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A GUIDE TO THE CONGRESSIONAL RACES: SOUTH DAKOTA

5 minute read
TIME

SOUTH DAKOTA

Population (1994): 721,000 (up 3.6% from 1990), 0.3% of U.S. total

Voting-age population: 522,000; 1994 turnout, 60%

Median age: 32.5 years

Median household income: $29,733 ($2,531 below U.S. median)

Unemployment: 3.0% (2.6% below U.S. average, March 1996)

Last presidential election: Clinton (D): 37% Bush (R): 41% Perot (I): 22%

Congressional delegation: Two Democrats, one Republican

The mystifying landscape, sprinkled with mountains, desert canyons and grassland, supports South Dakota’s second-largest industry: tourism. Despite the beauty of places like Mount Rushmore, it’s hard to disguise the poverty of Indians living on reservations in a state enjoying an economic upturn. Though the state has only one congressional district, it is the nation’s second most populous one. South Dakotans usually vote for the Republican presidential candidate, but give Democrats a fair chance of making it to Congress. An interesting anomaly, noted by the Rapid City Journal: all four congressional candidates have Internet home pages, but only about 5% of South Dakotans are wired.

TIM JOHNSON (D) Senate Challenger

BORN: Dec. 28, 1946, Canton EDUCATION: U of South Dakota, B.A., 1969, M.A., 1970, J.D., 1975 FAMILY: Wife, Barbara; three children RELIGION: Lutheran MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Lawyer POLITICAL CAREER: South Dakota House, 1979-83, Senate, 1983-86; U.S. House, 1986- ADDRESS: P.O. Box 88113, Sioux Falls 57109. Tel.: 605-335-8089

After years of considering a Senate run–interrupted this winter by his wife’s cancer surgery–five-term House member Johnson finally threw his hat in the Senate ring. Reason? Because, he says, the once tolerable incumbent Senior Senator had taken to endorsing legislation that hurt the people of his state, specifically, the new telecommunications act. Giving up a safe seat in the House, the outspoken Representative should give Larry Pressler a run for his money.

THE ISSUES

Budget NO Medicare YES Defense NO Abortion YES Guns YES Gays YES Bosnia NR NAFTA NO Welfare NR National Service YES (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “Instead of downsizing the American Dream, the government needs to work with business to encourage it to live up to its obligations.”

LARRY PRESSLER (R) Senior Senator

BORN: March 29, 1942, Humboldt EDUCATION: U of South Dakota, B.A., 1964; Harvard U, M.A., J.D. 1971 FAMILY: Wife, Harriet; one stepchild RELIGION: Roman Catholic MILITARY: Army, 1966-68 OCCUPATION: Lawyer POLITICAL CAREER: U.S. House, 1975-78; U.S. Senate, 1978- ADDRESS: 600 South Main Avenue, Suite 100, Sioux Falls 57104. Tel.: 605-336-1234

The first Vietnam veteran elected to the Senate, Pressler, chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, distinguished himself on the Hill for winning a historic battle to rewrite the nation’s communications law. Though called by a national magazine “the Forrest Gump of legislators” for his notorious miscues (he once mistook a closet door for an exit), Pressler’s Rhodes Scholar background will likely see him through this tough race.

THE ISSUES

Budget YES Medicare NO Defense YES Abortion NO Guns NO Gays NO Bosnia YES NAFTA YES Welfare NO National Service NO (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “I relied on student loans to get through college and understand the concern over student debt. I’m not alone. Despite the false scare tactics by Democrats, loan programs command strong bipartisan support.”

JOHN THUNE (R) District–At large (Statewide)

BORN: Jan. 7, 1961, Pierre EDUCATION: Biola U, B.A., 1983; U of South Dakota, M.B.A., 1984 FAMILY: Wife, Kimberly; two children RELIGION: Protestant MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Congressional aide, 1985-87; Municipal League executive director 1993-96 POLITICAL CAREER: South Dakota G.O.P. executive director, 1989-1991 ADDRESS: P.O. Box 516, Sioux Falls 57101. Tel.: 605-339-4838

Like his Democratic opponent, Thune emerged a bruised victor from a tough primary; now he’s trying to heal–and keep winning. A conservative who wants term limits, disciplined federal spending and more local power, Thune declined to respond to the TIME/CQ questionnaire because it “did not adequately represent the effect or the intent of the legislation.”

THE ISSUES

Budget NR Medicare NR Defense NR Abortion NR Guns NR Gays NR Bosnia NR NAFTA NR Welfare NR Medical Leave NR (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “I think that if ever there was a time in our nation’s history when we needed conservative people with conservative principles who understand government and public process, it is now.”

RICK WEILAND (D) District–At large

BORN: July 26, 1958, Madison EDUCATION: U of South Dakota, B.S., 1980 FAMILY: Wife, Stacy; four children RELIGION: Roman Catholic MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Congressional aide POLITICAL CAREER: None ADDRESS: P.O. Box 761, Sioux Falls 57101. Tel.: 605-330-9696

This fifth-generation South Dakotan is a pro-labor Democrat who proposes a four-point plan to increase cattle prices; he doesn’t want family livestock producers to become extinct, like “our meat-eating friend Tyrannosaurus rex.” A self-described “Daschle Democrat” (after the state’s moderate Junior Senator), he also supported the minimum-wage increase, the earned-income tax credit and portable insurance, and has a good chance of replacing Tim Johnson, who is giving up the seat to run for the Senate.

THE ISSUES

Budget NO Medicare NO Defense YES Abortion YES Guns YES Gays YES Bosnia NO NAFTA NO Welfare NO Medical Leave YES (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “We need to do more than cut government; we need to make government work better. Washington needs to recognize that a one-size-fits-all solution isn’t always the best policy. What’s good for Chicago isn’t necessarily good for Canton.”

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