Senate Democrats’ campaign arm is preparing to pour $US1 million into South Dakota’s Senate race, which it suddenly views as winnable with less than one month to go before Election Day.
South Dakota has been one of three open Senate seats that has long been a presumed pickup for Republicans, along with Montana and West Virginia. But new polls have shown both the Democratic and Independent candidates surging amid Republican candidate Mike Rounds’ plunge.
A Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee official confirmed to Business Insider that the committee will spend about $US1 million in the South Dakota race in television ads and field operations leading up to Election Day on Nov. 4. Television ads will go up as soon as the beginning of next week.
“Mike Rounds has serious vulnerabilities surrounding the EB 5 scandal,” the official told Business Insider in an email.
The DSCC’s entry into the race was first reported by Bloomberg.
The “EB-5 scandal” refers to a federal program Rounds embraced as governor of South Dakota, in which immigrants are given the ability to earn green cards if they invest $US500,000 in American job-creating businesses. But the program has come under increased scrutiny in South Dakota under Rounds, amid bankruptcies and allegations of corruption.
The DSCC’s money comes on top of a just-announced $US1 million campaign from MayDay.US, the self-declared “super PAC to end super PACs” led by political activist Lawrence Lessig. The PAC, which supports campaign-finance reform, is backing Democrat Rick Weiland’s candidacy.
“This race pitting the reformer against a corrupt politician in South Dakota could determine control of the Senate this year,” said Mark McKinnon, the former media strategist for George W. Bush and co-founder of MayDay.US, upon announcing the buy in South Dakota.
“Like the rest of us, South Dakotans are tired of seeing Congress crippled by its dependence on campaign cash and the cronies who supply it. The only way to take our democracy back is to elect reformers like Rick Weiland.”
Two recent polls show that both Democrat Weiland and Independent Larry Pressler have gained ground on Rounds. In a three-way race, South Dakota voters would split 35-32-28 for Rounds, Pressler, and Weiland, according to a Survey USA poll released Wednesday.
A Public Policy Polling survey released last week put Weiland in better shape — voters in South Dakota split 35-28-24 for Rounds, Weiland, and Pressler. According to the Survey USA poll, Weiland withdrawing from the race would give Pressler an edge over Rounds, while Pressler’s withdrawal would put Rounds and Weiland in a dead heat.
“I think Weiland could definitely win,” PPP director Tom Jensen told Business Insider. “The people who are supporting Pressler like Weiland, and strongly dislike Rounds. The simple reality is that Weiland has a lot more resources than Pressler, and Pressler’s gone largely unchallenged in the race so far. I think Pressler is likely to fade down the stretch due to his lack of money and if he does, Weiland is far more likely to be the beneficiary of his votes than Rounds.”
The new developments in the South Dakota race are dripping with subplots in addition to the new EB-5 revelations. There has been high-profile discord within the Democratic Party over Weiland’s nomination, namely between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and his predecessor, Tom Daschle. Reid has said Weiland “wasn’t my choice” in South Dakota, and he all but conceded the race last year.
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