Between the Lines

Between the Lines by David Lias Jim Abbott, Mike Rounds, Bill Janklow, Stephanie Herseth, etc. weren�t the only winners in Tuesday�s primary election.

That was just one of my thoughts as I watched, increduously at times, as the rather refreshing bits and pieces of returns began trickling in after the polls closed.

It�s not fair that only a small handful of all of the candidates who have been waging campaigns for much of this year could be designated as winners.

Maybe there would be greater interest in South Dakota politics if awards were presented to all the candidates following the election.

Just last week, Broadway performers were presented with Tony awards. Annually, people in all walks of show business are nominated for and receive a wide range of honors, from Grammys to Oscars.

Here are a just a few suggestions for award categories (and their winners) following Tuesday�s primary.

The �What were you thinking?� award should go to former Sen. Larry Pressler, who was running for Congress.

Pressler receives this award for running perhaps the most horrid campaign ads in South Dakota political history. His television spots featured clips from FBI surveillance cameras that show him turning down illegal donations during the ABSCAM sting back in the 1970s.

He might as well as raised both arms above his head, waved his hands with fingers making the �V� sign, and said, �I am not a crook.� Richard Nixon lives!

Kirby receives the �Don�t go away mad. Just go away� award for waging a campaign that was at times terribly negative, and, at other times, terribly close to bribery.

His claim that he wanted to set a more positive mood in the Republican gubernatorial primary was simply too hard to swallow, because he was responsible in so many ways for injecting negativism in the race.

Kirby�s actions remind one of a door-to-door salesman who enters your home, throws a blob of dirt on your clean carpet, and then tries to sell you a vacuum cleaner to take care of that nasty spot on your rug.

The �Wounded Bear� award goes to Mark Barnett. South Dakotans have known that Barnett has harbored ambitions to run for governor for a long time. No doubt he knew Kirby, with his great personal wealth, could wage a strong campaign.

But he probably never realized that Kirby would be so negative. Instead of running his own campaign, Barnett had to spend much of his time and energy defending himself by attacking Kirby.

The race between the two men was reminiscent of those nature programs that show two grizzly bears fighting over the same piece of territory.

They slash and claw and bite each other to the point that they are both crippled and weakened and, ironically, find themselves prey to stronger natural forces, specifically, weary South Dakota voters who found Rounds to be a refreshing alternative.

The �Power of Positive Campaigning� award is shared by Rounds, Abbott, Herseth and Janklow.

All had the sense to wage practical, positive, common sense campaigns. Much of Abbott�s appeal, in fact, came through television spots that appear to be designed for November�s election rather than a June primary.

He worked hard to make himself a familiar face with South Dakotans. His TV spots successfully portrayed him as more than USD�s president. They point out his education and business background, and they also show Abbott as a wise voice coming from the wilderness who expresses ways to tackle some of the many problems facing South Dakota today.

Rounds� surprising victory is a strong indicator of just how fed up South Dakotans are with negative campaigning. Early this year, he was either unknown to state voters, or largely ignored because Barnett and Kirby, with their well-financed campaigns, were viewed as the strongest Republican candidates from the start.

As Barnett and Kirby began to knock the legs out from under each other and weaken their campaigns, Rounds grew stronger and stronger.

The �What have we learned?� award goes to Sen. Tim Johnson and Rep. John Thune, who will face each other in November.

Hopefully, they took careful notes Tuesday.

Hopefully, they learned that South Dakotans will reject mudslinging and negativism.

Hopefully, we will all be subjected to creative, positive campaigns as November nears.

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