News Stories and Campaign Press Releases

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For press inquiries, contact Nick Miner at nick@rickweiland.com or 605.906.0942

 

Press Release: South Dakota Veterans Blast Mike Rounds
Veterans Were Hurt By Mike Rounds

Sioux Falls –At a press conference today, Sioux Falls businessman and Democratic candidate for Senate, Rick Weiland, stated steadfast support for South Dakota veterans and pledged to seek a seat on the Veteran Affairs committee.

“As the son of a veteran, I will always fight hard to protect veterans,” Weiland said. “When people put on the uniform and put their lives at risk, we have a responsibility to make sure we take care of them when they get back.”

Rick Weiland was joined by more than a dozen South Dakota veterans who stated why they support Rick Weiland for U.S. Senate.

Larry Bouska – Vietnam Veteran: “We have been losing a lot of friends of veterans and that is why I support Rick Weiland. Rick is deeply committed to veterans issues and I know he’ll be a strong advocate for us when he gets elected to the U.S. Senate.”

Dennis Foell – Vietnam Veteran: “There was a saying back when I served our country: We say what we mean and we mean what we say. I support Rick because of his honesty and sincerity. There is no doubt whose side he is on. Rick will not be a Senator from South Dakota, he will be a Senator FOR South Dakota.”

Dennis Foell – Vietnam Veteran: “Veterans were hurt by Mike Rounds. Mike Rounds dismantled programs to help veterans in need. During the Rounds administration, any decision making roles the veteran’s commission had was taken away.”

Rich Wilson – Vietnam Veteran, Infantry & Purple Heart: “Mike Rounds did not help our service members when they came home.”

Weiland, who has been to every single town in South Dakota, pledged to visit every single town in South Dakota again during his first term as South Dakota’s next Senator.

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Press Release: “Go Positive Or Go Home Weiland Tells Democratic Leader Reid”

Sioux Falls — In a statement released today Sioux Falls businessman and Senate candidate Rick Weiland told Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid and the Washington DC based Democratic Senate Campaign Committee Reid controls to get their negative ads out of South Dakota and either start running positive, issue oriented ads that actually help South Dakota Democrats, or go home.

“Everybody knows the ugly attack ads you have been running against Mike Rounds help Larry Pressler, not the candidate of the party you are supposed to be campaigning for. They make me, as the Democratic candidate, look like a dirty campaigner. They damage Governor Rounds. And they let former Senator Pressler stand on the sidelines looking clean and gathering votes from disgusted South Dakotans, just as you intended them to do.” Weiland said.

Statement text:
Public statement from Rick Weiland to National Democratic Party Senate Leader Harry Reid and his Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC), as presented to the DSCC and the South Dakota Democratic Party in Washington DC and Sioux Falls this morning. Weiland will discuss this statement at a press conference at 2:30 pm at his Sioux Falls Campaign Office:

“For every one of the 18 months since I became a candidate for the United States Senate, and the 6 months since I was formally selected to be the candidate of the party you are supposed to represent, I have been asking you for positive assistance with my campaign. Instead of that assistance you have said I am not your choice, tried to dry up my funds by saying I cannot win, refused to have your DSCC even endorse me, and now you have come into my state with ugly, negative attacks against Mike Rounds, ads that you and every knowledgeable political strategist in America knows hurt me and help Larry Pressler, the longtime Republican who has apparently won your support for his so called independent campaign by whispering that if elected he might vote to help you keep your job as Majority Leader.

Based on this record of non-support for me, and of actions which assist one of my opponents, I am today formally requesting that you either begin airing positive advertising about my fight against big money, and for the ordinary citizens who our party is supposed to be pledged to support, or else you get out of our state. I do not want phony help that actually helps Larry Pressler by attacking Mike Rounds over what appears to everyone to be my name because it says paid for by the national political party of which I am a member.”

I am also today requesting that the South Dakota Democratic Party join me in repudiating these tactics and requesting that you and the National Democratic Party assist all South Dakota Democrats in our fight for a higher minimum wage, protection and expansion of Medicare and Social Security, equal rights for all citizens, and in helping us to help like-minded voters get to the polls on November 4.”

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Press Release: Weiland: Rounds’ Ads Turning Ellsworth Into A “Political Football” Are Unprecedented New Low In Senate Race

Sioux Falls – Sioux Falls small businessman and US Senate candidate Rick Weiland today joined Senator Tim Johnson by charging that Mike Rounds’ false advertising making the future of Ellsworth AFB a political football in a partisan political campaign “is an unprecedented new low that seriously jeopardizes the future of this very important facility.”

“To my knowledge,” Weiland said, “no other candidate in South Dakota history has ever tried to win votes by claiming that his or her opponent wants to shut down Ellsworth and put Rapid Citians out of work. Many have claimed they could do the best job of keeping Ellsworth open, but, as Senator Tim Johnson said last night, and everyone who has ever worked to protect Ellsworth AFB knows, when you claim that your political party is for Ellsworth and the candidate of the other party is against it, you instantly hold the future of Ellsworth hostage to the outcome of partisan elections. Politicizing their future has been the mark of death for important military installations all over the country. To put that mark of death on Ellsworth for your own political gain, as Mike Rounds is doing on your television sets as we speak, is irresponsible. Doing so with claims that are 100% false is even worse.”

“Let me make this absolutely clear. For 10 years I worked with our entire South Dakota Congressional delegation to protect Ellsworth AFB. For 18 months I have traveled this state and have said many times in the 540 town visits I have made that I support Ellsworth and have said zero times that I do not.

I join with Senator Tim Johnson, and every one of the Rapid Citians who have called me since Mike Rounds began jeopardizing Ellsworth with his false advertising, in asking that he terminate this advertising immediately. I would also hope very much he apologizes. Mr. Rounds owes the people of Rapid City an apology for playing politics with their futures and he owes the people of this state an explanation as to why he would approve advertising which lies about his opponent’s position in a way that jeopardizes arguably the most important Federal installation in this state.”

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Press Release: Weiland Announces He Would Vote Against Harry Reid As Democratic Leader In South Dakota Public TV

Challenges Rounds to vote against McConnell if Rounds is elected

Vermillion — In his opening statement of the South Dakota Public Broadcasting television debate, Sioux Falls businessman and Senate candidate Rick Weiland announced that, if elected, he will not support Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) as the leader of Senate Democrats.

“I got into this race because I believe, like you, that Washington is broken and that we need to take our government back from the ‘big money’ that corrupts it and put it to work for all of us again.

And frankly, both political parties are beholden to big money. Our Congress has been bought off and nothing is going to change until we get the money out of our politics.

Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell have given us the most dysfunctional government in a generation and they need to step aside.

I won’t be voting for Mr. Reid as Democratic Leader if elected — and I challenge Mike Rounds tonight to vote against Mr. McConnell — because they have both failed the American people and it’s time for new leadership.

The people of South Dakota deserve more than business as usual. My campaign has been anything but business as usual. I’m not one of them. I’m one of you, and I will to stand up and fight for you as your next United States Senator,” Weiland said.

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SDDP: Senator Tim Johnson sets the record straight on Rounds’ Ellsworth Air Force Base ads

Sioux Falls, SD (October 23, 2014) — Senator Tim Johnson released the following statement to set the record straight on Rounds’ Ellsworth Air Force Base ads:

“I know from my own personal experience that the paid political advertisement being run by candidate Mike Rounds claiming that Rick Weiland wants to close Ellsworth Air Force Base is false. I worked directly with Rick Weiland and Senator Tom Daschle for over a decade to defend Ellsworth Air Force Base from closure. Rick handled briefing materials for us and worked tirelessly as state director to defend, not to close, Ellsworth Air Force Base. I wish former Governor Bill Janklow were still with us because he too knew of and benefited from Rick Weiland’s work to protect Ellsworth.

I will give Mr. Rounds the benefit of the doubt and assume he was unaware of these facts. But if his campaign continues to air this completely false advertising about Rick Weiland, it will prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that it and Mr. Rounds are more concerned about political gain than about Ellsworth’s future.

Anyone who has ever worked to defend Ellsworth knows that politicizing the discussion of that critical base is the surest way to jeopardize its future, and that is what this kind of irresponsible political advertising does.”

Read The Full Press Release

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Press Release: Weiland Blasts WTO’s “Country Of Origin Labeling” Ruling

Big money multinational meatpackers working to reverse COOL law that allows American consumers to know where their beef comes from

Mitchell – After hosting another townhall meeting and meeting with the local editorial board, Sioux Falls businessman and US Senate candidate Rick Weiland blasted yesterday’s World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling on Country of Origin Labeling (COOL).

“Yesterday’s ruling from the WTO provides further credence to the legitimacy of the COOL law that Senator Tim Johnson wrote into the 2002 Farm Bill, and which was updated in the 2008 Farm Bill. Though the ruling continues to question its implementation, it maintains that the United States has the right to require labeling,” Weiland said.

“It’s outrageous that this international body would declare that providing accurate and non-controversial information to consumers means that we discriminate against imports. What I read from this is that consumers prefer American-made products, and when given the choice between American beef and pork as opposed to imported beef or pork, they want to buy American,” Weiland continued.

“If I’m elected, South Dakotans will continue to have a strong voice that will fight the big multinational meatpackers and their allies in Congress who want to gut COOL and preempt the Administration’s ability to appeal this unfounded ruling,” Weiland concluded.

Weiland has now held 254 townhall meetings and made more than 545 town visits.

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Press Release: Pinocchi-Rounds’ Caught In Another Lie – This Time With Rapid City Journal B1-B Ad

Weiland Campaign Calls On Journal to Denounce Rounds’ Tactic — Refuse to Run His Ads

Sioux Falls – Embattled US Senate candidate Mike Rounds is under fire again today for yet another lie, this time in a print ad in the Rapid City Journal yesterday that wrongly claimed that a national organization, the Council for a Livable World, and Rick Weiland oppose the B-1B bomber and want to close Ellsworth Air Force Base.

In fact, neither the Council for a Livable World or Rick Weiland oppose the B-1B bomber and neither has ever advocated closing Ellsworth Air Force Base.

“A shamefully desperate Mike Rounds has been caught in yet another lie in a pattern that is becoming all too familiar and sad – this time by running an ad in the Rapid City Journal that is not only false but is scurrilous. Their characterization that the Council and Rick Weiland want to “scuttle” the B-1B bomber and shut down Ellsworth Air Force base is completely and blatantly false. And Mike Rounds knows it. In fact lying has become so much a part of Mike Rounds’ DNA that even Pinocchio would be embarrassed,” said Weiland Campaign Manager Kris Swedin.

The Weiland campaign isn’t the only aggrieved party to Rounds’ lie.

Angela Canterbury, Executive Director for the Council had this to say in response to Rounds’ ad, “The ad is simply incorrect. The Council for a Livable World does not advocate closing Ellsworth Air Force Base. Council for a Livable World does not support scuttling the B-1B bomber. The President does not support scuttling the B-1B bomber. The ad is made up out of whole cloth. The B-1B is a 1980’s program that we opposed when it was first initiated—when it had nuclear weapons capability—but that’s ancient history. In 2014, under President Obama, the Air Force began a multi-year technological overhaul and upgrade of its B1-B Lancer long-range bomber fleet, which we do not oppose. Mike Rounds is making this up.”

Unfortunately, this newest lie by Mike Rounds is only the latest in a growing and disturbing pattern.

Last spring, the Rounds campaign aired an ad claiming that Obamacare would “steal” $716 billion from Medicare. The state’s leading newspaper and national fact check organizations called the ad false and misleading, but Rounds continued to air television, radio and print ads about the issue.

But Rounds was just getting started.

This summer, Rounds was caught submitting false testimony to the state legislature’s Government, Operations and Audit Committee in answering questions about his role in the EB-5 scandal.

Then, other South Dakota political reporters recently reported that Rounds had been dishonest with them in interviews on answers Rounds gave them on the EB-5 timeline as new evidence discovered in the shadowy case surfaced.

The truth in the B-1B bomber and Ellsworth Air Force Base lie of Rounds’ is that Rick Weiland is a strong supporter of both Ellsworth and the B-1B bomber. Rumored reports of another round of base closures come up from time to time. “Ellsworth has proved its strategic importance in earlier base closure efforts. It’s clearly an integral part of our nation’s security and I would make that case as your next US Senator,” Weiland said.

Ironically, the biggest threat to the B-1B bomber and Ellsworth may well come from Big Money. Precious Defense Department dollars are being wasted by Big Money defense contractors. Big Oil corporation Halliburton is one of the main culprits.

“I believe there are other areas of the military we can look to cut. The defense procurement system is riddled with inefficiency and corruption. Last year, a bipartisan commission reported that US taxpayers lost up to $60 billion because of contractor fraud and waste during the past fifteen years. We paid a group called KBR, better known here in America as Halliburton, $36 billion to provide base support in Iraq. The report showed that Halliburton’s employees worked as little as 43 minutes a day,” Weiland concluded.

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Press Release: Weiland: “Middle Class Isn’t Getting Ahead Because Big Money Has Stolen Our Country”

KSOO debate marks fifth debate Mike Rounds has skipped in past six weeks

Sioux Falls – Sioux Falls businessman and Democratic Senate candidate Rick Weiland talked about how Big Money’s control over our political process is hurting everyday South Dakotans and destroying the opportunity for people to work their way into the middle class during yesterday’s KSOO radio debate with U.S. Senate candidates.

Weiland took after Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget, a policy supported by Mike Rounds, which calls for a $5.7 trillion tax cut for millionaires and big corporations. “The Ryan budget doesn’t mesh with the real needs of our country and paying for it by cutting Pell Grants, Head Start and Medicare is wrong. The Ryan budget will turn Medicare into a coupon program and destroy the program as we know it,” Weiland said.

The KSOO debate marked the 5th debate that Mike Rounds has skipped in the past six weeks, despite his claims in paid television advertising that he wants to talk about the issues.

“Mike Rounds says he wants to talk about the issues. There isn’t a better place to do that than these candidate debates and forums. These candidate debates are a chance for voters to “interview” their next U.S. Senator. Anyone who seriously wants the job has an obligation to show up,” Weiland said after the debate.

Today, Rick Weiland is back on the road continuing his second tour of every town in South Dakota. Over the next two days he will visit Pine Ridge, Martin, Rosebud, Mission, and St. Francis. He has held more then 250 public forums and made more than 530 town visits.

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Argus Leader: Candidates take different tacks on Social Security

Democrat Rick Weiland is campaigning hardest on the issue, promoting his views in a news conference Wednesday and in interviews with the national media. He says the solution is easy: eliminate the “cap” on the Social Security tax.

Currently employers and workers alike pay 6.2 percent of payroll to the federal government — on income up to $117,000. Income higher than that isn’t subject to the Social Security tax.

Weiland backs a bill that would phase out the cap over five years, leaving all income subject to the tax. That, he says, would not only extend Social Security’s life for decades more, it would leave money over to increase payments by $65 per month.

“We can not only strengthen Social Security for the long haul, but… we can give people that rely on it just a little bit more,” Weiland said.

Independent Larry Pressler also said he’d like to revise the cap on the Social Security tax, though he’s open to other options.

One possibility, Pressler said, is to charge people with incomes above the cap “a small fraction of a cent” on that income toward Social Security as a way to both raise revenue and make the system fairer.

“If we don’t do something like that, we would have to raise the retirement age, which I am not in favor of doing,” Pressler said Wednesday.

That’s different than an account from the National Journal newspaper last year, which said Pressler was in favor of raising the retirement age and also of slowing annual cost-of-living increases for Social Security payments. In fact, Pressler says he wants to increase the cost-of-living adjustments.

“I was clearly misquoted,” Pressler said Wednesday.

But the National Journal reporter Alex Roarty stood by his work late Wednesday night and produced a recording of Pressler endorsing raising the retirement age and cutting cost-of-living increases — in at least one context.

…in an interview with National Journal last November, Pressler explained that the rationale for his candidacy – at least at the time – was reducing the national deficit with a so-called “grand bargain.” That meant Republicans needed to accept higher tax rates while Democrats agreed to social spending cuts.

“You’re talking about raising the retirement age over a 15-year period?” National Journal asked.

“Yes,” responded Pressler, who served as a volunteer on Fix the Debt, a corporate-backed group that advocated both entitlement cuts and higher taxes as a way to reduce the deficit.

Later in the Wednesday interview, Pressler said that if he did express support for raising the retirement age or slowing cost-of-living increases, “I was probably presented with a hypothetical.”

Roarty said Pressler brought up Social Security changes “unsolicited” as part of a discussion focused on “deficit reduction.”

Weiland and other Democrats have attacked Pressler for supporting an increase in the retirement age, including in a Weiland press release Wednesday morning.

Republican Mike Rounds is in favor of increasing the retirement age. He also says Social Security can save money by adjusting the penalty for taking Social Security early to account for today’s longer lifespans.

Both those changes, Rounds said, should be applied only to people a long way from retirement.

“For people that are a long ways away from retirement, we have to recognize their longevity, the possibility that they’ll receive benefits for a longer period of time,” Rounds said.

Rounds is also open to exploring different ways to manage Social Security funds, which are currently in government bonds. But he fell short of endorsing other options, and said he’s opposed to investing all Social Security funds in the stock market.

“There’s a reasonable discussion to have — why shouldn’t Social Security, through other investors, look at other alternatives?” Rounds said, but “you have to recognize any inherent risk that would also go along with that.”

Read The Full Article Here

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Opinion: Vote for the candidate, not the political party

South Dakota is in the national news this political season as the race is heating up for retiring Tim Johnson’s seat in the U.S. Senate.

Once a shoe-in for Republicans, the race has tightened as South Dakotans take a long look at the Republican candidate, Mike Rounds, and his involvement in the EB5 program and the failed beef processing plant in Aberdeen.

The investigation is long and involved, but if South Dakotans are interested in what kind of a man they plan on casting their vote for in November, it would behoove them to pay attention to what is going on with this incident.

I have never held back when it comes to Mike Rounds and have expressed concern about his politics, his sense of entitlement and his dishonesty in the past. His attitude toward those who disagreed with him while he was governor was appalling. He acted like a spoiled child who was raised to believe that he was the golden child and those who would question him needed to be put in their place.

Rounds has skirted the EB5 issue as he has always danced around when being pushed in a corner.

He denied knowing about or ever seeing the subpoena that was delivered to his office concerning the Darley lawsuit. Then he said it wasn’t a subpoena, but simply a notice of arbitration. It was not an arbitration notice. It was notice of a new lawsuit demanding the state’s appearance in court.

He made a false statement to the legislative committee in his answers concerning the subpoena, and then backtracked and asked if he could change his answer once it was proved the legal papers had been served to his office.

The tougher the questions about what he knew about Joop Bollen’s finagling of the program, the louder he yells about repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and defeating anything the president has to offer.

In the first candidate debate, Rounds harped long and hard every chance he got to push that agenda.

His answer to every question was to avoid answering it and parroting the same mantra of taking back the Senate, repealing ACA and stopping this president.

It’s the attitude that has held this Congress and this country back from recovery from the recession and has kept them mired in the do-nothing cycle that pushed this nation to the brink of a disaster on numerous occasions in the past six years.

It is getting old and tiring to hear the only purpose of the next two years is more of the same.

Read The Full Opinion

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Press Release: Senator Tom Harkin: South Dakota Voters Have Clear Choice On Social Security

Weiland endorses Harkin approach to strengthen, expand Social Security

Sioux Falls – Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Sioux Falls businessman and Democratic Senate candidate Rick Weiland held a joint press conference at Weiland’s campaign headquarters this morning.

“Mike Rounds and Larry Pressler have both stated plans to weaken Social Security. South Dakota’s seniors and future retirees can’t afford and don’t deserve changes to a program they’ve paid into and are counting on. That’s why I am supporting the approach Senator Harkin has taken in his ‘Strengthening Social Security’ legislation,” Weiland said.

Rather than weakening Social Security, Weiland supports Senator Harkin’s proposal to strengthen the program by scrapping the payroll tax cap. Currently, Social Security payroll tax contributions are paid on wages up to $117,000. Scrapping the cap would only impact less than 5% of the citizens.

Currently, a family of two earning $75,000 a year pays Social Security tax on 100% of their earnings while a millionaire pays these taxes on less than 12% of their income.

Senator Harkin’s legislation also calls for changing the formula that determines cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs), moving from the CPI to a Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E). CPI-E will more accurately reflect prices seniors pay and will result in increased COLAs for Social Security retirees.

“Scrapping the payroll tax cap is the fairest way to make Social Security solvent for the next 75 years,” said Senator Harkin. Senator Harkin authored the “Strengthening Social Security Act of 2013.”

“South Dakotans have a clear choice in terms of who will fight for seniors. Rick Weiland will protect and strengthen Social Security. He will be a champion for seniors in the United States Senate,” Harkin concluded.

Social Security provided benefits to 159,453 South Dakotans in 2012, nearly every 1 in 5 residents.

South Dakotans received Social Security benefits totaling $2.1 billion in 2012, an amount equivalent to 5.7 percent of the state’s total personal income.

The average Social Security benefit in South Dakota was $12,932 in 2012.

Social Security lifted 52,000 South Dakotans out of poverty in 2011.

Without Social Security, the elderly poverty rate in South Dakota would have increased from 7% to 43%.

-30-

Here is the documentation of both Rounds’ and Pressler’s call to weaken Social Security:

“Now within government itself, I think the reality is you have to start slowing down social welfare programs. You have to slow down Medicare growth. You have to slow down Social Security growth.” – Mike Rounds on KSOO radio – April 30, 2014

From the National Journal:
He (Pressler) also wants to gradually raise the Social Security retirement age, and supports slowing the growth of those payments, calling such an outcome “wonderful.”

(National Journal, November 13, 2013)

But despite his eagerness for raising taxes and cutting entitlement programs, those aren’t politically popular issues–even for independent-minded voters.

(National Journal, November 13, 2013)

From the Argus Leader:
Today, Pressler endorses some positions associated with the left and some associated with the right. For example, he backs raising taxes on the rich, increasing the minimum wage and legalizing gay marriage — but also capping medical malpractice lawsuits and increasing the retirement age.

(Argus Leader: October 4, 2014)

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Press Release: Weiland Rides Momentum Into Sioux Falls Rotary Debate As Senate Race Becomes A Dead-Heat

Republican poll this morning shows Weiland trailing Rounds by just four points, within the margin of error

Sioux Falls – Small businessman and US Senate candidate Rick Weiland, riding the momentum of a new poll from Harper Polling, a GOP firm which shows him trailing former Governor Mike Rounds by only 4 points, turned in a strong performance at a candidate forum sponsored by the Sioux Falls Downtown Rotary Club today.

“The federal government’s role should be an honest referee. Big money has impacted public policy too much and it is slowly, but surely destroying our middle class and threatening our democracy. It’s time to level the playing field to give all South Dakotans the opportunity to succeed,” Weiland said.

Weiland reiterated his support for raising the minimum wage and for fixing Obamacare by adding an option that would allow all Americans to buy into the Medicare program.

