A new controversy in South Dakota has a previously written-off race tightening as Democrats look to possibly expand their map of possibilities. Former Governor Mike Rounds is involved in a scandal involving the EB-5 visa program, which gives green cards to wealthy potential immigrants who will invest in job-creating ventures. (The Argus Leader in South Dakota has extensive coverage on the scandal.) Now, polls are showing a tightening race. A new poll shows a tightening race in light of the controversy. In the poll, Rounds has 35%, independent Larry Pressler with 32%, and Democrat Rick Weiland with 28%. An independent fourth candidate had three percent in the poll. While there has been an relative lack of polling in South Dakota, previous polls had Rounds leading Weiland by fifteen or thirteen points. Now, Pressler has leapfrogged over Weiland into second place.
However, the overall tightening of the race has led Democrats to revisit the South Dakota race. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced they will be spending one million dollars in advertising in the state which is significant due to South Dakota’s cheap media markets. In addition, a coalition of progressive groups will be spending at least two million dollars in the state to support Weiland. PCCC’s Stephanie Taylor commented on the recent Weiland action, “The progressive movement led the way in the South Dakota Senate race, and we’re thankful that national Democrats are now following. The PCCC and Elizabeth Warren backed Rick Weiland early on because we knew we could count on him to be a strong voice for everyday people — whether it’s protecting and expanding Social Security for our seniors, making college more affordable, or fighting to take back our democracy from big-money interests. Our PCCC team has been helping Rick run a competitive campaign since last January, and we look forward to calling him Senator Weiland next January.” One million of the two million dollars pledged will be coming from the Mayday PAC, which was started by Lawrence Lessig as the “Super PAC to End All Super PACs.” Lawrence Lessig, who has born in South Dakota, said, “Rick Weiland understands that as long as our representatives are held hostage to their funders – and not the people – the system will not work for Americans of either political party. It’s up to us to take our government back, and that is Rick Weiland’s central campaign message.” Weiland has run his campaign with the motto of “Take It Back.” The progressive coalition includes the aforementioned PCCC and Mayday PAC, in addition to Democracy for America, the Communications Workers of America, and the Every Voice Action.