Democratic Senate candidate Rick Weiland meets with voters Tuesday at a “Take it Back” campaign stop in Huron. PHOTO BY ROGER LARSEN/PLAINSMAN
HURON — It may seem at first blush to be an insurmountable task, but history is on the side of everyday citizens taking their country back from big money interests, Democratic Senate candidate Rick Weiland says.
“I believe that we would have had better health care reform if the big insurance companies and the big drug companies weren’t at the table, telling members of Congress how they had to vote,” he said Tuesday in Huron.
The same goes for the farm bill and energy policy, Weiland said.
“We need to drive big money out of our political system and we can do it. We can do it,” he said.
If elected, he said one of the first things he will do is introduce a constitutional amendment to ban big money from the political process. He admits it will take time to get the job done, but he is also convinced it can happen.
Weiland has no primary election opposition. Three candidates are running on the Republican side — former Gov. Mike Rounds, state Sen. Larry Rhoden of Union Center and Sioux Falls physician Annette Bosworth.
Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., announced earlier this year he would not be seeking another term in 2014.
Weiland ran twice for the House, in 1996 and 2002. He has spent the last 10 years in the private sector. His family owns a restaurant in Sioux Falls. He is a former chief executive officer of the International Code Council, a nonprofit organization, and was state director of AARP for one year.
President Clinton appointed him regional director of the Federal Emergency Management Administration, a post he held for four years, working in South Dakota and five other states.
He said all six of the states were run by Republican governors “and I got along with every one of them.”
Lost in government today is the notion that the political parties can work together. It has led to an historically low approval rating of Congress of under 10 percent.
Weiland said he’s running for the Senate because part of government’s problem is that it has been taken over by big money. He calls his effort a “Take it Back” campaign.
He said his likely opponent next year — Rounds — has announced he plans to run a $9 million campaign. It means most of the money will come from out of state.
“To me, that’s a big flashing red sign, and that’s what’s happening to our government,” Weiland said. “It is being controlled by big money.”
To counter that, Weiland is asking people to send him $9 contributions. With the power of the Internet, he said he expects to get support around the country.
But he said he has told Rounds he will not “unilaterally disarm” and give the Senate seat away. If a deal isn’t forthcoming on big money contributions, Weiland said he will do what he needs to do to win the race.
At the same time big companies are stashing billions of dollars in overseas banks to avoid paying taxes and corporate attorneys are roaming the halls of the Capitol writing the tax code, kids here are being kept out of Head Start programs, he said.
“Now, you think your government is on the side of everyday citizens when something like that happens?” Weiland said. “Head Start is the best investment you can make.”
In the early 1900s, voters elected Republican Teddy Roosevelt, who curbed the power of big corporations through “trust busting.”
“He took our country back,” Weiland said. “The American people were fed up.”
Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt took the country back from the Wall Street speculators who had created the Great Depression.
People took to the streets in the turmoil of the 1960s to demand change, Weiland said.
History is on the side of everyday Americans, he said, and history can repeat itself.
For the complete article see the 07-31-2013 issue.
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