Home > SD 2014 Ballot, South Dakota > OLC candidate forum part 2: the gubernatorial candidates

OLC candidate forum part 2: the gubernatorial candidates

May 19, 2014
Gubernatorial candidates at the OLC Forum

Gubernatorial candidates at the OLC Forum

On Friday, May 16, the the Oglala Lakota College (OLC) hosted a South Dakota Congressional, Senatorial and Gubernatorial Candidates forum. My first post on the event can be read here. This post will specifically address the gubernatorial portion of the forum. The gubernatorial candidates in attendance were Susan Wismer (D), Joe Lowe (D), Lora Hubbel (R), and Mike Myers (I). The incumbent gubernatorial candidate Dennis Daugaard (R) declined to attend. It was mentioned quite often during this portion of the event that Daugaard declined to attend; his absence was definitely noted. 

This will will be done similar to my “note dump” posts. I will highlight certain parts of each candidates answer to a question and add any thoughts I wish to add from my perspective (I don’t pretend to be non-biased).

For anyone that wishes to listen to the gubernatorial candidates I’ve embedded the audio below. You can also download the MP3 file by clicking this link: Governor Forum. The first five minutes of this audio is all ‘housekeeping’. The file is 92 minutes long and has a download size of 85 MB.

Here are my notes/thoughts on the gubernatorial forum:

