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Brookings Politician Nick Wendell Shows Practical Results Trump Partisan Attacks

Speaking at the LGBTQ+ Victory Institute’s candidate recruitment event in Sioux Falls Saturday, Brookings city councilman and deputy mayor Nick Wendell provided evidence that smart candidates who deliver practical results can beat the partisan squawking of South Dakota’s dominant right-wingers:

Wendell pointed out that at the local government level, he’s learned that focusing on common ground and returning results can solidify support as a candidate.

He’s lucky, he said, to serve in a nonpartisan position on a city council whose decisions impact residents’ daily lives. His sexuality and Democratic Party affiliation never came up during his first city council run in 2016, he said, but his 2021 campaign encountered pushback.

On election day, he said, “those voices were shut out.”

“I won by the widest margin I ever had,” Wendell said [John Hult, “LGBTQ+ Candidate Recruitment Event Draws Dozens to Downtown Sioux Falls,” South Dakota Searchlight, 2023.05.20].

Wendell’s experience and success in politics shows why South Dakota Republicans are keen on politicizing non-partisan races. They know their strength is their brand, not their actual capabilities to govern. Local non-partisan races give voters who often say, “I vote for the person, not the party,” the chance to put their money where their mouth is and elect decent public servants who may happen to be Democrats but who are more interested in delivering results for their neighbors (as Democrats are wont to do) rather than shouting empty slogans at them (as Republicans are wont to do). Once those public servants build a record of practical local accomplishments, it’s harder to make stick the generic partisan labels that Republicans cut and paste from their national right-wing propaganda outlets.

That’s why a key part of building the South Dakota Democratic Party (new SDDP exec Dan Ahlers, you’re reading and nodding, right?) is recruiting candidates to fill local ballots and do good work on city councils, school boards, and other public positions where they can prove, as Wendell does in Brookings, that Democrats are really about public service, not the fabulist propaganda that Republicans throw at them.


  1. P. Aitch 2023-05-23 10:59

    … fabulist (great word 👍🏻)

  2. Mark Anderson 2023-05-23 11:08

    It used to be easy to debate a Republican. One set of mutually agreed facts. Its now the party of Trump, who changes what he calls facts in minutes. We will see if this Orwellian party can change. Right now it’s rudderless. Trumpies, just crazy liars, DeSantises who are farther from conservatism than anyone. Pick any candidate and you get a different take on stupidity. Bootstrap party might be an overreaching term since in reality they are mostly trust funders. They do like to talk about self reliance over and over. Dusty talking about jobs, jobs when in the context of his arguments it’s superfluous. He just likes winking at his base who believe they are all hardworking Americans and the “others” who are lazy and shiftless. Bringing in gay to them is beyond the pale. They don’t want to hear them or about them. They pass laws about that in Florida. In many states they want their women barefoot and pregnant and in the kitchen of course. They don’t like talking about that because it’s a REAL election loser, but they’ll talk trans all day long. It should be interesting in 2024.

  3. larry kurtz 2023-05-23 13:38

    Lawrence County is seeing more of this reawakening, too so a Democrat there is dusting off a loss and looking to get into the U.S. House race.

  4. sx123 2023-05-23 13:51

    The election math works out a lot better for you if you serve more than just your minority group of fanatics. Trump hasn’t figured this out.

  5. O 2023-05-23 14:45

    sx123, election math is always skewed by voter turn out. Fanatics vote. The problem is that too few of the well-reasoned vote.

  6. Arlo Blundt 2023-05-23 15:34

    Democrats need good candidates who stick to the bread and butter issues and express TOLERANCE in comparison to the Right Wing racism and religious bigotry of the Republicans. Protect land ownership from eminent domain, protect and respect our public schools and public school teachers, speak out for the rights of women to control their bodies, and, especially, speak to issues young people find important to their lives: living wage employment, affordable housing, equal economic and social opportunity. It will also take a lot of face to face, retail campaigning to put a dent in the huge Republican fund raising machine.

  7. Curt 2023-05-23 17:51

    I hesitate to note that Mr Wendell is also a fairly high-level state employee serving as Executive Director of the State Board of Technical Education. As such, his job may or may not be protected under the State’s Career Services system – for his sake, I certainly hope so.

  8. grudznick 2023-05-23 17:57

    BAH! There are no protections in this state where at-will employment means the bosses can oust you if you are a slackard or just project the wrong image for the company, Mr. Curt. Mr. Wendell no doubt has nothing to fear if he is doing his job and working hard, buckling down and doing the people’s work with his nose to the grindstone. The weak and tiny Union of State Employees cannot help him if he is not.

  9. Arlo Blundt 2023-05-23 18:58

    Nonsense, Grudznick. The Republicans will fire you if they don’t like your necktie.

  10. John Kennedy Claussen 2023-05-23 19:51

    Democrats need to register Democrats!

  11. Curt 2023-05-23 21:46

    Grudz – as usual – is unable to sniff a clue.

  12. grudznick 2023-05-23 21:58

    Mr. Blundt, the Republicans can’t fire grudznick. I work for myownself, and usually represent the Conservatives with Common Sense. As a past president of the CwCS, I can tell you that we don’t cowtow to your general sort of thinking.

    The Conservatives with Common Sense believe that evaluating political leaders should be based on their ideas, competence, integrity, leadership skills, policy positions, and their ability to address the needs and concerns of their constituents. These factors are far more important in assessing the suitability of a politician for their role than the tribalism and out-of-state name-calling exhibited by most, not all, but most of the libbies on this here blogging place.

    *got all your goats tonight, eh?*

  13. Mark Anderson 2023-05-23 23:12

    Well Grudz, HUMBUG, your CWCS is so tiny within the Republican Party its not even worth addressing. I might as well point out that John Wayne was Marion but why bother? Dylan was Zimmerman too. From a true Libbie to reality bites, goodnight to use.

  14. Arlo Blundt 2023-05-23 23:20

    Grudz–Conservatives with common sense, you say, evaluate the following factors in determining a candidate to support–ideas, competence, integrity, leadership skills, policy positions, and their ability to address the needs and concerns of their constituents. And Then: the CWCS support Kristi Noem and Donald Trump. Enough Said. Nonsense.

  15. grudznick 2023-05-24 06:57

    Mr. Blundt, you are growing dafter faster than most. No Conservative with Commin Sense supports Mr. Trump. Get ahold of yourownself, sir!

  16. MS 2023-05-25 12:25

    Cory, you can’t use Trump as a verb any more. This headline bamboozled me totally. Trump has trumped “trump.” Find another word.

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