Home > SD 2014 Ballot, South Dakota > Some thoughts on the Nelson & Weiland presser

Some thoughts on the Nelson & Weiland presser

April 7, 2014

SD US Senate Candidates Stace Nelson & Rick Weiland. Picture screen captured from the Argus Leader live-stream of the presser.

Earlier today I wrote a blog post saying the US Senate race in South Dakota is going to be one to remember. It appears my words are going to hold true. Today Republican US Senate candidate Stace Nelson joined with Democrat US Senate candidate in a joint presser to discuss big money in politics. This was an odd presser. But I think it was a good one because it allowed people to see candidates that don’t have the money to launch a $500,000 television ad campaign like Rounds has just done. The video of this presser can be watched on the Argus Leader website for anyone to see.

Both candidates definitely agree that Rounds spending most of his campaign time out East trying to fundraise is a big problem. Many politicos and voters have the impression that Rounds has spent more time and energy trying to raise campaign funds from special interests than actually talking with South Dakotan’s. I agree Rounds courting the East coast crowd just for the purpose of fundraising is an issue. To me it isn’t so much about where the money comes from, but how it is coming to Rounds. As a huge advocate of free speech I believe anyone should be allowed to exercise their rights by contributing whatever money they want to any candidate they want. If Rounds were traveling the state and actually trying to engage with voters, the press, and other candidates I don’t think this presser would have even occurred. Even if Rounds had gotten a lot of outside money while traveling South Dakota I don’t there would have been a problem worthy of a presser. That would have simply been a case of contributors exercising their free speech. But in this case we actually have Rounds putting out-of-state fundraising as a priority over engaging with South Dakota voters. Rounds has the right to do so, but that doesn’t mean we the voters have to like it. In fact his approach in this campaign has shown that we the voters are something he is not even worried about until he is forced to. That was the good part of today’s presser. It allowed two diversely different candidates from two different parties to show what is wrong with the current system.

Even though the topic of the presser was agreed to by both candidates, I can’t see many other areas where the two candidates agreed on anything else. Actually I wish Rounds could have been in attendance speaking so we the voters could see if he fell political closer to the Democrat or to the Republican.

Weiland of course was pushing his Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, thereby killing a huge portion of free speech to keep ‘dirty’ money out of politics. I really wish he would work to find other ways around what he calls dirty money. But wait, he has found a way by today’s presser. Simply informing the voters of what is happening is a step. Of course voters need to start caring, but that will have to come in time. What nanny-state politicians like Weiland fail to understand is that a Constitutional amendment curtailing free speech will not remove ‘dirty’ money from politics. As long as there has been politicians there has been special interest money in politics. If Weiland’s amendment were to be passed it would do nothing but change how that money is channeled, potentially in an even less-transparent means. Instead of going down that route, Weiland should be pushing for events such as today’s presser. Also the mainstream media should do something they haven’t done in years: investigative journalism. Journalists should be getting all of this information out to voters and letting we the people decide. The only way for things to change in DC is for the voters and journalists of this country to start taking an interest in the political process.

Conversely, Nelson focused upon the action of Rounds going after that money so he can buy the election. He did not speak about a Constitutional amendment or ask for Citizens United to be overturned. Actually he briefly mentioned free speech worries from that approach. I wish he would have expanded upon that. But even without expansion on that thought I was glad to see Nelson stood up for liberty.

I thought a good question was asked of Weiland. Weiland was called out for talking about the Rounds campaign getting so much out-of-state money while at the same time having a higher percentage of out-of-state money than Rounds. I don’t think Weiland answered that one well. He basically said it was Rounds fault he had to get so much out-of-state money because Rounds wouldn’t agree to limiting donations. I think Weiland should have been more honest and said he had to do so because the Democrat party in South Dakota is currently devastated. The current state of the SD Democrat party lacks the infrastructure needed to raise any true amounts of money within the state. What the SD Democrats need is a new set of leaders that will be willing to work with and grow the party. Instead they keep getting candidates like Weiland who will give an election a go, then get out of the spotlight and move on with life.

