The Democratic Senate candidate in South Dakota on Monday publicly rebuked Democrats’ national Senate campaign arm, accusing the group of intentionally sabotaging his operation to help an Independent candidate in the race.
Democratic candidate Rick Weiland held a press conference at his campaign headquarters Monday and called on the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which jumped into the race with a $US1 million buy two weeks ago, to start airing positive ads on his behalf or get out of the race.
He said the ads aired so far have skewed negative against his Republican opponent, former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds, and haven’t helped his campaign. He even suggested the DSCC was airing the ads to aid Larry Pressler, the Independent candidate.
“Everybody knows the ugly attack ads you have been running against Mike Rounds help Larry Pressler, not the candidate of the party you are supposed to be campaigning for,” Weiland said.
“They make me, as the Democratic candidate, look like a dirty campaigner. They damage Gov. Rounds. And they let former Senator Pressler stand on the sidelines looking clean and gathering votes from disgusted South Dakotans, just as you intended them to do.”
South Dakota, which once looked like a potential surprise hold for Democrats on Election Day now appears to be slipping away. In three recent polls, Rounds leads by at least 9 points in a three-way race with Weiland and Pressler, a former Republican US senator from the state who has crept up in recent polls.
Weiland’s words on Monday highlight what has been a tenuous relationship between him and national Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) has clashed with his predecessor, South Dakota’s Tom Daschle, over Weiland’s nomination. Reid has said Weiland “wasn’t my choice” in South Dakota, and he all but conceded the race last year.
A DSCC spokesman refused to comment on the record when reached by Business Insider.
However, Guy Cecil, the executive director of the DSCC, did insist to Bloomberg last week that the group’s investment in South Dakota was actually intended to help Weiland.
“We want Weiland to win,” Cecil said. When asked if he would “mind” if Pressler came out victorious, Cecil reiterated the DSCC would “prefer” if Weiland won.
Less than a week later, Weiland said his statement today was addressed to the DSCC and Reid.
“I do not want phony help that actually helps Larry Pressler by attacking Mike Rounds over what appears to everyone to be my name because it says paid for by the national political party of which I am a member,” Weiland said.
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