WHAT THE FUCK?!?
You mean this nation may get stuck with Dasshole for another term because of PRAIRIE DOGS?
Prairie dog may decide Senate race
By Blaine Harden, The Washington Post
October 10, 2004
INTERIOR, S.D. Who hates prairie dogs the most? The answer to that Great Plains political question may swing the tight Senate race in South Dakota, determine the fate of the Senate's top Democrat and perhaps even decide which party will control the narrowly divided Senate after next month's election.
To cover his right flank in this conservative state, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle has moved on several fronts this year to demonstrate his profound antipathy toward the rodent, which easterners often describe as cute but which generations of rural South Dakotans have shot, poisoned and cussed as a no-good varmint.
He has pressured the Interior Department to drop the black-tailed prairie dog as a candidate for protection as a threatened species, he supports a controversial plan for them to be poisoned next week on federal land, and he says they are "threatening the quality of life in western South Dakota."
Still, his Republican challenger, John Thune, who two years ago came within 524 votes of winning a Senate seat here, claims that Daschle is a "Johnny-come-lately" when it comes to seeing prairie dogs as a menace to South Dakota values.
"They are a symbol for everything that is bad about how the government takes care of its lands," Thune said, adding that Daschle became anti-prairie dog only "after he was boxed into a political corner."
Daschle disagrees, saying, "John is simply wrong. I have been working on behalf of ranchers on this issue for years."
There is a third party in this dogfight: It's the federally protected black-footed ferret, often described as the rarest, most endangered mammal in North America. As much as South Dakota politicians love to hate prairie dogs, the ferrets love to eat them.
Prairie dogs, indeed, are virtually the only creatures that black-footed ferrets do eat. Without lots of prairie dogs, biologists say, ferrets go extinct. And to the extreme annoyance of local ranchers and the politicians who are desperately seeking their vote, the one place in North America where black-footed ferrets are thriving as they dine on an expanding population of prairie dogs is here in western South Dakota, in the Conata Basin of the Buffalo Gap National Grassland.
The Forest Service, which manages the grassland for grazing, hunting and wildlife conservation, banned shooting and poisoning of prairie dogs here in the mid-1990s. It was part of a costly plan to establish a self-sustaining population of wild ferrets and it has been spectacularly successful. Nowhere else, federal officials say, is the black-footed ferret thriving in its ancient prairie habitat.
That success, though, has been accompanied by a prairie dog land grab that infuriates local ranchers. Two years ago, prairie dogs covered about 13,000 acres of federal land in the Conata Basin, according to the Forest Service. Now, they occupy nearly 23,000 acres and are spilling over onto private ranch land.
Having weathered seven years of severe drought that has shrunk their herds and slashed their incomes, ranchers have noisily complained that federal bureaucrats give preference to varmints over hardworking ranch families, who are watching the prairie dogs destroy the grass intended for their cattle.
"Prairie dogs are moving toward our land. It is kind of like a forest fire coming at you," said Charles Kruze, a third-generation rancher and leader of a local anti-prairie-dog coalition.
In this election year, Kruze and other ranchers have been able to bend the ear of Daschle and Thune, as well as Bush administration officials in Washington and nearly every politician in South Dakota. The politicians and officials have all came out in support of the plan to poison prairie dogs on a buffer of federal grassland in the Conata Basin that borders private ranchland.
There is precedent in the Plains states to suggest that even well-known politicians risk electoral oblivion, if they neglect populist sentiments regarding local critters. Steve Largent, the former professional football star and high-profile Republican House member from Oklahoma, narrowly lost the governor's race in that state in 2002, at least in part because he supported a proposed ban on cockfighting that outraged rural Oklahomans. They flocked to the polls in higher than normal numbers and made Largent pay for his chicken-loving ways.
Here in southwest South Dakota, two federal officials say that poisoning prairie dogs on federal land may set back ferret recovery. They have been ordered, however, not to say so publicly. "It is election-year craziness," one of them said.
Seems that Sen. Dashole is fighting for his political life. To me he's lost touch with his constitutents back home, and align himself with the safe dems from Calif, which of course he's not safe.
Daschle Faces Tight Race for Survival
Sunday, October 17, 2004
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Thousands of miles from Washington, D.C., on the plains of South Dakota, three-term Sen. Tom Daschle (search) — the Senate's top Democrat — is facing the prospect of his last term.
The latest poll put out by Rasmussen Reports that Daschle and former Rep. John Thune (search) are tied with 49 percent support each among likely voters.
"It's going to come down to who catches the wind. It's going to be that close," said Thune, Daschle's Republican challenger.
Since Republicans hope to keep control of the Senate and the minority leader is seen as vulnerable, South Dakotans won't be the only ones paying attention.
With so many square miles of farmland and so few people, South Dakota only has 350,000 likely voters. But many political organizations on both sides of the aisle see this Senate race as second only to the presidential election.
"It is very ironic that, as small a state as it is, that there's this much national attention," Daschle said.
In the 2002 election, South Dakota had the second-highest voter turnout in the country. This year's Democratic presidential primary set a new record for turnout: 61.3 percent. (Since President Bush was the only Republican candidate, the state's GOP primary was canceled.)
Thune and Daschle, who have won and lost elections by mere hundreds of votes, know how crucial a shake of the hand can be.
Click on the video box near the top of this story to watch a report by FOX News' Carol McKinley.
I also read that between the 2 candidates they have spent $30 Million , or $85 per vote
John Thune has been endorsed by NRA/ILA for his pro-gun support.
Fuck campaigning this guy should personally go out and shoot these things then make a campaign commercial about it.
I'm dead serious too, give the people what they want.
Please support Thune! Daschle is a truly rotten man, his character is even worse than Kerry's. He's as bad as Kennedy and really out of step with his state.