“We are riding a real wave of momentum right now,” said Weiland campaign manager Kris Swedin. Immediately after the debate, Rick Weiland left Sioux Falls to continue his second tour of every town in South Dakota. He will be in Chamberlain this evening and will visit the Lower Brule Indian Reservation on Tuesday.

“Rick’s performance in today’s Rotary candidate forum and this new survey from Harper Polling are great news for our campaign and our supporters,” Swedin concluded.

The Harper poll showed the following results:

Rounds: 37%
Weiland: 33%
Pressler: 23%
Howie: 5%

The poll surveyed 630 voters and was conducted on October 9-11 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.9%

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Argus Leader: Supporters Lively At Weiland Rally

There are the debates, the TV ads, the fundraising and the stump speeches. Then there’s the type of campaigning Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland put on Sunday afternoon: a folk-rock concert.

Weiland previously attracted some attention for a pair of music videos in which he performed parody songs with lyrics rewritten to match his campaign message. He performed more of the same Sunday, backed by a band of supporters, after an afternoon of other acts at the Strawbale Winery north of Sioux Falls.

“It’s one way, I guess, to deliver a message about why I’m running and what I think the issues are in this campaign — and to do it in a way that’s … kind of entertaining,” Weiland said. “I think people enjoy it.”

On Sunday, Weiland’s focus was entirely on Rounds. Several of the rewritten songs Weiland sang included jabs at his Republican opponent.

“I can’t run a $9 million campaign, but I don’t have EB-5 to explain,” Weiland sang as part of a parody of Old Crow Medicine Show’s hit “Wagon Wheel.” Weiland’s new lyrics made reference to Rounds’ initial fundraising goal, since abandoned, and an economic development tool Rounds embraced as governor that has dogged him this campaign.

Read The Full Article Here

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Real Clear Politics: Dem Pollster: SD Senate Race Growing Competitive

“South Dakota has the potential to join Kansas as a previously under-the-radar Senate race that could confound Republican efforts to get control of the Senate,” said Public Policy Polling’s Tom Jensen. “This race is just as competitive as the ones in places like New Hampshire and Michigan that have drawn far more attention.”

Supporting Jensen’s assertion: A new PPP survey that shows Republican Mike Rounds with a mere seven-point lead over the Democratic candidate, Rick Weiland. The survey shows Rounds earning 35 percent of the vote to Weiland’s 28 percent. Independent Larry Pressler, a former Republican who held the seat for three terms from 1979 to 1997, takes 24 percent.

Rounds also has a net negative favorability rating. Just 41 percent of South Dakotans view him positively, and 51 percent feel otherwise. Weiland, however, is viewed favorably by 42 percent of state voters — and unfavorably by 38 percent.

Jensen’s view isn’t widely shared, at least not yet. The RealClearPolitics polling average shows Rounds with a 12.6 percentage point lead over Weiland, and rates the race “likely GOP.”

Read The Full Article Here

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KELO Blog: Weiland sign a signal of hope in the middle of an underdog campaign

My favorite 2014 campaign sign so far is in Oglala.

I spotted it driving through that small scattering of homes yesterday, on a dreary afternoon when the grays of beat-up wooden structures along Highway 18 matched the heavy skies almost perfectly.

But there was a bright flash suddenly in the dark gray, and some letters: Rick Weiland.

I slowed, examining the sign hanging unevenly on a wooden post, hand painted in black letters on a hand-painted white sign, nailed up among the cluttered realities of a family’s grinding poverty — a proclamation that called out to something, perhaps, greater than politics.

Someone had been inspired, amidst all that trouble and trial, to find a board, get some paint, slather it on and top if off with the name of the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Oh, my, I liked that. All politics aside, I liked that. Rick Weiland should like it, too. More than that, he should feel proud, affirmed, in some ways fulfilled.

What a gift that town-hopping, guitar-playing Democrat must have given someone, deep in the heart of the painfully magnificent Pine Ridge Reservation. In a time of multi-million-dollar political campaigns, an era of corporate free-speech affirmation megaphoned at the highest levels of the law, when money and manufactered message matter, perhaps, more than the currency of the heart and soul, this campaign sign was all about heart, and soul.

There in a marginalized world full of people who refuse to be marginalized, Rick Weiland had reached — probably at a powwow, maybe at a gathering at Billy Mills Hall, possibly just stopping for a Pepsi and handshake at the Oglala store – one Oglala yearning for a human connection.

And up went the sign. At least, that’s what I’d like to think happened. Wouldn’t you? And maybe it did. Probably it did.

I smiled, and kept smiling as I pulled over to stop and get a better look back at the sign. Then I dialed my buddy Jeff Fransen to tell him about it.

Fransen is a Rapid City lawyer who once served as a staffer for Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle, with jobs that included West River director. When I described the sign and the backdrop, Fransen remembered a trip to similar reservation environs with Daschle back in the day. He remembered much about the simple home, punished by poverty, without running water or most of the human comforts most of us have long taken for granted.

But in the middle of it all there was — like a bright, hand-painted sign — a picture of Robert F. Kennedy. Bobby had been there on the Pine Ridge long before the Daschle stop that day — way back in the spring of 1968, you might recall. He left there as a bit of a legend, before becoming a fallen hero whose picture still brights the walls of more than one Lakota home.

The race isn’t over, by any means. Rounds isn’t where he’d like to be, or where Republican candidates are accustomed to being in statewide runs for office. Especially former two-term governors with the most money, best name I.D. and winning histories. And he’s got some increasingly complicated issues, in particular the EB-5 mess, to face in the next month of campaigning leading into the Nov. 4 general election.

Not to me. And pretty clearly not to that proud Lakota with the board and the paint and the proclamation down in Oglala.

I was trying to figure out what that sign really said when Fransen spoke up by phone: “It means Rick Weiland gave somebody down there hope. And isn’t that what politicians and public servants should do?”

You know, I guess it is. But I havent’ thought about it that way for a while.

And that’s kind of sad.

Read The Full Article Here

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Press Release: Weiland Closes To Single Digits In South Dakota Senate Race — Mike Rounds Sinks To 35% Support

The latest poll from Public Policy Polling, one of the most accurate pollsters of the 2012 cycle, shows the South Dakota Senate race remaining tight with former two-term Governor Mike Rounds continuing to slide in the polls.

When asked who they would support in the Senate race, respondents to the September 29-30 survey of 703 likely voters said:

Mike Rounds — 35%
Rick Weiland — 28%
Larry Pressler — 24%
Gordon Howie — 8%
Undecided — 5%

“This survey confirms other polls that show Mike Rounds in steady decline. Clearly his refusal to participate in candidate debates this past month and his unwillingness to tell the voters of South Dakota exactly what happened with EB-5, and his support for extreme positions such as funding tax cuts for billionaires and big corporations by sacrificing Medicare and education funding is taking a major toll,” said Weiland Campaign Senior Advisor Steve Jarding.

“Voters are moving off Mike Rounds and trying to determine who they want to vote for and we are confident that Rick’s willingness to stand up and fight for everyday South Dakotans, non-stop travel and willingness to engage voters one-on-one will pay dividends as voters make up their minds,” Jarding concluded.

Here is a copy of PPP’s analysis of their most recent survey:

From: Tom Jensen, Director of Public Policy Polling
Subject: Rounds support falls to 35% in South Dakota race
Date: October 1, 2014

Public Policy Polling’s newest South Dakota Senate poll finds that Mike Rounds’ support has dropped all the way down to 35% in the wake of voter anger over the EB-5 scandal, and that Rick Weiland continues to be better liked and within single digits of Rounds.

Key findings from the poll include:

-Rounds is at just 35% to 28% for Weiland, 24% for Larry Pressler, and 8% for Gordon Howie. A majority of South Dakotans have a negative opinion of Rounds, with just 41% rating him favorably to 51% with an unfavorable opinion. Weiland’s favorability, at a positive 42/38 spread, is a net 14 points better than Rounds’.

-Weiland is likely to gain ground as Pressler’s support fades over the course of October. Among Pressler’s voters, Weiland has a positive favorability rating at 43/28 while Rounds is incredibly unpopular with only 18% of voters rating him favorably to 68% who see him unfavorably. Since Weiland has been second in all the polls, anti-Rounds Pressler voters are likely to move in Weiland’s direction as the election nears since he’s the more viable candidate both in terms of current polling support and fundraising.

-Rounds is losing supporting on the right to Howie. Howie’s doubled his share of the Republican vote over the last month from 6% to 12%, pushing his support to the point where it provides a real threat to Rounds. Rounds has a tepid 62/31 favorability even with GOP voters, reflecting his weak 55% showing in the June primary.

With under 5 weeks to the election, South Dakota has the potential to join Kansas as a previously under the radar Senate race that could confound Republican efforts to get control of the Senate. This race is just as competitive as the ones in places like New Hampshire and Michigan that have drawn far more attention. Rounds’ growing weakness makes this a race worth keeping an eye on in the stretch run.

PPP interviewed 703 likely voters on September 29th. The poll’s margin of error is +/-3.7%. 49% of those surveyed were Republicans and 35% were Democrats (R+14), representing a more GOP leaning sample than the voter registration numbers in the state (45% Republicans and 35% Democrats for R+10).

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Mitchell Daily Republic: Great McGovern Forum US Senate Hopefuls Urge Political Interest

Rick Weiland, the Democratic candidate, and Larry Pressler and Howie, both independent candidates, attended the event, named The Great McGovern Forum, at the Sherman Center at Dakota Wesleyan University’s campus in Mitchell. About 175 people attended the event.

“We need to get people engaged because I really believe our democracy is at risk,” Weiland said.

Weiland, a Sioux Falls restaurant owner who worked for former U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle, said the influence of big money and special interests need to be removed from politics, a statement he has made often during his campaign.

Former Gov. Mike Rounds, the Republican candidate, declined an invitation to attend the event. It didn’t take long for the other candidates to note Rounds’ absence.

Weiland was the first to bring up Rounds’ absence, saying he was disappointed by Rounds’ decision not to attend the event.

“There should be another candidate up here, frankly,” Weiland said.

Shortly after the event ended, Weiland’s campaign issued a news release criticizing Rounds for not attending. It’s vital, Weiland said, for the public to have the chance to hear directly from the candidates.

Read The Full Article Here

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Press Release: Weiland: Rounds’ Continued Debate Dodge Disrespectful And A Disservice

Weiland tells students Big Money cutting Pell Grants, Head Start and killed effort to lower interest rates on student loans.

Mitchell – Small businessman and U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland called out GOP Senate candidate Mike Rounds for skipping his third debate in a row this evening at a candidate forum on the campus of Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell.

This evening’s debate is the first of three candidate forums Rounds has refused to participate in this week. Rounds is also skipping events in Kyle on Wednesday and Aberdeen on Friday.

Weiland told the assembled students at Dakota Wesleyan that democracy requires participation of both voters and political candidates.

“I commend all of you students and citizens for coming out this evening. Mike Rounds’ absence this evening is both disrespectful and a disservice to the voters of this state,” Weiland said.

Rounds is in the middle of a 54-day vacation from debates and candidate forums. He previously skipped a statewide televised debate on KSFY television and a Native American candidate forum in Rapid City. Rounds’ refusal to debate also forced the cancellation of a planned Rapid City Journal debate this month.

Weiland told the students in attendance that they should be interested in the process because their future and the future of democracy are at risk. Weiland pointed out how Big Money policies are eroding opportunities for all Americans to work their way into the middle class, including Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, which is supported by Mike Rounds, to cut Pell Grants, Student loans and turn Medicare into a voucher program in order to raise money for a $5.7 trillion tax cut that will give a citizen making $1,000,000 a year a $200,000 tax cut.

Weiland highlighted how Big Money lobbyists killed efforts in the United States Senate that would have allowed South Dakotans to refinance existing student loan debt to 3.86 percent. The bill failed when every single Republican voted against the proposal that would have been paid for by invoking “the Buffet Rule” which would impose a minimum tax of 30 percent on Americans making more than $ 1 million a year, something that would impact less than one-half of one percent of American citizens.

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Jim Abourezk: SD Tribes Can Put Rick Weiland In Office

I support Rick Weiland for the U.S. Senate seat that is up for election this year and so do all 9 South Dakota tribes and the Great Plains Tribal Chairs Association.

Rick is hoping to replace retiring U.S. Senator Tim Johnson who has been a staunch ally of Indian tribes in the US Senate. Tim Johnson has also endorsed Rick Weiland. Tim Johnson beat Larry Pressler in 1996, largely due to voters in Indian Country who voted overwhelming for Senator Johnson.

In Senator Johnson’s 2002 re-election campaign, I went to bed on election night of thinking that Tim Johnson was losing the U.S. Senate seat that was being contested strongly that year by John Thune. When I rose the next morning, South Dakota’s Indian reservations were having their votes counted–late as usual. After each announcement of the count, Johnson gained more and more ground on Thune, until finally, the votes from the reservations put Tim Johnson over the top by 500 votes. That shows the incredible power of the Native vote!

Now, in this critical year, Indian country has a chance to win it again for Rick Weiland. We need another champion for the Tribes representing South Dakota in the U.S. Senate. And that’s what Rick Weiland would be, provided, in this close election, the Indian Tribes don’t divide up their vote, and if they can come together as a powerful voting bloc.

I say that because the Senate election is coming down to the wire. Because of all the big money he is collecting from the rich corporations and other Republicans, former Governor Mike Rounds is leading by a slight margin. But with six weeks to go in the race, Rick Weiland is rapidly closing on him, threatening to overtake him by the time election day comes around.

Rick Weiland is doing this without having much money to spend on his election. He is the only Senate candidate who opposes the Keystone Pipeline and is taking on the big oil companies. In a way, that’s fortunate, because Weiland will owe no debt to the rich corporations if he gets into office, only to the people who elected him, like tribal members, ranchers, working people and others who have neither the resources nor the influence to buy an election, as Rounds is trying to do.

Read The Full Article Here

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Huron Daily Plainsman: Weiland still working the entire state for votes.

With five weeks left before Election Day, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland feels good about his chances of victory, but predicts whichever way it goes it will be a close finish between him and former Gov. Mike Rounds.

He is critical of Republican frontrunner Rounds for taking “a 54-day vacation” from debating fellow candidates, who also include Gordon Howie and former three-term Sen. Larry Pressler, both independents.

Declining debate appearances does a disservice to voters and the political process, Weiland said.

“You need to show up,” he said.

Weiland was the only candidate to accept Howie’s invitation to appear with him on a recent West River television program, where he said they had “a real good conversation” on their perspectives on government and the issues despite disagreeing on just about everything.

“But at least we were willing to sit down and talk about it,” Weiland said. “And we don’t do enough of that in politics.”

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LTE: Weiland Represents Everyday People

One of the main things causing the gridlock in Congress is the fact that neither party wants to offend the rich folks who bankroll their re-election campaigns. Rick Weiland will introduce an amendment to put some limits on this practice.

He’s been all over the state working hard to gain support the old-fashioned way — meeting with and talking to people. Meanwhile, where is Rounds, except on TV?

Vote for Rick Weiland for Senate. We need more folks who will represent everyday people and not feel beholden to special interests.

Read The Full Article Here

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Press Release: Time To Put Everyday South Dakotans First

“South Dakotans need a Senator who will put their interests first, not the interests of big money special interests.”

Highmore, SD – Sioux Falls small businessman and Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Rick Weiland, spoke out today about the need to have a U.S. Senator who is beholden to the people of South Dakota, not the big money special interests who bankroll their campaign.

“Everyday South Dakotans need an advocate for everyday South Dakotans,” Weiland said in Highmore. “We don’t need another Senator who only caters to the interests of the unbelievably wealthy. We don’t need a Senator like Mike Rounds who supports the Paul Ryan Budget.”

“The Ryan/Rounds budget would give hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax cuts to millionaires and pay for them by slashing funding for programs South Dakotans rely on. Programs like Head Start, Medicare, and Pell Grants,” Weiland continued. “At a time when South Dakotans are struggling to make ends meet, the last thing they need is a career politician to come in and pull the rug out from under them.”

“It is time to put everyday South Dakotans first,” Weiland said. “Let’s raise the minimum wage, pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, expand Head Start, and protect Medicare and Social Security.”

Weiland continued his second tour of every incorporated town in South Dakota today and visited Madison, Howard, De Smet, Huron, Miller, Highmore, and Pierre. He has now made 525 town visits and held more than 240 public meetings.

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Press Release: Weiland: Ryan/Rounds Budget Sells Out South Dakota Seniors, Students And Minimum Wage Workers

Mike Rounds’ support of Ryan Budget says volumes about who he’d fight for in the U.S. Senate

Sioux Falls — Sioux Falls small businessman and U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland today said the real difference in his campaign and Mike Rounds’ can be summed up by their opposing views to Congressman Paul Ryan’s controversial budget.

“Mike Rounds and his Big Money cronies, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, support Paul Ryan’s budget and the Ryan Budget is the absolute epitome of Big Money greed,” Weiland said.

The Ryan Budget’s centerpiece is a $5.7 trillion tax cut for millionaires and big corporations. The Ryan budget would cut the highest individual tax rate from 39.6% to 25% and cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%. The average millionaire would receive a $200,000 tax cut from the Ryan/Rounds plan.

Ryan’s plan for paying for these tax cuts would be brutal on everyday South Dakotans. Ryan’s plan would turn Medicare into a “premium-support” voucher program for every American 55 or younger, cut Head Start, cut Pell Grants, cut Medicaid and cut subsidies low-income Americans use to purchase private health insurance.

Mike Rounds commended Paul Ryan for his proposed budget and said he looked forward to working with him during the GOP Primary debate in Pierre last spring. He specifically complimented Ryan’s approach to “fixing” Medicare. “Representative Ryan understands that and he understands that we have to reform it and the sooner we get started on that the better. I commend him for his efforts and I look forward to working with him,” said Rounds.

Furthermore, Rounds has touted his close ties with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Prosperity. Both of these organizations support Paul Ryan’s new budget ideas as well. Big Money keeps the same company and Mike Rounds is their hand-picked candidate in the South Dakota senate race.

“I strongly oppose the Ryan budget. It’s Big Money on steroids. If I become South Dakota’s next Senator I will vigorously oppose Paul Ryan’s plan and instead fight for a budget that honors our commitments to our seniors, our children, our veterans and our working-class families,” Weiland added.

“After 215 townhall meetings, I can honestly say I haven’t had a single South Dakotan tell me that we should cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires and pay for it by ending Medicare and cutting funding for Head Start and Pell Grants. Our priorities couldn’t be any clearer or any different,” Weiland concluded.

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LTE: Listen to message from Rick Weiland

Rick Weiland was in Deadwood last night and I decided to go meet him and to hear what he had to say. I had never met the man and came away with a very positive opinion. He’s the real deal.

During a period when Congress has a favorable rating of 13 percent (how in the world is it that high?), South Dakota has to decide if we want to send a person beholden to special interests and large special-interest PACs, or someone who listens to us and is beholden to us.

Rick Weiland has visited over 500 towns and communities in South Dakota, many more than once. When Rick was in Dallas, South Dakota asking for that community’s support so he could represent them in Washington. Mike Rounds was in Dallas, Texas, meeting with special-interest PACs, asking them if he could represent them in Washington. Harsh but true.

Read The Full Letter Here

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Press Release: Exercise Your Constitutional Right And Vote

Sioux Falls – Today, September 19, is the first day of early voting and South Dakotans across the state will begin casting their ballots. Sioux Falls small businessman and Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Rick Weiland, today called on all South Dakotans to make their voices heard and exercise their constitutional right to vote:

“South Dakotans have an opportunity beginning today to choose who will represent them and work for them as their elected leaders. Our state and country are grappling with very serious issues: whether or not to raise the minimum wage, how to support our rural economy, what Medicare and Social Security should look like 10 years from now. This election will determine whether these issues are resolved for hardworking everyday South Dakotans or for big money special interests. I encourage every South Dakotan, no matter their political affiliation, to make their voice heard.”

“Vote early in person at your local county auditor’s office or sign up to absentee vote or vote at your local polling location on Election Day. Choose what works best for you and get involved in the political process.”

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Wry Wing Politics: The Three S’s Of How Rick Weiland Can Win The SD Senate Seat This Fall

By all accounts Weiland is running circles around his opponents. In recent months, Rick “Everywhere Man” Weiland became the first candidate in South Dakota history to campaign in all 311 South Dakota towns, many of them multiple times.

In a state with only a few hundred thousand voters, those personal connections, and the work ethic they represent, matter. Meanwhile the embattled Rounds has been jetting around the nation raising money from wealthy non-South Dakotans, and staying away from debates, while the long-retired Pressler has kept his nostalgia tour on a relatively leisurely schedule.

Read The Full Article Here

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KELO Blog: Rick Weiland: Getting the big money out, and 11 other reasons to vote for him

1) I will show up for work every day in the U.S. Senate and fight hard for everyday South Dakotans.

2) I am listening to the voters all across South Dakota. I have visited all 311 towns, completed more than 500 town visits and held more than 225 public meetings. I will work just as hard to keep your vote as I am working to earn it.

3) The only way to create a level playing field for everyday people is to get Big Money out of politics. That’s been the focus of my campaign and it’s the first bill I will introduce and fight for if elected.

4) I will fight hard to serve on the Veteran’s Affairs, Indian Affairs and Agriculture Committees.

5) I will propose legislation to eliminate the EB-5 program. Citizenship should not be for sale.

6) I will vote to raise the Minimum Wage.

7) I will fight hard to defeat Paul Ryan’s and Mike Rounds’ budget proposal which would cut taxes for the wealthy and big corporations and pay for it by ending Medicare, cutting Head Start and Pell Grants.

8) I will vote for equal pay for equal work legislation that would fix the fact that women currently make just .72 cents on the dollar compared to what their male counterparts make.

9) I will fight to overturn the proposed cuts in the ethanol Renewable Fuel Standard and expand availability of Ethanol-30.

10) I will introduce legislation to ban corporate inversions — the practice of Big Money corporations moving thir business address overseas to reduce their U.S. taxes.

11) I will support legislation allowing young South Dakotans to refinance their existing student loans to 3.86 percent.

12) I will fix Obamacare by giving every American the option of buying into Medicare. This would provide real competition to private health insurance companies and strengthen Medicare’s trust fund by expanding the actuarial base of younger, healthier citizens.

Read The Full Article Here

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Press Release: Rick Weiland Statement On Paycheck Fairness Act

Below is a statement from Sioux Falls small businessman and Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Rick Weiland on the failure of the Senate to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act:

“Vote again and if it doesn’t pass, do it again. Keep voting on this bill until it passes because it is the right thing to do. Instead of voting for everyday families, the Senate just voted to protect the bottom line of their billion dollar donors. Pay discrimination is robbing working women and we can’t afford it. South Dakota has the worst wages in the country, the lowest teacher pay, and a minimum wage that can’t keep our families out of poverty. And somehow there are Senators who oppose Equal Pay for Equal Work. No wonder the Senate approval is in the single digits.”

