I'm still not jumping up and down to wage casino wars with Iowa. Yet I note with interest a letter from State Senator Gene Abdallah, Republican from District 10, essentially endorsing the position of Democratic gubernatorial candidate and fellow State Senator Scott Heidepriem that South Dakota needs to address the Larchwood casino issue.
Senator Abdallah's critique still relies too much on scarcity thinking, arguing that Iowa's gain is our loss. However, his letter also hints at a leadership issue that can offer voters a reason to replace the current regime with someone new. Abdallah mentions legislation he and Heidepriem co-sponsored that would have directed the governor to negotiate with Iowa and try to work out a casino arrangement more amenable to all parties.
Now I'm not sure what leverage South Dakota would have in asking Iowa to consider our concerns with their economic development projects. Iowa has done the same on the Hyperion refinery, which will dump all sorts of externalities on our neighbors across the river, and South Dakota's response has been, Buzz off!
Nonetheless, Senator Abdallah's letter highlights a problem a lot of Republicans see with the current administration: a lack of leadership, an inability to get out in front of issues and bang the drum for South Dakota's interests. And Abdallah is a pretty prominent Republican, giving a pretty pointed shout-out to the Democratic gubernatorial candidate just as the campaign season hits full throttle.
Watch out: the Heidepriem campaign may be able to deliver more Republican votes than you think.
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