SD GOP Going After Gordon Howie Petitions?

Gordon Howie

Gordon Howie

UPDATED (See bottom of the article)

My sources tell me that the South Dakota Republican Party has bought themselves a copy of Gordon Howie’s petitions to run as an independent for South Dakota’s U.S. Senate seat up for grabs this year.

I spoke with Howie about this earlier this morning, and he was aware of the development. Howie said he has attempted to contact South Dakota GOP chairman Craig Lawrence regarding this report, and as of the time of this writing, was still waiting for his call to be returned.

Howie, a former Republican state senator who ran for governor in 2010, is preparing for a potential run as an independent, in the event former governor RINO Mike Rounds secures the GOP nomination in the upcoming primary. Rounds’ liberal record of growing government and leaving deficits and talking out of both sides of his mouth on ObamaCare, among other things, has not impressed many committed conservatives, and Howie wants conservatives to have a choice in the general election if Rounds’ big money connections enables him to triumph over a real Republican like Stace Nelson.

In just a couple of weeks, Howie submitted over 5,000 petitions. well above the minimum required 3,171 to get on the ballot. The South Dakota Secretary of State has subsequently certified those petitions.

It is not unusual for opposing candidates and partisan groups to challenge petitions. Stace Nelson challenged some of Larry Rhoden’s petitions several weeks ago, and liberal blogger Cory Heidelberger challenged many of Annette Bosworth’s petitions.

Woodrow Wilcox


But for a political party–especially the same party to which the candidate belongs and has been elected to office under the banner of–to go to the effort of purchasing a copy of the petitions of someone running against the anointed establishment candidate…well, this is remarkable.

It rather reminds me of when the Pennington County GOP interjected itself into a lawsuit filed by a candidate against the South Dakota Secretary of State for employing a double-standard which favored the establishment-darling Speaker of the House–taking sides with one Republican over another Republican.  The phrase “scorched earth” comes to mind.  The term “vendetta” comes to mind. The term “cronyism” (not principle) comes to mind.


Does anyone really think Gordon Howie would not represent the interests of South Dakotans according to Republican values and principles–a man who served in South Dakota government for many years as a Republican, who ran for governor as a Tea Party Republican, and who continues to advocate strongly and publicly for Republican values and goals?

Does anyone really think Gordon Howie would not caucus with Republicans to advance the Republican agenda–if not completely move back under the banner of the GOP, were he to win the election?

Who is really the better representative of Republican values and principles: someone who runs as an “independent” rather than as a Republican but who fights to advance Republican goals…or someone who calls himself a “Republican” but betrays those values in multiple areas?

The answer to these questions is pretty clear.

So the answer to the question of why the South Dakota Republican Party would go to the effort of purchasing a copy of Howie’s petitions is also pretty clear: for the purpose of challenging them–and they’d have to challenge a LOT of them, since he got more than half again the minimum required signatures–and attempting to remove Howie from the race.  Protecting their coronated status quo RINO candidate.

Just another day in the GOP establishment war on conservatives…

UPDATE:  I just received a call from Gordon Howie who told me Mr. Lawrence had returned his call. Apparently my source was wrong or passed along incomplete information, as Mr. Lawrence said it was not the South Dakota GOP but rather the Minnehaha County GOP that had purchased a copy of Howie’s petitions.

While it is still disturbing that someone in the Minnehaha GOP who calls themselves a Republican would have such animus for a conservative, it’s good to know that it wasn’t the state party after all.  Mr. Lawrence, from what I have seen and heard, seems to be a nice man and is doing what he can to get the RINOs to behave. 

Still, given the bad behavior of Governor Dennis Daugaard and others party figures in the 2012 primary (where Daugaard broke tradition and endorsed liberal Republicans over conservative ones), the report that the state party had done this fit all too well with the bad behavior we have seen from the party establishment in recent years. It’s good to give people the benefit of the doubt, but when a person or group has exhausted their “benefit of the doubt” credit on bad behavior…

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Bob Ellis has been the owner of media company Dakota Voice, LLC since 2005. He is a 10-year U.S. Air Force veteran, a political reporter and commentator for the past decade, and has been involved in numerous election and public policy campaigns for over 20 years. He was a founding member and board member of the Tea Party groups Citizens for Liberty and the South Dakota Tea Party Alliance. He lives in Rapid City, South Dakota with his wife and two children.
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