That’s straight out of the Clay County GOP January minutes.  Chairman Wiik is anything but the “radical” side of the party, which is a much different story than this group is claiming.

The State Republican Central Committee has had pretty strong words in opposition of other measures monkeying with the ballot system, and I suspect they will quickly let their opinions be known on this latest attempt to monkey with our ballots [Pat Powers, “Jungle Primary Proponents Start Circulating Petitions, Hiding Level of Opposition from GOP,” South Dakota War College, 2023.04.19].

Both-sidesism is both false and unfruitful. It downplays the role Democrats may play in promoting this initiative and discourages Democratic participation in the petition drive. And as we see from the SDGOP spin blog’s immediate response, it does nothing to win over the hidebound Republicans.

SD Open Primaries and anyone else who would like to change South Dakota’s constitution have until May 7, 2024, to collect 35,017 signatures from registered voters on their initiative petitions. That May deadline, a restoration of the petition deadline South Dakota used for decades until 2006, gives SD Open Primaries six more months to collect signatures than they had the last time they circulated a petition in 2017. That May deadline comes courtesy of a successful lawsuit waged by a Democrat who was once called “the most liberal man in South Dakota“.

No batch of Democratic radicals is going to launch an expensive “Don’t Sign the Line” campaign to keep Democrats from supporting the open-primary initiative. As yesterdays comments from Representative Duba and the SDGOP mouthpiece blog indicate, the most loyal Democrats are more likely to support the open-primary initiative, while the most loyal Republicans will fight tooth and nail against it.


  1. Donald Pay 2023-04-20

    Every election system has its pros and cons. I vote in open primaries in Wisconsin, but our open primary is structured a bit differently than the one proposed for South Dakota. Our party elections, held in the fall, are through a semi-open primary. We don’t register by political party in Wisconsin, so anyone can participate in the primary election. You have to choose your particular party on the ballot, however, and you have to vote for one of the slate of the candidates for a particular office from that selected party. You can’t cross over, voting for a Democrat for one office and a Republican for another office. In non-partisan elections held in the spring, the primary election is completely open, and the top two candidates go on to the spring general election, which is non-partisan.

    My own opinion is that political parties should be abolished, though that is unlikely to occur. I like the open primary system, because it allows more freedom for the voter to select the candidate they prefer. If I had my way I’d take the party labels off, and just allow people to select the best candidates. I like ranked choice voting, but I worry about the computational complexity involved, and whether results would be accepted given that complexity. I mean, the dumb crowd can’t understand that Trump lost, and that was a pretty easy count.

  2. Monty 2023-04-20

    The Sioux Falls City Home Rule Charter needs revision. Kirby, one of a handful of the original Charter authors, knows it. He has offered amendments which the appointed members of the Charter Revision committee kill. As a Sioux Falls resident, I would prefer he continue to work to correct the problems written in to the strong-mayor charter he developed and successfully campaigned for to its passage before tinkering with elections.

  3. P. Aitch 2023-04-20

    Change is a complex subject because it can evoke different responses from people based on their individual psychological makeup. Extreme conservatives find change difficult to handle because they have a natural inclination towards familiarity, routine and predictability. Such individuals may find childlike comfort in the status quo and resist change because it represents a potential threat to their perceived stability and security.
    Change requires a certain amount of risk-taking, uncertainty, and adaptation, which can create stress and anxiety for conservative individuals. In essence, a dislike of change often stems from a psychological need for control, certainty, and comfort.
    *Note: Not everyone in SD is averse to change. Liberals seek it out as an opportunity for growth and development.

  4. tara volesky 2023-04-20

    Lets go Joe!

  5. grudznick 2023-04-20

    Mr. PP calls these things “Jungle Primaries.” grudznick approves of that name. We should all embrace this change as long as it is always called a Jungle Primary. And of course, limit the number of people from any particular party who can participate.

  6. grudznick 2023-04-20

    Hi there, Mrs. Volesky. You are looking very well, and grudznick is pleased to read you again.

  7. larry kurtz 2023-04-20

    We all know who wears the pants in the Powers brood and it ain’t Pat.

  8. tara volesky 2023-04-20

    Well Grudz quit being such a politician. Saying I am looking very well is either superficial or sincere…….which is it?