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Press Release: Republicans Continue To Stand In The Way Of Equal Pay For Equal Work

“Rick Weiland supports The Paycheck Fairness Act. Where do the other candidates stand?”

Today, Mike Rounds’ Republican allies stood in the way of Equal Pay for Equal Work and once again killed the Paycheck Fairness Act. The Paycheck Fairness Act would have helped reduce pay discrimination between men and women. Currently, women make only 77 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts for doing the same work.

“It is simply unconscionable that Mike Rounds’ Republican allies killed legislation that would have strengthened Equal Pay for Equal Work laws,” said Weiland campaign manager Kris Swedin. “If two people are doing the same exact job but one is a man and the other is a woman, the woman has to work 3 extra months to get the same pay. Somehow Mike Rounds and his Republican supporters think that is ok.”

“South Dakota leads the country in people working two jobs. Under Mike Rounds, we had the lowest wages. We had the third lowest weekly salary. We have the worst paid teachers. At the same time, South Dakota families are relying more and more on working moms to keep a roof over their heads and their kids fed. South Dakotans flat out can’t afford pay discrimination,” Swedin continued. “Mike Rounds doesn’t get that. His idea of economic success is one where the rich get richer and the poor struggle to make ends meet. Rick Weiland stands for hardworking South Dakota women who need a fair shake and an even playing field.”

Rick Weiland supports the Paycheck Fairness Act. It is time for Mike Rounds to end his 54 vacation from debates and start answering questions. Does he support the Paycheck Fairness Act or would he have voted in lockstep with Republican Party.

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Press Release: Time For Mike Rounds To Come Out Of Hiding

Rick Weiland and Gordon Howie “call on Mike Rounds to end his 54 day vacation and start debating.”

Rapid City – We are appearing here together not because we agree on all the issues. We don’t. But we absolutely agree on one fundamental thing – if a person wants to be your United States Senator, they owe you the voters, the common courtesy of showing up for the job interview. We have done that and will continue to show up to debate the issues.

We met today in front of a live audience to record a segment of Gordon Howie’s television show which will air on KCPO on September 21 at 6:00 pm CDT.

One candidate, however, Mike Rounds, is refusing to debate us. He doesn’t think he has to come before the public and make a case why he should be elected. He instead thinks he can just buy this election taking millions of dollars from his big corporation donors.

We also believe that Democracy works best when there is civil and vigorous discourse, when citizens can ask questions of their would be representatives directly.

That’s why it is so unfortunate Mike Rounds skipped his third debate in a row just yesterday.

In fact, Mike’s refusal to debate for 54 days has deprived western South Dakota voters to see him debate at all in this entire general election campaign. The Rapid City Journal canceled a debate because Mike Rounds refused to attend. He seems to think the voters in West River don’t count for much and will merely vote for him like cattle headed to a watering hole. We think that is an insult to those voters and to all South Dakotans.

It kind of begs the question – what does Mike Rounds fear? What is he hiding that he won’t show up at all? South Dakotans deserve a Senator who works as hard as they do.

A US Senate candidate who repeatedly sidesteps debates with his opponents isn’t worthy of a seat in the U.S. Senate, our country’s greatest deliberative body. That’s what a Senate seat is all about–debate and discussion of the great issues facing our country. A candidate who is afraid to face a debate is a candidate who would be a failure in the Senate.

South Dakotans deserve a Senator who will show up every day on the Senate floor and fight for them, not someone who shows up only if special interests are someplace handing him a check.

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Press Release: Weiland: Native Americans Need Someone Who Will Show Up And Fight For Them Every Day

Rapid City – Sioux Falls small businessman and US Senate candidate Rick Weiland said South Dakota’s nine Native American tribes need a strong voice in Washington more than ever at the Native Sun News Debate which was held this evening at the United Tribes Technical College in Rapid City.

The debate, which was the only chance for west river voters to see the Senate candidates debate in person, was marked by the absence of former Governor Mike Rounds. This was the third straight candidate debate that Rounds has failed to attend.

“It’s unfortunate that Mike Rounds isn’t here for the Native Sun News debate in Rapid City tonight. I commend Gordon Howie and Larry Pressler for showing up. Being the next senator from South Dakota requires getting out there, talking with tribal leaders and establishing a way to stay in touch with all of the people who live on tribal lands. It’s a two way street of mutual respect and trust. I’ve made it a priority to visit every reservation throughout my travels and I will show up every day to work on their behalf,” Weiland said.

During the debate, Weiland said that the federal government needs to honor its trust commitments to Indian country. Weiland also stated that education and economic development are keys to building a solid future for Native American youth. This will require increased infrastructure investments in highways and bridges that have suffered due to chronic underfunding. Earlier in the campaign, Weiland announced his Marshall Plan for Indian Country which addresses these issues.

Weiland commended the tribes for their efforts in opposing the Keystone Pipeline, a position Weiland shares because it is an export pipeline that doesn’t increase U.S. energy security and fails to create significant full-time jobs in South Dakota, all the while threatening the Oglala aquifer.

Weiland also announced that, if elected, he would seek a seat on the Indian Affairs Committee. He also announced he would create an advisory committee in South Dakota comprised of tribal elders, elected leaders, businesspeople, educators and health care providers to provide an on-going dialogue on Native issues.

Weiland has been endorsed by all nine South Dakota Tribes and the Great Plains Tribal Chairs Association. Weiland worked extensively in Indian Country during his time as Region VIII Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

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Press Release: Big Money Wins Again

“Big Money will always have a seat at the table, but they shouldn’t own the table”

Wall — Today in the U.S. Senate, we had the opportunity to pass meaningful reform that would have helped get big money out of politics and put our government back on the path of representing everyday Americans, instead of their big money special interests. Instead of standing up for everyday Americans, Mike Rounds’ allies in the Senate killed the legislation with just 42 votes.

“Big Money will always have a seat at the table, but they shouldn’t own the table. Big Money’s U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Koch Brothers, and Americans for Prosperity won this afternoon. Those are just some of the big money special interests who are pumping billions of dollars into campaigns to buy the politicians of their choice. Politicians like Mike Rounds,” said Sioux Falls small businessman and Democratic Senate candidate Rick Weiland.

“Instead of supporting common sense policies like increasing the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, and getting big money out of politics, politicians like Mike Rounds represent the interests of their campaign donors instead of everyday South Dakotans,” Weiland added.

“It is simply disgraceful that big money politicians believe money is speech and that corporations are people. That is flat out wrong,” Weiland continued. “As Governor, Mike Rounds rewarded his biggest campaign donors with millions of dollars in no-bid contracts. He has made it clear he will continue to represent his biggest campaign donors if he is elected to the U.S. Senate. Or as Mike Rounds says ‘That’s part of the American way of doing business.”

“South Dakota needs a Senator who will show up everyday and fight for their interests and not the interests of their mega campaign donors,” Weiland concluded.

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KSFY: Rick Weiland Talks Big Money, Rounds Absence At KSFY Debate

If you want a job, the first thing you have to do is show up for the interview. Mike Rounds didn’t show up to the first televised debate. In fact, he isn’t going to show up for 54 days. Rick has interviewed in over 500 town visits and more than 225 public meetings. He is going to work as hard to keep your vote in the U.S. Senate as he is trying to earn it.

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Press Release: Weiland Continues Second Tour Of Every Town In South Dakota

“South Dakotans want a Senator who will show up everyday and fight for them”

Springfield – At his 517th town visit, Sioux Falls small businessman and Democratic Senate candidate Rick Weiland called out Mike Rounds for skipping his second straight US Senate debate, a KSFY debate that was simulcast nationwide on C-Span.

“Last night we had our first televised debate and unfortunately, Mike Rounds didn’t show up. We discussed incredibly important issues in that debate, including whether the United States should re-engage militarily in the Middle East. South Dakotans deserve to know where candidates stand on these issues and Mike Rounds was AWOL. Just like any job, you have to show up for the interview if you expect to be hired. Mike Rounds failed to do that last night. The simple fact of the matter is, in South Dakota we show up. South Dakotans want a Senator who will show up everyday in Washington DC to fight for them,” Weiland said.

Mike Rounds is in the middle of a 54-day vacation from candidate forums and debates. After participating in the State Fair debate in Huron on August 29, Rounds won’t appear on the same stage as Rick Weiland again until October 23rd.

“I have been showing up for interviews in every single town in South Dakota for the past 16 months. I have made 517 town visits and held more than 225 public meetings across South Dakota. At every single public meeting and town visit, I talk with South Dakotans about what they want in their next Senator and what they feel is important,” Weiland continued. “There is no better preparation to be the next U.S. Senator from South Dakota than to visit every town and visit with as many people as you can.”

“Mike Rounds needs to stop chasing down big money and spend some time talking with the people of South Dakota,” Weiland challenged. “If he does, maybe he will realize that there is overwhelming support to raise the minimum wage, protect Medicare, and get big money out of politics. South Dakotans are sick and tired of watching their elected officials represent Big Money instead of fighting for South Dakota.”

Rick Weiland has been to all 311 incorporated towns in South Dakota once and is in the middle of his second trip around the state. He has made 517 town visits and held more than 225 public meetings. Mike Rounds skipped the East River Electric candidate forum on September 3rd, the KSFY debate on September 10, and has declined to participate in the Native Sun News debate, the only West River Senate debate, tomorrow night.

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New Poll: South Dakota Senate Seat Within Striking Distance For Weiland; Rounds Becoming Afterthought

A new poll conducted by SurveyUSA for the Aberdeen American News and KSFY television shows that presumptive frontrunner Mike Rounds has hit a wall and has stalled in his attempt to be anointed the next U.S. Senator from South Dakota. The survey of 510 voters conducted from September 3 to September 7 showed the following results:

Mike Rounds 39%
Rick Weiland 28%
Larry Pressler 25%
Gordon Howie 3%
Undecided 5%

The same firm polled South Dakota voters in mid-May. That survey showed Mike Rounds leading with 44% of the vote, Sioux Falls small businessman and Democratic candidate Rick Weiland with 30%, and former three-term GOP Senator Larry Pressler with 17%.

What this poll confirms is that the coronation that Mike Rounds hoped for is not going to happen and that the former two-term Governor likely peaked last spring.

“This poll clearly shows that South Dakota voters have determined that Mike Rounds’ inability to engage voters, refusal to participate in debates and unwillingness to answer questions about EB-5 has taken a toll. He likely won’t see 40% again outside of his own internal polls,” Swedin said.

The new SurveyUSA poll confirms the same trend voters have seen from other polling organizations including CBS News/New York Times and Public Policy Polling which show Mike Rounds in steady decline in what’s becoming a wide open race.

Perhaps the most surprising part of the poll is the fact that former three-term Republican Senator Larry Pressler, now campaigning as an Independent, has risen to a close third place in the contest. Pollsters have had problems accurately gauging support for third party and Independent candidates. In fact, just last week, the CBS News/New York Times ‘YouGov’ poll showed Pressler at just 6%.

“The one constant in all of these surveys is that Mike Rounds’ trend line is downward. An honest to goodness horserace is breaking out in South Dakota and there has been a tremendous surge in interest from folks about Rick’s candidacy,” Swedin concluded.

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Press Release: Weiland: “Being A Senator Is About Showing Up And Fighting Everyday” For South Dakota

Sioux Falls businessman says it is extremely disappointing that Mike Rounds has simply disappeared and refuses to debate. Calls it an insult to South Dakota voters and raises questions about his ability to serve in the United States Senate

Sioux Falls businessman and Democratic candidate Rick Weiland in his strongest debate performance to date, chastised opponent Mike Rounds repeatedly for Rounds’ refusal to debate and to answer questions about vital issues of the day including refusing to answer questions about the growing EB-5 scandal which Rounds oversaw as Governor and which sold residency cards, a pathway to citizenship for $500,000 to foreign billionaires and millionaires.

The debate which aired on KSFY – TV as well as to a national TV audience on C-SPAN television, featured a passionate Weiland repeatedly calling on Rounds to show the courage of his convictions and “show up for his job interview” for the U.S. Senate.

Weiland stated that Mike Rounds owed it to the people of South Dakota to participate in candidate forums and debates. Weiland also suggested that Rounds feared public appearances because of new polls that show Rounds is stuck below 40% and because of new and explosive information being revealed in the explosive EB-5 scandal.

“Mike Rounds is in the middle of a 54-day vacation from candidate forums and debates and it’s wrong. A big part of this process is to show up and unfortunately Mike Rounds isn’t here. South Dakota needs someone to show up on the floor of the United States Senate everyday, fighting for the people who deserve a fair shake,” Weiland said.

Weiland also chastised Rounds for taking millions of campaign dollars from out-of-state big money special interests. “Big money is running the show in Washington. I asked Mike Rounds early on in this campaign to limit contributions to $100 and he turned me down cold. I asked him if he could get together, just the two of us, to see if we could work out a way to keep the dark money from coming in and trying to buy this Senate seat and he didn’t even respond. And, he’s not here tonight. If you follow the money and see where it’s coming from, you’ll see who Mike Rounds is lined up with,” Weiland said.

South Dakotans want to know why Mike Rounds opposes the minimum wage and supports the Paul Ryan budget that would destroy Medicare as we know it. They want answers on how he handled EB-5. “Instead of shaking down big money, Senators should be shaking hands with voters and finding out how legislation impacts people here in this state,” Weiland said.

Tonight’s KSFY debate was just the beginning of Rounds’ eight-week vacation from candidate forums and debates. Rounds also plans on skipping the Native Sun News debate this Friday in Rapid City, the only chance for West River voters to see all four Senate candidates after Rounds’ withdrawal from the Rapid City Journal debate caused the Journal to cancel their forum. He already skipped the East River Electric candidate forum.

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Constant Commoner: Hey Mike Rounds, Duck It’s A Debate

Mike Rounds just cannot rise to the challenge of taking advantage of every opportunity to debate his opponents.

And neither, apparently, can he and his campaign rise to the challenge I posed a few days ago when I asked them to identify the “scheduling conflict” they deemed important enough to blow off Sioux Falls TV station KSFY’s debate on September 10. Given that Rounds is asking me and every other South Dakotan to hire him as our U.S. Senator for the next 6 years, I think as a prospective employer I’m being reasonable enough.

He claims he can’t meet with me and my fellow South Dakotans in a format where I can compare him in real-time to the other applicants for the job because he has something more pressing on his schedule. I’d like to know just what’s so important that he’s skipping this joint job interview.

Read The Full Article Here

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Press Release: Weiland: Time For All Senate Candidates To Say Where They Stand On Campaign Finance Reform

Vote on Senate Floor today to begin the process of overturning Citizens United and McCutcheon

Sioux Falls small businessman and U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland voiced his strong support for legislation that will amend the Constitution and reverse recent Supreme Court decisions which ruled that corporations are people and money is free speech.

“In my opinion, there is no greater threat to democracy today than Big Money in the wake of Citizens United. That threat is identical to every other threat history has thrown at Democracy because it is a threat to our equality at the ballot box. And if history has shown us anything it is that, when your voice is lost, your rights soon follow. The simple fact is the only way we can put government back on the side of everyday folks, and not big corporations, is to overturn the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions,” Weiland said.

Today, the United States Senate is set to have a procedural vote on a resolution proposed by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) which would create a new amendment to the Constitution allowing Congress to regulate political spending.

“All the candidates for the United States Senate have a duty to inform the voters where they stand on this issue. Are we for unlimited corporate spending which has turned political candidates into full-time fundraisers or should we put common sense checks in place that allow everyday citizens to fully participate in the political process. It’s that simple. So today, I ask Mike Rounds, Gordon Howie and Larry Pressler how they would vote on Udall’s proposal,” Weiland added.

Weiland has made campaign finance reform the central theme of his campaign. He believes that Big Money special interests have hijacked our government. Former Governor Mike Rounds kicked off his campaign by announcing that he planned to raise $9 million, most of which would be raised from outside South Dakota, and refused an offer from Weiland to limit contributions to $100. Weiland also offered to sit down with Rounds, one on one with no staff or media, to discuss ways in which they could work together to limit the impact of big money on South Dakota’s senate race. Both offers were declined.

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LTE: Are Mike Rounds’ Priorities Straight?

Where is Mike Rounds? Why isn’t he participating in more debates? The other three Senate candidates said that they want to hold more debates, but Rounds says that his schedule is full.

What is more important than talking about the issues with the voters of South Dakota? Why isn’t that at the top of his list of priorities?

South Dakota needs to have a real discussion about who is the best person to represent us in the U.S. Senate. If Rounds is too busy with other things and will not participate in the discussion, then the voters should look elsewhere.

I’m concerned for our state.

Read The Full Letter Here

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Press Release: Statement From Weiland Campaign Senior Advisor Steve Jarding:

Rounds TV Ad Says: Shame On Rick Weiland For Saying Rounds’ EB-5 Program Shouldn’t Have Sold Citizenship

But Who Didn’t Rounds “Shame” And Why Only Rick Weiland?

“Former Governor Mike Rounds in his latest television commercial, which is paid for by his big money special interests, says that Rick Weiland should be ‘ashamed’ for saying citizenship should not be for sale as it was under Rounds’ scandal-plagued EB-5 program.

“Why just ‘shame’ Rick Weiland, Governor Rounds?

“Why not ‘shame the following as well?

“The half dozen South Dakota newspaper editors who have called the scandal an embarrassment and a stain on our state and who have called for Rounds to come clean on what he really knows about the millions of missing taxpayer dollars and about the selling of citizenship to foreign billionaires and millionaires for $500,000 apiece.

“The state’s leading investigative journalist who has sued the South Dakota Attorney General demanding to get documents related to the scandal.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office which is investigating this entire mess because that office doesn’t take lightly things like millions of tax dollars gone missing in a Federal program that was run by Mike Rounds.

“Rounds’ own Lt. Governor and now Governor Dennis Daugaard, who when asked about the scandal runs away from the issue as fast as Usain Bolt runs on a 100 meter track and flat out says he had nothing to do with EB-5 that all the bad stuff that occurred there happened ‘not on his watch’. And just to show he really had nothing to do with the scandal, has said he would be happy to testify about it – something Mike Rounds won’t say.

“Former Republican U.S. Senator Larry Pressler who said at the Dakota Fest debate in Mitchell a couple of weeks ago that Mike Rounds needed to provide written testimony as to what really happened because Pressler feared that Rounds will be indicted following the election for crimes in the EB-5 scandal thus leaving South Dakotans without a second US Senator fighting for them.

“Current conservative Republican candidate Gordon Howie who went further than Pressler did at the Mitchell debate and called on Rounds to be subpoenaed and forced to testify publicly under oath as to what he really knows about the EB-5 scandal.

“The taxpayers of South Dakota who just want honest government and have the right to know why millions of their hard earned tax dollars have gone missing.

“No, Mike Rounds did not ‘shame’ any of these people – virtually all of whom have leveled stronger charges against Mike Rounds than did Rick Weiland.

“Instead, Mike Rounds ‘shamed’ Rick Weiland. And do you want to know the real reason Mike Rounds ‘shamed’ Rick Weiland? It is because polls show that Rick Weiland has closed the gap in the polls with Mike Rounds and has turned this campaign into a six point race. Mike Rounds sees in these same polls that the people of South Dakota like Rick Weiland by a two to one margin while Mike Rounds has nearly one in two South Dakotans with an unfavorable opinion of him even though nearly 100 percent of them feel they know him. Mike Rounds also sees that six in ten South Dakotans do not want to vote for him and even one out of two Republicans in his own primary didn’t vote for him.

“That is why Mike Rounds is ‘shaming’ and attacking Rick Weiland and no one else.

“Oh, and there is one other glaring person Mike Rounds did not ‘shame’ in his desperate smoke and mirror television ad.”

Mike Rounds did not ‘shame’ himself for dragging our great name and our great state into the murk and sludge of this scandal and for not being honest with the people of South Dakota for what really happened here. In handing out ‘shame’, Mike Rounds should begin by looking in a mirror.”

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KELO: Weiland, Pressler, Howie Agree On Something: Where’s Mike?

Adding more fuel to the fire was the fact that Rounds appeared at today’s East River Electric debate even though he did not participate, according to a press release from Rick Weiland. Weiland’s camp called the move disrespectful not only to the East River Electric Coop but to the voters of South Dakota as well.

Through a joint press release, South Dakota’s 3 underdog US Senate candidates called out frontrunner Mike Rounds today, asking him why he is skipping a series of debates between now and the end of September, including today’s debate sponsored by the East River Electric Coop.

Through the release the candidates said they want an empty chair at all upcoming debates that Rounds will not be attending to be placed on the stage, signifying someone is missing. This includes debates hosted by KSFY TV and the Rapid City Journal on September 10th and 11th All 3 candidates also said Rounds is disrespecting west river voters, as he will not appear in any debates in that portion of the state.

Read The Full Article Here

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Press Release: Weiland: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Is Not Your Daddy’s Chamber — Today It Is Nothing More Than A Front A Front Group For Big Corporate Money

So Who Is Surprised They Endorsed Mike Rounds?

The campaign of Sioux Falls small businessman and U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland today called the US Chamber of Commerce endorsement of Mike Rounds a sham by a sham organization and is only more proof that Rounds is in the hip pocket of big money in American politics.

“To some people, the U.S. Chamber name certainly might still sound good but anyone who has followed the organization over the past 20 years knows they long ago lost their way and their credibility when they sold out to major corporate Wall Street interests at the expense of small main street businesses,” Weiland campaign spokesman Steve Jarding said.

“Today, the U.S. Chamber is nothing more than a front group and a mouthpiece for the biggest moneyed corporations in America. Nothing more. So, why should it be any surprise then that this group which lives off big money corporate interests would endorse Mike Rounds who owes his political life to big money corporate interests,” Jarding said.

“You want evidence? Today the U.S. Chamber Board has 118 members – 111 from large corporations, six members from small business and only one member from a local Chamber. And even some of the largest corporations in the U.S., citing extremist and dangerous views by the U.S. Chamber, have quit the organization. These companies include Nike and Apple,” Jarding noted.

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and their billionaire puppet masters including the Koch Brothers, who have invaded South Dakota, are the leading opponents of raising the Minimum Wage and they routinely support policy that benefits large corporations at the expense of small main street businesses. And to help their select big corporate backers, they have spent an average of $300,000 a day lobbying Congress to block meaningful reform in all areas of public policy. They are not pro-American jobs or pro-American business. They are pro-big corporation, pro-sending jobs overseas, and pro-tax shelters for big corporations in places like the Cayman Islands,” Jarding said.

In fact, last year the U.S. Chamber became the first organization to spend one billion dollars – that’s billion with a “b” – (since record keeping began in 1998), on lobbying for anti-American small business practices outdistancing its nearest competitor by more than $700 million dollars.

“Rick Weiland IS a small businessman. He knows better than anyone how damaging the pro-big money corporate agenda of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is for small main street businesses in South Dakota,” Jarding said.

