The Senate races in South Dakota and Kansas may be examples of a rising political phenomenon: the smash-and-grab campaign. In both states, independent candidates have scrambled long-settled patterns. Races that were once considered safe wins for Republicans are attracting new money and attention from both parties. They will be hard-fought until Election Day. Usually you need three for a trend, and there are idiosyncrasies to both of these races that resist drawing grand conclusions, but with two weeks to go before the election, it is a time to start practicing grand-conclusion-drawing.
Rick Weiland is trying to sing his way to the Senate. As national Democrats finalize plans to pour $1 million into South Dakota to help Weiland, the Democrat is flooding television airwaves with country song parodies. Since April, his campaign has aired three music videos in the state that put an election-year spin on songs like Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere” and Roger Miller’s “King of the Road.” Weiland, 56, has made campaign finance reform a central plank of his campaign. In one parody, “Big Wheel,” inspired by Old Crow Medicine Show’s rendition of “Wagon Wheel,” Weiland sings, “So I’m running for the Senate but I’m not a big wheel, don’t have an RV, just my automobile / Hey, no one’s bought me.”
On Thursday, families across the country will gather around the table to celebrate Thanksgiving. I have much to be thankful for this year, including a loving wife, children and grandchildren. I am also continually thankful to be able to serve South Dakotans in the U.S. Senate.
South Dakota voters must try to answer a highly complicated set of questions with a single yes or no as they decide whether to approve or disallow Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s education reforms that make up Referred Law 16.
John Thune has been a favorite in Republican circles for almost a decade. In the next few months, the senator from South Dakota could be taking that notoriety national.