Well, okay, Johnny hasn’t risen from the dead to run for Senate in South Dakota. But the Democratic candidate in the race, Rick Weiland (who, full disclosure, is a friend for whose campaign I do some consulting), is sounding a little like the Man in Black in this remarkable new video his campaign just put out
The reason I said this is a remarkable video is that it so goes against a traditional DC consultant-driven campaign strategy. Having a video of a candidate singing a folksy country song is the opposite of what you expect a Senate candidate to do these days. In this poll-driven, focus-group-parsed, 30-second-TV-ad political culture we live in, for a candidate to do a video like this shows just how remarkable a candidate — and a person — Rick Weiland is. He is a genuine grassroots guy, willing to take chances and have fun and be unconventional, and we sure do need more of that in the politics of 2014.
The video riffs off the fact that Rick has already visited every single town in South Dakota, and is starting to go back to a lot of them for at least one more go-around. By sending a loud populist message of hard work and of not being in anyone’s pocket, he makes a strong play for the rural vote. It is Prairie Populism 101, the same kind of grassroots prairie populism that won elections for Paul Wellstone, Tom Harkin, Brian Schweitzer, Jon Tester, Heidi Heitcamp, and about 2/3 of the South Dakota Senate races of the past 50 years.