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Sustainable Dakota: Rick Weiland reminds us to aim together

This shoot won’t allow people to bring in their own bows for the general competition. Everyone has the same basic tools to use as they bring their personal best and hopefully shoot better than everyone else.

So, what does this have to do with Rick Weiland for US Senate or Susan Wismer as South Dakota Governor? Or politics?

As they prepared to fly back to Huron for the SD State Fair, Weiland says to me with a smile, “Keeping pointing everyone in the right direction.”

Well, Rick, I appreciated that, and it made me think.

I hope we all keep each other pointed in the right direction.

Kicking out-of-state big money out of campaign financing has been the platform Rick Weiland has ran on from the get go.

This is my favorite thing about Weiland, and I have met him enough and in dusty enough corners of South Dakota to be confidant he is a true populist and public servant.

Political competition ought to instead have the backdrop of friendly, community
And of course, in November, let’s vote for the one reminding us to all aim in the right direction: Rick Weiland.

Read The Full Article Here

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Press Release: Where’s Rounds?

Mike Rounds Goes Into Hiding; Disrespects South Dakota Voters By Skipping East River Electric Debate

Sioux Falls – U.S. Senate candidates Rick Weiland, Larry Pressler and Gordon Howie today voiced their disappointment and alarm that Mike Rounds is refusing to participate in debates such as the East River Electric candidate forum. The three candidates called on Rounds to end his disappearing act and join them at future debates.

Rounds refusal to participate in the East River Electric candidate forum is only the first of several future debates in which Rounds is refusing to participate. He has also refused to participate in the first televised debate on September 10 and the only scheduled West River debate in Rapid City on September 11.

Because of Mike Rounds’ refusal to participate, West River voters will not have the opportunity to see Rounds debate in person at any time this election.

Democrat Weiland and Independent candidates Pressler and Howie said today that South Dakotans deserve to know why and what Mike Rounds is hiding in his refusal to participate in any debates for 54 days.

“I’m just wondering what questions Mike is afraid to answer,” said Howie.

“Mike Rounds owes South Dakotans a chance to hear his views on the issues facing our state. It’s the single most important thing we do as candidates. If Mike isn’t willing to listen to and meet voters before he’s elected, why should they trust him to fight for them if he’s elected?” Weiland said.

Weiland, Pressler and Howie urged all upcoming debates to include an empty chair on stage to represent Rounds’ refusal to participate.

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Prairie Perspectives: A Little Excitement In 2014

Mike Rounds, who won two gubernatorial races handily, cannot get a majority to endorse his Senate run. A recent poll by Public Policy Polling (PPP) has Rounds under 40 percent. While PPP is a Democrat affiliated firm, its polls are well respected.

Recent polls have not been good news for Rounds, long thought the clear favorite. Rounds maintains a lead against both Weiland and Pressler, but is unable to break the magic fifty percent mark.

Republicans have taken to arguing the Rick Weiland cannot win because he splits the anti-Rounds vote with Pressler. This is an argument from weakness. Republicans essentially concede that if Pressler dropped out of the race, Weiland may be nearly tied with Rounds.

Read The Full Article Here

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LTE: Make vote count toward future

Early voting starts Sept. 19. Vote for those who take time to listen (Rick Weiland), vote for those who want to get things done (Corrina Robinson), vote for those who care about families and open government (Susan Wismer/Suzy Blake).

Vote for those who care about people and have given us such programs as Medicare and Medicaid, Family & Medical Leave Act, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Americans with Disabilities Act, Social Security, food safety laws, bank deposit security, workplace safety laws and women’s suffrage.

Read The Full Letter Here

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LTE: Enjoying 15-second ad from Rick Weiland

I am thoroughly enjoying the 15-second ad that Rick Weiland is running on TV. It’s amazing what a little creativity can do when one has limited funds to run for office.

His message to the middle and lower classes about increasing income equality in the United States speaks to many of us who worry about rich corporations, forgetting that they are part of the human race who also work for a living at ridiculously low wages.

Read The Full Letter Here

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Daily Plainsman: Senate candidates make their cases at State Fair debate

With a little more than 50 days to go until the election, frontrunner Mike Rounds continues to bear the brunt of criticism in the four-way race to fill retiring Sen. Tim Johnson’s seat.

Before a large crowd at the State Fair on Friday afternoon, Rounds, a Republican, independents Gordon Howie and Larry Pressler and Democrat Rick Weiland shared with voters why they think they could make a difference in breaking congressional gridlock.

Weiland reminded voters that he has spent the last 16 months traveling to 311 towns across the state, meeting people in their homes, in coffee shops and on street corners where he listens to the concerns of South Dakotans.

At the same time, he said Rounds has boasted about raising $9 million, mostly from out-of-state donors.

People want someone to stand up and fight for them, not big money interests, he said.

“That’s what I hear each and every day,”Weiland said.

Instead, he said big oil and big money interests are calling the shots.

“It’s just not fair,” he said.

He also believes people should at least have the option of buying into Medicare, to which Rounds responded that Weiland is the only candidate in the country who supports that because he said it’s a bad idea.

Read The Full Article Here

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Argus Leader: Spirited Senate debate highlights candidate differences

The three-on-one battle for U.S. Senate continued Friday as Mike Rounds battled Gordon Howie, Larry Pressler and Rick Weiland over his gubernatorial record, the role of government and the Keystone XL pipeline at the election’s second debate.

Weiland, a Democrat, said it wasn’t “big government” that’s the problem, but a government that’s not working for the people.

“Government’s not the problem,” he said. “The problem is a government that’s been bought off by big money special interests.”

Rounds called that statement the “story of the campaign.”

Pressler, running as an independent, tried to strike a middle ground: calling to cut some government programs but at other times defending the ability of the government to help people’s lives.

“I’m very afraid of the deficit,” said Pressler, who also called to reduce foreign military spending. But he opposed Rounds’ call to eliminate the federal Department of Education.

“Our teachers’ wages are too low,” Pressler said. “Education is one thing we really have to do well.”

Howie, another independent, said he agreed with Rounds about big government being the problem, though he immediately attacked Rounds for having “ushered (big government) into South Dakota.”

That moment was one of a handful of times Howie, a former Republican legislator with ties to tea party groups, agreed with Rounds. Another was the Keystone XL pipeline, which both men support.

“Common sense says, get the oil, put it in a pipeline, and ship it,” Rounds said of the controversial pipeline, which he said should be just the “first of several pipelines” shipping oil from both Canada and North Dakota through the United States.

Weiland called Keystone a bad deal, saying it wouldn’t create many jobs and was prone to leaks that could damage water supplies.
“This is nothing more than another big oil foreign company trying to tell farmers and ranchers they can take their land,” Weiland said.

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Press Release: Weiland Draws Sharp Contrasts With Rounds State Fair Debate 

Sioux Falls small businessman and U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland went on the offensive at the South Dakota State Fair debate this afternoon. Rounds has drawn criticism for skipping proposed debates from KSFY, KSOO, Dakota Wesleyan University, the Rapid City Journal and the Native Sun News.

“Mike Rounds is going to take a 54 day vacation from these debates which is unfortunate and frankly, disrespectful of the voters. This shouldn’t be a coronation. No one is entitled to be a United States Senator. You need to earn it and I challenge Mike to reconsider his decision not debate over the course of the next 54 days,” Weiland said.

There were clear differences drawn in how Weiland and Rounds will represent the voters of South Dakota in the U.S. Senate:

“We are not a state of the rich and powerful. We are everyday folks, playing by the rules, who expect a level playing field and a fair shake. Nothing more, nothing less.

I’m for raising the minimum wage. 62,000 South Dakotans will have a chance at better life. Mike is opposed to it.

I’m for a tax code that makes billionaires and corporations pay their fair share. Mike is not.

I’m for protecting and expanding Medicare. Let’s open up Medicare for everyone and bring some honest competition to the market place. Mike is on the side of the big health insurance companies.

I’m for keeping Big Money from buying our politicians and running our government. The first bill I will introduce as your next United States Senator will be a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and McCutcheon. Corporations aren’t people and money isn’t free speech. Mike opposes campaign finance reform.

We have an opportunity to start taking our country back and regain the promise of America where anyone who works hard and plays by a fair set of rules has an equal opportunity to get ahead.”

The next debate Weiland will participate in is the KSFY television debate on September 10 at 7:00 pm in Sioux Falls.

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Press Release: Weiland Draws Sharp Contrasts With Rounds At State Fair Debate
Urges Rounds to not skip next five US Senate debates

Huron — Sioux Falls small businessman and U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland went on the offensive at the South Dakota State Fair debate this afternoon. Rounds has drawn criticism for skipping proposed debates from KSFY, KSOO, Dakota Wesleyan University, the Rapid City Journal and the Native Sun News.

“Mike Rounds is going to take a 54 day vacation from these debates which is unfortunate and frankly, disrespectful of the voters. This shouldn’t be a coronation. No one is entitled to be a United States Senator. You need to earn it and I challenge Mike to reconsider his decision not debate over the course of the next 54 days,” Weiland said.

There were clear differences drawn in how Weiland and Rounds will represent the voters of South Dakota in the U.S. Senate:

“We are not a state of the rich and powerful. We are everyday folks, playing by the rules, who expect a level playing field and a fair shake. Nothing more, nothing less.

I’m for raising the minimum wage. 62,000 South Dakotans will have a chance at better life. Mike is opposed to it.

I’m for a tax code that makes billionaires and corporations pay their fair share. Mike is not.

I’m for protecting and expanding Medicare. Let’s open up Medicare for everyone and bring some honest competition to the market place. Mike is on the side of the big health insurance companies.

I’m for keeping Big Money from buying our politicians and running our government. The first bill I will introduce as your next United States Senator will be a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and McCutcheon. Corporations aren’t people and money isn’t free speech. Mike opposes campaign finance reform.

We have an opportunity to start taking our country back and regain the promise of America where anyone who works hard and plays by a fair set of rules has an equal opportunity to get ahead.”

The next debate Weiland will participate in is the KSFY television debate on September 10 at 7:00 pm in Sioux Falls.

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KELO: SD U.S. Senate Candidates Debate Debt

“Governor Daugaard was Governor Rounds’ lieutenant governor and he brags about fixing a $127 million structural deficit. Mike Rounds brags about balancing the budget. Who’s in charge?” Rick Weiland (D) said.

“I believe it’s time we cut spending. We reduce our debt and we stop government growth and I don’t just say that my record shows I believe it,” Howie said.

Democrat Rick Weiland pointed out that Rounds balanced the budget with stimulus dollars.

“A lot of it came from the federal government and from the Obama stimulus program, as awful as they want to say that was that’s how they balanced the budget,” Weiland said.

Read The Full Article Here

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LTE: Don’t Vote For Big Money

Senate candidate Rick Weiland is reaching out to people in every town in South Dakota. I have visited with Rick in a couple of his town visits and see how dedicated to serving our state he is. Let’s not allow big outside money to put another puppet in office.

I am a registered independent and have always voted for the person and what they stand for and who I believe they will represent. I will find it difficult to support someone whose platform is try to undermine, obstruct or defeat legislation in order to represent big corporations interests.

I will support a candidate that reaches out to the people of the state and listens to their concerns.

Read The Full Letter Here

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Press Release: Weiland Campaign Statement On Negative Push Polls

It has come to the attention of the Weiland campaign that some organization is calling South Dakotans and offering negative information on one of our opponents in this campaign.

The implication in the call is that the Weiland campaign is the entity making the phone contact. That is completely false. Whoever is conducting these illegal phone calls is perpetrating a fraud.

The Weiland campaign does not engage and never has engaged in the unethical and distasteful tactic of conducting these so-called “push polls.” Obviously, some campaign in this race adheres to a lesser ethical standard.

Kris Swedin
Campaign Manager

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Press Release: Weiland accepts KSFY debate invitation

Urges Rounds, Howie & Pressler to join him on the evening of September 10

Sioux Falls small businessman and U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland has accepted an invitation from KSFY-Television in Sioux Falls for a televised debate they will be hosting on the evening of September 10 from 7-8 PM central time.

“I want to thank KSFY for stepping forward to provide the citizens of South Dakota a full hour of commercial-free air time to hear the from candidates running for the United States Senate. It’s incredibly generous of them and of tremendous public service to their viewers,” Weiland said.

He added, “South Dakotans face a huge choice in November. Our state desperately wants to send someone to Washington who will stand up to the Big Money crowd that’s trying to privatize Medicare and cut funding for programs that affect our seniors, our children and our veterans. I look forward to a vigorous discussion and urge my fellow candidates, Mike Rounds, Gordon Howie and Larry Pressler to join me that evening.”

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Press Release: Weiland Drives Agenda In First Debate

Takes Mike Rounds to task on Medicare and bureaucracy. Argues EB-5 creates a “culture of corruption” and South Dakotans deserve answers.

Mitchell — On Wednesday afternoon at the Dakotafest debate, Sioux Falls small businessman and U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland called Mike Rounds out on two critical issues. On Medicare, Weiland earned the best applause line of the day when he asked the former Governor to check with the Trustees of the Medicare Trust Fund who came out last month and announced that the Affordable Care Act has actually extended Medicare’s solvency an additional four years longer than originally thought, for a total of sixteen years until 2030. This revelation trumped the long, expensive and factually-false ad campaign Rounds waged during the primary trying to convince voters that Medicare was “stealing” over $700 billion from the Medicare Trust Fund. Weiland also left Rounds unable to respond when he repeated his call for providing the option for all Americans to buy into Medicare, which will create true competition in the health care marketplace, forcing the big private health insurance companies to provide care more efficiently and less expensively in order to compete with citizens who opt to buy into Medicare.

Weiland also challenged Rounds’ claim that the former governor is well qualified to balance the federal budget and clean up Washington DC’s bureaucratic mess. Rounds claimed that he balanced the South Dakota budget every single year as Governor. Weiland countered that Rounds submitted several budgets that were, in fact, structural deficits and that he relied on federal funds to balance his budgets. Rounds also was unable to respond to Weiland’s point that the former governor actually added 1,500 state employees during his time as governor at a time when the state’s population remained stable.

During his introductory remarks, Weiland threw down the first marker in the debate on the controversial EB-5 program. Weiland extended his remarks on EB-5 later in the debate. “Nationally, this program has created a culture of corruption and South Dakotans have been dragged into a scandal where millions of dollars in taxpayer’s money have been lost, official records aren’t forthcoming and Mike Rounds isn’t doing citizens the simple favor of explaining to folks when this project went south and why our state and unsuspecting foreigners continued to dump millions of dollars into it. Mike Rounds needs to come clean as to his responsibility in this scandal,” Weiland added.

The call for Rounds to open up and answer questions about EB-5 became a common refrain late in the debate, as candidates Gordon Howie and Larry Pressler joined Weiland in calling on the former governor to stand up and account for his actions during the time he administered the EB-5 program. Despite calls from all three candidates, and several of the state’s major newspapers, Rounds did not acknowledge the clear request from citizens to begin answering EB-5’s difficult questions.

The candidates will debate next in nine days on August 29, during the South Dakota State Fair.

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The Daily Republic: RV v. minivan: Mode of travel becomes issue in Senate race

Democrat Rick Weiland, who has been getting around South Dakota in a 2007 Chrysler Town and Country minivan, released a 15-second video Monday contrasting the minivan to that of frontrunner Republican Mike Rounds’ ride.

Rounds’ RV stretches twice the length of Weiland’s vehicle and sports a shiny paint job declaring it the “Grassroots Express” with a logo that is part “R” and part elephant (the Republican Party mascot).

“I get around in this, while my opponent gets to stretch out in this,” Weiland says in the video over images of the two vehicles.

Weiland so far has just released the video on YouTube and his Facebook page, but photos comparing the two vehicles sparked a social media debate last week, complete with the Weiland camp asking supporters to post a photo of the Rounds RV with “#Gra$$root$” on their personal social media accounts.

Northern State University political science professor Jon Schaff said there are similarities to Democrat Paul Wellstone’s successful bid to unseat an incumbent in 1990.

“Paul Wellstone had this cruddy bus, and he made the distinction: ‘I’m the little guy,’” Schaff said.

Read The Full Article Here

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Press Release: Weiland Announces Hiring of Steve Jarding As Senior Advisor

Sioux Falls small businessman and U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland announced that Steve Jarding of Rapid City has joined his campaign. Jarding will serve as a senior advisor and spokesman for the balance of the race.

“I’m incredibly excited to welcome Steve to our team. His credentials speak for themselves. He has provided counsel for a number of populist Democrats including our own Tim Johnson and Nebraska’s Bob Kerrey.” Weiland said.

Jarding, a native of Alexandria, South Dakota and a graduate of Mitchell High School has a long record of accomplishment in the political, public policy and academic arenas. Jarding’s political career includes helping candidates win statewide races that were considered difficult races to win in South Dakota, Nebraska and Virginia. He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of South Dakota and a Master’s degree in Government from Oklahoma University. For the past 11 years, he has been a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

“The people of our state need Rick’s voice in Washington fighting for us every day. Rick owes big money interests nothing. He is a breath of fresh air, of reason and of hope. I am delighted to be on his team working to elect a leader for all of the people of our state so that we can take our country back from those who go to Washington who have sold out to political and big money special interests,” Jarding said.

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LTE: Rick Weiland willing to meet people

How candidates campaign tells us something of how they plan to lead. Who’s willing to meet people and listen to them? Candidate Rick Weiland is running for the U.S. Senate. He’s going to every city in South Dakota a second time.

He’s willing to take time to meet people and see how they’re doing. Someone willing to take peoples’ concerns to D.C.

On Monday, July 21, I received two robo calls from the Republican National Party. Their message was a denouncement of Sen. Reid and candidate Weiland.

If this is the beginning of campaign season, spare us the negative and anonymous intrusion. We don’t need TV ads and phone calls bought and paid for by out-of-state corporations who could care less about what’s on our minds.

The candidates need to meet face to face. They need to debate their past, present and future vision for us on the prairie and how they’ll lead responsibly.

Think about it, Rick Weiland is intent on representing people.

Read The Full Article Here

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LTE: Voters need to know Rounds’ stances

I read that Mike Rounds was trying to get out of doing any debates this year because he feels like other candidates gang up on him.

He is running to be our next senator and should have to stand by his record and explain his positions. That should be expected of him. That he thought he could, even for a second, not have to debate says a lot.

It tells me that he doesn’t think voters have a right to know his positions on key issues. We have an absolute right to know where he stands on Medicare, the minimum wage and Powertech. He needs to get out there and start answering questions. He owes it to all of us.

Read The Full Article Here

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Daily Kos: Weiland gaining on Rounds

PPP has some optimistic notes for Weiland: They find Rounds’ favorability actually underwater at 44-48, and Weiland on positive ground at 44-27.

PPP also finds Pressler’s supporters like Weiland far more than they like Rounds, giving the Democrat some room to grow. There is very little polling in this race, and what we have seen has largely left out Pressler. So far neither party nor their allies have spent any real money here, largely writing this one off as a Republican pickup. If either the DSCC or the NRSC think that Weiland has any shot, expect them both to play hard in this inexpensive state.

Read The Full Article Here

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LTE: Rounds not talking with voters

Why is Mike Rounds limiting the number of debates he is willing to attend? He isn’t governor anymore and, unless I am mistaken, he is a full-time candidate.

Does he have something better to do than talk with South Dakota voters? I think we deserve answers as to why he won’t attend more debates. This is supposed to be a campaign, not a coronation.

In an age where outside groups can spend unlimited amounts of money on political ads, it is time for candidates to go out in person and talk with voters.

Read The Full Article Here

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Huffington Post: Money in Politics: Rising in Intensity as a 2014 Election Issue

Rick has built his entire campaign around the message of taking on big money in politics, with his Take It Back slogan being a call to take back our country from the big money special interests that control it.

While the Republican frontrunner in the race, Mike Rounds, runs around the country raising millions of dollars, Rick has been the first candidate to visit all 311 towns in the state, and is in the middle of doing it again right now. Rick likes to sing, and he came out with his second music video of the campaign a couple weeks back, having rewritten the words to Roger Miller’s classic “King Of The Road.”

These kinds of grassroots videos are the latest sign that candidates all over the country, in red states as well as purple and blue, are taking up the fight against money in politics, to take the country back from the Koch brothers, Wall Street, and the big business interests that run things right now. It is exciting to see.

Read The Full Article Here

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The Daily Republic: US Senate race one to watch as campaign season kicks into gear

Rick Weiland’s campaign — visiting every South Dakota city, town, village and hamlet multiple times — reminds Schaff of the late liberal lion Paul Wellstone’s 1990 victory in Minnesota. The underdog, unapologetic liberal defeated Republican incumbent Rudy Boschwitz with a similar campaign — but in a more liberal state, Schaff is quick to note.

“If a Rick-Weiland-type were going to win, he would have to be doing what the actual Rick Weiland is doing,” Schaff said.

Weiland, who is second in the polls, said he believes the Rounds campaign has started criticizing him over his position on Obamacare and support for universal Medicare because it is worried.

“It’s the first time they’ve paid any attention to me,” Weiland said. “They hit the panic button.”

Read The Full Article Here

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Press Release: Weiland Accepts SDPB, AARP & SDNA Debate Invitations

Urges other media outlets to sponsor a series of TV, radio and livestream debates.

Wessington Springs — Sioux Falls small businessman and Senate candidate Rick Weiland has accepted South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s, South Dakota AARP’s and the South Dakota Newspaper Association’s invitation to a candidate debate on October 21st in Vermillion.

“I want to thank these three groups for being the first to officially invite the US Senate candidates to formally debate the issues that will shape this year’s election. The voters of South Dakota need and deserve to see all four Senate candidates discuss important issues in a public forum. South Dakotans face a critical decision this November and it shouldn’t have to be a decision based on who has the prettiest television commercials or newspaper advertising,” Weiland said.

“In fact, I would love to see the South Dakota media sponsor an entire series of debates. Televised debates are great, but the inexpensive nature of livestreaming should allow multiple media outlets to broadcast debates and revolutionize the way voters gather the information they need to make informed voting decisions. Personally, I’d love to hold a dozen of these types of debates in every corner of South Dakota and I trust the other candidates in this race feel the same way,” Weiland concluded.

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LTE: Rounds not a shoe-in

I just read Tom Lawrence’s column, “Is SD Senate race really over?” (Viewpoints, July 30). I couldn’t disagree with him more.

Mike Rounds does not have the U.S. Senate race sewed up. This hunt is not over. There are many of us who think Mike Rounds is not an honest candidate. He has not been truthful about the Affordable Care Act. He has connections to the EB-5 scandal, and it is pathetic that the state Legislature won’t subpoena the people that could tell us the truth. I give Susan Wismer credit for single-handedly trying to get this scandal out into the open.

Mr. Lawrence should work harder to get his facts right. He should not readily accept poll numbers that the Republicans put out and then claim that Rounds will breeze to a win in November. I am sure that Weiland, Pressler and Howie don’t think that is true, or they wouldn’t stay in the race.

