Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Daschle Drafting Johnson

In House, Senate on April 2, 2013 at 11:04 am

It’s within a different generation, but the Daschle family is again supporting a member of the Johnson clan for statewide South Dakota political office. Nathan “Nate” Daschle, former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle’s (D) son, is leading an organized effort to draft Brendan Johnson for the US Senate. The prospective candidate’s father, Tim Johnson, is the incumbent senator who announced last week that he would not seek re-election in 2014. Brendan Johnson is South Dakota’s US Attorney, and has been mentioned as a possible Democratic Senatorial candidate.

In a published open letter to Brendan Johnson, Daschle writes, “it’s time for a new generation of leadership in South Dakota, and Brendan Johnson has the smarts, vision, and compassion to move this state forward. You won’t find anyone more committed to South Dakota’s future than Brendan. His candidacy would re-ignite our state’s great potential, and I think we would be lucky to have him serve in the U.S. Senate.”

The fact that a member of the Daschle family would publicly come forth so quickly to promote Johnson likely tells us something about the Democrats’ other top potential candidate, former representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. It is unlikely that Daschle would commit this early to Brendan Johnson if he, and the Democratic establishment, actually believed the ex-congresswoman was planning to run. Furthermore, of the two, Herseth Sandlin is obviously the stronger campaigner, making Daschle’s action even more indicative.

The Republican nominee is likely to be former Gov. Mike Rounds, who has been running since the 2012 election concluded and figures to be the favorite for the general election.

IA-3: The First Drop-out

Several weeks ago, wealthy investor Michael Sherzan (D) announced a challenge to Iowa Rep. Tom Latham (R) in the Des Moines-anchored 3rd Congressional District. Many believed such an early declaration was an attempt by Sherzan and his supporters to convince Latham to run statewide for retiring Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D) open seat.

The idea was to signal Latham that he would face a difficult contest no matter what 2014 campaign he ultimately decided to enter, thus hoping to persuade the congressman to run for the higher profile position.

If this was Sherzan’s intent, his notion failed. Within days of him coming forward, Latham announced that he would seek re-election to the House, thus by-passing a run for the open Senate seat.

Yesterday, the Democrat responded. Because of health reasons, Sherzan publicly announced, his congressional campaign is already coming to an end, making his effort one of the shortest-tenured congressional challenges of all time.

Democrats must now go back to the drawing board to find another candidate, though it may be a tough sell. The 3rd District is certainly marginal, but Latham defeated a sitting incumbent last November by more than 8.5 points with President Obama leading the Democratic ticket, thus making any new challenge very formidable.

The veteran Republican was the odd-man-out during the 2011 redistricting process because Iowa lost a congressional seat in reapportionment. Latham racked up his significant victory margin over eight-term Rep. Leonard Boswell (D) despite only representing 17 percent of the new 3rd District constituency. In contrast, Boswell had represented 57 percent of the territory for the better part of his 16 years in the House.

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