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U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D. SD) was on local South Dakota radio calling out the GOP for their obstructionism in the debt ceiling fight and urged the President to stand strong on the debt ceiling:

"As far as the debt ceiling goes, the Republican priorities are messed up.  The Republicans insisted that wealthy people be protected from taxation and yet they want Social Security and Medicare to be cut.  I am encouraging the President to not negotiate the debt ceiling and historically the tradition has been to work together with the debt ceiling.  But this time, the constitution, the 14th amendment reads that it is not pricard." _ U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D. SD), Radio 570, WNAX, 1/15/13
Well said Senator.  Well said indeed.  Take this as you will but I still think there's some fight left in this old dog.  Especially after dissing Former Governor and current U.S. Senate candidate, Mike Rounds (R), most recent fundraising numbers:

Although Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Mike Rounds managed to raise $250,000 in one month, Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson said he is not worried.

“Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he has “plenty” of money in reserve. He also added that he has not decided if he will run again.

Jason Glodt who is helping with the Rounds for Senate campaign said Rounds’ finance report will be filed before Jan. 21. Glodt said the report will show Rounds raised more than $250,000. - Capital Journal, 1/14/13

Both of these statements from Johnson caught my attention because I'm wondering if both these statements are indicators that Johnson is going to run again.  I'd like to know more about why Johnson has beef with Hagel.  I know Hagel isn't the preferred candidate for SoD in this community but I'm curious to know why Hagel's nomination doesn't impress Johnson.  I'm sure Johnson has some legitimate concerns about Hagel as the nominee but I also have to question if political posturing is involved.  

As for Johnson rubbing off Rounds' first month fundraising, that's even more questionable.  Yes, what Johnson said was true that $250,000 isn't that much compared to his war chest so you have to wonder if Johnson bullishness is a clear indicator that he is gearing up for another run.  We won't know for sure until he makes it official.  Now what I do want to elaborate more is Rounds campaign aid, Jason Glodt, claiming that "ninety-nine percent of money came from individual South Dakota donors".  My guess is those individuals all work for the ethanol industry:

Rob Skjonsberg, Mike Rounds crony
Rob Skjonsberg, Mike Rounds Crony (Right)

PIERRE — Gov. Dennis Daugaard on Thursday appointed an associate of former Republican Gov. Mike Rounds’ to a board that awards state economic development loans, a move the state’s top Democratic Party official called a blatant effort to help Rounds’ campaign for the U.S. Senate.

Daugaard, a Republican, appointed Rob Skjonsberg, of Pierre, to the state Board of Economic Development. Skjonsberg worked eight years in the banking industry before becoming Rounds’ chief of staff in the governor’s office in 2003. He later worked at POET, an ethanol producer, and is currently chief of staff at Rounds’ real estate and insurance company in Pierre. Skjonsberg also is a partner in a political consulting firm that is helping Rounds’ campaign for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson, who has said he will announce later whether he will seek re-election. - The Daily Republic, 1/4/13


Governor Daugaard's (R. SD) appointment of Rounds crony Rob Skjonsberg received immediate criticism from the South Dakota Democratic Party:

“Do you believe in coincidences? The man running Gov. Mike Rounds’ campaign for US Senate just got appointed by Governor Daugaard to help dole out state tax dollars for economic development. Whose interest is being served here? It’s just another ongoing example of Republicans leaders in Pierre using state tax dollars to support Republicans running for office.

“I am calling on Governor Dennis Daugaard to rescind his offer to Mike Rounds’ campaign aide for a seat on the state Board of Economic Development.

“Politics has no place in managing state tax dollars for economic development. South Dakota cannot afford to question whether Mike Rounds’ campaign aide is serving South Dakota or Governor Mike Rounds’ US Senate candidacy.” - South Dakota Democratic Party Chairman Ben Nesselhuf, 1/3/13

I'm sure Rounds probably hit up his buddies at his old real estate firm for cash as well:
In a move certain to inspire more speculation about a possible U.S. Senate run for Rounds in 2014, Skjonsberg will be the former governor’s chief of staff at Fischer-Rounds & Associates. But he will handle duties for Rounds in other areas as well.

When asked Friday if those areas could include a U.S. Senate run, Skjonsberg said: “Possibly. If my rejoining the former governor helps him get more comfortable with this Senate race, then I think that’s an added benefit.” - Rapid City Journal, 3/9/12

And of course, there's always Rounds Super PAC friends:
Rounds might very well owe his political career to the state's loose campaign finance regulations.

