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South Dakota is supposed to be a solidly "red" state, but any look at who holds office in the state will put that myth to rest. Tim Johnson is the most popular Senator in the country, and Stephanie Herseth (SD's only House seat) is a rising star in the Democratic party. John Thune knocked off Daschle in '04, but before then SD has been solidly Democratic; hell even North Dakota has two Democratic Senators and a Dem Representative (Rhode Island doesn't even have two Dem Senators).
All the talk about the Mountain West being the future of the party is probably true, but it would be a big mistake to overlook the plains states. These are states full of people who are being hurt by Bush's policies and who thinks this govermnent is interfering too much in our lives. These are people who can come (back) to the Democratic party, and last nights primary is a positive sign for the future.
By now I think everyone knows about the SD abortion ban and how crazy it is. This isn't even a ban that goes into effect if Roe v. Wade is repealed (like was just passed in Louisiana), this is a full out BAN on all abortions. Groups like Focus South Dakota has been fighting to repeal the ban, and I think they'll be succesful.
Last night's Governor's primary gives me reason to hope.
There were two Dem's vying for the nomination. Jack Billion (great name) a former surgeon and veteran, and Dennis Wiese former head of the Farmer's Union. Not many people were watching this race because Mike Rounds the current governor, though crazy, is strangely popular. This is supposed to be a safe GOP seat.
But Jack Billion won last night with over 60% of the vote. This is important because Billion has admitted that the abortion ban was one of the deciding factors in him entering the race. Billion would talk about it and say it was crazy and was too intrusive of a law. Dennis Wiese on the other hand would vacillate and never quite attacked the law; he even said that he would sign an abortion ban that had an exception for cases of rape and incest (which the current bill does not have). So you have a pro-ban candidate and an anti-ban candidate.
And the anti-ban candidate won in a shocking landslide.
Now SD is a small state, it's entirely possible that the 35,000 people who voted in the primary met one or both of the candidates at some point. And all of those people must have known about Billion's position on the abortion ban.
This was an important primary because it's another sign that the people of this country (even those in the "red" states) are sick and tired of politicians who think that abortion and gay marriage are more important than the war or the economy.
Billion has a lot of momentum now and could turn his fight against Rounds into a serious contest.
Here's the Billion website. You should check him out.