It is true that Mike Rounds is spending millions of dollars to win the Senate race that the other candidates don’t have, but Mr. Lawrence, it’s not over until it’s over. Don’t write the Democrats off.

Read The Full Article Here

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Press Release: Weiland Says Tyson Deal Would Hurt South Dakota Farmers And Ranchers

Beresford – Sioux Falls small businessman and Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Rick Weiland, today called on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to block Tyson Foods’ proposed acquisition of Hillshire Brands.

Earlier this year, Tyson Foods submitted an offer to acquire Hillshire Brands, which produces a number of pork products, that includes brands like Jimmy Dean’s breakfast sausages and Ball Park Hot Dogs. The proposed acquisition has required an antitrust review by the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice.

“Where do we draw the line when it comes to protecting our Ag Producers and our Consumers? South Dakotans need someone representing them in the Senate who will stand up to the power of Big Money in the Agriculture Industry and say enough is enough,” said Weiland.

“This merger defies common sense and will hurt not just family farmers and ranchers but also consumers by giving Tyson-Hillshire even more control over prices and reducing the number of livestock buyers. Small-scale livestock producers can expect Tyson-Hilshire to squeeze their profit margins even further so that Big Meat can maximize their profits,” Weiland added.

“We need someone who will continue Tim Johnson’s fight to expand competition in the marketplace. I challenge Mike Rounds to join me in calling on the Justice Department to block this merger, which will only stifle competition, hurt South Dakota farmers and ranchers, and cause consumers to pay more at the meat counter,” Weiland said.

Tyson Foods is the largest meat company in the U.S., and the pending merger would concentrate more power in the pork industry in just one firm. Weiland’s call to block this proposed merger is one component of his efforts to ensure Big Money gets out of the way of good policy.

Today Weiland will visit 6 more South Dakota towns: Canistota, Marion, Centerville, Beresford, Elk Point, and Vermillion. He has now made more than 470 town visits and held more than 200 public meetings.

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Rick Weiland Talks With Ed Schultz

Rick was on the Ed Schultz show this morning talking about the state of the race and standing up for Medicare. Listen to the interview below.

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Argus Leader: Four candidates for Senate differ on highway funding

Democrat Rick Weiland said he wouldn’t “ask any South Dakotan to pay more taxes on gasoline.”

Instead, Weiland said Congress should raise money by eliminating “subsidies” and “tax loopholes” to “big oil companies and other huge corporations.” An increase in the gas tax, Weiland said, would be on the table only after “asking big corporations to pay their fair share” and providing people with more money in the form of a minimum wage increase.

“Until we exhaust every other option, I wouldn’t consider a gas tax increase — especially with this administration in control of the money,” Republican Mike Rounds said in a statement.

Rounds said he would prefer to look at “spending reforms, alternative revenue options such as revenue from energy exploration on federal lands” or “reforms that provide greater flexibility to the states and local contractors.”

Read The Full Article Here

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Constant Commoner: Prairie Populist Promises Specifics To Go With The Thematics

A few weeks back I took Democrat Rick Weiland and his campaign for the U.S. Senate to task for being absorbed with its populist themes at the expense of policy specifics. My piece got the Weiland campaign’s attention and stimulated a response. Here is Weiland’s reply:

I want to thank John and The Constant Commoner blog for another thoughtful piece on the race for the United States Senate. We do need more discourse on what South Dakota’s US Senate candidates will introduce and fight for in Congress and less pretty political ads and other platitudes.

In fairness, I have tried to talk about policy a great deal during this campaign. In fact, my entire campaign is built around a policy idea, instead of a platitude – enacting real campaign finance reform that ensures our electoral contests reflect the will of the majority of citizens instead of Big Money’s campaign contributions.

I proposed improving Obamacare by allowing all Americans, of any age, to buy into the Medicare program to provide real competition for big health insurance companies. I’ve backed legislation and held a conference call with reporters to discuss the idea of allowing young people with higher interest rate student loans to re-finance them at 3.86%, a figure established in a rare bipartisan compromise last summer. I’ve proposed strengthening country-of-origin labeling so South Dakota families know where their meat comes from. I strongly opposed the new EPA guidelines on the renewable fuel standard (RFS). I came out against renewing America’s intervention in Iraq. I have proposed eliminating the federal government’s EB-5 program. I introduced the idea of a pledge asking for our current Congressional delegation and all of our Senate candidates to promise never to shut down the government or threaten defaulting on our Treasury debt obligations.

In keeping with our effort to talk about real issues – beginning next week, I am going to propose a series of policy ideas as I make my way across the state a second time and I am going to post these position papers on my website. Our state needs a vigorous discussion of the issues and I will do my part to help make sure this happens.

Read The Full Article Here

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Press Release: Medicare Trust Fund Solvency Extended By 4 Years To 2030

Controversial Rounds Ad from last spring continues to be proven false

A new study by the trustees of the Medicare Trust Fund shows the fund’s solvency has been extended by four years beyond earlier projections.

The report, released Monday, shows Medicare’s solvency has now been extended to the year 2030. Trustees credited a few different factors, including the Affordable Care Act (ACA), for extending the solvency of the program.

“This past spring, Mike Rounds told all of us, over and over again, how the ACA “steals” $716 billion from Medicare and would wreck the program. The news from the Medicare Trustees suggests the exact opposite is true. This report reinforces what the national fact check organizations and two of the state’s biggest media outlets that called the ad false last spring,” said Weiland Campaign Manager Kris Swedin.

Weiland has proposed giving all Americans the option to buy into Medicare or to purchase private insurance. The addition of younger, healthier citizens would improve Medicare’s finances and enhance their risk pool and would further improve Medicare.

“It will be interesting to see if the former Governor stands by his claim that the ACA will wreck Medicare. The facts tell us a completely different story,” Swedin added.

Rounds’ latest FEC report continues to show large donations from a string of insurance, pharmaceutical and health care corporate PACs as well as health care lobbyists. Rounds is also on the record supporting Congressman Paul Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program.

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Poll: Clarity Campaign Labs: 10-Point Race in South Dakota

In the race for U.S. Senate, Mike Rounds is ahead of Democrat Rick Weiland 34% to 24%. Independent Larry Pressler makes a reasonably strong show with 10% support, while independent Gordon Howie at 3% support is only a minor player in this race.

On behalf of the South Dakota Democratic Party, Clarity Campaign Labs conducted a poll of registered voters statewide in South Dakota from July 16th to 23th. We surveyed 3,837 voters using an IVR survey that included a live-patch cell phone oversample. We then matched the sample to the voter file and weighted it to reflect a midterm general electorate in the state. The margin of error is +/- 1.44%.

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Most notable is the large number of undecided voters, at 29%. While Rounds is currently ahead of Weiland, the 10 point margin is less impressive with such a high number of unsure respondents. Breaking down these respondents by self-identified party we see that in the initial party self-ID they are almost equally divided, as 28% are Democrats, 33% are Republicans, and 39% are Independents. When including leaners toward either party, they become 42% Republican to 36% Democrat, with 21% independent. There is also a higher proportion of undecided women than men, 31% of female voters were unsure compared to 24% of male voters. Younger voters also tend to be more undecided, with 41% of those aged 18-34 unsure.

The demographics show a clear candidate support breakdown along party lines, with 80% of Weiland support coming from Democrats and 83% of Rounds support from Republicans. Independent Larry Pressler has bipartisan appeal, drawing an equal amount of support, 27%, from Democrats and Republicans, and 46% from Independents. In particular, 10% of conservative Democrats support Pressler and 11% of moderate Republicans support him.

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Weiland does best among women and ethnic minorities. 49% of Native Americans support him while only 11% chose Rounds. His support among women was nearly tied with Rounds, with 28% of female voters supporting Weiland and 30% Rounds. Rounds received 33% of white voters’ support compared to 29% who selected Weiland. 36% of men were for Rounds and only 26% for Weiland.

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LTE: Tax traitors

A practice called “inversion” is used by international oil corporations and others to avoid paying taxes in the U.S. They renounce U.S. citizenship to seek out the lowest-bidder tax state to call “my country.” The president calls them unpatriotic. I call them tax traitors.

These foreign oil entities are the competitors to our tax-paying S.D. corn processing industry. Corn processing is the cornerstone of our job-creating economy and No. 1-rated business climate.

It is embarrassingly poor business that we allow these tax traitors to create two mythical public perceptions. Myths that have severely curtailed projected growth of ethanol production nationally and S.D. corn processing: Foreign oil says it is illegal to use E30 in standard autos. Secondly it says E30 will ruin standard car engines. Embarrassingly, our EPA believes these foreign-oil created myths and parrots them daily.

More extremely poor business: These myths fraudulently hijack at least $200 million annually from SD standard auto owners, assuming we use 400 million gallons of gasoline annually. Ethanol’s 93 octane premium E30 is at least 50 cents less expensive than unleaded and 20 cents less than E10.

A Koch Brothers nightmare: South Dakota governor and senate candidates supporting South Dakota businesses by traveling the campaign trail in standard autos powered by premium E30.

Read The Full Article Here

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KELO AM: Rick Weiland Campaign Stops By The Greg Belfrage Show

Candidate Rick Weiland has vowed that he will visit every town in South Dakota again in his persuit to be the next U.S. Senator.

Weiland is now fueling his “Take it Back” van with E-30 Blend. He said there isnt a better example of how we can take it back from Big Money than to take the oil industrys misinformation campaign on E-30 blended fuel head-on.

Weiland is also keeping his eye on the big money coming into the state to influence elections. He said South Dakotans don’t want a bought and paid for politician. they want someone who will represent them.

He can also play a mean guitar and sing his commercials live.

Listen To The Full Interview Here

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Press Release: Weiland to EPA: Go Ahead, Make My Day

Candidate fuels up ‘Take It Back’ van with E-30 blended fuel

Milbank — Sioux Falls small businessman and US Senate candidate Rick Weiland stopped his “Take it back!” van at the Food and Fuel blender pump in Milbank today and fueled up his 2007 Chrysler Town and Country van with E-30, the blended fuel that Big Oil is spending tens of millions of dollars to destroy before the industry before it gets off the ground.

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“There isn’t a better example of how we can “take it back” from Big Money than to take the oil industry’s misinformation campaign on E-30 blended fuel head-on. The fact is we can safely use E-30 right now and save money on fuel costs, lower harmful emissions, boost performance and help South Dakota’s corn producers all at the same time,” Weiland said.

Weiland said he decided to begin using E-30 whenever possible in his campaign van after talking to a handful of South Dakotans who’ve been pioneers of the renewable fuel movement.

Weiland also chastised the Obama Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency for a “too cozy” relationship with Big Oil that has slowed the rollout of E-30 as an alternative fuel to Big Oil’s unleaded gasoline. Earlier this year Weiland criticized the EPA for its proposed changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

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Wry Wing Politics: Will SD Senate Candidate Weiland Sing His Way To Becoming The Next Wellstone?

Rick Weiland has been campaigning the old fashioned way. He is staying grounded, traveling the dusty byways in a minivan.

Weiland is the first candidate in South Dakota history to campaign face-to-face in all of the state’s 311 towns. A couple of them are not metropolises.

Getting to all 311 towns is not just an impressive tactical feat, it’s also serves as a statement about the candidate’s values. In a state that prides itself on hard work and personal connections, South Dakotans are noticing the hardest working man in the political business.

At one point, Weiland tried to get Rounds to come with him on the gravel roads. He challenged Rounds to join him in rejecting big national money and discouraging dark money, and to replace wall-to-wall campaign ads with a lengthy series of Lincoln-Douglas style debates in small towns around the state. Rounds rejected Weiland’s suggestion, and returned to the fundraising circuit.

To stress his populist “Take It Back” campaign theme on the road, Weiland sometimes belts out parody songs in an imperfect voice. When you are being badly outspent, you need to get creative to get noticed and remembered. Weiland has long liked to relax by making music with his family and friends, so a few months back he rounded them up to videotape a well-received parody of “I’ve Been Everywhere” to chronicle his epic campaign journey. Today, Weiland released a parody sung to the tune of Miller’s “King of the Road.”

Corny? You betcha. But it’s on-message, fun and unique enough to get noticed and remembered amidst the election season media clutter. The self-deprecating Weiland readily acknowledges he is no threat to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, but he is determined to connect with South Dakotans on a deeper level than Rounds’ formulaic political ads do. (In one of his pre-fabricated TV ads, Rounds famously imported stock photography of faux Dakotans, including one woman from, ahem, Paris, France.)

Despite all of this, some still are writing off Weiland. In the July before election day, nobody in Minnesota thought Paul Wellstone or Jesse Ventura had a chance to win either. But a populist message and an entertaining approach helped both of them sneak up on their opponents. Could the warbling Weiland be the next upper midwestern candidate to use a similar approach to shock the world?

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Argus Leader: Conservative big spenders set up in SD

A major conservative political group is setting up shop in South Dakota, raising the potential for a new player in this fall’s U.S. Senate race.

Americans For Prosperity, a nonprofit group lead by billionaire donors and activists Charles and David Koch, said late last week it would open a South Dakota office — the group’s 35th state chapter.

It’s spent millions of dollars in advertising promoting conservative causes and also employs about 400 field operatives around the country, according to a Washington Post report.

A spokesperson for the group didn’t return a message Monday asking about the new office. But two U.S. Senate candidates said they’d prefer if Americans For Prosperity — and other outside spending groups, whatever their position — stayed out of South Dakota.

“They could literally buy themselves a Senate seat,” said Democratic candidate Rick Weiland. “We can sure make it known that we don’t want them here, and we can sure put it out to the voters of South Dakota.”

Weiland, in a news conference Monday afternoon, called on all four Senate candidates to ask groups such asAmericans For Prosperity to stay out of the race.

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SDPB: Senate Candidates Address Outside Ads

A candidate for South Dakota’s open US Senate seat says he wants everyone in the race to help prevent outside money from influencing the campaign.

Democratic candidate Rick Weiland says the public move would benefit voters, but not everyone in the race agrees with Weiland’s perspective.

Weiland cites a Washington Post article as the reason he thinks all Senate hopefuls should swear off outside advertising right now. The write-up says a conservative organization called Americans for Prosperity, lead by billionaires Charles and David Koch, is opening a new state chapter in South Dakota. Weiland says that’s a problem.

“Their approach to politics is pretty straight-up. If you have a big enough checkbook, you can literally buy yourself a government,” Weiland says. “And if they follow their usual pattern here in South Dakota, they could spend literally millions of dollars on this Senate seat.”

Weiland says advertising in South Dakota is inexpensive, so money from outside groups could dramatically change the Senate race. Weiland says he won’t “unilaterally disarm” – meaning he’s not going to try warding off outside spending on his own if his competitors embrace the tactic.

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KELO: Weiland wants Koch Brothers to stay out of SD

South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland says he wants Americans for Prosperity, the deep-pocketed conservative Political Action Committee, to stay out of the state.

During a news conference Monday, Weiland cited a Washington Post article that says the PAC – which is backed by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch – is set to open an office in South Dakota.

“When you get the Koch brothers involved here it sends a real message that one, this race isn’t over and that this race is in play. Two, this is a cheap state; big money can buy a Senate seat if we let them,” Weiland said.

Weiland wants to work together with Republican candidate Mike Rounds to keep the Koch brothers out of the South Dakota U.S. Senate race.

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Press Release: Rounds Campaign, Koch Brothers And Republican National Committee Begin Attacks In Senate Race

Robo-call and Koch Brothers’ entrance in South Dakota race demonstrates election is up for grabs

Just a few days after the Koch Brothers announced their political front, Americans for Prosperity, would be opening an office in Sioux Falls, South Dakota citizens were treated to an automated phone call this morning from the Republican National Committee, asking them to vote against Rick Weiland.

“If the Koch brothers are setting up shop in one of the most Republican states in the country, and if Mike Rounds is welcoming them in and joining their team, if the RNC is spending their scarce resources here, somebody somewhere has a poll that shows that Rounds is in big trouble,” said Kris Swedin, Weiland Campaign Manager.

The phone call claimed that Weiland would always support President Obama’s agenda in Washington.

This assertion flies in the face of reality. Weiland’s populist agenda has ruffled feathers in the Democratic establishment. Weiland has called for replacing the President’s signature plan with his “Medicare Choice” Act. He has called out the President’s Environmental Protection Agency for their backward thinking proposal on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and also has been critical of the President’s lack of pro-active leadership in taking on Big Money and introducing real campaign finance reform.

“I will support this President or any President, regardless of party, when their proposals help everyday South Dakotans,” Weiland said. “And, I will oppose a President when they decide to look the other way and let Big Money ride roughshod over public policy. It’s that simple,” Weiland said.

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HuffPost: South Dakota Senate Candidate Makes New Music Video

South Dakota Democratic Senate candidate Rick Weiland, whose innovative Johnny Cash cover earlier this campaign helped spark his populist, town-to-town campaign into the national progressive blogosphere, has released a follow-up to his “Everywhere Man” video.

Weiland has turned Roger Miller’s “King of the Road” into “Bring on the Road,” a self-testimonial about Weiland’s second trip to every town in South Dakota.

In South Dakota it’s the King of the Road taking on a conventional, corporate Republican. Keep an eye on this race because the upper Great Plains have a history of sending populists to Washington, DC and no candidate in the country is working harder than Weiland.

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Press Release: Big Money Tries To Sneak Into State

Koch Brothers quietly come to aid of Rounds Campaign: Weiland asks Rounds to help keep “Dark Money” out of South Dakota US Senate Race

“Americans for Prosperity,” a dark money front group for the Koch Brothers, have quietly set up shop in South Dakota in an effort to exert big money control of South Dakota’s United States Senate seat.

The Washington Post reported over the weekend, “Americans for Prosperity, the on-the-ground wing of the network of conservative organizations spearheaded by the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, will open new state chapters in South Dakota and Alaska in coming weeks, the group’s president said.”

“Big Money is becoming increasingly concerned that our town-to-town grassroots campaign to take our country back from groups like the Koch Brothers and other billionaires and big corporations is working. And, as a result, South Dakotans will be “subjected to a never-ending stream of negative television advertisements,” said Sioux Falls small businessman and US Senate candidate Rick Weiland.

Weiland challenged Republican nominee to work with him to keep so-called “Dark Money” groups out of South Dakota. “Mike, this is an opportunity for both of us to show we can be leaders. Let’s sign a pledge and agree to keep billionaires from buying these elections,” Weiland said.

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Freeman Courier: Civics Lesson

Rick Weiland spent the day traveling South Dakota visiting the towns of Mt. Vernon, Corsica, Stickney, Menno and Freeman. This was his third visit to Freeman since the campaign began.

CivicsLesson

Weiland’s campaign has taken him to all 311 incorporated towns in South Dakota. His visit included meeting with three boys at The Kairos, including an impromptu and good-natured civics lesson; how many Senators are there? How many members of the House of Representatives? How long are their terms?

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Press Release: Weiland accepts debate invitations; calls on Media to organize more

Sioux Falls small businessman and US Senate candidate Rick Weiland has accepted invitations to debate his general election opponents on five different dates between now and Election Day.

“I commend the organizations that have already organized these debates. These forums are critical to the process and I appreciate the leadership they have shown in proactively organizing these events,” Weiland said.

“This seat is critical to the people of South Dakota and our citizens deserve a thorough examination of each candidate, the knowledge of finding out where we stand on the issues critical to our state and the fact of the matter is hundreds of thousands of dollars in Big Money-financed paid political advertising don’t do that and neither do a handful of one hour debates where each candidate only ends up with a few minutes to make their point,” Weiland added.

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NY Times Interviews Rick

For the past year, Rick Weiland, the Democratic nominee and a former aide to Mr. Daschle, has barnstormed the state, introducing himself to voters in every town and trying to make up enough ground to persuade his party in Washington not to abandon South Dakota for more competitive races.

Mr. Weiland has repeatedly accused Mr. Rounds, who said last year he planned to raise $9 million for his Senate bid, of “shaking down big money” from outside donors and of trying to buy the election. He rewrote the lyrics to the classic country tune “I’ve Been Everywhere” to throw another jab on the airwaves: “I said you can raise all your millions by the sack,” he sings, clutching an acoustic guitar in his latest television ad. “The time has come for us to take our country back.”

Voters seem to enjoy the musical approach; Republicans stopped Mr. Weiland on a recent afternoon of campaigning to say his cover of the song, most famously sung by Johnny Cash, was pleasantly stuck in their heads.

“I think you can deliver medicine if you serve it with a little sugar,” Mr. Weiland said in an interview, calling his criticism of Mr. Rounds fair game. “I don’t have an ad to waste.”

He plans to perform at the state fair next month and may release more songs, including another Cash revamp — “I Draw the Line” — that again hits Mr. Rounds on contributions.

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Press Release: Weiland commends Rounds for grassroots travel

Upon hearing that Mike Rounds will be planning to travel around South Dakota in his new “Grassroots Express” bus, US Senate candidate Rick Weiland, who met with voters today in Mt. Vernon, Corsica, Stickney, Armour, Menno and Freeman, commended Rounds for planning to travel extensively to the smallest parts of the state.

“Today is the one year anniversary of the start of my town to town visits. I must be on to something if Mike Rounds has decided to trade his plane in for a bus,” Weiland said.

Weiland has made more more than 450 town visits and counting as he continues his second trip to every incorporated South Dakota town. Along the way he has held over 200 town hall meetings, discussing how the federal government has been hijacked by big-money special interests and how we must “Take it Back” to create real opportunities for people to earn their way into the middle class.

Rounds has thus far declined Weiland’s requests for several small town debates across the state and Weiland thinks both of them traveling together through South Dakota may present the perfect opportunity.

“If it is true that Mike Rounds is going to be retracing some of my steps, this is a great opportunity for us to debate the issues face-to-face, live and unrehearsed in front of the citizens of South Dakota. Let’s keep this campaign real and not inundate voters with a bunch of television ads and keep the big money out,” Weiland challenged.

“So, how ‘bout it Mike,” Weiland asked. “Can I join you on your bus tour and travel the state together to present our ideas to the voters in person and let the people decide?”

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LTE: Impeachment call brings more negative attention

Are you kidding me?

The way South Dakota wants to make national news is by trying to impeach our president?

Oh well, at least it’s not about our teacher pay or low wages or lack of medical coverage.

Time to wake up, South Dakota.

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LTE: Movement to impeach reflects poorly on state

This latest maneuver by South Dakota Republicans to impeach President Obama makes the people in South Dakota look not only petty, but stupid.

The last time right wing Republicans in South Dakota pulled a similar stunt was over abortion.

My relatives in South Dakota had to help gather signatures to overturn the state’s legislative move against abortion.

Every time something goes wrong in Washington, D.C., the Republicans blame Obama to deflect the real blame away from their dysfunctional Republican majority in the House.

Your narrow-minded state Republican Party makes all of the people in South Dakota look misogynistic and racist.

I am embarrassed to admit I was born in South Dakota and lived there until I was a teenager.

