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Monday, August 9, 2010

House Notes: SHS Leaning My Way with Franken

South Dakota's conservative blogosphere is erupting with joy at Senator Al Franken's visit to South Dakota. I'm rather pleased myself. In a speech at the Oglala Lakota Nation Pow Wow at Pine Ridge Saturday, the junior Senator from Minnesota endorsed our Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin thus: “She has voted differently than I voted on a couple of things, but we need to be able to have somebody here in South Dakota who’s going to vote for Speaker Pelosi, not for Speaker Boehner.”

This is a dream comment for conservatives who believe Nancy Pelosi (the name, not the actual woman or the policies) is toxic and want a convenient handle to persuade the inattentive, personality-based voters. The NRCC, source of 50% of Dakota War College's material, has surely already spliced Senator Franken's statement into an ad with unflattering photos of Al, SHS, and the Speaker, all caught in awkward, unflattering poses, looming toward the camera to the tune of ominous, crescending cello notes.

I will agree that Senator Franken's comment could give some Blue-Dog-triangulation-minded kids in the warroom heartburn. An important Dem strategy this year is to block the GOP strategy of nationalizing the race and keep voters focused on state/local issues. For the GOP Speaker Pelosi is generally unpopular among folks for whom she is a convenient abstraction of outsiderhood rather than the actual flesh-and-blood representative on the ballot. It's a lot easier to say "Herseth = Pelosi!" than it is to explain to voters why SHS's votes on specific policies are worse for South Dakota than the votes her challenger would cast.

The proper response for Herseth Sandlin: embrace Franken's endorsement. Look again at what he said: if you have a choice between the policies of Speaker Pelosi and those of Minority Leader Boehner, which should you pick? Well, consider everything Boehner and his obstructionist House Republicans have opposed in just the last couple years (this is a popular list making the rounds online; you'll find various flavors of the text on various sites):
  • Senator Franken’s Anti-Rape Amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill
  • Benefits to homeless veterans and homeless veterans with children.
  • Ending health insurers' pre-existing condition exclusions
  • Health care for 9/11 First Responders
  • Tax incentives to companies hiring new employees
  • Giving community banks access to billions of dollars to loan to small businesses
  • Financial reform
  • Stimulus Bill (a.k.a. the reason we aren't in a Depression)
  • Requiring identification of all donors to political campaigns
  • Extension of unemployment benefits
  • Fair Pay Act of 2009- Also called the Lily Ledbetter bill.
Now SHS has voted like Boehner on a number of my priorities, like health care, student loans, and credit card rules. But I know that if I want to promote the Democratic agenda, I can at least have the conversation with Herseth Sandlin. All we'll get from Noem is No! on a wide range of issues where America needs action, not vague faith in slogans and the invisible hand.

Stephanie, don't let the Republican shouters spook you on the Franken comment. Blow their minds: bring Al back. Bring Senator Franken to Rapid City, Pierre, Aberdeen... and Madison! I bet Senator Franken will do an outstanding job of explaining that, yes, the policies of the Democratic Party really are good for South Dakota, and that, yes, we really are better off with a Congresswoman who votes more often with Speaker Pelosi than with Congressman Boehner.

Update 15:55 CDT: As Dr. Blanchard notes below, Senator Franken's South Dakota visit is getting national press—heck, if Al can get South Dakota attention, bring him back for more!

MinnPost observes that Franken was only stating the obvious... and that Republicans might not want to push this strategy too far, given the abysmal poll numbers of their own Congressional leadership.

Stephanie, seriously, change the game: bring Franken for more visits! Tell the people of South Dakota that, on most issues, Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic Party as a whole really do support better policies for South Dakota. Why run against both parties? Run against the Republicans; run with the Dems!


  1. By all means, bring Franken to Madison and other cities across the state. People know how he "won" the MN election, and now people know this comment that SHS = Pelosi. Good attempt at spinning this boondoggle.

  2. Linda, I'd love to have Senator Franken come to town. Remember how many breakfasts Eliasons sold at Second Street Diner when Hillary Clinton dropped in? Big Dems are good for local business! I'll bring Franken, you bring Palin, and we'll see who's got the goods. :-)

  3. Cory, rumor has it that PP and the anonymous boys at SDWC have a little Boehner for oddly tanned, orange Republican obstructionists. Not sure about "springer." She may not really be so high on the old orange Boehner, as she is just in it for the money. ;^)

  4. Ken Blanchard8/09/2010 2:11 PM

    It's not just conservatives that are celebrating this story. It's all over the professional sites today. See the National Journal: <> and The Hill <>

  5. Cory,

    I agree with you. Franken is an effective surrogate in this race and I think Stephanie should bring him more often.

  6. SHS should bring Nancy Pelosi to South Dakota so those who believe she has cloven hooves might see she is a very intelligent lady whose actual political positions are much closer to the interests of most South Dakotans. Let her give a lot of press interviews and perhaps the SD media won't so gleefully parrot the GOP attempt to vilify Pelosi and thus have a cheap way to attack all Democrats.

    The cheap shot GOP lies about Pelosi started even before she was elected to a leadership position. The GOP looks way ahead to elections in which irrelevancy it chooses to hype. It wasn't hard to see what was coming from the party of no, no.

  7. There were South Dakotans without power for two months because they have been abandoned by the Rounds/Daugaard/SDGOP hatemongers. Senator Franken and Representative Herseth Sandlin want power for the people.

    Republicans sicken me.

  8. I can roll with that, Douglas! Bring the real person, have a real conversation, stand up for the party, and make the point that the party is standing up for South Dakota. It's time to stop enabling the GOP narrative and fightt he good fight!


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