State senator Jason Frerichs is in the news today after the New York Times quoted him calling Democratic Senate candidate Rick Weiland too liberal.
“I don’t see Rick coming across as being a moderate,” Mr. Frerichs continued, later adding, “There isn’t currently that type of clear dialogue happening on progressive versus moderate for a Democratic Party candidate. I think that dialogue needs to happen based on what we want to see the direction of this party be in our state because we certainly need to be more relevant.”
Frerichs is the Democratic leader in the state Senate, which makes him among the highest-ranked Democratic officials in the state given the party’s dearth of statewide office holders. He’s also a close ally of Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and a representative of the moderate wing of the state Democratic Party.
All of this makes me wonder whether Jason Frerichs has higher ambitions than the state Senate.
The short answer: he might.
"It’s something that I think about, but it’s not a priority right now for me," Frerichs said of a run for higher office. "It’s fun to kind of dream, but at the same time reality is here right now."
He said he’s had “some encouragement,” mostly but not exclusively from “other moderates — not even necessarily Democrats.”
Frerichs, 28, said that “just for fun” he checked to see whether he’d be 30 by January 2014, the constitutional requirement to serve in the U.S. Senate. He would by just over a month.
He downplayed the possibility that he’d challenge Weiland in the primary, but didn’t rule it out. Indeed, Frerichs said he hopes “there’s some options” for Democrats, though he also said he could be “very comfortable with Rick Weiland” as a candidate if a moderate challenger doesn’t emerge.