Monday, June 30, 2014

Wadhams Hire Prompts Curiousity

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


Troy Jones said...

Wadhams hire says: "when your competition says hit me and knock me into irrelevance" you respond with "my pleasure."

caheidelberger said...

It is a head-scratcher. If everyone is playing nicely, the logical assumption would be that Team Rounds has decided they need the help less than the party in general. But as you point out, what does the party need him for? The SDGOP isn't struggling with recruitment, fundraising, etc. They don't really need a hatchet man—that sort of thing is more necessary for candidates, not the party as a whole, right?

If anyone's not playing nicely, maybe he and Rounds couldn't get along, or maybe Rounds, either backing away or struggling to reach the nine-million mark that he earlier touted, has reneged on some promise to give Wadhams gainful employment through November. Maybe that would explain your sinecure suggestion, niceness leveraged by the 2004 service?

Kal Lis said...


As always, thanks for stopping by.

In Pierre, it seems that Democrats don't have the ability to stop Republicans from achieving any policy objective they wish to accomplish. They only setbacks have been with referrals.

Once Democrats have been driven into oblivion, then what? If, and I underscore the conditional nature of the word, the SDGOP is driven purely by animus at Democrats, that animus will not go away if the party wins the US Senate race, the US House, the governor's mansion, every constitutional office, and every seat in the legislature. Where is that animus going to be directed next? Those on the far right who oppose some business recruitment plan or those who oppose the death penalty? Those who prefer grass fed Hereford beef to feedlot Angus?

I go back to the point that Republicans should have turned this state into a conservative Shangri La by now, yet they don't seem satisfied.

Taking your statement in the most innocent framing possible still gives me pause. The recent poll that large chunks of both Democrats and Republicans view the opposing party as threats to nation frightens me. The days of fighting like hell in the chamber and sharing a beer afterwards seem long gone.

Democrats need a half dozen McGoverns to help them. Heck, they may need a dozen. I'll humbly suggest that Republicans need a few more Jim Abnors. They likely have enough Dick Wadhams.