The Dave Knudson for Governor campaign sends me its fun little press release tweaking Dennis Daugaard for his apparent flip-flop on Governor Rounds's budget.
Part of me goes Tee-hee! at the prospect of Republican mud-wrestling. But part of me thinks of 2002 and gets a little antsy. Daugaard and Knudson have their differences, but they are cut of similar pragmatist cloth. They'll lead the fight for the mainstream Republican vote.
But as they start fighting—and they will, they have to, that's a primary reality—they may find themselves rolling down the same road as Steve Kirby and Mark Barnett in 2002: the road to defeat at the hands of a dark horse challenger.
And who are our dark horses this year?
Well, there's rancher Ken Knuppe, who's probably going to Wasson out on us any day now.
There's Scott Munsterman, whose events calendar does look distressingly empty this month. I wouldn't go so far as to say the wheels are coming off the Munsterman campaign, although his campaign manager has certainly been making a push to supplement his income with more blog ads.* I find it hard to believe that Munsterman would bail on the campaign after selling his business and driving all over kingdom come last year. If the two big guys are fighting, why not stay and fight to be the Mike Rounds surprise of 2010?
Because, as Badlands Blue points out, there's another dark horse who may have an even better shot at gobbling up the remnants of a GOP electorate split by a Knudson–Daugaard bloodbath: Gordon Howie. Yes, he's a nut, but he might be the right kind of nut.
Daugaard and Knudson can split the sensible GOP–Chamber of Commerce vote. Munsterman has that good-old fundagelical Wesleyanism in him, but for all his signals to the theocracy crowd, he's still a relatively practical policy wonk (read the briefs, read the book). The radical right knows Munsterman isn't quite the rabid anti-abortion crusader of their dreams.
The great non-wonk right that votes on nothing but fetuses and fags† knows Gordon Howie is their man. He's built his reputation in the crusade for theocracy. The moment he submits his petitions for governor, he has a lock on the Unruh block of the GOP. Munsterman will be left playing for the scraps of the sensible Republicans, and unless he and Knudson roll over to save the party, Howie could be the nominee.
...at which point, Heidepriem wins.
Gee, I guess all of me is saying, Tee-hee!
*Powers's latest ads include the Pothole Fairy! Hmmm... conservative blogger advertises for lobby supporting more government spending—wrap your brain around that one!.
†I apologize now to my friends on the left who may be offended by my use of the term. I use it for alliteration and to capture the homophobic thinking the Howie crowd's bullying and bias demonstrate. As always, the comment section is open.
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