Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rick Weiland Guest Post On His Take It Back Campaign In South Dakota


I've been spending some time on the phone with South Dakota's Democratic Senate candidate Rick Weiland and with some of his staffers. This week Digby and John Amato are meeting with him to complete the Blue America vetting process and I have no doubt our PAC will be endorsing him. He's a very impressive guy and a dedicated down-to-earth populist. It's not unusual from time to time for states like South Dakota to raise up populist firebrands like Rick who are willing to take on the establishment. The DSCC may have had their heart set on Blue Dog corporate shill Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, but if they want to keep the majority after 2014, they should forget her abandoned campaign and get behind Rick's family-oriented Main Street crusade. Meanwhile DownWithTyranny is endorsing him as of today. I invited him to write a guest post about getting big money out of politics, one of his most compelling campaign themes. Please take a look-- and if you'd like to contribute to his campaign, you can do it here.

Why I'm Running
by Rick Weiland

My day job lately has been helping run a small business my wife Stacy got started here in Sioux Falls, South Dakota a couple of years ago. Compared to the other day jobs I've had over the last 30 years-- working with Tom Daschle, for AARP, as region 8 FEMA director and as CEO of James Lee Witt's International Code Council writing building codes to try to keep folks safe from storms and build a little greener-- working with Stacy and my family has been like a fantastic vacation.

Being too slow to know when I have a good thing going, though, I went and announced my candidacy for the United States Senate. So now I've got a day and night job, 24/7, for the next 17 months. And believe it or not, we're having a ball, both Stacy and I.

Right out of the box we got the endorsement of the Native American Tribal leaders and that means a lot to me. When I get right down to my own personal bottom line, I'm in politics because I believe in fairness. Fairness is the way I think we have to evaluate everything we do, in life and in public policy. On the fairness scale Native Americans sit right at zero for the way public policy has treated them for the last 250 years. That has to change, and a Senator from a state with the worst Native American poverty rates in the nation has to help make it change.

Then we got enthusiastic support from two of the three greatest Democrats my state has ever known, Tom Daschle and Tim Johnson (George McGovern was the third). Next we got a hand from an unexpected source-- my Republican opponent, former Governor Mike Rounds. He held a fund raiser in Sioux Falls nad boasted he would raise nine million dollars. Turns out, he handed us the perfect launching pad for our "Take it Back" campaign.

A couple of days later we branded him the "Nine Million Dollar Man,” we announced our "nine against nine million" campaign to help take back our government from big money, and challenged him to agree to accept only donations of $100 or less. Since he was at a $5000-a-head fund raiser in Washington DC the day we asked, we weren't too surprised when he said no.

Republicans think they have a lock on the red states, but we are going to give them a surprise in South Dakota this year. They beat all our Blue Dogs, so we're going to show them a new kind of dog, one that bites instead of whimpers.

Red State voters are mad as hell. But when you ask them whether they're really mad as hell at the democracy Thomas Jefferson gave them-- the one their sons and daughters have given their lives to protect for over 200 years-- or whether what they're really mad at is the rich and powerful people who have stolen that government away from them, and turned it against them, they start signing up in droves for our fight to take it back.

Just a few days after I announced my intention to run, I faced a roomful of down-and-out Democrats. To say they were skeptical about our chances to hold Tim Johnson's Senate seat would be like saying the Christians were skeptical about their chances against the lions.

But when I started talking about taking our country back from Big Pharma, and Big Oil, and Big Finance, and said once we got it back we would be buying prescription drugs for a fair price, not Pfizer's price; and gas for decent price, not EXXON's price; and holding on to our homes, not letting Countrywide steal them away; they started getting a little fired up.

I asked them if they thought dollar bills ought to have the right to free speech, like the Bush Supreme Court says, and whether they might consider giving my campaign just nine dollars.

And you know what happened? Every single person in that room said yes. Some of them said yes for a lot more than nine dollars!

Now I'm no math wizard, but if I were the Republican Party I would be a little worried about that. We are lighting a "Take it Back" fire out here on the prairie, a colorblind fire that burns equally hot in the minds of red voters and blue voters, because neither likes having their government stolen from them by powerful special interests, and both will vote for someone who stands up and fights to take it back.

That's what our Take it Back campaign is all about, and that is why we are going to win.

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