My latest in the Pierre Capital Journal. Here's a sample:
Over the last couple national election cycles the Tea Party movement has had some successes, such as electing the likes of Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas in the face of “establishment” resistance. But the Tea Party has had notable losses. In places such as Delaware, Indiana, Missouri, Colorado, and Nevada, Senate seats that should have been easy wins for Republicans have turned into losses as Tea Party candidates who were at once too extreme for the state and also political amateurs who made glaring mistakes essentially cost Republicans control of the U.S. Senate.
We might see something similar at play in South Dakota as candidates Stace Nelson, Larry Rhoden, and Annette Bosworth each run to the right of the presumptive front runner, former governor Mike Rounds. Rounds, like many of the “establishment” Republicans defeated by Tea Party candidates, is denounced as a RINO, a Republican In Name Only, i.e., not a true conservative.
Those who throw around that RINO phrase might gain from a little historical perspective. Looking at the U.S. Senate in 1985, a year when Republicans had a majority in the U.S. Senate, is illustrative. Republicans in the Senate that year included the likes of Mark Hatfield, Nancy Kassebaum, Lowell Weicker, Robert Stafford, John Chaffee, John Heinz, Arlen Specter, David Durenberger, and more. All of these Senators were honest-to-goodness moderate and even liberal Republicans.