Following his third place finish last night, capturing only about 17% of the vote, former U.S. Senator Larry Pressler has issued the following statement:
We have lost the election. I have called Governor Rounds and congratulated him. I have also called Rick Weiland and Gordon Howie and congratulated them on a good campaign.
We may have lost this campaign at the polls today, but I feel that we have won by running to end the poisonous gridlock in Washington and incorporating South Dakota issues into the race.
And I’m going to continue working on these issues with the Centrist Project and in my teaching in South Dakota Universities.
When I began this journey nearly two years ago, one of my co-chairmen Don Frankenfeld of Rapid City and I sat down and decided that we would have a good, issues-oriented campaign, on a low-budget of individual contributors, but we’d offer the people of the state a positive, issues-oriented campaign. We did that.
South Dakota has not been accustomed to U.S. Senate campaigns where there is very much issue debate. We have had some essentially uncontested U.S. Senate races, and frequently national politics has overridden local issues. I determined to issue one or two “local issues” press releases a week, which I have done. For example, last week, I issued a release on the need for a post-traumatic stress disorder center at the Hot Springs VA facility, since ten new centers have been authorized in the new VA bill. These are supposed to be located in serene areas, and Hot Springs certainly qualifies. I’ve also talked about better air service for South Dakota, and I’ve talked about a holocaust museum for Native Americans at Wounded Knee. I also raised several other local issues throughout our state on a weekly basis.
In this campaign, we have enjoyed a number of wonderful endorsements from across the state, which have included the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, the Rapid City Journal, the Native Sun News and my good friend Tim Giago, the Mitchell Daily Republic, Agent John Good of the FBI, the chief corruption fighter in the United States, Steve Hemmingsen, legendary KELO anchor of 30 years, and people such as Gene Abdallah and Don Frankenfeld, Kim Ames-Wright of the South Dakota Voice of Independents, and many, many others. Perhaps more emotionally significant was the deathbed endorsement of my lifetime friend the late Gerald One Feather of Pine Ridge, which was announced by his widow, Ingrid One Feather, who invited me to speak at his funeral.
I want to thank the volunteer MVP of this campaign, my wife Harriet. She was with me every step of the way from helping drive to events, doing the campaign’s accounting, answering phones, and thanking so many of the small contributors.
What happened at the end of this campaign is exactly why we started this campaign. We were hit with a tsunami of negative ads from the Republican and Democratic Parties and their affiliates. More money was spent in the last week against me than was raised in my entire campaign.
I thank all my supporters for their hard work, and look forward to continuing to work on the issues that I raised in my campaign in the future. I am very grateful to all my contributors. Had this race been decided by South Dakotans, we believe the outcome would have been different, but we were hit with a deluge of out-of-state negative ads.