This David Montgomery tweet and this Dakota War College post report the South Dakota GOP has hired Dick Wadhams as a senior political consultant. Wadhams gained fame as a key member of John Thune's 2004 campaign when Thune defeated Tom Daschle.
That victory notwithstanding, this decision seems odd. Most recently, Wadhams served as a consultant for Mike Rounds during the 2014 Republican primary season. In that campaign Rounds' opponents were Larry Rhoden, a pale imitation of Rounds; Stace Nelson, a candidate with a concrete low ceiling; Annette Bosworth, a woman whose videos and public appearance made reality television seem to be serious art and Jason Ravnsborg, a candidate who gave new meaning to the term novice. Rounds won easily because of his weak opposition not Wadhams's advice.
In the general election, Democrats did not nominate candidates in the attorney-general, state auditor, and commissioner of school and public lands races.Further, Republicans are heavy favorites in each of the contested races, so Wadhams seems equally superfluous for this campaign
The hire prompts a variety of questions. Are the Republicans so flush with cash that they feel the need to spend some just for the sake of spending? Perhaps Wadhams is demanding a sinecure because he believes he was not properly rewarded in 2004 and the Republicans are obliging him. Neither rationale, however, seems to be one a fiscally conservative party would consider.
Perhaps party leaders are worried about some scandal coming to the fore, but Rounds, the person most likely to be harmed by known imbroglios, is in a four-way race and doesn't need to worry about capturing 50%. Is this an effort to marginalize the party's right wing? Wadhams history with the tea party is complicated to say the least.
Whatever the reason for the Wadhams hire, it illustrates that South Dakota politics is a trip that will get curiouser and curiouser as one stumbles throught the rabbit hole until the November elections