Saturday, August 9, 2014

The 2014 South Dakota Libertarian Convention: Some Preliminary Minor Musings

Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest enunciated a simple military strategy: get there first with the most men. Lee Stranahan, Chad Haber, and Annette Bosworth used the political equivalent of Forrest's doctrine. In a show up, register as a party member, and vote convention, they brought more voting delegates than the other candidates, so Lee Stranahan is now the South Dakota Libertarian Party's (SDLP) East River member on the SDLP executive and Haber is the party's nominee for South Dakota Attorney General. Both won a three person race with approximately half the total votes cast.

Although they do not have nominees for in South Dakota's gubernatorial race, U.S. Senate race, U.S. House race, the party did nominate a full slate for the South Dakota's other constitutional offices.

In addition to Haber, the party nominated Emmett Reistroffer for Secretary of State, Kurt Evans for Auditor, Ken Santema for Treasurer, John English for Commissioner of School and Public lands, and Ryan Gaddy for PUC. Long time Libertarian Bob Newland said this is the largest slate of candidates South Dakota Libertarians have had.

In addition to nominating candidates, the SDLP also began discussion on a state party platform and heard from Independent gubernatorial candidate Michael Myers, Independent U.S. Senate candidate Larry Pressler, and Eric Leggett, and independent candidate from District 15 for the South Dakota House of Representatives.

Herein endth the reporting portion of the post. I'll give some quick and dirty reflections that I had on the drive home and revise and extend some comments tomorrow.

First, the Libertarians were rightfully happy that they accomplished what the Democrats didn't; it bears mentioning, however, that only there were only thirty people in the room who voted in any contested nomination.

Emmett Reistroffer and Ken Santema are the two candidates who impressed me the most. Reistroffer is young and more polished than I expected him to be. He will certainly pick up votes from small government types who are looking for an upbeat, fresh face.  Quite frankly, the secretary of state race will feature each party's best young candidates for statewide office. Operating under the assumption that the Republican is a prohibitive favorite in each race, Democratic party officials would be wise to spend some time making sure the Angelia Schultz campaign kicks it up a notch or two. She'll need to be fully prepared for all public appearances and any debates that may occur. Reistroffer is smooth and competent. A depressed Democratic voter turnout and a poor Schultz performance could allow Reistroffer to make the race for second (note assumption above) closer than the Democrats want it to be.

Santema is well spoken and exudes a quiet confidence and competence. He will resonate with those who vote on the "this is the guy I want to have a beer with" paradigm.

English said he was an attorney licensed to practice in Wyoming but had just taken the South Dakota bar. He nominated himself and Newland seconded the nomination. I'm not sure how many South Dakota Libertarians know who he is or much about him.

Stranahan and Haber both mentioned PR and public perception several times during the day. I believe both mentioned it in relation to hemp, medical marijuana, and marijuana legalization. It will be interesting to see if the party's more assertive supporters of legalization and decriminalization will alter their rhetoric to improve public perception.

The convention broke up after concluding nominations even though there was unfinished platform business. The executive committee will take up the platform discussion, but building a party requires attention to details like the platform. It remains to be seen whether the party can develop the discipline to do the nuts and bolts work besides nominating candidates.

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