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LTE: Should Senate seats be purchased or earned?

It seems to me that the primary election was a perfect example of this year’s Senate race. We have a Democrat in Rick Weiland who was out pounding the pavement and continuing his second trip to every town in South Dakota.

And, we have the former governor who paid for airplanes to fly around the biggest cities with “Vote for Rounds” signs.

That sums up this race perfectly. We have a candidate who is trying to earn this seat one town at a time running against a candidate who is trying to buy his way to Washington.

That is a pretty stark contrast.

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LTE: Rounds needs to be held accountable

I read that Mike Rounds was trying to get out of doing any debates this year because he feels the other candidates gang up on him.

He is running to be our next Senator and should have to stand by his record and explain his positions. That should be expected of him. That he thought he could, even for a second, not have to debate says a lot.

It tells me that he doesn’t think voters have a right to know his positions on key issues. We have an absolute right to know where he stands on Medicare, the minimum wage, and on Powertech. He needs to get out there and start answering questions. He owes it to all of us.

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LTE: Parties should work together

In passing a resolution endorsing the impeachment of President Obama, the South Dakota Republican Party is continuing its drive to provide a political home for the most hateful, conspiratorial and retrograde ideas in American society.

But lending party imprimatur to paranoid rantings from Internet rabbit holes doesn’t serve to legitimize America’s radical fringe; it only serves to further marginalize the Republican Party, a party in which stalwart conservatives such as Dick Lugar — and even right-wingers such as Eric Cantor — are considered insufficiently ideologically pure.

By wasting its time and breath trying to impeach the president for taking action to combat the crisis of climate change and for securing the release of a soldier held (and probably tortured) by the Taliban, South Dakota Republicans are advertising their lack of seriousness.

Instead of indulging risible and embarrassing distractions, Republicans might more productively work with Democrats and the federal government to expand health insurance for poor and working people and to leave a sustainable environment for future generations.

I won’t hold my breath.

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Opinion: SD GOP is out of touch with its own members, not to mention rest of US

Frankly, South Dakota’s GOP should have weighed its actions a little more carefully before it called for something as serious as impeachment. That was stupid.

And our GOP delegates should take off those partisan spectacles and stop making inane comments about the degree of corruption and scandal in the Obama administration, as though corruption and scandal has reached a new height. Once again, the Reagan administration is the leader in that category, with at least 138 administration officials being investigated, indicted or convicted during the Reagan years – more than in any other administration in U.S. history.

Also, our Republicans should do the math: If almost half of its delegates are not in favor of this resolution, what percentage of Republicans in other states would back it? What percentage of Democrats or independents might favor it? The simple fact is, there is no groundswell of public opinion that President Obama is corrupt and needs to be impeached, and without such a groundswell, a resolution such as this is going nowhere.

American democracy provides some means of getting rid of elected officials. They’re called “elections.” And despite everything the GOP did in 2012 to highlight what a bad president Barack Obama is, the American people re-elected him in an electoral landslide.

It is exactly as one of the Republicans said this week in opposing this resolution: It simply makes the South Dakota GOP look “petty.”

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Argus Leader: Weiland supports minimum wage increase, Rounds opposes it

Weiland, a Sioux Falls businessman and one-time staffer for former U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle, helped carry the petitions for the ballot measure to the Secretary of State’s office.

He said the initiative would benefit about 62,000 South Dakota workers — and that group goes far beyond teenagers flipping burgers. Most of those people are working full time, Weiland said, and 80 percent are adults and about half are women.

“I just don’t think a buck and a quarter is going to be a hardship,” he said. “I think that money goes right back into economy.”

Rounds said he opposes the ballot initiative because it has a built-in an inflation multiplier, which he thinks could increase unemployment in the state. And he said many of those earning minimum wage are students working part time.

He also said the issue should be reviewed annually by the state Legislature to balance the potential benefit with the number of small-business jobs that could be lost.

“When you put the automatic inflation rider into it, I think that takes it out of the hands of the Legislature,” Rounds said.

But Weiland noted that lawmakers haven’t raised the wage despite the need.

“Tie it to the cost of living, then you solve the problem,” Weiland said. “We don’t have to sit there and let this gap develop like there has been over the past several years.”

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Press Release: Rick Weiland Statement On South Dakota GOP Resolution To Impeach President Obama

“Mike Rounds and his support of the South Dakota Republican Party State Convention’s impeachment of the President are an embarrassment to our state and a disservice to the people of South Dakota.”

“It substitutes hate for reason, impeachment motives for rational discussion and impeachment itself for the casting of ballots — and represents the very opposite of the South Dakota common sense that Mike Rounds claims to be representing.

It is incredibly sad and disappointing when an extreme minority within a party proposes something so extreme and misguided that entire county delegations, who were at the South Dakota State Republican Party Convention last week in Rapid City, actually voted against it but the purported leader of the party sat by and did nothing to stop it.

I challenge Mr. Rounds to come out from behind his big money campaign and the special interests bought and paid for big money campaign commercials and tell the people of South Dakota what kind of common sense he thinks it is to put the country through another gut wrenching impeachment fight.

How can you say with a straight face that you want to represent South Dakota common sense and then vote to rip the country apart with an obviously politically motivated impeachment proceeding? The type of action the state Republican Party convention endorsed last weekend is how they do things in a banana republic, not the United States.

There are two things a democracy like ours should never do – one is shut down the government and threaten to default on our debts — and the other is to pursue an impeachment over political differences, instead of high crimes and misdemeanors. Mr. Rounds is now on the record supporting both of these extreme efforts.

As I continue to travel to every one of our South Dakota towns for the second time, I can assure, there isn’t a lot of support for impeaching the President of the United States. People are fed up with this poisonous partisan bickering and want their elected leaders and future leaders to work together to address the many challenges facing our state and country.

I’m calling on Mr. Rounds today to stand up against this kind of extremism and publicly oppose this impeachment resolution.”

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LTE: Where’s the common sense when it comes to impeachment talk?

I was amazed and appalled that the South Dakota Republican Convention passed a resolution to impeach President Obama.  That would paralyze the government for many months.

It would be worse than the government shutdown of 2012.  Where are the moderate Republicans?  Where were the supposed leaders of the Republican Party in speaking out against this radical behavior?

There was no word or protest from Mike Rounds, Kristi Noem or Gov. Daugaard.  Mike Rounds campaigned in the primary that he would bring South Dakota Common Sense to Washington, D.C.  Is impeachment of the president common sense?  Why doesn’t he speak some common sense and say that this is flat out wrong?

Mike Rounds needs to stop hiding from hard questions and actually engage with voters.  South Dakotans deserve honest answers.

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Rick Weiland Talks With Ed Schultz

Rick joined Ed Schultz on his podcast to talk about the South Dakota Republican Party’s resolution to impeach President Obama. Impeaching the President substitutes hate for reason, impeachment motives for rational discussion and impeachment itself fort he casting of ballots. Listen to the full interview below.

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LTE: Powertech Situation like ‘House of Cards’

The Powertech Uranium mine is something straight out of the “House of Cards.” A foreign company hires the family members of a sitting governor to weaken regulations, lobbyists literally write and pass legislation to block the state from interfering, with an outcome for potential radioactive pollution and, of course, lots of profits for the out-of-state investors.

Unfortunately, this scenario is real life. Mike Rounds weakened water protections and let lobbyists write and pass legislation that blocked the state from monitoring the in-situ mining wells. Now we run the risk of radioactive water being pumped back into the ground. No matter what happens, Powertech will make billions and Mike Rounds will get campaign contributions.

It looks as if everyone wins … unless you are the one who vacations or lives in the Black Hills and wants to drink the water.

Many complain that we need change — change in Washington, in Pierre, in our county or city. Yet look at the votes. Not many seem to truly want change.

If they really did, we would have different representation. We would vote for those who represent the people instead of the big corporations.

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LTE: Powertech Problems.

It doesn’t take much digging into the Powertech Uranium Mine to see that it stinks to high heaven. Hiring two relatives of Governor Rounds to lobby him to weaken water protections.

High paid lobbyists literally writing the law that bars the state from monitoring the mine. Throw on top the fact that Powertech is a foreign company with virtually no South Dakota investors who has never conducted a uranium mine before and we have a recipe for a disaster.

I say if Governor Rounds or Powertech think this proposed uranium mine is such a good idea, then why don’t they move out here where the drinking water would be contaminated. Why don’t they buy some land out here that will be absolutely worthless when, not if, the mine contaminates our water supply.

There have been some truly impressive backroom deals in Pierre but this one takes the cake.

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LTE: Stark contrasts in Senate race

It seems to me that the primary election was a perfect example of this year’s Senate race. We have a Democrat in Rick Weiland who was out pounding the pavement and continuing his second trip to every town in South Dakota.

And we have the former Governor who paid for airplanes to fly around the biggest cities with “Vote for Rounds” signs.

That sums up this race perfectly. We have a candidate who is trying to earn this seat one town at a time running against a candidate who is trying to buy his way to Washington.

That is a pretty stark contrast.

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LTE: Everyone should campaign the way Weiland does

I love the fact that Rick Weiland was the first candidate in South Dakota’s history to visit every single town in the state. It is such a personal way to campaign that candidates don’t take the time to do anymore.

As a voter, I appreciate having the opportunity to ask questions in person and getting straight answers. Every candidate should be required to campaign this way. That way, voters get to know the person they are voting for and figure out for themselves who will represent them best.

It is unfortunate that Weiland is the only candidate campaigning this way but I sure appreciate that he is.

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LTE: Rounds could be in trouble

45%. That is the percent of Republicans who voted for someone other than Mike Rounds. That is an astounding number to me. Mike Rounds outspent his opponents 10 to 1 and nearly half of Republicans still voted for someone else.

I think that Gordon Howie and Larry Pressler are going to appeal to that large group of Republicans who don’t trust Mike Rounds. The fact that there are three Republicans on the general election ballot is going to make life hard for Mike Rounds but it is going to make for a really exciting Senate race.

Stay tuned because I know I will be.

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LTE: Rounds’ planes, Weiland’s boots

Did you all see enough Mike Rounds commercials during the primaries? KELO-TV posted a table showing how much each candidate spent per vote. It said Mike Rounds spent $2,425,135 for his 41,372 votes. That figures out to $58.62 per vote.

I’m guessing that may not figure in the plane(s) he had flying over Sioux Falls and Pierre on Election Day pulling banners that said, “Vote for Mike Rounds for Senate.” This is a real conservative?

As we move into the general election cycle for the next five months, take notice of which Senate candidate is spending millions more dollars on advertising and which one is driving from town to town personally asking the citizens of South Dakota for their votes. People keep saying they want to get back to the basics. Shoe leather is pretty basic. Check out Rick Weiland’s boots.

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LTE: Voting in the same people

I see in your newspaper where the governor and Mike Rounds are favored to be elected. Well, what do you expect, it’s a Republican state. I also read where Mr. Rounds’ ad on TV is misleading on the Affordable Care Act, but he will not change it.

First of all, Mr. Rounds should think about the major problems we have, and try not to be tuned on trying to get rid of this health plan. Try to fix what’s wrong with it instead of trying to repeal it for the 52nd time. Use all that time on fixing other problems and try working with the other side instead of telling your party what it wants to hear.

But people who vote will continue to put in the same people all the time, then complain.

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Press Release: US Should Stay Out of Iraqi Civil War

4,488 young Americans have lost their lives in Iraq. 1.7 trillion dollars, that’s trillion, with a T, are gone too. All spent to protect oil company profits from a holy war raging across their precious oil fields.

Now the extremist war hawks in Washington want more. They demand we defend the honor of those who have fallen by sending more to fall.

While, at the same time, we’ve failed miserably to provide our returning soldiers the health care they earned during their service over the past decade.

That idea is beyond folly.

You don’t redeem the lives of brave young American men and women by ordering more brave young American lives to be lost in another misguided fight.

The bravery of our troops speaks for itself. Their honor cannot be touched by the folly of politicians. It is preserved for all time by what they have sacrificed.

What we need now is some honor from the politicians. Some bravery in the face of strident demands from the special interests that pay for their campaigns.

Let me be clear.

We have lost over 4,000 American men and women because cowardly politicians cared more about their contributions from oil companies than they did about those men and women.

We have squandered over a trillion taxpayer dollars to protect special interest profits in the Middle East.

God only knows how many young children we could have saved had those dollars been spent on their care. Or how much stronger our economy would be today had those dollars been spent on decent wages and innovation here in America.

We do not defeat terrorism when we send young Americans to die for special interest profits, we create it.

We meddle in their religious quarrels to try to create the precious stability the oil companies demand, and for our troubles we are hated by both sides.

America would be richer and safer, and 4,488 young Americans would be alive, if our politicians were not addicted to special interest money.

Some will call it extreme to tell that kind of truth.

But what else other than pandering to big money can you call a policy that sends our soldiers into the middle of an endless religious war 10,000 miles from our shores?

What strategic interest worth 1.7 trillion dollars and 4 thousand American lives do the people of the United States of America have in the victory of Shiites over Sunnis, or Sunnis over Shiites?

Just to state the question exposes the utter folly of our oil driven Middle East adventure.

There is no lobby for, nor explanation of, our having picked sides in a far away religious quarrel between sects of a religion foreign to all but a tiny sliver of Americans. No explanation save one. Oil.

It is the energy industry that funds the war college professors and militarist politicians who peddle the most obviously self-serving pedagogy on the planet. Their five syllable words and 6 letter acronyms purport to find vital threats to American security. What they are really finding are vital threats to their big money paymasters.

I am a patriotic American, and I am vehemently opposed to sending more men and women and dollars to Syria or Iraq.

In fact, the case against doing so is so obvious, so one sided, so very clear it comes close to calling the patriotism of those who demand we weaken America still further by doing so into question.

That is what I believe.

It is time to get big money out of politics so we can get America out of ill-advised foreign adventures, and back to doing what we do best, building freedom and prosperity for all of our citizens here at home.

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AP: Senate Candidates split on health care law

Democratic candidate Rick Weiland said the act should be improved, not repealed, and the law’s problems stem from “big money calling the shots in Washington” and nixing a public option that would have forced private companies to offer more competitive policies.

Weiland said Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people aged 65 and over, is an example of an efficiently run public program and he’d like to open it up to people of any age. His proposed Medicare Choice Act would create public-private competition and strengthen the current system by expanding the pool of insured to younger, healthier Americans, he said.

“Why wouldn’t you use that model to make the private sector compete?” he asked.

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The Daily Republic: Weilands campaign trail gets longer

Rick Weiland sat down for breakfast Thursday at Joe’s Cafe in Alexandria, where he talked politics with anyone who would listen.

It’s a familiar scene for Weiland, who has traveled to all 311 cities and towns in South Dakota as the state’s Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson, who is not seeking re-election.

It’s been nearly two months since Weiland finished the task of making it to every city and town in South Dakota at least once during his campaign with an April 15 visit to Hudson, a town of fewer than 300 people in southeast Lincoln County. Now, Weiland is trying to visit all the state’s cities and towns again before the Nov. 4 general election, in which he will face off against the Republican candidate, former Gov. Mike Rounds, and two independent candidates, former Republican U.S. Sen. Larry Pressler and former state lawmaker Gordon Howie.

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LTE: Voting for Republicans?

The index finger on my right hand is swollen from hitting the mute button on the television when the Republican malarkey comes over the air waves. And the really sad part is that we have this to deal with until November.

According to some pollsters, a majority believe Republicans are more deserving to serve in Congress.

Please read the following and ask yourself why we would reward Republicans for their work: cutting money for education, ignoring climate change, blocking Medicaid expansion, anti-gay amendments, shutting down the government, energizing attacks on the rights of women, refusing to pass job bills, stopping unemployment compensation, making voting hard to impossible, planning to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, blaming teachers to avoid paying them a just salary, 12 million dismissed from health coverage, stopping environmental advances, pandering to the religious right, against immigration reform, voting to deny funds for the VA and keeping a constant barrage of attacks about President Obama’s race and heritage ongoing while refusing to pass any bill the president supports.

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Press Release: Why Does Mike Rounds Refuse To Debate Rick Weiland On Medicare

Sioux Falls small businessman and US Senate candidate Rick Weiland continued his “Future of Medicare” Townhall tour with a stop in Mitchell on Thursday afternoon.

“I would have loved to have had the former Governor here with us today to discuss the future of Medicare,” Weiland said. Weiland speculated that the reason Mike Rounds has refused to debate him on the issue of Medicare and health care reform is because of Rounds’ factually-inaccurate television ad and his support for Congressman Paul Ryan’s proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher program.

For three weeks, Rounds aired television, radio and newspaper advertising that claimed Obamacare “steals” $700 billion from Medicare. Major South Dakota media outlets joined national journalists and independent fact-check organizations in widely renouncing the ad. Rounds also “commended” Paul Ryan’s latest budget proposal which would force future retirees to use coupons to purchase health care coverage.

“Mike’s positions on Medicare are wrong and he knows it. Medicare is incredibly popular because it delivers health care more efficiently, simply and less expensively than private health insurance.” Weiland said.

Weiland’s Mitchell townhall was a part of his second tour of every incorporated town in South Dakota. He has now visited more than 400 towns and held more than 200 public meetings. “Voters are hungry for candidates who will take the time to talk to them and answer their questions on the record. I want to thank the citizens who continue to take the time to come out to these forums,” Weiland concluded.

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Press Release: Weiland Accepts SDPB, AARP and SDNA Debate Invitation

Sioux Falls small businessman and Senate candidate Rick Weiland has accepted South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s, South Dakota AARP’s and the South Dakota Newspaper Association’s invitation to a candidate debate on October 21st in Vermillion.

“I want to thank these three groups for being the first to officially invite the US Senate candidates to formally debate the issues that will shape this year’s election. The voters of South Dakota need and deserve to see all four Senate candidates discuss important issues in a public forum. South Dakotans face a critical decision this November and it shouldn’t have to be a decision based on who has the prettiest television commercials or newspaper advertising,” Weiland said.

“In fact, I would love to see the South Dakota media sponsor an entire series of debates. Televised debates are great, but the inexpensive nature of livestreaming should allow multiple media outlets to broadcast debates and revolutionize the way voters gather the information they need to make informed voting decisions. Personally, I’d love to hold a dozen of these types of debates in every corner of South Dakota and I trust the other candidates in this race feel the same way,” Weiland concluded.

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Press Release: Weiland Calls Out Rounds For Powertech Uranium Mine Dodge

Sioux Falls small businessman and Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Rick Weiland, said today that Mike Rounds should explain why he supported first weakening South Dakota mining regulations, then removing the state’s authority to enforce its own mining regulations, both positions his sister and brother-in-law were paid by Powertech to advance on behalf of the foreign company’s controversial plan to mine uranium in the Black Hills.

Weiland called Rounds’ decision to have a spokesperson provide carefully hedged answers to questions about Powertech from KELO, questions that all the other candidates answered directly, “a typical politician’s move designed to make it easy for the candidate to keep shuffling his feet and changing his mind.”

Weiland said the Rounds spokesperson’s claim that Rounds is, “unaware” of his sister and brother-in-law’s near decade long employment by Powertech, “a little hard to square with Rounds frequent political ads on TV touting his tight knit family.”

“For Rounds to say that he didn’t know his sister and brother-in-law have been lobbying for Powertech is about as credible as it would be if Barack Obama rigged a basketball game in favor of Oregon State, then claimed he didn’t know his brother-in-law had been the Oregon State basketball coach for 6 years,” Weiland joked.

Mr. Rounds’ spokesperson characterized the former Governor’s position on the Powertech mining proposal as “supportive, as long as Powertech meets all the requirements and regulations under state and federal law.”

“That is a mighty low hurdle to clear when you and your family have first weakened the requirements and regulations Powertech must obey, then fired the sheriff charged with enforcing them,” Weiland said.

Weiland challenged Rounds to meet with him and the public to discuss the Powertech mining scheme. He said he was even willing to hold the meeting in Edgemont, center of support for Powertech’s plans, because, “South Dakota is going to be very, very sorry if it lets big money and its paid lobbyists turn our aquifers into wastewater treatment plants so that financially-challenged foreign corporations can risk the land and heath of our citizens in the quest for higher profits.”

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KELO: U.S. Senate candidates on Powertech: Promoting pollution or responsible resource development?

Democratic candidate Rick Weiland: “Powertech is a money making pollution machine. It will pump pollution into our groundwater and put millions of dollars into the pockets of its out-of-state, big-money owners.

“It is absolutely unbelievable that our state would pass legislation, most likely at the backroom behest of Powertech, first to weaken, and then to actually deny our own South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources the right to enforce our mining regulations. You may mark my words on this: No more than 10 years from now, probably less, we will have significant groundwater pollution problems in parts of our state, thanks to Powertech.”

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LTE: Parties should work together on VA

Two weeks ago, all across South Dakota, phones in the homes of our veterans have been ringing. When they answered, veterans were treated to a partisan political message from the Republican National Committee blaming Democrats for the VA scandal.

First, they lock down VA funding and create the conditions for scandal. Then, when scandal erupts, they point fingers and blame the other guy.

Stand up bunch, those Washington politicians.

A full year ago, I warned that Congress was putting big money orporations ahead of our nation’s veterans. Last week I called for Secretary Shinseki to be fired, and said his firing alone was not enough, because I believe this ongoing problem at the VA must be expunged.

Now that Secretary Shinseki has resigned, it is clear the problem requires more than just a change in leadership at the top.

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LTE: South Dakota values and common sense?

Former Gov. Mike Rounds speaks of taking South Dakota values and common sense to Washington. Some years ago, a Senate race received huge amounts of out-of-state money to the tune of $94 or $97 per voter, and the winner has danced/voted with the 2 percent that brought and bought.

How can South Dakota values be maintained when the governor already has his hand in the till of outside money from corporations and special interest groups for expensive TV ads? Will he trade us for the big bucks? Is our support not valid or not high-dollar enough?

The governor has declared war on Obamacare. We already have two one-issue-anti-Obamacare legislators and, while they should have been tending to farmers, they were voting “no” on farm bills, they got caught with their pants down in a blizzard. Perhaps more than their faces were red. Finally, after six months the ranchers can sign up. Don’t they realize the small margins that exist? What will Rounds do with the 8 million folks who now have insurance and with the South Dakotans in need of health care that got overlooked by a previous South Dakota administration? Telling the truth about Medicare is a South Dakota value. Tending to all of the needs that face government is common sense.

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LTE: What is Rounds’ health care plan?

Hats off to Jonathan Ellis for his perceptive article on the health care issue, and to Larry Pressler for his praise of that article. Both men have the wisdom to recognize that endlessly attacking Obamacare is not a health care policy, it is a political game.

As Pressler says: “Our new U.S. senator will have to do the hard, tedious, unrecognized work of trying to improve Obamacare.”