He benefited from large PAC contributions as a fledgling gubernatorial candidate in 2002. Rapid City lawmaker and philanthropist Stan Adelstein funneled $60,000 to Rounds' campaign via two contributions from the Building Rapid City PAC, which was almost entirely funded by Adelstein. Of that $60,000, $25,000 came at a critical point late in a three-way primary race when Rounds was gaining momentum but running out of money.

Candidate Rounds also received more than $200,000 in 2002 in two separate contributions from Adelstein's A Better South Dakota PAC. While that PAC was organized by Adelstein, it was funded by a series of $5,000 contributions from several individuals.

Adelstein's fortune hasn't reached the heights of Sanford's, but he has been actively involved in South Dakota politics on both sides of the aisle since taking over the family construction business as a young man in the 1950s.

Rounds won a Cinderella victory in that three-way GOP primary in 2002, and went on to easily win the general election and serve two terms as a popular governor, from 2003 through 2010. - The Center For Public Integrity, 10/24/12

So I think it's a safe bet that 99% of those South Dakota individual donors aren't regular citizens but Rounds cronies.  

I can't blame Johnson for not wanting to announce his run yet but I sure hope he makes a decision soon.  Because against someone like Rounds who has a lot of big money interests in his pocket, this could turn out to be one expensive campaign.  Plus, lets see which way Johnson will go in terms of gun control:

Any potential gun control legislation must be tailored for each state and not be a one-size-fits-all approach, but include certain conditions, U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson said Tuesday.

"We in South Dakota have far fewer problems with guns than they do in New York or New Jersey and it makes common sense to not have one size fits all," Johnson told a group of reporters gathered at his office in Sioux Falls for a news conference.

Johnson, a Democrat who considers himself a hunter, said any bill introduced should be comprehensive and include measures on gun control, mental health, background checks and more. - The Daily Republic, 1/16/13

Johnson believes that raising the debt ceiling should come first before gun control legislation:
"The debt ceiling comes first. After all, the debt ceiling came up the first of January and we're living on borrowed time," he said. - The Daily Republic, 1/16/13
Johnson will make his announcement about running again in the next few months.  He ended his interview with these words:
"We need to see if I feel like I can still do a good job. I have been elected and re-elected for 36 years without defeat and for me, that's a question of is that enough or should I go on?" he said. - 1/16/13
Personally, I think Johnson should keep going.  I don't doubt that South Dakota Democrats can find a decent replacement candidate in former Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D) or even Johsnon's son, U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson but I think Johnson is the strongest candidate we have to go up against the Super PAC funded Rounds.  But whether it's Johnson or his son or Herseth Sanlin, the key to their victory is making sure Native American voters turn out to the polls.  If Johnson runs again, he should have no problem doing just that because he's proven to deliver for South Dakota tribes:
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) announced that five South Dakota tribes will receive $1.3 million in grants to enhance public transit service on tribal lands. The funds were competitively awarded as part of the Federal Transit Administration’s Tribal Transit Program. Earlier this year, the Senate passed a transit bill authored by Chairman Johnson which will double funding for transit programs on Indian reservations and give tribal transit providers greater certainty for planning and capital improvements.

“These funds will help tribal members stay connected and keep local economies growing,” said Chairman Johnson. “Reliable and accessible public transit is vital for many residents of Indian Country, and I will continue working to bring transportation options and economic opportunities to every part of South Dakota.” - Political News, 12/9/12

Whereas Rounds does not have the best relationship with South Dakota's Native Americans:
For me, his delay in seeking a disaster declaration for aiding the SD reservations devasted by ice-storms and blizzards in Dec. 2009 and Jan. 2010, were especially hard to accept.  After filing the request in March 2010, the Presidential declaration followed and aid was given.  But the delay was tragic. - meralda's diary, 2014 Senate race - SD, 11/29/12

That's what this is about:  The state of South Dakota, under the auspices of the Rounds administration, does not want to spend any extra state money to get federal disaster assistance for the reservations.  

And now that private aid is pouring in, thanks in large part to the efforts of Kossacks over the last two weeks, the governor's office has the perfect excuse not to move forward with the federal disaster process.  Inadvertently, we may just have given him exactly what he wanted:  Time to wait out the weather and public sentiment.  (Not that we had a choice in the matter; lives were at risk.  But the fact that some folks are now in a better position thanks to private efforts should in no way excuse the state of South Dakota from its obligations to its citizens.) - Aji's diary, Why is S.D. Gov. Mike Rounds Denying Federal Aid to Indian Reservations in Crisis?, 2/16/10

For now, all we can do is stay tuned.

Originally posted to pdc on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 09:50 AM PST.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, Native American Netroots, and South Dakota Kos.

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