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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Grading the District 8 House Candidates: Patricia Stricherz

If Vegas took bets on the District 8 South Dakota State House race, they'd offer these odds:
I don't lay these odds lightly, especially the last figure. Believe it or not, this liberal Democrat blogger has had a number of interesting, engaging conversations with Republican newcomer Patricia Stricherz. I'm convinced she has a good heart and a genuine desire and ability to serve the public. I'm also convinced she's going to come in last in this election. She has the least visibility in terms of name recognition, advertising, door-knocking, and even online presence. At the two public forums I've attended where she has taken the stage with her fellow candidates, Stricherz has shown the least grasp of the various issues raised. That's not to say Stricherz doesn't have strong opinions, policy positions, and life experiences worth listening to; she simply doesn't have the same political sense her opponents do of which points to focus on or how to "sell herself" to the voters.

Consider Stricherz's response last Tuesday night at the Madison Chamber forum to the opening question, "What do you hope to accomplish during your first term?" This one's a freebie: tee up your favorite talking points, your big vision, and swing for the back 40. Fargen talks ethanol and education. Lange talks tax reform and education. Johnson talks funding and accountability in education. Stricherz talks about not making guys register as sex offenders for having sexual contact with young girls in their peer group.

Now Stricherz was trying to make a point (one worth discussing) about the need for the law to distinguish between real offenders and teenagers who aren't dangerous criminals. She likely knows some young people who've been hit hard by the law for doing something that maybe all parties involved feel didn't do any harm. I hesitate to even write that last sentence, for fear readers may get the wrong impression from what I'm saying unless I write a lengthy explanation. I don't want to write that lengthy explanation, because, honestly, there are bigger legislative fish to fry.

Stricherz acknowledged those bigger fish—energy, education, the economy—but insisted that leniency for young sex "offenders" is the "one issue" that "keeps coming up."

Um, I've done some door-to-door this year. No one has brought this issue up. I haven't seen press on it. I haven't seen blog posts on it. Stricherz is the only person I've heard mention it.

On the one hand, I admire Stricherz for using the public forum to bring up an issue that maybe isn't on everyone's radar and perhaps should be. But politically, it was a mistake. She takes an easy question, brings up a sensitive issue that needs more explaining than time allows, gives opponents an easy line to twist, and makes an implausible claim to boot.

Stricherz also got hung up on solar energy. An audience member brought the issue up at the AAUW forum a couple weeks ago. Interesting, but not a front-burner issue for most voters. Yet Stricherz made it a centerpiece of her response on economic development Tuesday evening. Again, maybe there's a plan brewing here, something that takes longer to explain than a two-minute response, but Stricherz came off sounding like one of my young debaters who gets caught off guard by a tricky argument and then devotes herself to briefing out that one argument, even though in the grand scheme of things, it's not a big voting issue.

Understand, I don't say these things about Stricherz out of any personal or partisan animus. As I said, I've had enjoyable and extended conversations with her. I think she would be a good legislator, maybe even my favorite kind of legislator, a maverick who won't let anyone boss her around and will truly stand up for the little guy. Unfortunately, the Madison Chamber of Commerce—oops, I mean, the Republican Party—doesn't like that kind of maverick. And even if they did, Stricherz hasn't figured out how to project that spirit, that passion for service, into the public persona of an effective politician.

Stricherz has some great ideas that need to be heard. Unfortunately, we aren't hearing them on the campaign trail, and Stricherz won't get to make those ideas heard in Pierre... at least not this time around.

Stay tuned: more to come on Fargen, Lange, and Johnson!


  1. Here is my response: I am a Christian Conservative; voting for me you will have an advocate in Pierre, where I will inclinate principals that are key to finding a solution to affordable housing, working on resetting the poverty line to today's threshold and not that of 1963 where it was first set and still used today. I will work to restructure the welfare system to be fair and equal for all the need the help and stricter for those that just wish to be government supported. I will work to ensure that minimum wage is set at our current economic levels and that it increases yearly, not stay in one place far to long. As you can tell, I am most interested in social issues, the real issues that affects peoples lives each and every day.
    I am certian that educating your children should be in the hands of the parents, that the parents decide the needs of their children whether they attend public, private or religious insttitutions or are educated at home.
    We live in South Dakota, and if you ask me we are very fortunate to do so. We have the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, state funding for education has increased by more than $21 million in 2008. Our state budget is balanced every year without major tax increases. We are number one as the best business tax climate in America.
    I am running for election sl that District 8 and South Dakota can have someone that is going to be your voice and speak up about the real issues.
    And yes, Cory...I have gone door to door and the subjects brought up to me are about sex offender registration, abortion, a heath care fix, as well as energy independence.
    Thank you
    Patricia Stricherz
    candidate for District 8 House

  2. Well, here is one early voter for you, Patricia! Good luck in the race!


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