Madison native Weiland announces for Senate race
By CHUCK CLEMENT, Staff Reporter
For South Dakotans interested in which Democrat will run for Sen. Tim Johnson's congressional seat in 2014, Brendan Johnson is out and Rick Weiland is in.|
Weiland, a Madison native, announced on Wednesday that he wants to retain the U.S. Senate seat for Democrats after Tim Johnson retires from Congress.
Although Weiland's announcement was official, he plans to make a more formal declaration in the near future. Ryan Casey, the chairman of the Lincoln County Democrats, made one of the early announcements concerning Weiland's bid by sending out an e-mail Wednesday.
Weiland, 54, said that he had made certain that Brendan Johnson wasn't running for his father's Senate seat before jumping into the fray. He also sat down with his family to discuss the idea of starting a new political campaign.
"I wanted to make certain that running is something that they can support," Weiland said. "I'm not getting into this just for the sake of campaigning for some office.
``I said it yesterday and I really do believe it, Washington is broken. The Senate is split in half and the House is completely unworkable."
Weiland graduated from Madison High School in 1976, and his mother Terry Weiland and brother Ted both continue to make Madison their home. His wife Stacy also has roots in Madison as a member of the Newcomb family.
Weiland's work in politics started as a staff member for Sen. Tom Daschle, including helping Daschle's first Senate campaign in 1986. He later served as Daschle's state director.
Weiland said that he had spoken to his old boss, and Daschle had offered his support.
"We have a friendship on both professional and personal levels," Weiland said. "When we spoke about this campaign, he was very encouraging and very supportive."
Weiland ran for South Dakota's lone seat in the U.S. House in 1996, when then-Rep. Tim Johnson ran and won a Senate race. Republican John Thune, currently South Dakota's junior senator, defeated Weiland in that House race by a 58-37 percent margin. Two independent candidates also ran in the 1996 House election.
During the Clinton administration, Weiland was appointed regional director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Denver. He ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for U.S. House in 2002, a nomination that was won by Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.
In 2003, Weiland joined the International Code Council, a nonprofit organization that develops construction codes for commercial and residential buildings. He initially served as ICC's chief operating officer and then Weiland was promoted to chief executive officer in 2006. He left his position with the nonprofit company in September 2012.
Since last summer, Weiland said he has helped operate the family restaurant in Sioux Falls.
According to Weiland, one reason for his entry into the Senate race is a reluctance to "sit back on the sidelines and let the government implode."
"This is a discussion about fairness; we've been given false choices about how we need to pay off the national debt," Weiland said. "We're being told that we need to cut Social Security, cut college loan supports, cut the Head Start program...We've been asked for austerity that could lead to the ruin of our middle-class base and damage any expansion to the economy."
©Madison Daily Leader 2013
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