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May 08, 2013 09:59 PM

Weiland Talks About U.S. Senate Candidacy

Sioux Falls, SD

Flanked by family in his Sioux Falls home, Rick Weiland said he wants back into the political spotlight after more than a decade on the outside. Weiland, a Democrat, announced his candidacy for Sen. Tim Johnson’s (D) seat Wednesday.

“I'm focused on getting out there and talking to the people of our state, having the conversation about their concerns, cares. I really feel that Washington is broken right now,” he said.

Weiland is a Madison, SD-native, and a long-time Daschle staffer who ran unsuccessful Congressional campaigns in 1996 and 2002. He says he only decided weeks ago to run again. Apart from his broken government message, Weiland said senior programs like Medicare and Social Security will be focuses of his campaign.

“The American people like them,” he said. “They've given dignity to people in their retirement years. They've given people access to healthcare at a point in your life where it's hard to get when you get older.”

Weiland was a regional FEMA director, working with national officials in South Dakota following the Spencer Tornado in 1998. He has also worked for the South Dakota AARP and the International Code Council, which he stepped down from that last year.

“Well I suppose it's possible this will shake a few people loose. I think this is more than anything indicative about how excited Democrats are to hold this seat,” South Dakota Democratic Party Chairman Ben Nesselhuf said.

Nesselhuf said the potential for more than one strong candidate means a successful candidate in what's expected to be a high-profile, expensive race.

“More than in any other state {we’ve} developed the grass roots coordinated campaign structure that helps Democrats win,” he said.

Weiland said experience from his previous races will help him raise money and organize a campaign based on a message he thinks resonates with a constituency to keep a Democrat in office.

“They can't get anything done in the Senate. Everybody's fighting in the house, and people are feeling like they've lost their government,” he said.

Weiland said he made the decision to run after speaking with Tim Johnson’s son, Brendan Johnson, who was speculated to run, but has not announced his candidacy.

Former South Dakota Representative Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D) is expected to announce if she’ll run later this month. She says she encourages candidates to step up.

Former South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds (R) has already declared his intent to run. He says he continues his work to meet as many South Dakotans as possible.

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