In my previous post, Not Just Another Pretty Face, I concluded that the South Dakota Congressional will be a hard fought close election. It had been a little over a week since Herseth Sandlin played the Social Security card when last week Democrat operatives exposed what they presume is a character flaw in the Republican candidate. On Thursday KELO TV ran the story “Noem Not Proud of Driving Record.”
Essentially the story reported on the driving records of the four major candidates on the ballot in the November election, (Heidepriem, Daugaard, Herseth Sandlin, and Noem). Particularly to speeding tickets Heidepriem 17, Daugaard 12, Herseth Sandlin 1, and Noem 20. What seemed so egregious is that Noem’s last ticket was for 94 miles per hour and she failed to pay several fines, with failure notices being sent and warrants issued.
Understand that most political campaigns do some opposition research. Even the most rudimentary check their opponent’s positions and their background to varying degrees. For major campaigns like for Governor, U S Senate or House, professional researchers are usually employed to do the opposition research to find the hickeys. In these major campaigns, often candidates even have their own backgrounds and records checked to see what their opponent is finding out about them. If this seems a little unseemly, it may be but there is a lot at stake on the outcomes, it is not illegal, and it is part of the drill for a successful campaign.
Public records are checked, both civil and criminal. Besides driving records, property records, mortgages, liens, judgments, employment histories, divorces, and even visits to the neighbors. You may remember a couple of years ago when Democrat Senatorial Campaign staffers watched prospective candidate and former Lt. Governor’s Steve Kirby’s home to see pet groomers come to his home to tend to his dogs. Remember in the 2004 Senate campaign when Republicans discovered Tom Daschle’s declaration of D C residency on his Washington, DC residence? In my years at the State Party oppo research just came with the territory. As is often said, politics ain’t bean bag!
I can only imagine the light hearts and smiles in the Herseth camp when Kristi Noem’s driving record was exposed, particularly the failure to appear aspect. They had been given a gift.
Herseth Sandlin has been behind in this race, evidenced by both her campaign style and the polling that had been released (primarily by Rasmussen Reports). Stephanie played the Senior card at the Sioux Empire Fair and as previously discussed put Noem on the defensive. Then about 2 weeks later the driving records are exposed.
Sidebar – some may want to shoot the messenger, but it is newsworthy, and it is part of the campaign drill to help the media to its job. The Parties, special interests, candidate’s campaigns send out releases, talking points, blast faxes, emails, now tweets, retweets and on and on incessantly to push messages.
In South Dakota today we have just about lost our political press. I think the AP still has a State Capitol reporter and the R C Journal, the Argus, Bob Mercer, Tupper at the Daily Republic pretty much is the political press. With changing if not failing business models, mainstream media has little budget to do their own research. With high staff turnover and other coverage demands there is little time to scrutinize public records. So when presented with Noem’s failure to appear, it was in a word – Sensational.
When the story broke and confronted by KELO, Kristi Noem did the right thing. She said she was not proud of her record, was working to improve, and wanted to talk about important issues other than her driving record.
The Noem campaign and Republicans now need to move on. Quit talking about driving records, theirs and others. Don’t make this a two day or two week story. Democrats will try to keep ginning this story but the candidate has answered and must resist all impulses to keep talking about it.
What is happening is that Stephanie Herseth Sandlin has regained the momentum. HS is defining Noem rather than Noem doing the defining. I.e. Senior Citizens can not trust Noem and she has character flaws. All the while, Stephanie is running feel good ads appealing to the her Seniors and reassuring her prior voters who might otherwise be questioning her values that she is the independent voice for South Dakota and not the candidate who is on the political fringe.
South Dakota voters do not support the President and the budget deficits are the number one issue. This is the issue South Dakotans care about. Kristi must tell South Dakota voters that Barack Obama is taking our Country in the wrong direction. His $800 billion budget busting stimulus plan is not working. Stephanie supports the President’s wrong direction and supports and voted for his stimulus plan. In her advertising Kristi should look right into the camera and deliver this message with conviction.
Tell voters, real South Dakota values are paying off the mortgage for the future not adding to it. South Dakotans understand you can not buy prosperity. Tell ‘em.
Kristi Noem needs to get on message!