  • Opening Statements – Each candidate was allowed 5 minutes for an opening statement.
    • Lora Hubbel (R) – Hubbel began by rightfully pointing out how historic this event was. I agree with her, I hope OLC will continue these forums. During her opening remarks Hubbel mentioned how her husband (a chiropractor) is unable to practice as he sees fit due to regulations. She also went briefly into the privacy concerns of Obamacare that she says Daugaard is helping to implement. Finally, Hubbel also brings up Common Core, which is what she refers to as the Obamacare of education.
    • Joe Lowe (D) – Like all the candidates Lowe went through his history. Most important to note is his experience as a mayor for a town of 100,000 people and his experience in the SD executive branch as the head fire chief (I spoke with Joe after the event, he actually worked for Janklow, Rounds and Daugaard). Most of his opening remarks were focused upon pretty standard Democrat talking points: Medicaid expansion, women pay equality, student debt, and teacher pay. The statement I liked was ‘the corporate interests, keeping their hands out of the cookie jar”. I think this could be a winning topic if Joe wants to attract independent voters that are tired of crony capitalism.
    • Susan Wismer (D) – Wismer pointed out she has spent 6 years in the state legislature, all of which focused on the appropriations committee. Wismer recalled watching the appropriations cuts four years ago, and says it was not necessary. She also mentioned failing to expand Medicaid for “ideologies sake”.
    • Mike Myers (I) – Myers says he will be the oldest governor in the US once he is elected (he would be 78 at that time). He believes he would be qualified because (1) he is old, (2) he has a long resume of relevant experience, and (3) because he has passion. He also brought up that Avera and Sanford should not be treated like non-profits until they start acting like it. Finally he brought up hemp. Hemp in particular is an issue I wish more politicians would bring up.
  • Question about Keystone XL Pipeline. Basically the moderator said Gov Daugaard is supportive of KXL, then asks where each candidate stands on that.
    • Lowe – Lowe called KXL an environment train-wreck. He mentioned the Kalamazoo River oil spill; which he fears could happen with KXL. Lowe then mentioned the tax dollars spent on KXL. KXL was going to proceed with or without the taxpayer subsidies. He implied this is not fiscally conservative behavior. He says KXL is a non-starter for him at this time. I have to agree about the wasteful use of taxpayer dollars; especially when they weren’t necessary.
    • Wismer – Wismer spent a lot of time talking about her families land along the Jim River (the opposite side of the state from KXL). She then mentioned her family not allowing wind towers because they didn’t want to change the land. I understand she was trying to say the KXL is bad because it changes the land… but she also just said she is against wind power, at least if it was on her land anyhow.
    • Myers – Myers said  when is governor he will pick up Stace (“because of his size”) to stand in front of a bulldozer to stop the KXL. He is against KXL for the reasons stated by Lowe and Wismer
    • Hubbel – Mentioned a smaller pipeline could have been done through Canada, but it was not allowed by the Canadian government. She also noted we (SD) cannot use this pipeline (Lowe also made that point). Most importantly for me, Hubbel mentioned that a Canadian company was able to use eminent domain in SD for a pipeline. Anyone worried about government abuse of eminent domain should be against KXL for this reason.
    • My Thoughts – Lowe was the most confident answering this question. Perhaps his time as the State Fire chief gives him experienced insights into possible pipeline disaster. Hubbel did great to bring up the eminent domain abuse. Wismer and Myers really didn’t seem to add much to conversation (but Myers gave us all a laugh with the Stace comment).
  • Question about the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Specifically the candidates were asked about the child placement portions not being properly enacted, with improper placements and faux hearings. The candidates were asked if SD is in the right.
    • Wismer – Wismer said she has seen decisions made by social services that are troubling. She basically says it is a problem of underpaid and understaffed social workers.
    • Myers – To me the best takeaway from Myers was the fact that due process is important. He seemed to imply it has been ignored with ICWA.
    • Hubbel – Said ICWA had been implemented to solve a problem, but maybe had gone too far. By going too far it appears different problems have been created. Hubbel asks why attention is focused on the color of the children; instead thinks we need to look out for the needs of all children.
    • Lowe – Lowe cited teh recent Viken decision, and praised it as a way to give tribes “standing the process.” Joe said as Governor he would overhaul social services.
    • My Thoughts – This is a situation that is worse than many would like to believe. More posts coming directly about this subject in the future.
  • Question about the Indian Gaming Regulator Act. IGRA forced tribes to sign a compact with the State. The tribes didn’t like this at the time. The moderator notes SD takes a “cookie cutter approach to gaming” and doesn’t let the tribes use market-based approaches to gaming. It appears that different attempts by the tribes to change this have been stopped because that would negatively impact the states revenue from Deadwood and state gambling. The moderator asks how SD gets beyond that like MN and WI have.
    • Myers – Myers said he knows little about gambling because the nuns told him it was a sin. He would just follow the MN model.
    • Hubbel – Hubbel targeted in on the moderator saying ‘market-driven’. Hubel said she would rather see other industries grow on the reservations, such as oil and other mineral rights that can lead to tribe wealth. She said the tribes could be so wealthy they won’t need the feds. She did a great job of saying SD needs the reservations, and the talents in it. I don’t feel she really answered the question though, because she opposes gambling.
    • Lowe – Lowe says everything has to be fair and equal. He says Deadwood should not be in control of the issue. He also said anything done has to look at job creation and income.
    • Wismer – She talked about the casinos in the NE corner of the state. She mentioned how large these operations are. She also mentioned a meeting in Sisseton that talked about a new compact she thought was giving them more machines.
    • My Thoughts – None of the candidates did well on this question. The candidates either (1) oppose gambling on principle or (2) had very little knowledge of the subject. Personally I don’t think there should be any restrictions placed on the tribes. Let them run their casinos in a purely market-based approach. The moderator mentioned the drastic unemployment rates on the reservations and what gaming does to brings jobs to the reservations.
  • Question about the States involvement in economic development on the reservations. This is regards to the massive unemployment on the reservation.
    • Hubbel – Hubbel highlighted how over-regulation is hindering all economic development. She talked about over-regulation of raw milk (and issue this legislative session). I found that an odd entry in talking about tribal economic development. Hubel did mention the facilities at OLC and how it could be used to benefit the tribe. She said the favoritism must be stopped in the Governors Office of Economic Development (GOED).
