It gets really cold in South Dakota.
If you ever need confirmation of that, just tell people in central Oklahoma that you are moving here. That is the one thing everyone in Oklahoma knows about South Dakota. I can't wait to find out what one thing people here know about Oklahoma.
If you read the Journal, you will get to know me pretty quickly. I'm a Republican and I consider myself a conservative. As the only man in my family who isn't an ordained Southern Baptist minister, that is especially true on social issues. I'm not ordained, but I have taught classes in my churches for more than two decades.
I've worked on Democratic and Republican political campaigns. I'm truly a moderate with a social conservative streak.
I'm not a fan of President Donald Trump. No, I didn't vote for Hillary Clinton, either.
I never let my personal feelings interfere with facts.
Despite my disagreements with the President, I appreciated Trump's appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. I think people on both sides will appreciate Gorsuch in 20 years. I wasn't a big fan of Brett Kavanaugh. His amazing disappearing personal debt and temperament in congressional hearings were both troublesome.
I'm a big fan of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He is the first secretary of state to give me his personal cell phone number. I'm sure it is disconnected in lieu of a far more secure model now, but Pompeo was there for me when I needed him. When he was a member of Congress from Kansas, Pompeo was my representative. I had become familiar with Pompeo during his campaigns, but when I was president of the Augusta, Kansas, Chamber of Commerce, our director embezzled enough money that I got to be the subject of interviews instead of the one conducting them. I prefer to hold the notebook over being grilled.
After he saw the reports, Pompeo called me from the floor of the House of Representatives to tell me he would help if I ever needed him. A few months later I took him up on the offer, and he was our keynote speaker at the annual banquet. He really helped us get through a tough time. You won't agree with everything he does, but I can assure you that he is a good man and a good friend.
I will never be certain, but there is a chance that Pompeo was a good enough friend to be one of the 48 people who voted for me for president in 2012. That's right. I was an official write-in candidate for president in Kansas.
I had a running mate who also happened to be a great driver for tornado chasing. After chasing a huge tornado 80 miles across south-central Kansas, I knew Todd Natvig was the best running mate for me. I needed someone to do something a little crazy. He had proven himself on that front.
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Our run wasn't really for president. We ran a 12-week campaign against the Electoral College. As South Dakota residents, you probably don't hate the Electoral College. After all, your vote is worth the same as about twice as much as a vote in California, Texas or New York. But the consistency with which Republicans win South Dakota's three votes means that those oversized votes don't come with an oversized voice. Your vote is worth two California votes, but the national campaigns still don't have to come here. They don't buy ads. They know the Republican candidate will win.
That's not a problem politically, but it does limit South Dakota's ability to influence national debates.
My campaign against the Electoral College came well before Clinton won the popular vote. I’m not worried about giving a party an advantage. I want to see every voter have a voice and a vote, even if they are in a red state like South Dakota, Kansas or Oklahoma, or a blue state like California or New York. A dozen states whose votes could go either way shouldn’t get to pick the leader of the free world every four years.
A century before I ran for president, South Dakota voted not to award electoral votes to Democrats or Republicans. South Dakotans voted for Teddy Roosevelt, who ran with the Progressive Party. It's a good thing the state voted for Roosevelt since his likeness would soon be carved onto the side of a mountain here a couple of decades later.
The state finally voted for a Democrat in 1964, when Lyndon B. Johnson ran to keep the office he had been handed after John F. Kennedy's assassination.
Other than that, the GOP has been able to count on all three Electoral College votes from South Dakota.
Some people love the Electoral College and the unfair situation it created to benefit less populous states. Without that grand bargain, I’m not sure the country would have ever formed. I just happen to believe that adjustments in the rules might help those less-populous states become as important as the 12 or 13 “purple” states where candidates are less certain about who will win.
I’m looking forward to talking about politics and everything else with South Dakota readers. You won’t always agree with me – at least I hope you don’t. Sometimes I’m wrong. However, whether you agree with me or not, we will always be able to be friends.
I know it gets really cold in South Dakota. I can’t wait to learn more about the state.
The Journal is a great newspaper, and I appreciate the opportunity to help produce the news we share every day. For more than 25 years, I have helped write the first rough draft of history. It is a great opportunity to continue doing that with this staff, in this city, and in this state – even if it gets a little cold sometimes.