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#1 Posted on 31.3.04 0930.39 Reposted on: 31.3.11 0931.50
The Native American population in South Dakota often swings elections to the Democrats. This could mean Daschle has a big problem come November....
* * * * * * * Giago plans run for Senate as independent SIOUX FALLS (AP) — Tim Giago, who earlier said he would challenge Sen. Tom Daschle in the Democratic Party June primary, now plans to run as an independent for the U.S. Senate.
Giago, of Rapid City, publisher of the Lakota Journal, said moving his effort to the fall gives him additional time to get petitions signed, get his campaign message out and raise money.
Although he will address national issues, American Indian issues will be his priority, Giago said.
Bill Richardson, political science professor at the University of South Dakota, said Giago's decision could alter the result of the November general election, which also features Republican John Thune, a former U.S. representative.
"It could influence the race big-time," Richardson said. "The obvious possibility is that he will take away votes that possibly would have gone to Tom Daschle."
The situation is similar to Ralph Nader running on the Green Party ticket in 2000 presidential race and as an independent in 2004, Richardson said. Nader was blamed for costing Vice President Al Gore the presidency by attracting voters who might have preferred Gore to George W. Bush.
"This is as is the case with Ralph Nader in the presidential contest. The only question is how many and how crucial they will be in a close election," he said.
Dick Wadhams, Thune's campaign manager, said Giago's decision is significant.
"This is clearly bad news for Tom Daschle," he said. "Anytime you have an election that appears to be as close as this one — any development like this is huge."
Libertarian Kurt Evans ran against Sen. Tim Johnson and Thune in 2002. Although he decided to drop out before the election, his name stayed on the ballot and he received 3,070 votes. Johnson defeated Thune by 528 votes.
Wadhams believes Giago's bid as an independent could split American Indian votes.
"Couple that with our strong efforts on the reservation and the fact that the dynamic of the reservation vote is different from the 2002 race and the 2004 race," he said.
Dan Pfeiffer, a spokesman for Daschle, doesn't believe Giago's switch will hurt Daschle.
"Sen. Daschle wants this campaign to include issues important to the Native American community and Giago's candidacy helps accomplish that," he said. "In his position as minority leader Sen. Daschle has been one of the primary voices putting Native American issues on the national agenda."
Giago said he had 2,000 signatures to qualify for the June 1 primary.
Because he now is in a new race, Giago must start over gathering names, according to Kea Warne, state election supervisor. He can get signers from Democrats, Republicans and independents.
Giago said it doesn't concern him if his candidacy hurts Daschle or Thune. "That is the chance you take," Giago said.