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Political Note #189 Doug Jones Alabama, Political Note #248 Al Gross Alaska, Political Note #221 Mark Kelly Arizona, Political Note #295 John Hickenlooper Colorado,  Political Note #283 Jon Ossoff Georgia (A),  Political Note #269 Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock Georgia (B), Political Note #320 Paulette Jordan Idaho, Political Note #242 Theresa Greenfield Iowa, Political Note #262 Barbara Bollier Kansas, Political Note #255 Amy McGrath Kentucky, Political Note #330 Adrian Perkins Louisiana, Political Note #236 Sara Gideon Maine,  Political Note #225 Gary Peters Michigan, Political Note #239 Mike Espy Mississippi, Political Note #279 Steve Bullock Montana, Political Note #250 Cal Cunningham North Carolina, Political Note #311 Abby Broyles Oklahoma, Political Note #217 Jaime Harrison South Carolina, Political Note #328 Dan Ahlers South Dakota, Political Note #316 Marquita Bradshaw Tennessee, Political Note #291  MJ Hegar Texas, Political Note #307 Paula Jean Swearengin West Virginia, Political Note #329 Merav Ben-David Wyoming.

101220           Political Note #328   Dan Ahlers US Senate South Dakota

2020               General election

One of the improbable candidates will surprise.  He or she may not win, but will come close.  Close enough to make him or her a serious candidate for the next Senate seat that comes open or for governor.  Look at the company Dan Ahlers is in.

Alaska:  Al Gross – Orthopedist, commercial fisherman, independent endorsed by the Democrats.  Don’t count him in this contest of which improbable will break through.  Al Gross broke through. A year ago, when I wrote about him, he was an improbable.  Now he’s a toss-up.

Kansas:  Barbara Bollier — Physician, former Republican State Representative. Don’t count her in this contest of which improbable will break through.  When she began, she was an improbable.  Now, partly because the Republicans got tangled up in a difficult primary, she is a toss-up.

South Carolina:  Jaime Harrison — Party leader in South Carolina and nationally.  Don’t count him in this contest of which improbable will break through either.  When he began, he was an improbable.  Now he’s a toss-up.

So which of the following could become a toss-up in these last few days of the election?

Idaho:  Paulette Jordan – Native American basketball star who chose an academic scholarship, former State Rep, member of the national Native American board concerned with gaming.  From a small, Republican state.  The surprise will probably come from a small state.

Louisiana:  Adrian Perkins – African-American with an enviable record.  Thirty-five year old mayor of Shreveport.  West Point graduate, Harvard Law School Graduate – president of his class in both institutions.

Oklahoma: Abby Broyles – Thirty-year old television anchor and investigative journalist and lawyer.  She is running against 85-year old Jim Inhofe.  She’s smart and religious and my personal favorite for a surprise.

Tennessee: Marquita Bradshaw – African-American environmental justice advocate who won the primary spending less than $10,000.  She has a knack for getting attention without money.

West Virginia: Paula Jean Swearengin – Environmental activist who is part of a slate of interesting Democratic candidates in West Virginia.  The slate of Democrats deserves to win.

Wyoming: Merav Ben-David – Internationally known expert on climate issues, promises Wyoming, half of whose economy is based on fossil fuels, she can find the state a soft landing as people move away from fossil fuels.

South Dakota:  Dan Ahlers – Ex-State Rep, modest businessman.  With the possible exception of Marquita Bradshaw, he may be the least likely to surprise.

Why write about Dan Ahlers then?  Because this election is crazy.  The Republican ticket is headed by Donald Trump.  Trump will almost certainly not be reelected. (Don’t be complacent.  Complacency kills campaigns.) Could Trump lose the popular vote again and still get elected? More likely, he will lose the popular vote big and not get elected.  He could pull down a bunch of US Senators with him.  We don’t know – even this late in the process. South Dakota’s Senator, Mike Rounds is one of those who deserves to be pulled down in a big Trump loss.

Dan Ahlers is clever enough to keep his campaign simple.  He’s got a three point program:  Peace and Justice – end both bigotry and violence.  Support Agriculture – He contrasts wasted unsold farm products in South  Dakota with food lines in the cities.  Denounce Mike Rounds.  Mock Mike Rounds for following Trump’s line of attack on China about the coronavirus when Trump and legislators like Rounds are responsible for the US failure to deal with the disease.

Dan Ahlers is a local businessman.  He was renting movie cassettes, but no one is doing that any more. He owned a coffee shop for three years.  He owns rental properties and can get by with that.  He’s president of the local chamber of commerce and has been a substitute teacher.  He’s married with two children and has no scandals.  People like him.  They appreciate how he cares for others. He visited the homeless while campaigning.  Combine that with his several terms as a state legislator, you’ve got someone who could be a local figure for the rest of his life.  Could he be a US Senator?  Could Mr. Smith go to Washington?

