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Openly Dirty Tricks

Apr 16, 2014

Hey, South Dakota Democrats! Let's make trouble: let's nominate Gordon Howie to run for U.S. Senate.

Former Republican legislator Gordon Howie announced this month that he is running for U.S. Senate as an Independent. The Rapid City conservative says he wants to ensure that voters have a conservative on the ballot. Democrat Rick Weiland and apostate Republican turned Indy Larry Pressler clearly do not fit Howie's arch-conservative mold; Howie and some other conservatives contend that pragmatic GOP front-runner Mike Rounds doesn't, either.

Howie's bid might suggest a lack of confidence in his friend Rep. Stace Nelson's ability to carry the Ted Cruz-y/Rand Paul-y conservative banner to victory in the primary. But Howie just co-hosted a fundraiser for Nelson and swears that he will withdraw from the race if Nelson beats Rounds in June. Howie seems to be engaged in some pragmatism of his own, offering conservatives a Plan B, just in case Nelson's message can't muscle past Rounds's millions.

The only reason I like Howie's Plan B is that it helps Rick Weiland. It boxes Rounds in: he can't attack Nelson too hard in the primary, because that would alienate Nelson's hard-right supporters, who could (as Kevin Woster notes) happily hand their votes to Howie in November. That increases the chances that Nelson can stage an upset in the primary, and Weiland can beat the cash-poor Nelson more easily than he can beat the Nine Million Dollar Man.

Democrats should want Gordon Howie on the ballot. Democrats can sign to put Howie on the ballot (any registered voter of any party can sign a petition for an Independent candidate). But do Democrats dare sign for a candidate who threatens religious freedom, opposes women's rights, and tramples on the U.S. Constitution? Can one in good conscience sign a petition for a candidate one would never want to win?

Fortunately, Gordon Howie won't win. His tax-dodging, illegal mountain-lion killing, and general political ineffectiveness (see his fourth-place finish in the 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary) will keep him from winning statewide office. Democrats outnumber Howie supporters; he will only win enough votes to split a possible Rounds majority with Pressler and increase the chances of a Weiland victory by plurality.

At that point, Democrats can look at placing Howie on the ballot not as a risk to the Republic but as a tactical move to help their candidate win.

So here's the deal, Democrats: if that calculus and your conscience square, and if you didn't sign for Weiland (you can't sign two!), go find a Howie supporter by Tuesday, April 29 (they'll have clipboards and Agenda 21 buttons) and sign Howie's petition.

But then you have to do penance: you have to promise you will send Weiland nine bucks. You will vote for him in November. You will bring a friend and tell 10 others to vote for him in November.

Gordon Howie wants to run against Rick Weiland. Let's help him run ... for Rick Weiland.

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 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 has taught math, English, speech, and French at high schools East and West River.


07:16 am - Thu, April 17 2014
dave tunge said:
One of the major problems facing our country today is the scenario you just presented Cory. Elections are not about patriotism, serving our country, or really wanting to make a difference. Instead, they are about playing games ( as you suggest) to get a party favorite elected that will herd up as lemmings behind the likes of Reid and Pelosi as they tumble off the cliff. Power, money, and egos are the SOP for both parties. Gone, for the most part, are those who really and truly care about our country. Our so called leaders set the game rules and if a newly elected doesn't play well........well, they just don't get to play anymore.
Lies, cover ups, intimidation, and more lies are not what we as Americans should have to put up with...........but those are the playbook rules now.
08:41 am - Thu, April 17 2014
Bernie said:
Especially money. I agree with you Dave.
03:38 pm - Thu, April 17 2014
Dave, I offer two interpretations:

(1) I am a patriot interested in serving my country and making a difference. I believe Rick Weiland will do the best job of serving our common interests and keeping America strong and just. Knowing that Weiland will not win the Tea Party vote and that Mike Rounds does not deserve their vote, I am encouraging my friends to help place on the ballot a candidate who would give the Tea Party a place to go and give Rick a better chance to win. All legal, all above board.

(2) I am an evil mastermind, perverting democracy for my own selfish whims. Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!
11:29 am - Mon, April 21 2014
Roger Holtzmann said:
As an Independent, I am forever frustrated by the stranglehold our two major parties have on the levers of power. I would love to see three, four or even more parties on every ballot. The fratricide taking place in the GOP between “true” conservatives and their less rabid brethren — across the country as well as in South Dakota — may well fracture it and create a third party. It’s not exactly what I had hoped for, but it’s a start.

07:23 am - Wed, April 23 2014
Roger, I'm all for more viable parties, advocating more diverse voices and views in our elections. Do you think Howie could bring up more issues and offer you and other Independents a viable choice?
11:21 am - Thu, April 24 2014
Roger Holtzmann said:
I don't know anything specific about Gordon Howie, but my political philosophy was best summed up by that champion of liberty, Otto von Bismarck: “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable, the art of the next best.” Governing takes compromise. My impression of politicians who accuse their compatriots of not being conservative enough — or insufficiently progressive — is that they are far too self-righteous for my taste. I welcome him into the arena, but I doubt he’d get my vote.

10:35 pm - Tue, April 29 2014
Roger, our neighbor Gordon may have some difficulty with pragmatic compromise. I sat down and had a conversation with him last week at his Rapid City studio ( He believes he can reach Indies and Dems by portraying himself as a man of principle against those darn pragmatist power players in both parties. That focus on principle suggests a resistance to compromise. I look forward to seeing how Howie talks his way through the issue of compromise.

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