Not that my opinion means much on this matter but since just about everyone else has chimed in, some much more than others, I figured I would throw my thoughts out there.
Steve Jarding's announcement that Senator Tim Johnson would not be participating in any debates against opponent Joel Dykstra has caused quite a stir. Comments ranging from how can he represent us if he can't speak well? To we deserve a debate, or he lied to us have been prevalent since the end of the news cycle Friday evening announcement.
The question to be answered then is can he represent South Dakota despite not debating or even being able to debate effectively as is the implication from this announcement? My observations:
- Since returning to work last August he has kept his committee assignments and hasn't missed a vote in the Senate (unlike John McCain).
- Organizations that monitor these things rate Senator Johnson as the most Conservative Democrat in the Senate.
- Does the average non-political blog reading die hard political junky South Dakotan even know where Joel Dykstra stands on the issues? 2 of the 3 voters in my house would say no.
So we have a Senator from the hard working blood red state of South Dakota that goes to work every day and votes conservative more than any Democrat with at least some seniority (re:power) in the Senate. He is facing a questionable candidate that doesn't seem to want to raise money and who appears to be afraid to go on the offensive even after Johnson puts the health question on the table. And now that Johnson will not be debating him, Dykstra will have almost no opportunity to gain any name recognition that a successful debate would have given him and will be left with limited late election season ad buys and hand shaking tours.
If the Republican's had a stronger candidate things might have been different so I would say that not debating, while not what some South Dakotan's want from Johnson, will likely not lead to much other than maybe a 15-20 point win instead of a 30 point win in November. He has too much money, too much name recognition, and very little competition.