    • Lowe – As the state fire chief, Lowe said he heard years of ‘lip-service” from the states tribal relations. Mentioned a fire crew he had created out of Kyle to work towards that end by creating jobs. Lowe says a huge problem with economic development on the reservation is the shortage of housing. He also mentioned the Teach America commitments failing in the SD Legislature, hurting the education opportunities on the reservations.
    • Wismer – Wismer mentioned bad outcomes with the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribe losing land due to a bad EB-5 Dairy deal setup by GOED. She then went on to say education is the best economic development.
    • Myers – Myers mentioned the $70 million dollars that went missing (diverted) via EB-5. For economic development he highlighted Hemp. Hemp production is a billion-dollar industry he thinks the tribes could use for economic development.
    • My Thoughts – On this issue I liked Myers answer the best. I think industrial hemp could be a huge economic boom for the State, and the tribes. If Daugaard had been here he would have likely had to defend GOED… especially since he gave $30,000,000 of ‘extra’ money to GOED this year instead of reinvesting it in education.
  • Question about education. Basically the candidates are asked if SD backs up its rhetoric that education is important. The 10% education cut by Daugaard was mentioned. The low teacher pay was also mentioned. Also part of the question was the fact that the board of regents will give full support to non-tribal colleges; but not to tribal colleges.
    • Hubbel – Hubbel thinks we are failing education partly because of lowly paid teachers; but she also notes we are also a state where administrators are highly-paid. She points out the legislature doesn’t actually divvy money to the teachers. Hubbel also mentions that all children (including Indian and white) will be negatively impacted by Common Core. She says Common Core on the reservation will remove incentives for tribal cultural education.
    • Lowe – Lowe agrees the tribes not getting treated equally for funding by the state is a problem. Said all colleges need to be funded on an equal basis.
    • Wismer – Wismer jumped on Hubbels comment of over-paid administrators without actually addressing it. Wismer said 85% of school district moneys already go to salaries (i’m not sure how pointing out that fact actually disputes administrators are over-paid compared to teachers). She brought up one case of an administrative position that was hard to fill because of low pay. Wismer says the state does not acknowledge tribal colleges, and that ‘doesn’t make any sense’.
    • Myers – Myers mentioned he spent 26 years “in the Ivory Tower” and that those living in that tower like to protect what they have. He seemed to be saying that colleges are more worried about retaining their status than actually doing what is best for their students.
    • My Thoughts – I don’t think any particular person ‘won’ this question. But I think Wismer lost by using a straw-man argument with administrative pay.
  • Question about healthcare – The candidates were asked if ACA can be perfected, revised, or adjusted.
    • Lowe – Started with “its the law of the land” and says the Republicans haven’t offered a better idea. Says Daugaard not expanding Medicaid was “mean-spirited”. Basically says Daugaard is hypocritical for turning down Medicaid expansion when half of the states budget is from federal dollars.
    • Wismer – Wismer mentioned the partial Medicaid expansion approach tried by Daugaard. Also mentioned the Democrat caucus pointing out the feds weren’t going to accept this, since it was the same proposal that had already been denied before.
    • Myers – Starts with “Access saves, access kills”. He goes on to say how many people die in Avera or Sanford facilities caused not by disease; but by bad medical practices. Myers mentions the third leading cause of death in the US is from medical errors in the Hospitals. He says Obamacare is politicized. He says coops should be setup that allow people to keep healthy and have rewards accordingly (similar to what credit unions used to do for financial health).
    • Hubbel – Hubbel says she was on Medicaid and has seen what it does to a family. She says Medicaid is a failed program and should not be expanded. Hubbel then says Medicaid under Obamacare is a loan program, and money from that has to be paid back. Hubbel mentions the overcharge due to the current way the system is setup. The government and monopolies (Aveara, Sanford) are the biggest parasites costing people money according to Hubbel. Hubbel says Obamacare is not about healthcare, but social engineering.
    • My Thoughts – There was a bit of variety in answering this question. I think Lowe should avoid saying “law of the land”… Unless he wants to associate himself Obama (a move that could hurt him at the ballot box). I would disagree that it is hypocritical to turn down Medicaid expansion money (because it would add to the federal debt, which in my opinion is a bigger long-term problem). But at the same time I don’t believe Daugaard is failing to expand Medicaid for reasons I would like; rather I believe he is failing to expand Medicaid to keep his base happy and oppose anything Obamacare (I also oppose ACA, but like I said I have specific reasons for not wanting to expand Medicaid). So actually I do agree with Lowe that Daugaard is hypocritical, just for a different reason. As for Myers, I do think it is worth looking more into people wrongly dying in Hospitals. Is expanded coverage going to make this problem worse? Its a good question. I think its great that both Hubbel and Myers are willing to mention Avera and Sanford. Mainstream candidates (both Democrats and Republicans) don’t dare say anything bad about Avera or Sanford for fear of losing PAC money….
  • Closing Statements – Each candidate was given time for closing statements. The moderator wanted each candidate to include why people should vote for them, especially in Indian country.
    • Lowe – Lowe says he has a pretty good handle on tribal issues. He told stories about working on the reservation as the state fire chief and ceremonies he had been part of. But he also said we all have the same blood running through us. He also said he was in the executive branch of government and didn’t work only three months a year (a shot at Wismer’s legislative experience compared to him).
    • Wismer – Wismer gave a story about a native american child adopted by her family. This story highlighted one huge problem with Wismer: almost all of her answers contained long personal stories to a point where any of her answers got lost.
    • Myers – Myers was happy to note there were four good candidates for the people to choose from (I wonder if he would have included Daugaard as “five good candidates” if Daugaard was there).
    • Hubbel – Hubbel thinks the reservations are ripe for economic development. She mentioned a local tribe member that created a crypto-currency for the tribe (post forthcoming on this topic). Hubbel said SD needs the tribes because the have a lot to offer and there is great talent there.
    • My Thoughts – I think Lowe and Hubbel did the best at actually answering the question. But I’m not sure anyone really “nailed it”.

