The newest phase in state Sen. Stan Adelstein’s war with Secretary of State Jason Gant has come over the ballot explanation packet.
While the high-profile ballot questions all have voluminous explanations from both sides, the same’s not true for the constitutional amendments.
All four of those are missing “con” statements by opponents, arguing to voters why they should reject the amendments.
Gant says he worked hard to try to find opponents:
Gant said he did not include the statements because none were submitted, even after he sought them through letters and social networking sites.
The law in question is SDCL 12-13-23:
The secretary of state shall distribute public information on any constitutional amendment, initiated, or referred measure submitted to the electors for approval. The secretary of state shall compile the public information by printing a statement in support of the constitutional amendment, initiated, or referred measure written by its proponents, if any can be identified, and a statement against the constitutional amendment, initiated, or referred measure written by its opponents, if any can be identified. The secretary of state is not responsible for the contents, objectivity, or accuracy of the statements written by the proponents and opponents. (Emphasis added)
So, the line, “if any can be identified” seems to be key. Gant says he made a good faith effort and couldn’t identify any opponents. Adelstein, who earlier got Attorney General Marty Jackley to investigate accusations against Gant, argues Gant didn’t make “a real effort to find opposing views.”
“He didn’t call me,” Adelstein said. “Why didn’t he call me? He couldn’t find me?”
Adelstein even suggests Gant’s actions “may, or may not be by arrangement with the Governor” who proposed one of the amendments, the balanced budget amendment.
Will Adelstein be able to successfully impeach Gant next year, as he says he intends to?
I suspect he doesn’t have the votes. But it could turn the South Dakota Senate upside down in January for at least a few days (if not longer) even if the measure ultimately falls short.
And even if Gant survives this, his bigger problem is probably the party convention in 2014, when delegates could either nominate him for a second term or pick someone else.
(Is there any South Dakota precedent for delegates dumping a non-term-limited constitutional officer at the convention?)
It’s too early to predict what will happen there, but at this point I’ll bet we’ll see a challenge of some sort. Maybe Gant will survive it, beat the Democrat and win another term. But if he wants one, he’d better hope his name doesn’t keep getting dragged into the press over controversies. And Stan Adelstein is going to try his hardest to deny the secretary of state a moment’s rest.