The past two days, state Rep. Stace Nelson (a potential “conservative alternative” U.S. Senate candidate to former Gov. Mike Rounds) has had a fascinating debate on Twitter with Jason Glodt, a senior member of Rounds’ campaign team, about Rounds’ record.
I’ve compiled the exchange, which you can read after the jump:
There was some tumult in Aberdeen today, as the local offices of South Dakota’s congressional delegation all received suspicious packages.
Hazmat teams were called in as the buildings were evacuated.
Late this afternoon, word came that at least two of those suspicious packages contained not ricin or anthrax but tea bags — a harmless, if politically symbolic item.
Read the full story here. It’s unclear who sent the packages, and indeed if we’ll ever know — the investigation could stop here or continue.
This morning, Rep. Kristi Noem told reporters she hasn’t “spent a lot of time thinking about a timetable” for making a decision about running for Senate and would “deal with politics a little bit later.”
Apparently “a little bit later” meant “that afternoon.”
A few hours after her morning interview, Noem told The Hill that she is “watching the (Senate) race,” has “had some conversations with organizations” about a Senate run. She even gave a timetable:
“We haven’t made up our minds on what we’re going to do at all, and probably won’t for several months yet,” Noem said.
UPDATE: I’m told Noem’s comments to The Hill were actually made Wednesday, though the article was published today.
Read the new, more forthright comments from Noem here.
Rep. Kristi Noem had some news to share.
“I also wanted to make an announcement about something new today I’m going to be doing,” Noem told reporters dialed in to her weekly conference call with the South Dakota media.
But the announcement was that she would be holding an ag-focused conference call with South Dakota citizens next week (at the ungodly hour of 6 a.m.).
The announcement a lot of people are waiting for Noem to make — whether she will run for U.S. Senate — will have to wait for another day.
“I’m still focused on doing the job I was elected to do,” Noem said when asked about the Senate. “With the farm bill going on right now I’m focused on that. So we’ll have to deal with politics a little bit later.”
That’s basically the same answer Noem has given for months to this question. It hasn’t changed despite some Noem advisers going further and confirming her interest in the race to the media.
News broke this morning that a Sioux Falls store sold a metaphorically golden lottery ticket worth $1 million (minus taxes).
Whenever a local person wins the lottery, or when the PowerBall jackpot gets up into the stratosphere, a peculiar but predictable kind of mass mania tends to take over. People speculate longingly about what they would do if a million dollars or more dropped into their lap. Otherwise sensible and sober individuals go out and buy lottery tickets — sometimes a lot of them — driving the jackpot higher and higher in a feedback loop until someone, finally, cashes in on the big bucks.
This frenzy is no accident, of course. Lotteries are designed to excite our baser emotions, to fire up our greed until it overpowers our good sense.
That’s why it works. Buying a lottery tickets makes no sense if you make a decision based on good sense.
The math is pretty basic probability. The “expected value” of a gamble is based on the total jackpot times your chance of winning. So if you buy one of 10 raffle tickets, your odds of winning are one in ten. If the prize is $100, that’s your payout. The expected value of one raffle ticket is (1/10)*$100, or $10. If the ticket costs $10, then you’ll break even — imagine if you bought every single ticket, you’d spend $100, and win $100 back, for zero change.
But if each ticket cost $11, then the expected payout is below the cost of the ticket, and becomes a bad bet (so long as your chief goal is making money).
Lotteries, of course, like video lottery and casino games, are designed to have a negative payout. That’s how the governments running them make money — they’re not doing this as a charity. A few people will win big, and everyone else is out their money.
(Note: When the Powerball jackpot gets really large, the expected value can actually exceed the cost of the ticket — if you look at the pre-tax jackpot. Once you reduce the payout to account for taxes and the chances that you’ll split it with other people, the payout drops back to negative. It’s less stupid to buy a ticket for the big jackpots than it is for smaller jackpots. But it’s still stupid.)
That’s not even accounting for the fact that winning the lottery often ends up being a disaster for these “lucky” gamblers. A huge percentage of them end up going bankrupt, squandering their newfound largess. Of course, you’d be different. You’d break the trend.
There’s only one way buying a lottery ticket makes sense: if you don’t need the money and don’t care about winning. If you view the lottery ticket as a form of entertainment rather than a financial investment — $2 spent for the ephemeral pleasures of participating in Lottery Fever, $2 that you might as well have put toward an ice cream cone, a cup of coffee or a song on iTunes — then knock yourself out. Even I will sometimes get in on an office pool when the jackpot gets big. I can spare a couple bucks as the cost of entry into a social ritual with my coworkers. If I were broke, though, I’d pass.
Buying one lottery ticket will hardly hurt, of course. It’s the people who play the lottery every week who are flushing serious money down the drain over time.
Sadly, millions of Americans take part in this fool’s game every year. And many or most of them probably aren’t going into it with clear heads. Congrats to the winners — 28 coworkers from Beal Distributing, who look like they’ll get about $26,000 each after taxes — but they’re the anomaly, not the rule.
