No offense to Jeff Barth, the Minnehaha County commissioner who says he intends to run for the House, but Varilek is my prediction for the Democratic nominee in the 2012 U.S. congressional race in South Dakota.
Varilek vs. Noem.
That’s how I see it, unless SHS decides to run.
Then I see it as Noem vs. Herseth Sandlin, Part II.
Brendan Johnson? Very viable, and an obvious concern to the Republicans, but not quite yet.
For now, though, Tim Johnson staffer Matt Varilek of Sioux Falls seems like the most likely and perhaps most formidable Democratic challenger against Noem next year.
He’s young – mid-30s, I think – very smart and articulate, when he decides to speak. He handles some of Johnson’s thornier issues, including economic projects – and always stands quietly off to the side at Johnson events with a look that seems to reflect a sort of quiet confidence and competence.
He’s a South Dakota guy with a young, compelling family. And the Johnson connection would likely assure him plenty of campaign cash, as well as endorsements and campaign support from the senior senator that would engage Democrats and voters of other registrations who like TJ.
Varilek would bring intellectual muscle to campaign debates and extensive background on issues of substance, all of which will be needed against the formidable Noem.
I only see a couple of problems:
1) Varilek hasn’t said he’ll run, although my understanding is that he’s seriously considering it.
2) What about Stephanie? Last contact I had with the former congresswoman, she was feeding Zachary buttered noodles and peas. Why give that up for a campaign fight?
Oh, wait, there’s one more problem:
3) KW almost never gets it right on campaign predictions.