The very best thing that Dan Ahlers has going for him is Mike Rounds. When Republicans complain about people who work for the state, they exempt Mike Rounds and his family.  His father has been South Dakota’s director of highway safety, has worked for rural electrification, and served as President of the South Dakota Petroleum Council (that would mean he was a lobbyist).  His brother is in the state legislature. There are more.  Family connections for jobs appears to be a South Dakota habit.  Sam Kephart, who once sought the  Republican nomination for US Senator commented on a Republican governor’s apparent nepotism in making appointments: “Me? I’m a little older-fashioned, so it’s an issue for me. But obviously, that’s how business gets done here. I’ve gotten in trouble drumming on this, and I’ve basically left the party over it. I just can’t embrace the political spoils system here.”

Rounds himself was a real estate and insurance guy.  As Governor and as Senator, he has been a thoroughly conventional Republican – with the occasional scandal.  When a beef packing plant went bankrupt, the two-part scandal exposed that Rounds’ officials had offered the business’s investors EB-5 visas in exchange for investments, investments which may have been made but could never be tracked down.  The business also received state loans of more than $1.5 million as the Secretary of Tourism and State Development, who committed suicide before he could be indicted, joined the company.

Rounds veto of Dan Ahlers’ bill to provide deaf children with a bill of rights, was not scandalous.  It just demonstrated Rounds’ mean spiritedness.  Mean spiritedness characterized Rounds’ opposition in the US Senate to the First Step Act, a bipartisan bill that passed with 80 votes, designed to reduce recidivism in federal prisons.  Mean spiritedness characterized the opposition of all but three of the Republican Senators to the Affordable Care Act.  Mike Rounds was certainly not one of the three.

Mike Rounds did feel some generosity toward EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt who came under an attack that led to his resignation after a year and a half in office.  Pruitt was accused of ethical conflicts of interest, luxurious spending for his personal comfort, and bizarre excessive spending on security.   Rounds thought those criticisms were nitpicking.

Rounds opposition to the Paris climate agreement and to abortion are decidedly not nitpicking.  His support as governor of a bill to prohibit all medical abortions was repealed by the voters of South Dakota.  The fight over repeal led to a temporary 15% drop in his popularity.

Help Dan Ahlers repeal Mike Rounds.  Help elect Dan Ahlers the next US Senator from South Dakota.  One of the improbable underdogs in a sparsely populated state will be a surprise.  Why not Dan Ahlers?

There are plenty of Democratic Senate candidates to support (Democrats listed first):


Arizona                      Astronaut Mark Kelly, gun safety leader supported by his wife former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords v. Incumbent and ex fighter pilot Martha McSally. Cash on hand: Mid-September McSally $11 million. Mid-July Kelly $21 million.  Polls (Kelly 49-44, 50-44, 51-41, 51-48, 49-40, 51-42, 48-45,  55-43,  47-38, 49-41)

 Colorado                    Former Governor John Hickenlooper v Incumbent attorney and party activist Senator Cory Gardner. July 24 Cash on hand: Gardner $10.7 million, Cash on Hand June 30 Hickenlooper $4.5 million, Polls: (Hickenlooper 49-42, 52-42, 51-46, 49-39)

Iowa                            Businesswoman and civic leader Theresa Greenfield v incumbent Joni Ernst.  June 30 Cash on hand:  Ernst $9.1 Million, Greenfield $5.6 Million, Polls: (Greenfield 49-46, 50-45, 44-42, 46-45, 51-39, 48-47, 49-46,  42-40, 45-42) (Tied 48-48, 47-47)(Ernst 48-44)

Maine                        Speaker of the ME House, Sara Gideon v sometimes moderate incumbent Susan Collins.  Cash on hand: Sept 30 Collins $5.6 Million, June 30 Gideon $5.4 Million   (Gideon 44-43,50-46, 45-41, 49-42, 46-41 Tied 42-42)

 Michigan                    Incumbent Democrat Gary Peters has a tough opponent in African-American Businessman John James.  Mid-July Cash on hand: Peters $11.6 Million, Johnson $9.2 Million.  Polls: (Peters 45-40, 48-46, 51-43, 50-43, 45-40, 48-41, 47-47, 46-41) (Tied 47-47)

North Carolina.         Businessman, environmentalist, and veteran, Cal Cunningham v Incumbent Thom Tillis.  June 30 Cash on Hand:  Tillis $6.9 Million, Cunningham $6.6 Million.  Polls: (Cunningham 50-39, 50-46, 47-42, 48-47, 48-42, 54-41, 53-41)


Alaska            Physician and Commercial Fisherman Al Gross v. incumbent  Dan Sullivan.  July 31: Sullivan’s cash on hand $5.3 million.  Gross’s cash on hand $3 million. Polls: (Sullivan 48-44, 46-45) (Tied 42-42)

