GOP’s South Dakota Candidate is Roadkill

Jonathan Ellis of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader refers to Republican senate candidate Mike Rounds as “road kill” who is attracting buzzards. In an brutal assessment of the former two-term governor’s campaign, Mr. Ellis says that it was more appropriate for a run for sheriff than a run for the upper chamber of Congress. He didn’t raise serious money and he didn’t take his opposition seriously.

The political world outside of South Dakota learned some stunning news last week: Mike Rounds, the guy everybody assumed would be the next senator from South Dakota, actually has been running a campaign more suited for sheriff of Mayberry County than U.S. Senate…

…Rounds failed to raise the resources necessary to defend himself in the cutthroat world of U.S. Senate campaigns, where millions of dollars can be beamed into a race with the flip of a switch. Rounds woke up last week to find $3 million of hostile money sitting outside his comfy campaign headquarters in Pierre. And there’s nothing he can do about it…

…Rounds reassembled a campaign team from his days as governor. The team was adequate for a governor’s race. The problem is, nobody outside of South Dakota cares who is governor of the state. Senate races are fought on an entirely different level — the difference between high school football and pro football. GOP leaders were concerned that Rounds and his team didn’t grasp this reality. As it turns out, justifiably so.

The whole column reads like a political obituary, but Ellis does acknowledge that Rounds could still pull out a victory. It’s just that he’s lost all his momentum and the NRSC has been forced to launch a salvage mission.

What’s still unclear is if the DSCC is primarily concerned with electing their candidate, Rick Weiland, or with electing independent candidate, Larry Pressler. Either way, they hope that Mike Rounds is truly roadkill because that will save them a senate seat that they had every reason to believe was lost.

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at