2014: The intrigue, the feud and the damage done

Brendan Johnson in Rapid City, June 2011

U.S. Attorney for South Dakota Brendan Johnson. Is he really not running for Senate?

As Tom Daschle and Harry Reid take up arms against each other over South Dakota’s US Senate seat, let’s all take a breath and remember two things:

  1. Brendan Johnson has not yet said that Brendan Johnson is not running for the U.S. Senate in 2014. (Make that a double – neither has Tim Johnson.) Some surrogates have said he isn’t running, and those surrogates do have some credibility – namely quasi-declared candidate Rick Weiland and Draft Brendan organizer/co-conspirator Ryan Casey. Still and all, no word from the man himself.
  2. While Rick Weiland has said he is running, he has yet to formally organize and announce a campaign. Which leaves the skeptics among us – me included – to withhold judgment on a would-be Weiland candidacy until the car has fully taken the track. I’ve been told this vehicle is an infant, so it’ll be 0 to 100 in record time if it comes true.

Of Weiland, Senate majority leader Reid tells Politico: “He’s not my choice.” Not words one can easily take back.

After reading the Politico story linked above, one must also wonder whether Weiland’s unexpected entrance into the 2014 mix might have more to do with Tom Daschle wanting to show Harry Reid that he can set the South Dakota table with more flair and impact than can any DC politi-hack. But, knowing what I know about Daschle, I take him at his word when he tells Politico:

“They have to make their decisions, and I have to make mine,” Daschle said. “I don’t take it personally, and they shouldn’t, either.”

A big reason for Daschle’s political success was his ability, perhaps an innate South Dakota-ness, to not let his ego call the shots. A methodical accommodation of others’ interests and matter-of-fact dismantling of temper-tantrums have been Daschle’s hallmark. Not that he does not have his own temper, but he is disciplined in its control.

Which makes him going all-in with Weiland all the more curious. Did he ever support SHS or Brendan for the nomination? Just what the what is going on?

So where does the Tom v. Harry battle royal leave South Dakota for 2014?

  • Stephanie Herseth Sandlin says she’s out. I don’t look for that to change, but all things are possible. Politico makes it sound as though Reid & Co. have not given up. (So you’re saying I have a chance!) (For all of Daschle’s skill, I don’t buy the Politico take that his endorsement of Weiland kept her out. I think she would have enjoyed the challenge.)
  • Most folks believe Brendan is out. I have not yet joined their ranks. If he is out, what changed in such a hurry? How do Tim and Barbara Johnson feel about how this is shaking out? What does this bizzaro turn of events do to a future Brendan candidacy?
  • Will Rick Weiland truly be the Dems’ standard-bearer in 2014? If so, he had better be already drafting those position papers, lining up staff and raising money. It’s a long, bumpy road to the US Senate, and Rick Weiland apparently won’t find the Welcome Wagon waiting for him if he completes the journey.
  • If you’re a rank-and-file (yet passionate) Democrat in South Dakota, you probably didn’t think things could get much worse. Remember, Stephanie might run for governor down the road. Tom Daschle and Harry Reid don’t give a hoot about that job.


One thought on “2014: The intrigue, the feud and the damage done

  1. I think you need to do a little more homework here Denise. I know Rick was west river last week and attended the ICWA meeting out in Rapid City. I also hear he has been burning up the phone lines at night. Sounds like he’s not going to be your favorite candidate during this next election, but he is working harder than anyone Democrat I know right now.

Comments are closed.