DEADWOOD — Long-time local businessman Bill Walsh is now one of the top dogs for the Democratic Party, earning the title of superdelegate with his recent election as democratic national committeeman at the South Dakota Democratic Convention.
In his new capacity as committeeman, Walsh will attend the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia at the end of this month as an unpledged, or “super” delegate, and attend meetings of the DNC over the next four years.
“This is my eighth convention,” Walsh said Wednesday. “My first convention, in Chicago, I went as a priest. My second, in Miami, I went as a policeman … This convention, I’m going as a politician.”
Walsh explained that there were actually two elections he won at the convention. One was his ticket to the DNC. The other was his new seat. Walsh was selected by the State Central Committee at its meeting to complete the term of former Committeeman Nick Nemec, and he was elected to a full four-year term by the South Dakota Democratic State Convention earlier in the day.
“In the first election, I think there were around 250 votes cast. It was all the delegates,” said Walsh, who was one of two delegates representing Lawrence County. “It was weighted depending on your county. Voters included not only delegates, but legislative candidates as well as the central committee. It was the entire convention delegation. … It was truly a democratic process, and I was a Hillary person. My head was with Hillary, and my heart was with Bernie. The issues Bernie was pushing, so many of them were George McGovern … free tuition, medical … a lot of Bernie’s positions were taken out of a George McGovern playbook. I’m glad these issues are now part of the democratic platform that we’ll be voting on at convention.”
Explaining the party’s progression from party bosses in his first convention in 1968 to the present day committee men and women “super” delegate positions, Walsh revealed how he sees his new position: “These are people involved on a day-to-day basis with regard to their party and the state. It’s the closest thing to party bosses as it gets, and it’s also a way to reward people for their commitment to the party. That’s where I come in. … I’m one of the few candidates to be elected to the same post twice in the same day. I joked with them that the second vote was to make sure they didn’t have voter’s remorse.”
The third time is a charm, it seems, for Walsh, who in the past ran for Democratic Party chairman, losing by three delegates, and for lieutenant governor, losing by two-thirds of a delegate.
“This time, I worked harder at this,” Walsh said. “I spent a month calling people. Then I made sure I sealed the deal the night before the vote by having a big Irish party with Irish whiskey, hoping that under the influence I could get the convention people to vote for me,” he joked, adding, “I was able to beat my opponent by 7,000 delegate votes.”
South Dakota Democratic Party Executive Director Suzanne Jones Pranger said she looks forward to working with Walsh in his new role.
“Bill has worked to elect Democrats in South Dakota for decades, and I am sure he will do a great job as national committeeman,” Pranger said. “Our former national committeeman Nick Nemec leaves big shoes to fill, but I am confident Bill will bring the same energy and dedication to this role as he has to his many years of fighting for a fairer and more just state and country.”
South Dakota will have a total of 25 voting delegates at the DNC in Philadelphia July 25-28. Twenty of those delegates are pledged to a presidential candidate and awarded proportionally, based on the results of the June 7 Democratic Primary Election.
South Dakota has five unpledged delegates: Former Sen. Tom Daschle, State Chairwoman Ann Tornberg, State Vice Chairman Joe Lowe, State Democratic National Committeewoman Sharon Stroschein, and Walsh.
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