With the Tea Parties galvanizing the ire of a large segment of the American electorate, GOP candidates who might sail with ease to their party’s nomination in most years are facing much more competitive contests this time around. It’s not just that candidates born from tea-party-dom are rising up and attempting to carry the banner of tea-party-ness forward into battle – although that is happening. Politicians already in the ring are seeing a golden opportunity to seize a ready made and riled up constituency. The whole situation is making for some very entertaining political theater.
South Dakota holds its primary on June 8th, and in the race for Governor and for the state’s lone US House seat some interesting story lines are developing. The race for the congressional nod features a doctor, a rancher, and the secretary of state. On the governor’s side, the candidates getting the most press are current Lieutenant Governor Dennis Daugaard and the state senate majority leader Dave Knudson. Apparently Daugaard is doing fantastically in the polling against the likely Democrat nominee, Scott Heidepriem. Knudson holds his own as well. And then, for good measure, there’s Gordon Howie from the western part of the state – a wildcard making a serious play to be the ‘Tea Party Republican’.
These guys are probably swell, but I came away quite impressed this week when I had a chance to interview the other guy in the race, Scott Munstermann. The former mayor of Brookings, South Dakota – Munstermann came off as articulate and intelligent. He’s got a unique background as a health care professional before (and during) his public service career, which lends itself well to some new ideas he has on the topical health care debate. He’s got strong fiscally conservative credentials.
All that is great, but what really stayed with me was how open and honest he was about his Christian faith. He spoke unprompted and at length about how central a role it has played in shaping who he is, and how it informs his worldview. He didn’t back away from the issue of abortion either, explaining that from his earliest medical studies he has understood that life begins at conception.
Scott Munsterman is a candidate that deserves your time, and – if you’re a proud South Dakotan – your consideration as you decide where to cast your ballot for governor. You can find out all you could hope to know about the man on his website. The guy even wrote a book about what he’d do as governor and has an audio version right there on the interwebs. New Media savvy stuff.