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Ladies of the Political Week
Jun 12, 2013
Two South Dakota ladies born one day apart are generating this week's big South Dakota political headlines.
Congresswoman Kristi Noem, born November 30, 1971, announced yesterday that she will not run for the Senate seat from which Tim Johnson will retire next year. Instead, she intends to run for re-election to her House seat.
Noem's announcement unexpectedly cuts off a decision timeline that she said less than month ago would probably take several months. What sped up her decision? Maybe she didn't want to take on the nasty Wadhams-Rounds machine. Maybe she did, but the ultra-conservative groups whose support any Rounds challenger will need told her she wouldn't make their grade. Maybe Noem is like water: flavorless, and taking the path of least resistance. Why challenge a well-funded fellow Republican in a surely costly and divisive primary when she can remain every Republican's friend, focus on beating up on a less threatening (and as yet undeclared) Democratic opponent in the 2014 House race, and save up to run for mentor John Thune's Senate seat in 2016? (Pure speculation: maybe Noem got a memo from the Dirksen Building that Thune was just kidding those Mark Twain second graders last February and plans to run for President. If I were Noem and I got that memo, I'd certainly change my plans as fast as Noem did.)
Whatever Noem's motivations, her decision rejiggers the Senate race. Dems, bloggers, and the mainstream media (admit it, guys: it would have sold papers!) were hoping for a Rounds-Noem-ageddon. Now Mitchell newspaperman Seth Tupper declares Rounds's ascension to the Senate "as close to a foregone conclusion as conclusions get in politics." Tupper says the Dems with heft seem to be out, and he dismisses declared Democratic candidate Rick Weiland as "that guy who lost that race against somebody that one year way back." (Hey, Seth, for your information, Rick's that guy who lost two races, against two somebodies, in two years, thank you very much. Third time's the charm!)
Annette Bosworth, born November 29, 1971, hopes the Senate race is anything but concluded. Last week, the Sioux Falls doctor let leak information that she's considering a run for the GOP Senate nomination. She and her husband traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend a conservative conference at the swanky Willard International. As anyone who attends any kind of conference will tell you, one doesn't go to a conference to get educated; one attends to network. Bosworth is fishing for campaign cash to make her challenge to Mike Rounds viable.
On paper, one could read Bosworth as at least as good a candidate as Noem in 2010. Bosworth is smart and passionately articulate. With zero political experience, Bosworth can make a more authentic claim to not being a career politician than two-term state legislator Noem did in her first statewide campaign. And Bosworth is an established professional with a loyal following and expertise in the important policy area of health care.
Alas (for those of us who enjoy a good primary), Bosworth doesn't appear poised to mount a serious challenge. She has no Republican credentials or connections to help her circulate petitions, let alone raise money and get out the vote. She has no record of policy statements or study on any issue outside of health care. Her initial, amateurishly transparent efforts to generate online buzz reek of a lack of strategy. And perhaps most importantly, not once in this initial week of attention has Bosworth addressed the primary challenge of any Republican entering this race: differentiating herself from M. Michael Rounds.
Bosworth is a day older, but Noem is a decade wiser, politically speaking. Noem sees that drawing daylight between herself and Rounds is too high a hurdle to her continued tenure in Washington. Bosworth has yet to recognize the enormity of that task, let alone demonstrate she's up to it.
Editor's Note: Cory Heidelberger is our political columnist from the left. For a right-wing perspective on politics, please look for columns by Dr. Ken Blanchard every other Monday on this site.
Cory Allen Heidelberger writes the Madville Times political blog. He grew up on the shores of Lake Herman. He studied math and history at SDSU and information systems at DSU, and is currently teaching French at Spearfish High School. A longtime country dweller, Cory is enjoying "urban" living with his family in Spearfish.