  9. larry kurtz 2023-04-20

    Uh oh, did I just misgender South Dakota’s most pernicious porker?

  10. Mark Anderson 2023-04-20

    I’m sure over the next few years that women who are married to Repubs will smile at their husband’s go and vote against them and reclaim control over their own bodies. It’s morning in America again.

  11. Mike Zitterich 2023-04-21

    The Election System is just fine in South Dakota as it is today, where the “people” elect Legislative Delegates, County Committee People, and Precinct People to meet in meetings, hold commissions, and hold conventions to discuss, nominate, and choose our At-Large Representatives such as Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Auditor, State Treasurer, Public Utilities Commissioner every four years. The process was established in the beginning to help provide protection to the landowners, property holders against mob rule of which you get in a direct democracy. The Process was also established to provide to the people an “open public forum” in which to hold public meetings to discuss statewide affairs, propose resolutions, initiatives, while the County and Precinct Committees work within their precincts to petition the voters to place things, persons on the public ballot.

    The Political Parties sort of manipulated this process by dividing the people in “factions” so you end up with two groups opposing sides choosing their own At-Large Reps of whom will face each other in a general election, while you split the people on resolutions and initiatives creating division on topics, subjects, and promises.

    If the Independents wanted their own Primary, they should establish themselves by creating the Independent Statesmen Party.

    As for the City of Sioux Falls Home Rule Charter – it is one of the best written charters in the states, and provides for both a Strong Mayor (at-large rep) and a Strong City Council (citizens body) of who work side by side, whereas the Mayor has Administrative Duties, while the City Council as Investigative Duties, while they both work together to appoint committees, commissions, propose resolutions and initiatives.

    Mike Zitterich has proposed a “resolution” to discuss population growth of a city which has grown from 99,000 in 1990 to nearly 210,000 in 2023, while proposing changing the charter to allow for an “ODD NUMBERED” City Council proportioned @ 29,000 Residents Per 1 District plus no less than 2 At-large Council Chairs. This would allow the Redistricting Commission to create 9 districts + plus 2 At Large Reps at the current population level, giving the people a tie-breaker without the Mayor breaking a tie. The smaller # of residents per districts, the more closer the “reps” are to the people, while the At Large Reps protect the Landowners, Property Holders from mob rule…

    For More Information, Please Click the Link @

    Mike Zitterich
    Sioux Falls, SD
    Precinct Committeeman 5-22

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-04-22

    I’m not sure how an open primary increases the risk of “mob rule”, a bogeyman invoked by radical right-wingers like Zitterich to justify their efforts to weaken voting rights and preserve minority rule for the dwindling beneficiaries of white Christian patriarchy. Zitterich tips his hand when he says the current primary system somehow protects “property owners”. The statement is false—I see no difference in how property owners come out in the current primary system or an open primary system. The statement also suggests that Zitterich prefers that landowners enjoy special privileges, much like the good old days when only property owners were allowed to vote, thus keeping the poor and the non-white out of the system.

    If Zitterich is really concerned about parties manipulating the process, he should welcome an open primary that allows all voters, regardless of party, to vote in the primary for their preferred candidates and removes this notion that political parties are entitled to placement on the general election ballot.

    The idea that independents should form a party and hold a primary is ridiculous. Telling independents to form their own party is like telling atheists to form their own church.

  13. Donald Pay 2023-04-22

    Mob rule, Cory, is what the elite means when peons like you and I vote. Over the years I’ve heard a lot of Republican nonsense, but the “mob rule” thing made me spit out my breakfast. No, Grudz, it wasn’t the gravy. This, after Trump’s mob almost overturned a free and fair election? I think not.

    I’ve listened in disbelief recently at Wisconsin Republicans’ ideas to roll back voting. I’ve heard people from this party say, “The biggest mistake we made was letting women vote.” The other day in Wisconsin we had a Republican legislator say that college students voting “is a problem.” Yeah, it’s a problem for Republicans because they are so stuck in the 1850s. Of course, this latest suggestion to raise the voting age follows years of effort to make it more and more difficult for college students, blacks and older and disabled voters to cast a ballot. They are running out of such suppression efforts as more and more people defy their elitist authoritarianism.

    Now we have Ziiterich fixated on kicking people off the voting rolls if they don’t own land. Welcome to the 1700s.