Unlike former Gov. Mike Rounds, who confines himself to paid political advertising telling proven untruths in an effort to scare up votes, Pressler and Ellis call for specific, positive ideas that can make our health care system more effective and less expensive. That is why I have proposed that the weakness of Obamacare, its expensive over-reliance on big private insurance companies, be remedied by giving every American the opportunity to choose between buying their insurance from Medicare or from the private insurers. Pit the efficiency of Medicare against the private policies and let the public decide.

That is my proposal for moving beyond Obamacare. I commend Pressler for offering his ideas and remain hopeful that Rounds might eventually choose to join us in positive discussion of this issue, rather than trying to buy support with paid advertising that is not true.

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LTE: Rounds’ ad based on false claim

As physicians, our purpose every day is to heal and to do this with honest science. We have seen recent political ads that are untrue and deserve some airing.

Former Gov. Mike Rounds in his campaign for a Senate nomination has been running an ad in which he charges the Affordable Care Act “stole” $700 billion from Medicare and therefore harms South Dakota seniors. His claim is not true. The reality is exactly the opposite.

Let’s look at the facts. First of all his, claims are based on projected — not actual — Medicare spending for 2013 through 2022. It is true that with the passage of the ACA, projected Medicare spending decreased by approximately $700 billion, but — and here is the key fact — Medicare benefits were actually increased. Coverage was added for preventive services and a process was put in place to close the “doughnut hole” in prescription drug coverage. Furthermore, the life of the Medicare Trust Fund was extended.

To say that $700 billion is stolen is meant to scare people and trick voters into making a decision that will possibly hurt our patients.

Rounds has thus far refused to correct his ad or to end it. He is basically recycling a false claim made first by another ambitious politician, Mitt Romney, in his quest for high office. Business Week, Bloomberg, FactCheck.org, Politifact.org — everybody who looked into Romney’s claim said it was wrong, too.

To heal what is not well in Washington should be based on truth and that is why we are writing this letter.

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LTE: Electing Rounds means ed cuts

I am appalled by the fact that former Gov. Mike Rounds would look to cut the Department of Education if elected, but not surprised.

This is the same man who cut funding to public schools, and state funding has yet to reach the level that it was when he cut education. In a speech by Gov. Dennis Daugaard at the Governor’s Luncheon for Seniors, he stated that “our biggest export is our students.” We need to keep our young people in our state, but in cutting the Department of Education funds, he will cut funding to these same students. Is that the goal, to keep our students uneducated so they can’t afford to leave by cutting the U.S. Department of Education?

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LTE: Weiland has vision for health care

In the recent “Thank you” Medicare ad, Democratic candidate Rick Weiland’s picture should have been posted with it. He was the first to suggest Medicare Choice, the perfect health plan for everyone in our country.

As he has traveled to every town and city in South Dakota, he relates that in asking elderly citizens whether they want to give up their Medicare, no one ever volunteers to do so. So why not, America, and “to all those who want to improve on the Affordable Care Act,” support and vote for Weiland because he sees the way to make our country better, “for one and all.”

In checking out the ad sponsor, one reads that those who are concerned about proposed changes in Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D include 371 insurance companies. If health care is to be accessible and affordable for every American, payments need to be reduced that provide Medicare Advantage.

It is well and good that insurance companies lobby, but insurance companies are health care-for-profit businesses. They don’t need health care — people do. The funding that will make health care accessible to all needs to be designed so that providers and health insurance companies don’t overcharge or pay exorbitant salaries and bonuses that diminish available resources. We need leaders who propose an enlightened view of improving the Affordable Care Act because we’re a stronger nation if everyone has access to health care.

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LTE: Rounds’ Medicare ad false

Mike Rounds makes it clear he’s banking on frightened seniors to pave his way to the U.S. Senate. His recent TV ad recycles a universally debunked attack involving Medicare cuts to insurance companies under the Affordable Care Act. Mitt Romney first trotted out this charge in 2012.

President Bill Clinton, in his speech to the DNC, dismantled Romney-Ryan’s misleading campaign narrative that Democrats were trying to destroy Medicare through the $716 billion in savings: “Look, here’s what really happened — you be the judge. There were no cuts to benefits at all. None. What the president did was to save money by taking the recommendations of a commission of professionals to cut unwarranted subsides to providers and insurance companies that were not making people healthier and were not necessary to get the providers to provide the service.

“And instead of raiding Medicare, he used the savings to close the doughnut hole in the Medicare drug program … and to add eight years to the life of the Medicare trust fund so it is solvent till 2024.” Clinton continued, “So, President Obama and the Democrats didn’t weaken Medicare; they strengthened Medicare. Now, when Congressman Ryan looked into that TV camera and attacked President Obama’s Medicare savings as, quote, the biggest, coldest power play, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry — because that $716 billion is exactly, to the dollar, the same amount of Medicare savings that he has in his own budget. You gotta get one thing — it takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did!”

When Mike Rounds looks into that TV camera and recycles a cynical, disproven lie about Medicare cuts to frighten South Dakota seniors, that takes some brass, too. It also reveals a sad truth about the character of Mike Rounds.

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LTE: Rounds has lost credibility

Mike Rounds started out a citizen who got in politics for a while. We did not know him, and the others beat each other up, so he just slid in without us getting to know him.

As governor during a vote on an abortion ban, he had three of his lawyers help write the ban. He later vetoed it because it was written wrong, and his lawyers had not said a thing while it was being written.

Now he was involved with writing the Affordable Care Act and helped get the insurance companies in on the profit of all the people when insurance is no longer needed. So, he has promoted his own special interest as an insurance salesman.

He has back-stabbed the Republicans on abortion bans and the Democrats on national health care. Will either side of the partisan Congress trust anything he wants to do? He has lost credibility on both sides. We should let him go back to being a smooth-talking insurance salesman.

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Press Release: Weiland Townhall Forum Focuses On Medicare

Speaking at a public townhall meeting on the Rounds ‘Medicare lie,’ South Dakota Senate Candidate Rick Weiland said last night, “I hope Mike Rounds will soon have enough respect for the voters of South Dakota to come out from behind his expensive political ads and join me in facing them in person.”

Weiland had previously invited Rounds to appear with him last night to explain why he refused to withdraw his TV ad on Medicare even after KELO and numerous others had reported it to be false. “You have a standing invitation to join me out here in front of the voters, Mike,” Weiland said. “They don’t bite. They’re just looking for some facts, and some respect from the people who want to represent them.”

Weiland joined all four of Rounds opponents in next Tuesday’s Republican primary, who have all charged, in effect, that the former Governor is campaigning, “as if he has already been elected and owes the voters nothing more than a bunch of pretty TV ads bought with his big money campaign contributions.”

Weiland said, “if Mr. Rounds were out here with the voters he would quickly discover that Medicare is the choice they want. They are fed up with the political gamesmanship around Obamacare. They know Medicare works. They want to be given a choice between buying their insurance from the big private insurance companies Mr. Rounds represents, or from Medicare. Mr. Rounds and President Obama both believe they should not be given that choice. I believe that they should,” Weiland concluded.

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LTE: Where is Rounds’ health care plan?

I, for one, am getting sick and tired of Mike Rounds’ TV ads complaining about the Obama health plan. Why doesn’t he tell us about his health plan? Maybe he doesn’t have one.

George W. Bush had eight years (two years with majority on both sides) and didn’t get anything done. Sixty percent of Americans don’t have health insurance but get the same health service as we do. Who does Rounds think is paying for this?

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SDPB: Rick’s Interview With Charles Michael Ray

Rick was in the SDPB studio talking with Charles Michael Ray about why he is running for the Senate and his tour of all 311 towns in South Dakota.

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Rick talks “Town to Town and people to people vs. bought and paid for TV” with South Dakota Public Broadcasting

Rick visited with South Dakota Public Radio recently and the conversation centered around the huge difference in Rick Weiland’s and Mike Rounds’ campaign style and how Big Money is slowly, but surely destroying democracy. Listen to Rick talk about the advantage of “old-school” campaigning. It’s back to the future here in South Dakota.

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KEVN: Democratic Senate Hopeful Makes Campaign Stop In Rapid City

Rick Weiland says he’s traveled to more than 300 incorporated towns in the state of South Dakota, all in hopes that such stops would persuade South Dakotans that another Democrat deserves to succeed retiring Senator Tim Johnson.

Weiland believes his labor-intensive strategy of shaking hands and speaking with every possible voter will pay dividends come November.

Rick Weiland, Candidate for United States Senate said, “I’ve been having a conversation with the voters of South Dakota about big monies influence and how we need to get it out of our political process so that we can get a government that is truly of, for and by the people again and not of, for and by the billionaires and big corporations.”

Weiland says the inspiration for his campaign comes from former Senator Tom Daschle, whose door-to-door strategy won him one of the state’s two House Seats in 1978. November 4th is Election Day in South Dakota.

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Argus Leader: GOP Might Have Too Much Confidence

So the Republicans are supremely confident going into the general election. Might the Democrats have a surprise up their sleeve? They might be diminishing in number, but in a fluke race in which the pie is divided among four candidates, Democrats could make it interesting.

At least one former Republican official thinks it’s possible. It will be interesting to note the size of the anti-Rounds vote, assuming he wins next week. If there’s a big anti-Rounds vote, that could prove to be a problem in the general election if Republican-turned-independent Gordon Howie can soak up those voters. Throw in former Sen. Larry Pressler’s independent bid, and that could further erode Rounds’ voter base.

If enough tea party types defect to Howie, and enough moderate Republicans and independents go for Pressler, then Rounds would have a problem, predicted the former official. But everything would depend upon Democrats lining up unified behind their candidate, Rick Weiland.

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Opinion: Mitchell Daily Republic

Hisses to former governor and current U.S. Senate candidate Mike Rounds for repeating, during his Friday night visit to Mitchell, his earlier call to abolish the U.S. Department of Education.

The same day we printed his comments about that, we also printed a separate story revealing that South Dakota is third-most dependent among all states on federal government aid for K-12 education, receiving 16.4 percent of its K-12 budget from the feds. A man who governed a state so dependent on federal education money lacks the credibility to claim the federal government should have no role in K-12 education. Change and improve the Department of Education? Fine. But calls to abolish it strike us as unrealistic political pandering.

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Argus Leader: Roger Andal would be going ‘berserk’

Through their work with Daschle on campaigns and later on his staff, Rick Weiland and Andal became friends. While Andal was a registered Democrat, “He belonged to the veterans party more than any party. He was the veterans’ veteran,” Weiland says.

He describes himself as a little brother tagging along with Murphy, Bouska and Andal, and he says Andal “taught me a lot” about what it was to have served in the military and about veterans issues.

Weiland says wistfully of Andal: “I wish he were here right now. He would enjoy the kind of race I’m running against bureaucracy, against big money. Against all odds, he would say, ‘We can do this.’ He would love what I’m trying to do now. I miss him. He would be a big help.”

Andal and Murphy both were seriously wounded in Vietnam in 1969, and Andal was exposed to the toxic defoliant Agent Orange. They carried the effects of their injuries ever after, and Murphy says such people have the ability to summon the resources they have left and become indefatigable.

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LTE: Weiland the best choice

When I saw the Mike Rounds ad about the Affordable Care Act and Medicare, I was upset by it. When politicians use false information in their ads, it shows the reason that people dislike politics. I haven’t seen the ad the last couple days, so maybe he got called on it enough to pull the ad.

I still think it’s good to point out that he did run an ad with the same old lie about the ACA and Medicare, though. I surely hope the voters of South Dakota realize that voting for Mike Rounds is not going to get us a good representative in the Senate.

In the long run, it shouldn’t matter to me which candidate wins the primary, because I’m voting for Rick Weiland in November. I know I can trust him, I know he knows what’s right, and I know he will be a great senator. He is the best choice to represent South Dakota in Congress.

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Sioux City Journal: Director: No changes needed at Sioux City VA clinic

The growing furor over veterans’ health care moved to the political campaigns Thursday as congressional candidates from both parties, including Democrat Rick Weiland, who is running for South Dakota’s open Senate seat, called for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to be fired.

Weiland also criticized House Republicans for temporarily shutting down much of the government last year.

“Anyone who does not understand that it is the penny-pinching stupidity and arrogance of the ‘shut it down’ politicians in Congress that is the real problem is either blind or willfully ignorant,” Weiland said in a statement.

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Capital Journal: Is Mike Rounds at his best on Medicare?

“We just really don’t find this one all that true,” stated the non-partisan PolitiFact.com in response to KELO-Land’s April 30th inquiry regarding claims made in Mike Rounds’ ads that “President Obama is taking over $700 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare.”

Yet the Rounds campaign continues to pay to broadcast these claims on TV and in newspaper ads throughout South Dakota.

PolitiFact told KELO the $700 billion is a reduction in payments to insurance companies through the privately-managed Medicare plan called Medicare Advantage. “The idea behind that is that the Affordable Care Act is trying to reduce the amount of payments that are going to Medicare Advantage plans because they are reimbursed at a higher rate by the government than actual Medicare is,” said PolitiFact. The non-partisan Factcheck.org investigated a similar 2012 Romney claim that Obamacare “robbed Medicare $716 billion to pay for a new risky program of his own that we call Obamacare.”

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Capital Journal: We need to support efforts to correct the present way of financing campaigns

We need to support any member of the United States House or Senate or any national organization such as Common Cause that supports efforts to correct the present way of financing campaigns.

The most important effort should be to reverse Citizens United, the U.S. Supreme Court decision of January 2010 which essentially allows unlimited campaign contributions without identifying the source of the money. However, it is also important to support national organizations that are trying to get legislation passed to limit the money for campaigns.

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LTE: Rounds campaign makes false claims

Mike Rounds, along with his very friendly looking father, is spending the money for his Senate campaign falsely claiming that funding for Obamacare is taking away $700 billion from Medicare when, in fact, big insurance companies are losing that money to fund Medicare.

KELO, Pulitzer Prize-winning news outlet Politico, and every other expert in America, who paid attention when Mitt Romney made this same untruthful claim in 2012, are now making this same claim, too.

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Huffington Post: Midwestern Uprising: The New Populist

Populist Democratic politicians are emerging in these states as well. Weiland is a small businessman running in South Dakota on an anti-big money platform, and he is running a classic populist campaign, visiting every town in the state already and going back for another time around, and even channeling Johnny Cash on the campaign trail.  

Rural progressive populism never died, it just got buried by too many years of Democrats spending too much time romancing big donors and then not delivering the goods enough of the time for working people in those states. But the embers are being stirred up once again, and if a full-fledged prairie fire against big money starts to spread, the establishment politicians in both parties better watch out.

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In These Times: Oligarchy Enshrined

No one-shot remedy will level the electoral playing field. But an increasing consensus holds that a constitutional amendment strengthening campaign finance regulations is a necessary first step.

“I don’t know what the Congress could do to fix this that the Court wouldn’t rule as unconstitutional,” says South Dakota’s Weiland. “So we’ve got to change the Constitution. Then we can take a look at the best path forward to reform how these campaigns are funded and waged.”

Weiland says he’s handed out thousands of calling cards that, on the back, include his preferred language for an amendment: “So that the votes of all, rather than the wealth of the few, shall direct the course of this Republic, Congress shall have the power to limit the raising and spending of money, with respect to federal elections.”

Such an amendment would overturn the Supreme Court’s Buckley v. Valeo ruling in 1976, which allows for unlimited campaign spending. Without spending limits, it’s more difficult to make the constitutional case for contribution limits.

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LTE: Rounds’ ad serves his platform, but not public

A political ad for Mike Rounds in the May 8 Rapid City Journal says Medicare was cut $700 million to fund Obamacare. I realize these ads can pretty much say whatever the candidate wants, but misleading statements do a disservice to both the public and the candidate.

The cuts actually are reinvested into Medicare and Obamacare to improve care for seniors and close the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole,” among other things.

According to the website PolitiFact.com (which was awarded a Pulitzer Prize), there is a reduction in Medicare spending, but it’s fueled by finding savings in the program, a move that Republicans actually supported in the Paul Ryan 2012 budget.

Rounds has been making his statement in print media and all over the TV. It would help if he would tell the whole story, not just extract one sound bite that fits his platform.

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LTE: Rounds’ scare tactics

Now in 2014 Mike Rounds is the well-known and very well-financed candidate for U.S. Senate. We’ve all been bombarded by his television ads. The one that stands out for me is when he claims that the Affordable Care Act will take over $700 billion dollars from Medicare.

This claim has been disputed and proven false yet, when confronted, he continues to stand by and run that ad. Is Mike Rounds trying to win the nomination by scaring our senior population? Is he willing to do and say anything to get the nomination? Did he learn anything from his own experience 12 years ago? Will conservative South Dakota common sense take over in the voting booth and give him the boot? Or is common sense really that common?

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LTE: Rounds’ insurance interests

Former Gov. Rounds has forgotten how he won the primary for his first campaign for governor. Remember how the two top candidates went after each other spending megabucks to discredit the other? Rounds sat back quietly and won the nomination. The voters were simply sick and tired of the fight.

Fast forward to 2014, we can’t listen to any local radio or television without hearing the Rounds commercial waging a contrived battle between Medicare beneficiaries and Affordable Care Act beneficiaries. He said he is running for Senate to protect his father’s Medicare benefits which “he may need” in the future. No benefits have been cut from Medicare.

There is a proposed cut from Medicare Advantage plans which give the advantage to the insurance companies. Please do some research on this plan — insurance companies are given a set amount to administer Medicare benefits and it costs the taxpayer 7 percent more!

It is time to stop the contrived war between senior citizens and people who have insurance coverage because of the ACA. We are senior citizens and we would not take away insurance from millions of people for something “we may need” when people need coverage for pre-existing conditions now. Many have coverage for the first time. That is a good thing.

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LTE: Rounds telling only ‘half truths’

I will not go so far as to call Senate candidate Mike Rounds a liar, but I will say he is a expert at telling only half-truths. President Obama is not taking $700 billion from Medicare to pay for what he calls Obamacare.

Rounds sure knows how to use fear tactics on the seniors of this state. His whiny voice might get him some votes, but not if the voters find the whole story. I will vote for anyone other than him.

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LTE: Rounds ad promotes fear

Mike Rounds begins his misleading new campaign ad by saying that when he heard about Obamacare, he couldn’t sleep. He could have easily saved this sleepless night by learning the true facts about the Affordable Care Act and Medicare.

1. Reduced payments to insurance companies that run Medicare Advantage plans. These plans currently get an average of 8 percent to 10 percent extra over what Medicare spends per beneficiary for A&B Medicare services. The Affordable Care Act will gradually reduce these payments to parity.

2. Reduced payments to hospitals for “disproportionate share” situations. This “disproportionate share” situation occurs when people lack insurance. With the Affordable Care Act in place, hospitals will be seeing fewer people without insurance. This provision was written with the assumption that all people under 138 percent of Federal Poverty Level would be on Medicaid. Unfortunately, South Dakota has refused to support Medicaid expansion.

3. Reduced payments to providers of durable medical equipment, who are vastly overcharging Medicare and Medicare beneficiaries now.

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LTE: Mike Rounds’ misstatement is a disservice to public and the candidate

A political ad for Mike Rounds in the May 8 Rapid City Journal says Medicare was cut $700M to fund Obamacare. I realize these ads can pretty much say whatever the candidate wants, but misleading statements do a disservice to both the public and the candidate.

The cuts are actually reinvested into Medicare and ObamaCare to improve care for seniors and close the Medicare Part D “donut hole,” among other things. According to the web site PolitiFact.com (which was awarded a Pulitzer Prize) there is a reduction in Medicare spending, but it’s fueled by finding savings in the program, a move that Republicans actually supported in the Paul Ryan 2012 budget.

Mr. Rounds has been making his statement in print media and all over the TV. It would help if he would tell the whole story, not just extract one sound bite that fits his platform.

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KDLT: Weiland Challenges Rounds To Early Debate

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland is challenging Republican Senate candidate Mike Rounds to a debate over Medicare issues.

Weiland says facts in the ad former Governor Rounds is running throughout the state are untrue. The ad states that President Obama is using $700-billion from Medicare to fund the Affordable Care Act.

Even before Rounds has a chance to secure the republican nomination, Weiland wants to discuss Medicare issues in a debate.

“So how about it Mike? This is a shout out to you. Will you debate Medicare and health care reform with me, here in Sioux Falls, in two weeks, on Tuesday, May 27th? I checked your calendar on your website, it appears you are available,” said Weiland.

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KELO: Weiland Continues Medicare Attack On Rounds

Two candidates vying for an open U.S. Senate seat are sparring over a television ad involving Medicare. Democratic candidate Rick Weiland spoke out Tuesday against the ad put out by Republican candidate Mike Rounds.

Weiland says that the ad is misleading and Rounds should debate him about the issue. Rounds, however, is sticking to his statement that more than $700 billion is being taken from the Medicare program.

“I think Mike (Rounds) needs to come out from behind his paid commercials and debate me face-to-face. Defend this bogus claim in person, Mike, or else pull it down and admit that it’s false,” Weiland said.

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LTE: Rounds wrong on Obamacare

Mike Rounds’ newest TV commercial saying that President Obama is taking over $700 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare has been proven to be inaccurate by PolitiFact.com, yet Mike Rounds says he is standing by the information in his commercial anyway.

Is this the person we want as South Dakota’s next senator? One who stands behind information that has been proven untrue? The only change he made to the ad was to drop the part where he said he is losing sleep over it.

I don’t think any of us should be asleep at the switch when it comes to voting for a politician who stands behind false statements. Take a look at the candidate who says he’s been in every town in South Dakota and he’s going back again. There’s nothing in that commercial that has to be defended as untrue.

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LTE: Rounds’ scare tactic

According to his new Senate campaign ad, Mike Rounds is concerned about his dad’s Medicare. He says in his ad that $700 billion was cut from Medicare to fund the Affordable Care Act.

His claim that health reform cuts traditional Medicare benefits is false. Instead of cutting Medicare funding, like House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan’s recent budget proposal would do, health reform generates savings for beneficiaries and reinvests those savings back into Medicare to improve and expand benefits.

As you hear Rounds’ commercial over and over again, remember that he is twisting the facts to frighten seniors. It is nothing but a scare tactic.

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Custer County News: Don’t count chickens yet

Whoever wins the Republican nomination should be wary of Weiland who is conducting a grassroots campaign by traveling to every community in the state. The Madison native has already visited Custer twice.

He is no political neophyte either, having served as Tom Daschle’s senior advisor and state director. Whoever wins the Republican nomination should be wary of Weiland who is conducting a grassroots campaign by traveling to every community in the state. The Madison native has already visited Custer twice. He is no political neophyte either, having served as Tom Daschle’s senior advisor and state director. He also has run unsuccessfully for the U.S. House twice.

Recent surveys show that at least three incumbent senators in Alaska, Arkansas and Louisiana are trailing their Republican opponents. Republicans are also leading in open races with Democratic retirements in Montana and Michigan. Republicans need to swing six states, while holding their own seats, to take back control of the Senate. Republicans seem to be taking for granted wins for open Senate seats in South Dakota and West Virginia.

