I had written off the South Dakota Senate race as a gimme for popular former governor Mike Rounds, but boy was I wrong about that. This doesn’t quite rise to the level of the Wendy Davis ad that John posted below, but it leaves a mark:
The short story is that Rounds is getting some mud from an EB-5 scandal spattered on his heretofore pristine britches. EB-5 is a law that lets rich foreign investors buy their citizenship by investing in companies, and the head of a private company that was skimming from SD’s EB-5 effort committed suicide last year. Rounds endorsed the EB-5 effort and the DSCC and Democrat Rick Weiland’s campaign are going after him hammer and tongs.
In addition to the EB-5 scanda, Rounds has two other problems. First, he hasn’t raised shit for cash–he’s got $750K on hand which is low for a House campaign, never mind the Senate. So when outside PACs and the DSCC lay down $3 million in ads, it’s hard for Rounds to respond. Rounds has spent less than $1 million on ads during his entire campaign. Rounds’ second problem is that a sort-of Republican is running in the race, Larry Pressler. Pressler is the former Republican Senator who’s now cast himself as a centrist (and probably voted for Obama), and it’s likely he would caucus with Democrats, plus or minus a few pirouettes and tours en l’air. Pressler is now polling near Rounds, with Weiland not far behind. The DSCC ad wisely just pummels Rounds, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Democrats in the state strategically hold their noses and vote for Pressler, depending on how the final race polls look. At this point, however, I’d give to Weiland if I were in a giving mood. He ran Daschle’s field operation through some of the toughest campaigns any Democrat has faced in the last 20 years, and he’ll know how to spend the money wisely in the next couple of weeks.
If you want to read more about this race, here’s a suitably negative take on Rounds’ prospects from Jonathan Ellis at the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. It’s also nice to see Larry Lessig’s PAC doing something useful instead of just bemoaning Citizens United, by throwing a million bucks behind Weiland.