Tim Johnson’s decision not to seek re-election must certainly go against every fiber of his being; after all there’s never been an election he hasn’t won. He clearly has enjoyed his time in congress and, for the most part, South Dakotans have appreciated his efforts on their behalf in dealing with the political quagmire that is Washington D.C.
Tim’s career and mine covered pretty much the same time period; from the mid 70’s up until 2006 and I wound up interviewing him more times than I can count. He was always accommodating and, I believe, genuinely dedicated to serving all his constituents; no small feat when most of those constituents belong to the other party. But there were times, lots of times, when he simply didn’t want to be diverted with media questions that deviated too far from his well rehearsed press releases. I’d often do that and could see him bristle a bit. It really ticked off his aides who preferred we would stick to the script. Tim Johnson, though, never wavered from his agenda or allowed himself to be compromised by some reporter back home. My only real issue with those conversations is that Tim, like most politicians, used the word “ought” a lot in his responses..such as, we ought to be doing more to help South Dakota farmers. We ought to make sure social security is sound for our seniors etc. Lots of promise-free rhetoric.
I always wished that instead of saying we “ought”..he’d just once say, “Doug, I ‘AM’ going to introduce legislation to achieve that end and will be leaning hard on my fellow senators to get it passed.”
Has Tim Johnson been good for South Dakota? Well, his political record on all the issues is easy as pie to find on the internet..check for yourself. But I don’t think anyone can question the quality of his character both in his personal and professional life..especially in these last few years as he has defiantly confronted both prostate cancer and the brain bleed that left him with considerable limitations.
I join with thousands of other South Dakotans in saying, “Thanks, Tim.” Now, will you tell us straight up, is your son, Brendan going to try keep the senate seat in the family? (I don’t know how to put that little smiley face with a wink icon here but would if I could.)
I also found former Senator Jim Abourezk’s comments on Johnson’s decision rather interesting. Abourezk, who chose not to seek re-election to the senate in 1978 told Keloland’s Don Jorgenson that the reason for his decision was he wanted to spend more time with his family. But, in actuality, there was a little more to it than that. Abourezk’s folks came here from Lebanon and, although James was born and raised in South Dakota, he has never let anybody forget his Arab roots..including and especially those members of congress who took exception to his constant tirades against Israel and claims that members of congress were too scared and intimidated by Zionists to challenge U.S. Mideast foreign policy. (The same song he continues to sing to this day even more zealously) I remember well, Hemmingsen and me watching the TV monitor in the newsroom when Abourezk gave this response on national television as to why he wasn’t running; “I can’t wait to get out of this chicken sh-t outfit” he said.
Another factor in Abourezk’s decision might have been polls that showed him well behind a dashing young republican named Larry Pressler who had an eye on his job.
Last..and certainly least. The Sioux Falls Fighting Pheasants local baseball team are the Canaries again. I remember questioning the wisdom of the name change three years ago and now the new boss of the team, Tom Garrity, has yielded to community pressure and brought the yellow birds back.
It’s nice to respect and appreciate Canary history but I’m afraid a name change isn’t the main reason for a lack of butts in the bleachers.
I think it has more to do with fielding teams that can win..even rounding up some former big leaguers who may have lost a step but still have the desire to play. Remember how we went out to see guys like Pedro Guraro, Steve Howe, Pat Mahomes, Kim Batiste and others?
I am glad about one thing, though. I can now continue to wear my old Sioux Falls Canaries baseball cap without having to answer a lot of questions.
UPDATE: My pal and longtime Canaries owner, Gary Weckwerth makes a good point in the comments below. So how about this?
Did you used to go to Canaries/Pheasants games but don’t so much anymore?
Why? Did the name change stop you from attending games?
What should the organization do to fill up the stands?
I really hope the public responds to whatever effort the Canaries organization puts forth. The stadium is top notch and there’s nothing like a warm summer night at the ballpark with peanuts and a cold one.