Thursday, October 17, 2013

Does Rick Weiland Really Believe Mike Rounds Will Actually Use The Classic Political Pivot?

Kevin Woster reports that Rick Weiland believes Mike Rounds is attempting to perform the classic political pivot. Weiland is quoted as saying Rounds is "going to the right to win the nomination, and then he’s got to try to go back to the center again. We’ll see if he can get there.”

Woster then notes a key point Weiland seems to ignore; running the political pivot in South Dakota is a far different game than running the pivot in other places, Woster writes, "finding the center in a U.S. Senate race in South Dakota is not like finding it in the presidential campaign. The middle is farther to the right here, and the voting public more forgiving of well-known Republicans."

Woster is given to understatement rather than hyperbole, so he can be forgiven for failing to note that South Dakota's left was decimated, in the sense that it was reduced by one-tenth, when Cory Heidelberger and his wife left South Dakota so that Erin could complete her pastoral internship.

I don't get every Republican email blast. Facebook update, or tweet, but there's little evidence Mike Rounds is running to the right. Running to the right in South Dakota entails swearing fealty to Grover Norquist, something Rounds has chosen not to do. In the current climate, running to the right entails bowing before a Ted Cruz idol, shutting down the government, and risking default unless Obamacare is defunded. Once again, Rounds has taken stances that have avoided those extremes. Running to the right in South Dakota may also entail declaring Barack Obama the Anti-Christ for having the temerity to win the presidency twice. So far Rounds has also been silent on that possibility 

Given that South Dakota's right would likely read William F. Buckley out of the movement, I have a weird expectation that Stace Nelson or Annette Bosworth will turn to turn to Rounds and do a Joe McCarthy impersonation by asking, "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist party" if the Republicans hold any debates.

Angry right-wing protestations to the contrary, Rounds is not a creature of the left. He is the epitome of a pragmatic politician who knows that he has greater name recognition and more money than his primary opponents. He's occupying a political center that most other places would consider a right flank. More importantly, he also knows that Democrats have little chance of running a successful campaign for the open U.S.Senate seat. The Democrats' odds will diminish if Weiland believes that a successful strategy involves exposing Rounds's attempt of a political pivot that Rounds likely will not make.

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