The candidates were asked about specific problems with Rounds record as Governor. Personally I think that question was worded poorly, an executive’s actions don’t fit well into the category of a ‘record’ like legislative votes do. Stace Nelson was able to highlight how the EB-5 program as directed by the Rounds administration was the very definition of crony capitalism. I thought it was also good that Stace chose to take this moment to say he is not angry with Rounds for raising money. Instead Stace said he is angry because it appears the race is being bought and paid for by “DC and East Coast” special interest groups. This appears to be the group Rounds is courting, and Nelson is trying to bring attention to that fact. Nelson then mentioned that the Chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party has said the voting records should be used when deciding which candidate is best. That is what Stace has been doing for the duration of this campaign by showing his record compared to that of Rounds and Rhoden. Ironically many Rounds supporters have said the scorecard being shown by Nelson is out of line, even though it is simply an expansion of the same scorecard that Rounds released to attack the record of Rhoden.

Then came the question I think both candidates failed at big time. They were asked their stances on medical marijuana. Wieland said medical marijuana is too off-topic in this presser. I disagree with him. Nelson said he couldn’t see keeping medical marijuana away from terminally ill patients, but also couldn’t see legalizing medical marijuana to the extent that states like California has done. Here is where the libertarian part of me has problems with conservative Republicans and big-government Democrats. I believe the war on drugs on has created far more social and economic devastation upon the United States than any perceived ‘evil’ that ever came from drug usage. Younger generations are waking up to this fact and are willing to end the War on Drugs. However special interests that feed off the millions of dollars spent by the Federal government to continue the war on drugs means DC is unlikely to do anything that would reverse current policy. On the Democrat side there have been many promises to end, or at least reduce, the war on drugs. That always ends up being a failed promise. On the right many of the same politicians that tout small government will simultaneously advocate the war on drugs; which has created a non-stop expansion of government size and reduction of liberties. Yes, I definitely support Nelson in this election. But simply supporting a candidate doesn’t mean I share every viewpoint he has. If he is elected I will lobby hard to get him to understand the war on drugs is against everything he believes in as a small-government Republican. Until then I hope more young people will approach the candidates and let them know it is a time for change in the war on drugs.

At the end of the presser there was a party-crasher! Independent gubernatorial candidate Mike Myers took a minute to plug his campaign party on April 12. The info for the party can be found on his Facebook page. Unfortunately I have other plans this weekend or I would go. Mike Myers is a really good guy and I hope he does well as an independent in the Governor’s race.

Overall I think it was an odd presser. But is was odd in a good way. Maybe some interesting moves such as this in the next couple of months could swing the election away from the presumed winner Mike Rounds. Or maybe such events will do nothing other than keep politicos amused. Either way it should continue to be an interesting US Senate race.

PS. Yes, this was a long post. Apparently my lack of time to blog recently has left me with a lot to say.

  1. April 8, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Senator Mike Lee does a much better job than myself of explaining the problem with this corruption: http://personalliberty.com/mike-lee-end-washington-cronysim-first-end-gop-cronyism/

    • April 8, 2014 at 9:15 am

      Lee did do a good job in that column. The problem with speaking about corruption and crony capitalism is that none of the talking points with any substance fit into small ‘easy to consume’ sound bites. Its a topic that requires a much longer discussion and thought from all parties involved. But I’m glad some such as yourself are willing to take the topic on!

  2. April 8, 2014 at 11:07 am

    The problem with the current culture of corruption in DC is lobbyist firms have perfected the art of bundling & laundering monies to candidates. While I protect your American 1st Amendment rights, what we are seeing is that through the corruption and exploitation of our political contribution process, even foreign countries are able to lobby OUR members of Congress. As pointed out by constitutional attorney (and conservative/libertarian superstar)Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) http://www.nationalreview.com/node/375115/print “Policy privilege corrupts the free market by rewarding political connections over competitive excellence”

  1. July 22, 2014 at 10:47 am
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