There isn’t a requirement that legislators know their South Dakota history — or hold true to it. Proof is that Republican lawmakers introduced a measure today that would allow a candidate to run for more than one office at a time if one of the offices was for U.S. president or vice president. They’re trying to repeal the law that just 13 years ago, the Legislature’s Republicans thought was a great idea. The difference? There’s a possibility that Republican U.S. Sen. John Thune might be a contender for national office in 2016, the same year he faces re-election to his Senate seat. Thirteen years ago, Tom Daschle was in the same spot. He was a Democrat. Republicans decided to hamstring him.
Here’s the story. Back in 2002, Republican lawmakers approved a measure that aimed directly at Daschle, who at the time was the U.S. Senate’s Democratic leader and was strongly considering for a run for president in 2004. But Daschle also was up for re-election in 2004 to his Senate seat. So along came House Bill 1116, sponsored by then-Rep. Matt McCaulley, R-Sioux Falls, that banned any candidate from appearing on the South Dakota ballot for more than one office in the same election. McCaulley’s measure made it through the House on a 38-25 vote, then — with Sen. Eric Bogue, R-Dupree, as the lead sponsor in the other chamber — had easier sledding in the Senate where it passed 22-13.
Daschle decided, on the night before he was set to make an announcement, that he wouldn’t run for president. Instead, he ran for re-election to the Senate. He lost to — who else? — Thune, the former congressman who had narrowly lost to Democratic incumbent Tim Johnson for a U.S. Senate in 2002. Daschle and the Democrats pulled out all the stops in 2002 to help Johnson turn aside Thune. The irony was that Republicans really didn’t have anyone of top caliber willing to take on Daschle in 2004, until Thune became available because of his loss in 2002. Thus ended in 2004 the South Dakota political career of Tom Daschle, the most powerful Democrat in the state’s history.
Now the current Republican leadership in the Legislature wants to repeal the McCaulley-Bogue law, or as it’s more casually known, the Daschle law. The prime sponsor of House Bill 1176 is House Republican leader Brian Gosch of Rapid City. The lead Senate sponsor is Senate Republican leader Tim Rave of Baltic. Among their co-sponsors are Republicans Kris Langer of Dell Rapids, G. Mark Mickelson of Sioux Falls, Steve Westra of Sioux Falls and Dean Wink of Howes in the House; and Corey Brown of Gettysburg, Ried Holien of Watertown and Dan Lederman of Dakota Dunes from the Senate.
Only two of the co-sponsors on the 2002 legislation are still in the Legislature. They are Sen. Jeff Monroe, R-Pierre, and Sen. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark. There are a few others left who voted for it in 2002 such as Sen. Phyllis Heineman, R-Sioux Falls; Rep. Jean Hunhoff, R-Yankton; and now-Lt. Gov. Matt Michels, R-Yankton. And there are a few others left who voted against it, such as Rep. Julie Bartling, D-Gregory; Sen. Jim Bradford, D-Pine Ridge; and Sen. Jim Peterson, D-Revillo.
Oh, and one more who voted against it: Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who back then was a Republican senator.
Such fun we are about to behold!