  14. Mike Lee Zitterich 2023-04-22

    Thank You for the responses to my post above. I believe there are some misconception that some are implying on what I said above.

    I spoke from a party neutral position, referring to the basic principles of how ‘we’ formed our republic, where the people act as one group of sovereign people, but all people participate in the democratic process of nominating, choosing, and electing representatives, let alone adopting resolutions and initiatives statewide.

    The original intent of the American Governing process was to set up as such, that the “People” could directly nominate and elect their common representatives such as Federal Representatives of the U.S House, the State Legislators, City Councilors, Local Sheriffs, Judges, and their County and Precinct Committee Persons locally.

    From there, as the “state” is broken down into County Precincts, let alone Legislative Districts – this was done further, in order to allow the Landowners, Property Holders, Business Owners, let alone all “People of the State” to hold “Committee Meetings” through out the year for a two year period of time, in order to discuss topics of interest as it relates to Statewide or At-Large affairs. This allows the “people” a more direct role of meeting in committees, holding forums to discuss potential candidates for President, Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, State Auditor, Public Utilities Commissioner – you know, all the At-Large Public Offices looking over all of the County Precincts equally.

    By means of holding these Annual Committee Meetings, they are to allow the “people” to participate directly in the influencing act of discussing statewide resolutions, initiatives, while the Legislative Delegates meet with the Legislators, while the County and Precinct Committee People work with other “Committee Groups” from other precincts to lobby, sponsor, and direct the legislature to do something, let alone place things on a public ballot, therefore, the Precinct Committees work closely with the “Common People” to place things on a public ballot.

    By means of those Precinct Committee Persons, they now work closely with the “people” in a more direct role of voicing the beliefs, ideals, and agenda of the people, to not only “vote” to choose who they support for President, Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, SOS, State Auditor, State Treasurer, so forth, placing those candidates on a General Ballot in November, those Committee Persons are also working tirelessly in their precinct to help educate, inform, and petition to place resolutions, initiatives, and referred measures on a public ballot.

    While the “voter” who can be any one from yourself, your neighbor, co-worker, employer, landowner, property holder can directly nominate, and petition, and place those Federal Reps, State Legislators, City Councilors, Local Sheriffs, Judges, Other Common Officials on a Public Primary Ballot; the “Legislative Delegates, County Committee Persons, Precinct Committee Persons”

    Therefore meet in meetings to discuss who best represents the “Districts, Counties, Precincts” for our At-Large Choice for President, U.S Senator, Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, State Auditor, Public Utilities Commissioner. The “Very People” directly elected by the people are the ones who now choose the At-Large Candidates to go on a General Ballot.

    On the General Ballot – ALL STATE CITIZENS who qualify to act as voters, therefore now vote for all choices of who they so choose to vote for, while making that final decision on who they want as At-Large Rep, let alone U.S Senator, let alone the Governor, etc where they so choose between a Democrat, Republican, Independent, or whatever faction the candidate belongs.

    As for Independents – they have the right to form their own Political Faction, whereas the two main Political Factions – Republican or Democrat do not best represent their positions, ideals, agenda. They can go as far as registering their own party, choosing their own Legislative Delegates, County and Precinct Committee People, etc, while getting their own people elected to the U.S House, State Legislature, and City Councils.

    Fact: There are 47% Americans registered as Independents in the United States of America. Some vote Democrat, some vote Republican, and some vote for Non-Factioned Candidates The “independents” are split up 3 ways. Ever considered if they had one Political Faction to belong to, and unite behind the “Independent Statesman Party”?

    The Independent Statesman Party would have enough unified votes to win nearly every election, they would end up with 47% of the votes, the Democrats would get 26% of the votes, while the Republicans would get 21% of the vote.

    I support as many Americans working witin the American Governing Process of nominating, choosing, and electing our Representatives. That statement that I am fixated on kicking people off voting rolls is ludicrous, the only manner of which we should kick people off our voting rolls is in fact, that they simply do NOT qualify to be on our voting rolls, meaning they are no longer domiciled in our “political sub-division: let alone dead, let alone are a criminal, or let alone they recorded on another “States’ registry.

    Mike Zitterich
    Precinct Committee Person 5-22

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