From what we have seen, Republicans in South Dakota need to emerge from the June primary with a strong candidate to go against Democratic and Independent opponents. If they don’t, the seat held by Johnson could stay in the Democratic camp. The old farm adage holds true.

Don’t count your chickens until they are hatched!

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Argus Leader: Weiland supports act that would allow college students to refinance loans

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland says college students graduating with student loans carrying higher interest rates should get some relief.

Weiland said Wednesday that he’s supporting Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s emergency loan refinancing act, which will allow people to refinance loans with rates of 5 percent and 6 percent down to 3.86 percent.

The lone Democrat in the crowded race for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Tim Johnson says that loans are used to pay for technical schools, not just colleges and universities. He says three-quarters of South Dakota graduates leave school with some debt.

Weiland says South Dakota’s young people would benefit tremendously from Warren’s legislation as they struggle to begin their careers.

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Bilerico: Rick Weiland: America’s Campiest Political Candidate

When you think of South Dakota, progressive politics and champions for LGBT equality are probably not the first things that pop to mind. Rick Weiland, the Democratic candidate for Senate, is out to change your mind.

Why should you care? For a straight man, Weiland is the queerest candidate in a bunch of stodgy conservative sourpusses and he’s not afraid to tell anyone about his liberal plan to change the country. Weiland is tapped into what makes the LGBT community such a potent political force – the ability to be a little campy while fighting for justice for all people.

Weiland’s outspoken advocacy for LGBT rights also helps him stand out from the pack. He thinks transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military, supports marriage equality, and, would co-sponsor a bill to provide employment, housing, and public accommodations protections for LGBT people.

When South Dakota’s state legislature considered a bill that would give businesses the right to discriminate against LGBT customers, Weiland did something unusual. While candidates for federal office usually stay out of local and state politics, Weiland couldn’t stand idly by and made a blistering statement denouncing the discriminatory bill and its backers.

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Dell Rapids Tribune: 20,000 miles later, Senate candidate back in Dell Rapids

Making his second stump trip to Dell Rapids, Rick Weiland returned to the same coffee shop he used to kick off his nine month tour of the state he hopes to represent in the U.S. Senate. Weiland was back at the main street business Wednesday, April 23, where he called his statewide tour a success.

“It’s been an incredible journey, and it’s been inspirational,” he said.

Weiland and his staff visited 311 incorporated towns in South Dakota and another 70 that weren’t incorporated. Fundraising along the way, Weiland said his journey was more about connecting with the people he will rely on for votes in November.

With as partisan of a political environment as there’s ever been in South Dakota and the United States, Weiland said dedicating time to discuss topics like wealth inequality, the fairness of the country’s tax system and the imperfections of America’s healthcare system is paramount to a successful campaign.

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Sioux City Journal: South Dakota, twice, for Weiland

In the middle of April, Rick Weiland completed his quest to visit each town in South Dakota as he seeks the U.S. Senate seat in 2014. Weiland, a Democrat, completed the 67-county, 311-town trek with a stop in Hudson, roughly midway between Sioux Falls and Sioux City.

That journey took nine months, after beginning in mid-July. He even threw in stops to about 60 unincorporated places.

Weiland apparently liked his approach, because he’s now announced that he’ll conduct South Dakota Every Town Swing 2.0 (my label, not his). He cited learning about what South Dakotans want in places like Canova, and vowed to continue to push his progressive ideas when meeting with people.

His primary campaign message is removing the influence of money in American public policy.

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LTE: Rick Weiland working hard for our votes

With the cold winters and blistering summers, it’s hard work living on the prairie, and not everyone is cut out for it. That’s why I’m really excited about Rick Weiland’s Senate campaign.

He’s out there working as hard as you and I are, trying to earn our votes. He’s going to literally every town in the state. That is impressive and will serve him well in office.

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The Nation: If Rick Weiland Can Say ‘No’ to Keystone, So Can Barack Obama

Phase IV of the Keystone XL Pipeline Project would, if approved and constructed, cut across the state of South Dakota from its northwest corner through hundreds of miles of ranch land to the Nebraska border.

If all the promises of jobs for workers and protection for the environment that have been made by Keystone proponents were well grounded, there’s good reason to believe that Rick Weiland might be on the forefront of efforts to get the project up and running.

Weiland’s a rural-state Democrat seeking to hold a Senate seat that has been in Democratic hands since 1997. It’s a hard race, where the pressure is on to appeal across lines of partisanship and ideology in a state that has not backed a Democrat for president since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

Political pundits would, no doubt, make excuses for Weiland if he finessed the Keystone debate with a politically convenient bow to Nebraska legal deliberations and ongoing assessments of the potential impact by federal agencies—as the US State Department did with its just-announced delay of a decision on whether to approve the $5.4 billion initiative.

But Weiland, a former congressional aide and regional director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has a long record of balancing economic and environmental concerns. And he is not prepared to avoid the issue.

The Democratic contender declares flatly, “I’m opposed to it.”

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Huffington Post: Johnny Cash Hits the Campaign Trail in South Dakota Senate Race

Well, okay, Johnny hasn’t risen from the dead to run for Senate in South Dakota. But the Democratic candidate in the race, Rick Weiland is sounding a little like the Man in Black in this remarkable new video the campaign just put out.

The reason I said this is a remarkable video is that it so goes against a traditional D.C. consultant-driven campaign strategy. Having a video of a candidate singing a folksy country song is the opposite of what you expect a Senate candidate to do these days. In this poll-driven, focus-group-parsed, 30-second-TV-ad political culture we live in, for a candidate to do a video like this shows just how remarkable a candidate, and a person Rick Weiland is. He is a genuine grassroots guy, willing to take chances and have fun and be unconventional, and we sure do need more of that in the politics of 2014.

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Wry Wing Politics: South Dakota’s Rick Weiland A Different Kind of U.S. Senate Candidate

Most U.S. Senate candidates spend all of their time traveling to Wall Street, K Street, LaSalle Street, Montgomery Street, and Federal Street to beg for money from millionaires and billionaires who demand obedience after they’re elected.

Most U.S. Senate candidates produce phony cookie cutter ads whose stock photography make them all look and sound the same.

So, it’s refreshing to see at least one U.S. Senate candidate, South Dakota’s Rick Weiland, running a very different kind of campaign, on Main Streets running to reform Wall Street. Three hundred and eleven South Dakota Main Streets, to be precise.

This video, shot and editied by the candidate’s son Nick, and song, performed by the candidate with family members and friends, isn’t the slickest thing you’ll ever see. It might even be a little corny for some of you hipsters. But it’s also a rare breath of fresh air in an all too polluted political atmosphere.

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Daily Beast: Dem Brings in Country Crooning ‘Cash’ to Appeal to Ordinary Folk

In a new video released by the campaign, Weiland, a Democrat, celebrates having visited every single incorporated town in South Dakota in his U.S. Senate campaign by paying homage to The Man In Black’s “I’ve Been Everywhere.”

“Well I was on my way to meet with voters at the local coffee shop,” Weiland sings in the video.

Weiland, a businessman and a former aide to former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, is locked an uphill battle with a host of Republicans for a seat being vacated by the retiring Tim Johnson. And although polls say that Republican front-runner Mike Rounds, South Dakota’s former governor, would trounce Weiland in a general election, Weiland is running as a prairie version of Elizabeth Warren, stressing economic inequality and reigning in the power of special interests.

In an interview from South Dakota, Weiland said that it took over half a year to visit every town in his sprawling state, but that it should be a requirement of all candidates.

“I think [Johnny Cash] speaks to ordinary folks and a lot of this campaign is about getting our government on the side of ordinary people in our country.”
“I can’t tell you the nooks and crannies I have been to, towns that I unfortunately hadn’t heard of or knew much about,” he told The Daily Beast. “Talking to people whose towns have been forgotten should a prerequisite for anybody who wants to serve our state in the U.S. Senate.”

As for Cash, Weiland said, “I think he speaks to ordinary folks and a lot of this campaign is about getting our government on the side of ordinary people in our country. He was a common man with a lot of common sense and a common touch.”

As far as we know, no campaign stops at Folsom Prison have yet been scheduled.

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AAN: Crowded Senate ballot could lead to surprises

Can Rick Weiland follow in the footsteps of John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton?

Weiland is the sole Democrat running for the Senate seat that Tim Johnson is retiring from after three terms. While he is alone in seeking his party’s nomination, Republicans are jumping into the fray like they’re giving away free Ronald Reagan T-shirts.

So far, former Gov. Mike Rounds, state Sen. Larry Rhoden, state Rep. Stace Nelson, Sioux Falls doctor Annette Bosworth and Yankton lawyer Jason Ravnsborg all want the GOP nod. In addition, longtime Republican Larry Pressler, who served two terms in the House and three in the Senate before losing to Johnson in 1996, is running as an independent.

In 2000, there is little doubt that Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, who collected almost 2.9 million votes, took enough support from Democrat Al Gore to allow George W. Bush, who finished more than 500,000 votes behind Gore, to claim an Electoral College win.

Some would point to the Supreme Court’s role in that outcome, but that’s another topic for another day.

One lesson is clear: Crowded races often mean a candidate who may have lost a head-to-head campaign can win. If Weiland is a senator next year, we’ll have another example to add to the list.

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AP: Weiland seeks to lessen big money’s influence

As five Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls prepare to battle in a June primary, Democrat Rick Weiland has been busy racking up the miles. The sole Democrat running for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Tim Johnson has been traveling to hundreds of small towns across South Dakota telling people he’s ready to fight for working families and against special interests.

Weiland said that, if elected, his first act would be to introduce a Constitutional amendment to give Congress the power to limit the raising and spending of money in federal elections. Many of the problems in Washington revolve around big money’s influence on the lawmaking process, he said.

“It’s the cornerstone of my campaign,” Weiland said. “You fix that problem — cut out the tumor — and there’s a good chance you’ll cure the ill. That’s what we need to do.”

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BHP: From Vietnam to war in Iraq, Weiland didn’t change stance

Rick Weiland became involved in politics at age 10. The year was 1968. He didn’t want his older brother Ted to have to go to war as a U.S. soldier in Vietnam. Rick pulled his wagon around Madison collecting pop bottles. Back then, bottling companies reused them and paid a deposit for their return.

His bottle money went for a newspaper ad supporting a Democratic candidate for president who opposed the war. Rick Weiland has been deeply into politics ever since. This year, he is the Democratic candidate for one of South Dakota’s seats in the U.S. Senate.

The Democratic incumbent, Tim Johnson, is retiring rather than seeking a fourth term. A weekend ago, I trailed Weiland at several campaign appearances in Pierre. He spoke Saturday morning to the delegates meeting of the South Dakota Education Association. He called for tax loopholes to be closed for major corporations and more money to be provided for schools.

After his remarks, SDEA president Sandy Arsenault said, “We’re going to have to get busy and make it happen.” Weiland met for afternoon sandwiches with high school students who had participated in the two-day YELL – Young Elected Legislative Leaders – event held by the South Dakota Democratic Party.

That’s where Weiland told the story about his fear that Ted would have to go to war. In those days, the U.S. government held a draft to require young men to serve. “It was my wake-up call. You’ll have wake-up calls in your life,” Weiland told the YELL students. “This is how we change things in this country,” he said.

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RCJ: Big money in politics like yelling ‘fire’ in a theater

When we take social studies in elementary school, the very first thing we learn about our American right to free speech is that it must protect all except the very most dangerous speech, the kind where someone yelling fire in a crowded theater steals away our rights through the exercise of his or her own.

When billionaire Sheldon Adelson yells, “Vote for whatever I want,” in his billion-dollar voice, how can it conceivably be said this does not drown out South Dakota citizens $10-dollar voices and jeopardize their freedoms?

In my opinion there is no threat to democracy nearly the equal of the threat posed by big money today. That threat is identical to every other threat history has thrown at democracy, because it is a threat to our equality at the ballot box. And if history has shown us anything, it is that, when your voice is lost, your rights will soon follow.

That is why I believe the line of Supreme Court decisions which includes Citizens United, the just-decided McCutcheon case, and which will doubtless soon include others, is so dangerous. By limiting the democratic voices of Americans who are not fabulously wealthy, it stands in infamy alongside Dred Scott, Plessy, Minor, Korematsu and the handful of other dreadful decisions in which the Supreme Court has limited the rights of a particular group of people, and in so doing struck at the equality of opportunity to be heard that underpins democracy.

Plutocracy, oligarchy, monarchy, theocracy, dictatorship, aristocracy – each defines a type of inequality antithetical to democracy. McCutcheon and Citizens United provide nothing more than a rationalization for plutocracy to be substituted for democracy.

That is why I stand by my critique of those decisions, by my unalterable opposition to them, and by my support for a constitutional amendment to overturn them without delay.

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AlterNet: 12 Key Progressive Politicians to Watch in the 2014 Elections

Populist politics is making a comeback in the midterms. Now that U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has granted rich Americans a new constitutional right to spend multi-millions in elections, where are 2014’s populist politicians speaking up for ordinary people and saying no to a new American oligarchy?

One answer is in a dozen congressional races, progressive organizers said, where a mix of incumbents and challengers are staking out varying degrees of populist territory. In South Dakota, there’s Senate candidate, Democrat Rick Weiland, railing so forcefully against big business and big money in politics that the party’s Washington leaders have tried to ignore his campaign.

Populism isn’t “a bashing of the wealthy or a bashing of those that have made it,” retiring Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin told USA Today. “It’s a sense that together we can use the powers of government to make sure that the economy works for all.” Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, who’s running to replace Harkin and revived the House Populist Caucus, said that being a populist means ordinary people know that you’re on their side. “At the end of the day, people want to vote for someone they like, someone they trust, and someone who’s not afraid to fight for them,” he told the Huffington Post.

In 2014, there’s a debate about what populism should emphasize. Commentator Thomas Frank, a Kansas native, said that Democrats are losing voters and elections because they don’t forcefully rail against economic elites, but instead push social and cultural issues. But at Democracy for America and Progressive Change Campaign Committee, two more active liberal groups, they believe the issue that best conveys populism today is pushing to expand Social Security and taxing wealthier Americans to pay for it.

“We are looking at what is a concrete populist goal, what is achieveable? That takes us to Social Security expansion,” said DFA spokesman Neil Sroka. “This is a policy that is tremendously popular with voters. It hits squarely against the Washington conventional wisdom that ‘serious’ people have to talk about cutting benefits.”

What follows are their lists of congressional candidates running on populist messages so far in 2014. The groups will endorse more candidates this year. Candidates are asked to take positions on every imaginable issue, Sroka said, but those putting populist themes into speeches, messaging and appeals to voters are a smaller circle. If these Democrats succeed, he said that it will send a powerful message to Washington power brokers.

“If we can show Democrats that you can win in a red state when advocating for Social Security expansion, that gives us dividends down the road,” Sroka said.

1. Rick Weiland, South Dakota

Weiland, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Ton Daschle, state AARP director, and businessman, may be the 2014 version of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA; a candidate who unflinchingly tells the truth, starting with the way big money has corrupted the political process and must be stopped. The first bill he wants to introduce is constitutional amendment to give Congress power to regulate campaign finances—not leave it with the Supreme Court. He wants to close corporate tax breaks. He wants to allow anyone to enroll in Medicare, “the most efficient healthcare provider in the country.” As he told the Nation, “Today, our democracy is being bought by big money and turned against us. To feed their profits, we lose our jobs, our homes and our farms, our kid’s education, even our health, and the Congress they have bought looks the other way, or worse.”

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RCJ: Weiland and Nelson Challenge Rounds on Out of State Fundraising

Two South Dakota Senate candidates –one Democrat, one Republican–say former Governor Mike Rounds is trying to buy South Dakota’s Senate seat with out-of-state money. Weiland has visited 348 South Dakota towns and 3 out of state cities since announcing his candidacy 11 months ago.

They challenged Rounds to release a list of just how many out-of-state cities and towns he has visited, days he has spent asking out-of-state people for money, how many South Dakota towns he has visited, and days he has spent asking South Dakota people for their votes, since he announced his candidacy well over a year ago.

To date former Governor Rounds has raised more than $2,900,000 for his campaign. Just last week his campaign boasted about having raised an astonishing $730,000 in just the last 3 months, and Rounds himself has said he will raise 9 million dollars and has said that 85% of that total will come from outside South Dakota.

In a joint statement Weiland and Nelson said, “We don’t agree on much of anything. But we do agree, strongly agree, that what Mike Rounds is trying to do, buy this election, is wrong.

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LTE: No SD ad from Rounds

A political ad for Mike Rounds in the May 8 Rapid City Journal says Medicare was cut $700 million to fund Obamacare. I realize these ads can pretty much say whatever the candidate wants, but misleading statements do a disservice to both the public and the candidate.

Wonder why? He was called out because it seems no person in his ad was from South Dakota. Not even close. In fact, one picture used in the ad was taken from a Paris location. Once all of this was exposed, the Rounds campaign quickly took the ad down and said you will see nothing but pictures of South Dakota imagery from here on out. Couldn’t he find any friends that wanted to appear in ads with him?

If Mr. Rounds can’t roll out a South Dakota campaign ad on his very first television commercial, which he must have had plenty of time and money to film, what can we expect if he is elected to the U.S. Senate?

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Rick Weiland on Ed Schultz Show

Rick’s national momentum continued to gain ground yesterday. MSNBC host and national radio personality Ed Schultz invited Rick on to his radio program. Listen to Rick’s interview below and if you like what your hear, please consider making a contribution to the campaign.


Where was Rick when he talked to Ed yesterday? Nope, not in Sioux Falls. He was in Chamberlain in the middle of another two-day, twelve town tour that culminates in Mike Rounds’ hometown of Pierre today where Rick will address the state’s teachers convention and accept their endorsement for the United States Senate race.

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NAFTA is 20

If you are a big fan of the $5 minimum wage then you’re a big fan of big money, and of the NAFTA agreement big money wants to make the prototype for US trade with the entire world.

NAFTA is great at driving American wages down toward an international minimum, like Mexico’s $5 minimum wage for example, $5 per DAY!

It’s also great at exporting American jobs, eviscerating American labor, and exploding America’s trade deficit, all things beloved by big money.

But for the rest of us, who have to feed our kids and try to keep our heads up while our homes are sold out from under us because our jobs went overseas, NAFTA is an unmitigated disaster. In my opinion it is an equally unmitigated ethical disgrace.

The moguls who hand their kids the keys to new Mercedes, then send them off for Spring Break in Cancun using the NAFTA based profits they reap from putting us out of work should be embarrassed to look in the mirror. My wish for them is that they should someday be forced to tell their own kids that their opportunity for a college education just got sent to Tijuana along with their job. Once they have done that, if they still support NAFTA, they will at least have earned the right to do so.

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Argus Leader: Weiland gets more progressive backing

Today Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee endorsed Weiland, highlighting the Democrat’s background and his call for campaign finance reform.

Earlier, the Howard Dean-founded Democracy For America also endorsed Weiland.

These groups can’t make up for the resources the DSCC could send Weiland’s way if they wanted, but they’ll help his underdog effort. If they can get Weiland resources early, he could could use them to close the gap, rough-up Republican front-runner Mike Rounds, and make the case to the DSCC that Weiland is capable of winning.

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The Nation: Elizabeth Warren Steps Up for Populist Politics

Democratic insiders have been slow to embrace the populist campaign of South Dakota Senate candidate Rick Weiland. As we noted this week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, has dismissed the Democratic candidate for South Dakota’s open US Senate seat as “not my choice.”

Washington observers point out that “the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee routinely leaves off its competitive list, the seat of retiring Sen. Tim Johnson, D-SD.” And there will not be a lot of corporate cash flowing to Weiland, who says his first act as a senator will be to propose a constitutional amendment declaring “that the votes of all, rather than the wealth of a few, shall direct the course of the Republic, Congress shall have the power to limit the raising and spending of money with respect to federal elections.”

But Weiland, a veteran congressional aide and advocate who formerly headed the South Dakota branch of the American Association of Retired People, has mounted a high-energy campaign that has already seen the candidate visit more than 300 of the state’s 311 towns with an old-school populist message. “I was born here. I grew up on this land. It was ours because our democracy kept it that way,” he says. “Today our democracy is being bought by big money and turned against us. To feed their profits we lose our jobs, our homes and our farms, our kids’ education, even our health, and the Congress they have bought looks the other way, or worse.”

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The Nation: What DC Democrats Don’t Get About Populism

This year, with South Dakota’s Senate seat open, Rick Weiland is running like the prairie populists of old—challenging the big corporations that don’t pay their fair share of taxes, big banks that seek bailouts and, above all, the big money that has come to dominate our politics. He has attracted considerable support in South Dakota.

Unfortunately, a lot of Washington Democrats have a hard time understanding a politics that eschews concession and compromise and instead preaches of fire-and-brimstone gospel of economic and social justice.

Weiland speaks the language of the old-time populists. He says, “I was born here. I grew up on this land. It was ours because our democracy kept it that way. Today our democracy is being bought by big money and turned against us. To feed their profits we lose our jobs, our homes and our farms, our kids’ education, even our health, and the Congress they have bought looks the other way, or worse.”

The Democratic contender campaigns as the populists did, not with slick television commercials but on the road, with a commitment to visit every one of South Dakota’s 311 towns.

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AAN: Candidate seeks to reclaim government from special interests

Continuing his visit to every town in South Dakota, Democratic Senate candidate Rick Weiland made a trip back to Aberdeen on Tuesday, stopping at Mugs the Coffee House. One of Weiland’s main focuses of his campaign is to take back the government from big-money corporations.

“The folks that have the bucks are calling the shots, and I don’t think we’re getting the government that we’re deserving of,” Weiland said. “And I get worked up about this because it just isn’t fair. The last time I looked, South Dakota isn’t a state made up of a bunch of billionaires; we’re a group of hard-working people.”

There’s going to be a real contrast in candidates that South Dakotans are going to have to choose from, Weiland said. “I was in Dallas, S.D., shaking hands and one of my opponents has been in Dallas, Texas, shaking hands with big money.”

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LTE: Vote for Weiland

I enjoyed reading the March 13 Pioneer article “Weiland holds town hall in Spearfish.” It was a well-written summary by great local reporter Adam Hurlburt of a visit by U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland to meet and speak with a packed house of Republicans, Democrats, and independents at the great local coffee shop Common Grounds.

I was one of the packed house of potential voters at the 3/12 Weiland town hall.

The Pioneer news story tells how the Spearfish visit was part of a Weiland campaign goal to visit 311 incorporated towns in our state to meet and greet locals.

Weiland told how us average folks (the vast majority of the population) need to join together to help end the control of American politics and government by a small minority of super-rich folks. Weiland also addressed questions on veteran’s issues, health care, the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, and other issues.

Weiland has the resume to hit the ground running when we elect him U.S. Senator in November; he’s been state head of AARP, director of FEMA Region VIII, and a senior staffer for a former South Dakota Senator. Study the issues and vote for Weiland.

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