Well, okay, Johnny hasn't risen from the dead to run for Senate in South Dakota. But the Democratic candidate in the race, Rick Weiland (who, full disclosure, is a friend whose campaign I am doing some consulting on), is sounding a little like the Man in Black in this remarkable new video the campaign just put out:
The reason I said this is a remarkable video is that it so goes against a traditional DC consultant-driven campaign strategy. Having a video of a candidate singing a folksy country song is the opposite of what you expect a Senate candidate to do these days. In this poll-driven, focus-group-parsed, 30-second-TV-ad political culture we live in, for a candidate to do a video like this shows just how remarkable a candidate, and a person Rick Weiland is. He is a genuine grassroots guy, willing to take chances and have fun and be unconventional, and we sure do need more of that in the politics of 2014.
The video riffs off the fact that Rick has already visited every single town in South Dakota, and is starting to go back to a lot of them for at least one more go-around. By sending a loud populist message of hard work and of not being in anyone's pocket, he makes a strong play for the rural vote. It is Prairie Populism 101, the same kind of grassroots prairie populism that won elections for Paul Wellstone, Tom Harkin, Brian Schweitzer, Jon Tester, Heidi Heitcamp, and about 2/3 of the South Dakota Senate races of the past 50 years. This is not the kind of careful, cautious, traditional race that the DC establishment would advise Rick to do, but he doesn't care- because he believes that big money special interests are destroying the American economy for middle class and working poor people. You see, it's incredibly hard for any candidate to raise the necessary funds to run for office, while at the same time criticizing special interest money.
And South Dakotans are loving it - the comments the video has been getting are overwhelmingly positive, even from one of Rick's Republican opponents, Stace Nelson! This tribute to Johnny Cash, who was one of the greatest working class artists in this country's history, and tribute to all those South Dakota towns Rick has visited, will resonate throughout the heartland.