 Georgia (A)               Jon Ossoff v incumbent David Perdue.  Cash on Hand June 30. Perdue $10.7 Million, Ossoff $2.5 Million.  Polls: (Perdue 49-46, 47-42, 41-38, 43-41) (Ossoff 47-42, 48-46, 49-48) (Tied 44-44)

Kansas                      Physician and former Republican State Senator Barbara Boliier v. Congressman Roger Marshall. Cash on hand: July 15 Bollier $4.1 Million, Sept 8 Marshall $1 Million. Polls (Marshall 50-43, 43-39) (Bollier 45-43) (Tied 42-42)

South Carolina          Former Party Chair Jaime Harrison v incumbent, former moderate Republican Lindsay Graham.  June 30 Cash on hand Graham $15 Million, Harrison $10.2 Million.  Polls: (Graham 47-46, 45-44, 46-45) (Harrison 45-43) (Tied 48-48)


Five candidates.  The top two will be in a run off.  Three Democrats: The Reverend Dr. Raphael Warnock, Senior Pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church of Atlanta, Businessman Matt Lieberman, ex US Attorney Ed Tarver.  Two Republicans: Incumbent Kelly Loeffler, Congressman Doug Collins. The top two on November 3 go on to a runoff. June 30 Cash on hand:  Loeffler $7 Million, Warnock $2.9 Million, Collins $2.6 Million, Lieberman $300,000   Polls: September (1) Warnock 26, Loeffler 25, Collins 16, Lieberman 16 (2) Warnock 31, Loeffler 23, Collins 22, Lieberman 9, Tarver 4 (3) Warnock 38, Collins 25, Loeffler 21, Lieberman 5, Tarver 2  (4) Loeffler 23, Warnock 19, Collins 19, Lieberman 7, Tarver 4; (5) Warnock  26, Collins 22,  Loeffler 21, Lieberman 14;

Kentucky                    Retired Marine Pilot Amy McGrath and conservative Democrat v Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.    Cash on hand: September 30 McConnell $16.6 Million, June 30  McGrath $16.2 Million.  Polls:  (McConnell 48-41, 46-39, 52-37, 53-41)

Mississippi                 Ex Member of Congress and Ex Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy v Incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith.  June 30 Cash on hand: Hyde-Smith $1.2 Million, Espy $680,000.  Polls: (Hyde-Smith 41-40, 54-28, 47-42)

 Montana                    Steve Bullock, Democratic Governor of Montana versus corporate-oriented incumbent Steve Daines.  June 30 Cash on hand:  Daines $7.1 Million, Bullock $7.6 Million. Polls: (Daines 52-43, 49-45, 45-44, 50-47) (Bullock 48-47)

Texas                         Military Helicopter Pilot MJ Hegar v Incumbent John Cornyn.  June 30 Cash on hand: Cornyn $14.5 Million, M. J. Hegar $900,000  Polls: (Cornyn 47-46, 45-42, 50-40, 40-38, 50-42, 45-39)


Alabama                    Incumbent ex US Attorney and Prosecutor of KKK members Doug Jones v former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville. Cash on hand. June 30 Jones $8.8 Million. August 18 Tuberville $550,000.  Polls: (Tuberville 54-42, 52-34)

Oklahoma                  Television journalist Abby Broyles v Incumbent Jim Inhofe. Cash on hand: August 10 Inhofe $2.2 million, June 30 Broyles $200,000.  Polls (Inhofe 48-30, 57-33)


Arkansas                      Prison chaplain and Libertarian Ricky Harrington v Incumbent Tom Cotton.  Cash on hand June 30. Cotton. $6 million.  Harrington $4,000.  Polls Cotton 49-38

Idaho                          Former state senator Paulette Jordan versus incumbent James Risch. June 30: Rish cash on hand $2.4 million.  Paulette Jordan $70,000. Polls (Rish 53-28)

Louisiana                   Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins v Incumbent Bill Cassidy. Beginning of July Cassidy had $6 million.  Perkins has not reported.  Polls: None

South Dakota,           Businessman Dan Ahlers v Incumbent Mike Rounds.  March 31 Cash on hand: Ahlers $50,000.  Rounds $2 Million. Polls:  None

Tennessee                Memphis-based African-American environmental justice activist Marquita Bradshaw for an open Republican seat in Tennessee.  June 30 July 17 Cash on hand: Bradshaw $1,700  Hagerty $4.1 Million.  Polls: None

West Virginia            Environmental Activist Paula Jean Swearengin versus incumbent Shelley Moore Capito. June 30 Cash on Hand Swearengin $130,000  Cash on Hand Mid-July  Moore Capito $1.8 million. Polls: None

Wyoming                  Climate Scientist Merav Ben-David v ex Member of Congress Cynthia Lummis. July 29 Cash on Hand Ben-David $27,000, Lummis $400,000. Polls:  None