Hotly contested Congressional race means that every vote counts and is important to future

Charles Maricle

Charles Maricle

The election on November 4 gives South Dakota voters some interesting choices. With this year being an off year for a presidential election, the votes conceivably have more weight for South Dakota.

Three races are shaping up in the state. The lone House of Representatives seat, one of the two Senate seats, and the governor’s position are available. In only one, the Senate spot, is the incumbent running for re-election.

Both of the federal elections have crucial implications. All 50 states have elections, but only a handful have slightly contested elections this year, according to Dr. Gary Aguiar, assistant professor of political science. Therefore, the South Dakota election is important and one of many that could change the outlook in Washington.

The Senate elections across the country will not severely alter the body’s landscape. Currently, the Democrats have 50 members, Republicans have 49 and there is one Independent. The races for a Senate seat are important in several regards. The most important is the majority leader, who holds the power of determining what the issues are in the Senate.

The House election is the more interesting race. The House has 222 Republicans, 211 Democrats and two Independents.

“The person elected to the House won’t have much seniority but that person is likely to determine which is the majority party and that makes a whole lot of difference as to what gets through the House,” Aguiar said.

Seniority matters most in the Senate. Incumbents hold that advantage over other candidates. Seniority gives the candidate the pick of committees and the opportunity to become a committee chairman.

Issues in both elections are similar. Local interests, such as agriculture in South Dakota, are always an election issues.

“One thing, especially in South Dakota, is to what extent can a candidate bring federal dollars and federal programs to the state. What kind of clout do they have to bring the money to the state that another candidate may not have?,” Aguiar said.

National issues for South Dakota deal more with benefits for veterans and the military. National security is important but not as important as in places like New York and Washington. Something that has come up and likely will continue to come up is the money spent on campaigns.

In the Senate race, the possibility for expenditures has been predicted at $14 million between Sen.Tim Johnson and Rep. John Thune. This election could see the most money spent in South Dakota history.

“Obviously, the problem is who’s giving that money and are they having a disproportionate influence on the policy making process?” Aguiar said.

The concern is when outside interests spend a great deal of money and try to affect the political processes.

Due to the fact that the Congressional race is so close, this vote is important. The South Dakota vote for president is a bit more controversial.

“Presidential elections, we don’t have as much of an influence as we might have because we are so reliably in one camp, and we’re so small,” Aguiar said.

Both Congressional elections matter more because they could determine which is the majority party.

No matter what the election results are, the next months will prove to be exciting and entertaining.