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GOP House candidates take aim at Herseth, Daschle [SD-atlarge]
Aberdeen News (American News) ^ | Jan. 08, 2004 | Scott Waltman

Posted on 01/08/2004 7:15:33 AM PST by JohnnyZ

While they have to battle each other first, the Republican candidates for U.S. House know their main opponent isn't a member of the GOP.

Six of the seven people vying for the Republican House nomination were in Aberdeen Wednesday for a candidates forum at the Ramada Inn. They took shots at their probable opponent, Democrat Stephanie Herseth, and Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and invoked the names President Bush and John Thune, the Republican trying to oust Daschle.

The Republican candidate will be chosen by the state GOP Jan. 24 in Sioux Falls. Whomever that is should have the backing of his or her peers. The candidates pledged they wouldn't run as independents after the party makes its choice.

Following introductions, the candidates answered, often similarly, a couple pre-determined questions. Here's a rundown of the players in the race:

Larry Diedrich: A state senator and former member of the South Dakota House, Diedrich is an Elkton farmer. In the past, he's served as president of the South Dakota Soybean Association and American Soybean Association. He ran for House in 2002, but dropped out of the primary.

Barb Everist: The only candidate not at the forum, Everist used to serve in the state House and Senate. She served as majority leader in the Senate in 2001 and 2002. A former teacher and reporter, she has a law degree from the University of South Dakota and lives in Sioux Falls.

Roger Hunt: Hunt is a Brandon lawyer. He ran for House in 2002, but lost in the Republican primary to Bill Janklow. He spent 22 years in the Navy as a judge advocate general. He has a master's degree in international law from George Washington University.

Jeff Partridge: A member of the Rapid City Common Council, Partridge is a regional manager for Scantron Service Group, a technology-based business. He is a volunteer Spanish teacher at Wilson Elementary School and president of the Black Hills Young Republicans.

Larry Russell: A long-time aide to Thune, this is Russell's first time running for office. He worked for the former congressman in both East River and West River, but now lives in Worthing near Sioux Falls. After the 2002 election, he

took a job with the Dakota, Minnesota & Easter Railroad.

Dr. Allen Unruh, Sioux Falls: Unrah is another first-time candidate. He is a chiropractic physician. The Elkton native has worked in grass roots Republican politics for 30 years. He helped open the Alpha Center, which provides guidance for those dealing with unplanned pregnancies.

Gary Wietgrefe: A native of Ipswich, Wietgrefe was born in Aberdeen and attended school in rural Gettysburg. He works as the business manager for a Sioux Falls agricultural company. The political newcomer considered challenging Daschle in 1992. He's an Air Force veteran.

Ron Williamson: Williamson lives in Sioux Falls and is a member of the state House of Representatives. He is the former president of Citibank South Dakota and served as adjutant general of the South Dakota National Guard. The first time Janklow was governor, Williamson was on his staff.

Diedrich and Russell are perhaps the strongest candidates considering their strong party ties. Both have visited with GOP officials in Washington.

A confident Diedrich said he has the agriculture background to defeat Herseth. Along with her youth and, perhaps, gender the fact that Herseth grew up on a farm near Houghton is considered a strength. Diedrich also said that he has the skills needed to be a strong House candidate. That includes the ability to raise money.

Russell said his ties to Thune's campaign would be beneficial. He has worked on both sides of the state and as a result, he said, knows many state legislators, county commissioners and other government officials. He said he could use the 6,000 volunteers who worked on Thune's failed senatorial campaign to his benefit.

Wietgrefe said the fact that he grew up in northeastern South Dakota is a strength for him. He said the Republican candidate will win West River and hold their own in the Sioux Falls area. The Aberdeen region, though, tends to be more Democratic and, he said, his local ties can offset that.

As he has in past campaigns, Hunt said his coalition-building skills would be a strength. He used them extensively as a legislator, he said. He also touted his international business experience. In the Navy, he was stationed in the United Kingdom, Taiwan and across the United States.

With a sharp sense of humor, Unrah kept the 60 or so people in attendance entertained. Like others, he touted his strong family and pro-life values. He also railed against a national health care plan, saying it would be the equivalent of putting "Madonna in charge of abstinence education."

Williamson said his military background would be valuable as the war against terrorism continues. A Vietnam veteran, he said he understands what troops overseas are facing and would always support them as well as the commander-in-chief. He also said his business background would be helpful.

Partridge said that he offers conservative leadership and strong business skills. "In short, I'm fluent in geek speak," he said. He gave Janklow a nod when he said the four-term governor taught him how to think big. He said he's got a four-month plan to defeat Herseth.

Herseth was the target of a few comments including one that indicated she would be headed to Washington later this year - to take a job after she loses the election.

Daschle was criticized because the Republicans think he is far more liberal than most South Dakotans. His leadership abilities were also questioned.

Rep. Bill Janklow, R-S.D., has resigned his House seat effective Jan. 20. He quit last month after being convicted of second-degree felony manslaughter. He was involved in a August traffic accident in Moody County that resulted in the death of a Minnesota man.

A June 1 election will select Janklow's successor. The term expires in a year, but there probably won't be a GOP primary in November as the party wants to present a united front. That means the candidate who runs against Herseth in June will probably also be on the November ballot, win or lose.

TOPICS: South Dakota; Campaign News; Parties; U.S. Congress
KEYWORDS: electionushouse; everist; herseth; house2004

1 posted on 01/08/2004 7:15:38 AM PST by JohnnyZ
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To: JohnnyZ
"Daschle was criticized because the Republicans think he is far more liberal than most South Dakotans."

Gee, ya think? For a place as rural as South Dakota I keep wondering WHY they keep returning the leading GUN GRABBING ANTI-FREEDOM schmuck to the Senate term after term after term.

I mean Democraps are what they are, but the entire electorate has a chance to send little Tommy home and they keep unleashing the clymer on the rest of us! The gun and possibly the abortion issue (especially the support for Clinton who favored partial birth abortion) might hammer this guy into the dust. Just because he goes home once a year and walks in the woods, gingerly holding a shotgun that he possibly never fires....his state thinks he wants to let them keep their guns??? Stupid is as stupid does.

2 posted on 01/08/2004 7:32:26 AM PST by ExSoldier (When the going gets tough, the tough go cyclic.)
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To: All
Here we go again folks... why not donate now and help get this fundraiser over with!
3 posted on 01/08/2004 7:33:11 AM PST by Support Free Republic (If Woody had gone straight to the police, this would never have happened!)
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To: ExSoldier
Not only that, he WRITES gun grabbing bills.
4 posted on 01/08/2004 2:58:49 PM PST by Dan from Michigan ("Every man dies. Not every man really lives")
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