(And if this little social ritual were to pay off for me with a jackpot? I’d take my winnings as a yearly payout, not the lump sum. Less money up front means less pressure to squander it. The taxman takes a smaller percentage of my money. And even the lesser payout of the annuity would still be more than enough to resolve my financial pressures and let me pursue whatever dreams I desired, while still saving up plenty for later in life.)
Rep. Kristi Noem has stayed quiet lately about the U.S. Senate race, with intrigue focusing on the Democratic side of things. But in the past week we’ve gotten two indications that the GOP congresswoman still could very well challenge Mike Rounds in a primary.
First came some anonymous quotes from The Hill last week, after Rick Weiland declared his candidacy but before Stephanie Herseth Sandlin opted out.
And Weiland’s entrance into the South Dakota race makes it more likely that Republicans will face a potentially bruising primary as well. Conservative Republicans are frustrated with Rounds’s record and have been looking for a challenger, though none has yet emerged.
But a source familiar with Rep. Kristi Noem’s (R) thinking said the news that Democrats may face a contested primary “will certainly pique” the Tea Party favorite’s interest in the race.
“This could potentially make our path to a run for Senate easier,” the source said.
The source added that Rounds’s paltry first-quarter fundraising haul — she raised about $184,000 — had also increased Noem’s interest in the race, and she’s expected to have a decision made on her potential run soon after Labor Day.
Just a few minutes ago, Roll Call published an on-the-record quote from Justin Brasell, a respected GOP consultant who worked for Sen. John Thune for many years and is now working with Noem:
Rep. Kristi Noem, who defeated Herseth Sandlin in 2010, is still “taking a serious look” at the race, her consultant Justin Brasell said.
“Taking a serious look” is a lot further than Noem has gone, with her carefully phrased refusal to rule out a candidacy and indication that she would revisit the issue this summer.
South Dakota may not see a heavyweight Democratic primary this cycle, but a clash of Republican titans could still materialize.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike Rounds will travel to Israel this month, his campaign confirmed today.
Stan Adelstein, a Jewish state senator and wealthy businessman who backed Rounds’ gubernatorial campaigns, wrote on his blog that Rounds will have an “intense six-day briefing” in Israel.
“He will have an in-depth confidential discussion with three Israeli generals concerning the military situation. In addition, he will be meeting with business leaders, press individuals, and members of both parties of the Israeli Knesset,” Adelstein wrote.
Rounds aide Jason Glodt didn’t have additional details about the trip, which is on Rounds’ initiative rather than part of a group journey. The former governor was traveling Wednesday and wasn’t immediately available to discuss the trip.
With his political experience being in the South Dakota statehouse, Rounds has minimal foreign policy experience. This trip will provide an international perspective as he runs for the U.S. Senate where he’ll be expected to weigh in on foreign affairs.
Support for Israel is also an increasingly important position among GOP primary voters.
Matt Varilek, the Tim Johnson aide who ran for Congress in 2012, has been appointed to a post with the federal Small Business Administration.
Varilek will be the regional administration for SBA’s Region 8 — a six-state region including South Dakota. It’s one of 10 regions for the federal agency.
As a Johnson aide, Varilek focused on economic development.
He resigned from Johnson’s staff in late 2011 to challenge Rep. Kristi Noem for Congress, and handily won the Democratic primary against Minnehaha County Commissioner Jeff Barth. But Noem beat him handily, 57.5 percent to 42.5 percent.
Johnson announced Varilek’s appointment in a news release and praised his “private sector experience and strong roots in the region.”
Fresh off her decision to not seek the U.S. Senate, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin is meeting over the lunch hour today with the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Network for one of their recurring “A Seat At The Table” events.
The events connect business leaders with members of the Young Professionals, and the description says Herseth Sandlin will be focused on sharing “her expertise on working in the private sector.”
The Chamber and Herseth Sandlin’s office at Raven declined my request to attend the luncheon.
YPN events are “typically not open to the media,” said Lesa Jarding, the YPN manager at the Chamber. “I did check with Stephanie’s office, and she’s okay with keeping it with YPN members only.”
Gov. Dennis Daugaard just declared Friday to be “Al Neuharth Day” in South Dakota, in honor of the Eureka native and USA Today founder.
Neuharth, 89, died April 19. The University of South Dakota is hosting a public tribute to Neuharth on Friday starting at 10 a.m.
“From Eureka to USD to USA Today, Al Neuharth was a great South Dakotan who revolutionized the media industry,” Daugaard said in a press release. “Even as he became one of the nation’s top media figures, he never forgot his roots, and was a generous supporter and frequent visitor to Eureka and to the university.”
On a more personal note, in high school a scholarship from Neuharth’s Freedom Forum to attend a week-long journalism seminar in D.C. was instrumental in persuading me to pursue journalism as a career. If it wasn’t for him maybe I’d be an attorney today. You can decide whether or not society is better off for this.