So long, Liz, we hardly knew ye

Despite a national profile, endorsements from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and her mother’s dulcet nasal twang, Liz Cheney’s Wyoming insurgency never got traction in South Dakota’s neighboring state.

Out here in the RC, the occasional TV ad would leak over the border, and – me not being the target demographic, but still – they were not terribly compelling.

Meanwhile, a written statement issued by the Cheney campaign hints at a health crisis for one of Cheney’s five children, so it might very well be that a genuinely higher priority that brought about this abrupt halt to her US Senate campaign against incumbent Mike Enzi.

Liz Cheney does appear to be one not to walk away from a challenging campaign battle.

One clue to how truly abrupt this all was is Cheney’s own campaign website. A Google search turns up dozens of headlines reporting the end to her campaign. Her own site features this 5-month-old video at the top, explaining why she is running for Congress. One lonely tweet accounts for the campaign’s announcement today.

Left to Obama: ‘You didn’t have to cut us off’

Forgive me for posting an old video, but I have 3 reasons.

  1. I just discovered this little parody gem over the New Year’s holiday.
  2. I think it’s indicative of how the left has turned on Obama and stayed mad. (The original song is, after all, about a romantic break-up. That is fitting to be sure.)
  3. It’s a good launching point to discuss ways 2014 could be even worse for Obama than his “worst year,” which just closed out. Or perhaps how team O could turn things around before the mid-terms in November.

Does it all hinge on What about Iran? Syria? Preschool? Jobs? Immigration? Guns?

Ponder those issues while watching the original version of the song, Gotye’s mega hit, “Somebody That I Used to Know.”

Weiland candidacy making DC waves

Read between the lines in this Politico story, and you don’t even have to squint to see that Democratic senators are apparently taking sides in what Politico reported is a feud between one-time BFFs Tom Daschle and Harry Reid.

Other red-state Dems from Arkansas, Louisiana, Alaska and New Hampshire pitched in to help South Dakota’s own Tim Johnson at a fundraiser for Weiland on Tuesday.

Rick Weiland

Rick Weiland, nation’s most liberal Senate candidate?

The Republicans are seizing on this, calling Weiland “perhaps the most extreme liberal senate candidate in the country” in a mailing sent to criticize the Democrats who helped with the fundraiser.

Perhaps of most interest to those of us here in the Rushmore State (sorry Corn Palace – maybe with the redesign our state’s nickname will reflect your grandeur), is that the Democratic leaders in charge of helping to elect senators say they still hope to get another candidate into the South Dakota 2014 race.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is “still actively recruiting” in South Dakota, according to someone familiar with the organization’s thinking.

Politico brings up Stephanie Herseth Sandlin’s name but avoids suggesting except by juxtaposition that she might still be a player.

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.


Don’t underestimate the Zachary factor

It seems that all eyes are now on Stephanie Herseth Sandlin – will she or won’t she run for the US Senate in 2014?

NSU’s Jon Schaff tells the Argus it appears she’s already made up her mind to run, and maybe she has. Only she and a few trusted advisers know for sure.

But her quote about considering her son’s well-being sticks in my mind, largely because our sons are just weeks apart in age.

“I’m loving my family life in Sioux Falls, and the more time I get to spend with family and friends in South Dakota — and how important that is for Zachary.”

And so. So. So. So. (Quoting Dr. Suess – can’t help it.) To a mother, the best interests of the children are such a powerful force. My own interests don’t just take a back seat to my sons – I have two, ages 3 and 4. They ride on top of the car, and not in one of those nice hard-top carriers. They are strapped on by bungie cords and baling wire, often casualties to the break-neck pace of pre-school and swimming lessons and play dates and bedtime stories and time in the kitchen and potty training and on and on. (Those of you who haven’t helped a 3-year-old crack an egg cannot claim to truly have tested your patience.)

Lest you think this a lament of the working mom in today’s society, it is not. It is an acknowledgement of reality. And the reality is SHS is the mother of a young son, Zachary. And it seems true that being a mother is different than being a father, still, at least when it comes to career choices.

Some say Zachary’s arrival in the months leading up to her 2010 re-election campaign put a drag on her campaign activities. Perhaps.

She now says he and husband Max and “family life” are a huge consideration in her thoughts about 2014. We ought to take her at her word.

Nathan Daschle once told me that he outright rejected a political career because he witnessed first-hand the sacrifices his dad, Tom, had made. And no doubt that the entire family had made.

I have no doubt that, all things being equal, SHS would love to be in the mix on Capitol Hill as a senator. I also know that all things are not equal.

One giggle and grin from a 4-year-old melts the Capitol dome like water on birthday cake frosting. And that’s as it should be.

If she decides to run, it will be because her friends who are both moms and members of Congress – New York’s Kirsten Gillebrand and Florida’s Debbie Wasserman Schultz – have convinced her it’s possible to be both a good mom and a good senator.

If she doesn’t run, it’s because she decided she couldn’t do both. Not right now.

I, for one, do not envy her decision.

My David, age 4

My Jerryd, age 3