Overall I would say the gubernatorial forum went great. This is despite (or maybe because of) the establishment candidate Daugaard declining to attend. Based purely on issues from my viewpoint I liked Myers and Hubbel the best. I have a few problems with each of them, but there isn’t a candidate out there I agree with every issue on. As for the two Democrats: Lowe trampled over Wismer. If the Democrats are smart they will choose him in the primary. He had a best overall grasp of topics from any of the gubernatorial candidates. He took a couple shots at Wismer. He also has much more relevant experience for actually being a governor. Tomorrow there is a debate between the two Democrats in Brookings; I would expect at that event for Lowe to leave Wismer in the dust with his confidence and knowledge of the issues. That is not however an endorsement for Lowe, I still have a lot of problems ideologically with his stances. Instead I think the Democrats in SD should choose Lowe over Wismer because he has the best chance of bring a good fight to Daugaard. I hate blow-out elections and feel Wismer couldn’t get any general election votes beyond the ones that would already vote Democrat.

  1. tara volesky
    May 19, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    Ken, I was very impressed that you would drive all the way from Aberdeen SD to report on this historical candidate forum. You are unbiased and truthful. Thank you! A true journalist.

    • May 19, 2014 at 9:51 pm

      It was actually a great trip. I spent that evening learning more about the reservations, the tribes, and various other issues from locals. It was very enlightening. I wish more people could actually do that.

  2. Roger Cornelius
    May 19, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    Ken, without having heard the actual debate, it appears you have done a thorough analysis of the candidates and their opinions.
    I agree with Joe Lowe on most issues and will support him in the primary.
    The Republicans going into Indian country are to be admired and respected, especially since they expressed some direct opposition to the mostly Democrat Lakota.

    • May 19, 2014 at 9:53 pm

      I think if Lowe makes it through the primary he can really take it to Daugaard. He’s a good guy and not afraid of Daugaard. As far as Republicans going to Indian country, I have been really impressed with Ravnsborg. There are some mistakes he’s made this campaign, but his relationship with the reservations is NOT one of those mistakes. People of both parties need to take note of what he has been doing.

  3. Roger Cornelius
    May 19, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    If Mike Rounds is indeed the favorite, as polls suggest, will he take voters for granted by missing future debates during the general election campaign season? He certainly has developed a questionable habit of missing debates.

    For your information Ken, Rick Weiland will be giving the commencement keynote address at Little Wound School on Friday, May 23. That will be followed by a meet and greet at Pinky’s store in Manderson, SD at 3:00pm

  1. May 19, 2014 at 9:49 pm
  2. May 20, 2014 at 11:51 am
  3. May 21, 2014 at 12:52 am
  4. May 21, 2014 at 10:36 am
  5. June 1, 2014 at 12:38 pm
  6. September 15, 2014 at 2:13 pm
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