October 8th, 2010
08:02 AM ET
12 years ago

CNN 100: Toss up in South Dakota

Editor's Note: In the final 100 days before Election Day, CNN has been profiling one race at random each day from among the nation's top 100 House races, which we've dubbed "The CNN 100." Read the full list here. Today's featured district is:
South Dakota At-Large – Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D) is seeking a 4th full term
Primary: June 8, 2010
Location: All of South Dakota
Days until the election: 25

Democrat Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin has been touting her independent streak, but even her votes against some of her party's major legislative efforts might not be enough to fend off her Republican challenger this November.

Filed under: 2010 • CNN 100 • South Dakota • Stephanie Herseth Sandlin
March 31st, 2010
06:55 PM ET
13 years ago

House Democrat avoids a primary ... again

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/31/art.hersethsandlin.cnn.jpg caption="Stephanie Herseth Sandlin has avoided a primary challenger for the second time."](CNN) – Last week, all systems were go for Kevin Weiland to challenge fellow South Dakota Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in the Democratic primary.

He put out a statement about his intentions and even launched a campaign Web site. But on Wednesday, Weilend decided to forgo a campaign to unseat the congresswoman.

It was the second time this month that Herseth Sandlin has avoided a primary challenger motivated, in part, by her opposition to President Obama's health care reform efforts.

Steve Hildebrand, a top campaign strategist for Obama, was the first person to threaten a challenge. He decided against it after the health care legislation was approved by Congress, and Hildebrand endorsed Weiland's challenge to Herseth Sandlin.


March 24th, 2010
04:39 PM ET
13 years ago

Health care vote triggers Democratic primary

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/24/art.hersethsandlin.cnn.jpg caption="Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin will be challenged in the Democratic primary."]Washington (CNN) – A South Dakota doctor will challenge Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in the Democratic primary, a close friend tells CNN.

Herseth Sandlin had avoided a primary challenge when former Obama campaign official Steve Hildebrand decided not to run against her, which he said he seriously considered because of her vote against the Democratic health care reform bill. She was one of 34 House Democrats who voted against the legislation on Sunday.

Hildebrand, in an email to allies this afternoon, will now endorse Kevin Weiland, a doctor from Rapid City.


Filed under: 2010 • South Dakota • Stephanie Herseth Sandlin
March 22nd, 2010
09:55 AM ET
13 years ago

Obama campaign adviser will not challenge fellow Democrat

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/22/art.hildebrand3.hil.jpg caption =" 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."

March 16th, 2010
01:15 PM ET
13 years ago

Obama campaign guru eyes House seat

Washington (CNN) - Senior Obama campaign official Steve Hildebrand is eyeing a Democratic primary challenge to South Dakota Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, a decision he said hinges largely on whether she votes against health care reform later this week.

Hildebrand, deputy national campaign manager for Obama's presidential campaign, told CNN in an exclusive interview that he has been frustrated with Herseth Sandlin's voting record for some time, especially her decision to oppose the House health care reform bill in November. The House is expected to vote again on the issue later this week and a Herseth Sandlin spokesperson has said she plans to vote no again.

"I want to see how she votes on health care," Hildebrand said. "If the vote is very, very close and we lose it or come close to losing it, I will take a serious look at challenging her."

"She is on the wrong side of history," he added.

A Herseth Sandlin spokesman declined to comment on the potential primary challenge.

Hildebrand said he has not spoken to the White House about a potential run, nor has he reached out to Sen. Tim Johnson, D-South Dakota, or former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota. Hildebrand, a close political advisor to Johnson and Daschle, said if he decides to run he will have a "conversation with them."