Scott Heidepriem Introduces Running Mate Ben Arndt at Rapid City Press Conference
Wednesday, 09 June 2010 05:26
Written by Eric Zimmer
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Scott Heidepriem flew to Rapid City Friday morning to introduce his running mate, Sioux Falls Republican Ben Arndt, to South Dakota voters. Heidepriem and Arndt took the opportunity to identify specific issues Arndt hopes to address if elected Lieutenant Governor, and also fielded a series of questions regarding Arndt's candidacy. The press conference was Heidepriem's first major appearance West River since McGovern Day in April.
Heidepriem described the bipartisan ticket as "historic," because it "certainly has not been done in South Dakota," although several Midwestern states have had similar two-party tickets in the past, he said.
Heidepriem also said he selected Arndt because of his business experience, and because he was the best candidate to come out of a long search for a qualified running mate. Heidepriem stressed that his campaign "did not limit the [selection] process in any way, except those required by law," and that his search for a running mate "considered a number of Republicans and Democrats" to fill the slot.
In South Dakota, Heidepriem said, "Partisan politics must take a backseat to problem solving," a pragmatism under which he believes Arndt will be exactly the type of Lieutenant Governor the state needs. Continuing that sentiment, Arndt said that both he and Heidepriem "believe . . . that the best public policy decisions are made from the political center," making their bipartisan ticket uniquely able to serve all South Dakotans, regardless of their political party.
Much of the press conference focused on the specific issues where Heidepriem believes Arndt will be most helpful as Lieutenant Governor. With a bachelor's degree from Yale University and an M.B.A. from Northwestern University, as well as fifteen years experience working at prominent businesses like Proctor and Gamble, Microsoft, and Sioux Falls-based Bell Incorporated, Heidepriem says Arndt has the skills to help South Dakota grow its way out of recession, expand existing businesses, and create new jobs.
"South Dakota businesses can and should compete on a global basis," Arndt said, before offering views on how best to improve the state's economy, stating that he believes there are "many good ideas out there already, and [South Dakota] needs the vision, the commitment, and the leadership to focus on economic development." By supporting entrepreneurs across the state by providing a skilled workforce and necessary resources, and by helping existing companies to expand, Arndt said, he believes South Dakota can improve, and his experience managing complex, multimillion dollar companies will help accomplish those goals.
Despite that business experience, the thirty-six year old Arndt has virtually no political experience one of several issues with his candidacy that were raised at last week's press conference. Democrats nationwide face a tough midterm election season, begging the question of whether the selection of Arndt, a registered Republican since 2005, wasn't merely an effort to pull a few extra moderate Republicans or registered independents to vote for the Heidepriem this November.
Compound that political climate with a state that historically elects a Republican Chief Executive - indeed, no Democrat has been elected Governor in South Dakota for thirty-six years - and Arndt appears to have been selected, one reporter mused, to achieve political balance.
Other questions raised at the press conference included Arndt's financial and familial ties to the Heidepriem campaign, the length of personal time and experience he has in South Dakota, and the historical success of bi-partisan administrations in Midwestern state governments.