The Midterms: South Carolina and South Dakota

Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.

This will be an obviously short entry as we look at two relatively safe red states


South Carolina

If there is any interest in this state, it is the gubernatorial race that will pit Republican incumbent Henry McMaster against James Smith on the Democratic side.  McMaster inherited the job when Nikki Haley left the office to become UN Ambassador.  He has also received the endorsement of President Trump in a primary runoff and now as the GOP candidate in a state that still gives Trump high approval ratings.  You know the Democrats are in some trouble when the best they can tout is the fact that one of their internal polls shows their candidate trailing by “only five points.”

However, other independent polling shows McMaster up by at least nine points.  The national Democratic apparatus has long been very high on Smith as a candidate in South Carolina.  However, and perhaps a sign of that national Democratic apparatus, they picked the wrong guy to be “high on.” Smith has been through four campaign managers in a nine month period and he also had to replace his communications director.  Further, the state’s top Democratic fundraiser was dismissed under allegations of creating a hostile work environment.  As a result, even the DGA is steering clear of this race.

On the Congressional front, the only race of interest is in the 1st District, but only because it is technically an open race.  Republican Katie Arrington defeated the incumbent Republican Mark “Appalachian Trail” Sanford in the GOP primary.  The big issue in this coastal South Carolina district is offshore drilling.  During the primary campaign, Arrington came out in favor of it and her Democratic opponent Joe Cunningham has recently been hammering her on this issue.  Arrington now asserts that she is against offshore drilling also.  However, Sanford is not exactly being supportive of his primary foe and said her change of heart was a “damn lie.”


Additionally, the primary battle left Arrington’s campaign coffers all but empty.  She was then in automobile accident that required her to stop campaigning and fundraising for a period of time.  Perhaps, the Democrats see this as an opening.  Regardless, the last time there was an open election in the First District, Sanford, despite the baggage he carried into the race, easily won and one should Arrington to likewise.

Note: the Fourth District race is also an open one due to the retirement of Trey Gowdy, but has received scant attention from the media or national parties and will remain safely in GOP control.

South Dakota

An open gubernatorial race and an open at-large House seat are on tap in South Dakota this year.  The at-large seat is open because incumbent Republican Kristi Noem- once considered a rising star in that national GOP- has opted to run for Governor.  She will be opposed by Billy Sutton, a member of the South Dakota legislature and former rodeo star- a sport quite popular in South Dakota.  He had to end his career in the rodeo when he was paralyzed a decade ago.

Republicans have won the Governorship since 1978- the longest such streak in the country.  Noem has actually been running negative ads which some interpret as a sign of weakness.  Coupled with the fact the Democrats think they have a compelling candidate, some have their hopes up.  However, this ia a fairly safe red state.  It should be noted, as Noem has, that Sutton voted for Hillary Clinton in a state that roundly rejected Hillary Clinton in 2016.  And Trump’s approval ratings in South Dakota are still quite high.


In the open Congressional seat, the GOP will field Dusty Johnson against Democrat Tim Bjorkman.  Since we only have dueling polls from the candidates, they are essentially useless other than the fact that Bjorkman’s poll shows the Democrat in a close, but losing race.  Methinks it will not be that close come Election Day.

As of the end of this entry, the numbers are:

US Senate tied 22-22, US House 53-51 Republican, and Governors 14-8 Republican.

Tomorrow: Alaska and West Virginia


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