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Monday, November 1, 2010

District 8 Senate Prediction and Endorsement

The latest Madville Times poll finds the local electorate split on the relevance of the criminal records of both District 8 State Senate candidates, Independent/Democrat Clark Schmidtke, Sr., and incumbent Republican Senator Russell Olson. I asked whether the criminal records of each man, revealed just in the past week in the blogosphere, would affect your vote for District 8 Senate. The results:

51 (57%)
30 (34%)
39 (43%)
57 (66%)

These numbers seem reasonable. Russell Olson is better known and better liked. Those who know and like a guy are more inclined to forgiveness toward that guy. Additionally, Olson's crimes—speeding, failure to stop, failure to appear, open container, simple assault—happened mostly when he was in his 20s and fall into that fuzzy category we reserve for crimes of the young and stupid. Schmidtke's guilty plea to three counts of theft occurred in his 40s and involved misuse of checkbooks of elderly folks placed in his care.

In 2006, the last off-year election, Democratic District 8 Senator Dan Sutton beat Republican challenger John Toates 57% to 43%. Sutton had just been hit with allegations of improper conduct with a male page at least as scandalous as the charges against Schmidtke. In the face of those charges, the relatively quiet Toates was able to get 43% of the district to mark his name. And this was with Sutton supporters still able to say, "Innocent until proven guilty."

In 2008, Olson beat a much stronger Democratic contender, Scott Parsley, 55% to 45%. Schmidtke, with less money, less name recognition, and fewer connections than Parsley, was probably headed pre-scandal for a 40% finish. Speculating wildly from the above poll results, I'm going to guess that Schmidtke's court record loses him two votes for every one Olson's court record loses him. Not helping Schmidtke's situation: the Madison Daily Leader gives Schmidtke's court record front-page coverage on the Friday before the election while making no mention of Olson's court record. A large portion of voters who don't access online media thus have no idea that they will vote for a man with a significant criminal record regardless of which District 8 Senate bubble they fill.

Given Schmidtke has no legislative record or other major connections to counter the bad press, I'll project Olson's margin of victory rises from 60–40 to 70–30.

I will still be voting with that 30.

Russell Olson has enjoyed the benefits of numerous favors from the wealthy and powerful in Madison and South Dakota. His friends in the party of Janklow, Rounds, and Prostrollo handed him comfortable government-related jobs while the ink was still fresh on his court record. Rich Republicans in Madison and across the state have handed him tens of thousands of dollars to buy ads and win elections against much less-well-funded opponents. Russell Olson is where he is because of a lot of favors from a lot of powerful people.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't get the impression Clark Schmidtke has ever gotten much in the way of favors from the rich and powerful. I don't get the impression he moves in those circles. The way he told me his side of the story, the powers that be were looking for a way to get him and forced him to surrender when he couldn't afford to fight.

Now we have Russell Olson, who owes his career to the benevolence of the powers that be, acting as a staunch defender of those powers. He knows that running for office brings risks of public criticism of his past, but he can rely on his wealthy and powerful friends to support him.

And we have Clark Schmidtke, who appears not to have grabbed any gold ring of patronage, challenging the powers that rule South Dakota. He knows that running for office brings risks of public criticism of his past, and he has few wealthy or powerful individuals to speak on his behalf or fill his campaign coffers to splash images of his happy family across the newspapers to counter bad publicity. He knew the past that could be used against him in this campaign could also hurt his business. Yet in the face of that risk, Schmidtke still chose to take on a fight that matters to him, a fight for good government, a fight for better policies on education and health care, a fight against handouts to rich oil corporations.

Clark, I have no wealth, no power to offer you. I have only my vote, and a little blog post that may redound against you as much as it will redound against me (especially if there are any more surprises). Oh well. I've faced worse. So have you, Clark.

I can't guarantee I'll bring anyone else along. But Clark, you have my vote.


  1. Cory, do you need to borrow a screwdriver? I think your moral compass is broken.

  2. My moral compass is fine, thank you... and it's not the issue. I'm sure you can find another use for your screwdriver.

  3. It is absolutely incredible that a person who maligns someone somewhere with every tap of the keyboard casts aspersions on someone else's moral stature. What's the difference between Al Qaeda which kills people indiscriminately without reason and a person who assassinates character indiscriminately for no reason other than a malicious personality? The motives are the same.

    I will never understand why people allow his comments on their blogs.

  4. One who finds speeding tickets relevant for a Republican but dismisses theft from seniors and failure to make restitution for a Democrat is nothing but a idealogue for whom the ends justify the means.

    It belies an attitude there are no limits so long as one is ideologically pure to the cause consistent with William Ayres, Saul Wolinsky, Machiaveli, and Pol Pot.

  5. My understanding, Troy, is that he has not failed to make restitution. He made payments from 1999 to 2003. Then, as he explains it the county attorney got the judge to reduce the conviction to misdemeanor and forgive the remaining restitution payments. If that story is inaccurate and Schmidtke still owes the state of Minnesota several thousand dollars, the troopers know where to find him. And if you can show me evidence that Mr. Schmidtke has lied to us with that explanation, I will rescind my endorsement. But I'm on my way to vote at 11....

  6. Pat, the confessional may work to absolve your sin of touching yourself in an impure manner; but, it doesn't work like that for Protestants like Kristi. Her sins are forever.

  7. From your own paper, quoting the States Attorney in Minnesota:

    "The court records showed that Schmidtke made 19 payments from January 1999 to September 2003, making partial restitution of $5,950. He also had one converted credit of $580 in May 1997, bringing his total for paid restitution to $6,530.

    The court records showed that as of Monday, Schmidtke still needed to pay $7,685.96 on the original restitution balance of $14,225.96."

  8. Corey:
    First, I thought you had a policy against anon. posters.

    Second, to me there is a big difference in the severity of the crime of speeding and alcohol infractions versus stealing money from elderly clients instrusted to your care.

    I believe all of Russ Olson's fines have been paid. Schmidtke did not make even half of the required restitution. Maybe the courts forgave the balance due and maybe not I don't know, what I do know is Schmidtke should do the right thing and repay what he stole

    I'm just saying...

  9. [I do have such a policy, Tim, and I enforce it... whenever I have the button handy!]

  10. Mr. Mike Quinlivan11/02/2010 3:56 PM

    Since when does voting have to be moral? Almost all our politicians are schmucks, is it really moral that we vote for them? Is there some sort of biblical punishment for voting for a jerk? I hope not; if PP ever actually wins a race his voters will be in a lot of trouble...waka waka waka, I'm here every tuesday ladies and gentlemen. Tip your waiter. Oh, and Troy, our anti-colonial Kenyan COmmunist president was influenced by Alinsky, not Woulinsky.

  11. Mike, I think Sol Wolinski makes those great Polish sausages we Dem, pinko, commie, secular humanist, facist storm troopers give out on our vote-bribing feeds over by Tabor and Lesterville.

    They're usually good for about 10 votes per wiener.

    More if you go to Delmont or Wagner.

    Meanwhile, Saul Alinsky has become the darling of the Tea Party patriots, I think.

    They seem to be following his organizing techniques right down the line as near as I can tell. (But don't tell them you know this. They're kind of touchy about it.)


  12. Mike Quinlivan11/02/2010 7:10 PM


    Oh, Troy was talking about him? Those sausages were delish!!! Stealing democracy never tasted so good...:)


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