March 22nd, 2010
09:55 AM ET
5 years ago

Obama campaign adviser will not challenge fellow Democrat

 Steve Hildebrand will not challenge South Dakota Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in a primary.
Steve Hildebrand will not challenge South Dakota Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in a primary.

Washington (CNN) – Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin will avoid a primary fight for her South Dakota seat, sidestepping a potentially divisive Democratic battle with a top campaign official to President Obama.

Steve Hildebrand told CNN last week he was seriously considering challenging Herseth Sandlin if she voted against health care reform or if the vote was close.

Herseth Sandlin did vote against the bill, which passed late Sunday evening by a 219 to 212 margin. But Hildebrand said Monday morning that the margin of victory was wide enough, and that Democratic leaders could have called in more Democratic votes but chose to allow some lawmakers to oppose the measure because of "their own politics."

"I am not going to run," Hildebrand, Obama's deputy national campaign manager in 2008, said in an interview. "I made a commitment to myself and to others that if we lost the health care battle because of Stephanie Herseth's opposition that I would have challenged her in the primary. Even though she voted no, it passed. I will continue to encourage her to support progressive legislation, and I will encourage others to use their voice loudly in South Dakota to move her votes into the Democratic column."

Hildebrand, a liberal, is often at odds politically with Herseth Sandlin, a leader in the conservative "Blue Dog" coalition.

Hildebrand said he received strong support for a potential bid from within his state as well as Democrats nationwide. A White House official did contact him, Hildebrand said, but only to ask "was I serious."

soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. LacrosseMom

    Too bad. Every Blue-dog must be challenged.

    March 22, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  2. alphonso

    she vote her state i might not agree wit her.but she's a hell of alot better then senator john thune

    March 22, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  3. stop the nonsense

    Mr Hildebrand has shown to be no better than his Republican counterparts when he threatens a sitting representitive with retalliation for a vote.
    The fact that he rescinded his threat does not change how sad the state of our politicians have become.

    March 22, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  4. Kevin in Ohio

    A liberal doesn't have a prayer in South Dakota, so is this really news? Herseth-Sandlin stands a better chance than most democrats to be this state's at-large representative, but my guess is that the people of South Dakota will wake up and vote in a true conservative, instead of taking the risk of potentially providing another pawn to Pelosi.

    March 22, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  5. Right Leaning Independent

    Another Bully Dem trying to influence a vote when in fact he never intended to run! Go ahead and run Hildebrand! You are a loser and would have lost anyway!

    March 22, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  6. Dar

    Steph, you got my cash coming sister. Thank you for having more balls than most of your party members.
    Hillebrand, your a joke, anyone affiliated with Odumbo is done. You knew that and .......well you know that. HAAAAAAA

    2010/2012 REAL Change is coming

    March 22, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  7. az12345

    Democratic leaders "chose to allow some lawmakers to oppose the measure because of their own politics?" Obviously this statement reinforces the fact that we have reached the point where our lawmakers now report directly to their democratic leaders rather than to their constituents?

    March 22, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  8. T'SAH from Virginia

    If Hildebrand runs – he will win!! He should think twice about it and run!!! The Coffee Party would be behind him and we will silently get him elected... "Silence is GOLDEN – It's about COFFEE – not tea – YOU and ME!!!

    March 22, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  9. Wheres Waldo,I mean Elrushbo?

    These blue dogs will be called kennel dogs soon.They were nothing more than plants.

    March 22, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  10. Chris in South Dakota

    Steve, you obviously don't know South Dakotans too well. We're an independent bunch that doesn't want our Congresswoman always voting with the Dems. Good thing you chose not to run because she would have beaten you easily.

    March 22, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |