SD Dem crowns GOP opponent winner

South Dakota Democratic Senate candidate Rick Weiland seems to agree with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) — who’s panned Weiland’s shot at the seat multiple times — on his chances in the race.

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During a Wednesday debate, Weiland, in a slip of the tongue, labeled Republican candidate Mike Rounds “senator — or, soon-to-be“ senator.

He quickly added, laughing, “No, not soon-to-be. That’s a good gaffe. I’ll take that back. Soon-to-want-to-be Sen. Mike Rounds.”

The former governor is indeed the favorite in the race, due to the red lean of the state and Weiland’s relative obscurity and lack of funds. The Democrat has faced outspoken opposition from Reid, who actively worked to recruit an alternative candidate but came up short.

Reid recently wrote Weiland’s chances off in an interview with reporters, but the most recent public survey of the race, from Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling, showed him lagging the Republican by just eight points. Rounds released his own internal survey, however, that showed him up by double digits.

Weiland still has a prominent supporter, however, in Tom Daschle, the former majority leader for whom Weiland once worked on Capitol Hill. Daschle and Reid, longtime friends and colleagues, have made a very public split over the race.

Weiland’s campaign manager suggested in an interview this week Reid’s objection to the candidate stemmed from the senator’s strained relationship with Daschle, but in an email to The Hill, Daschle disputed that assessment.

“Senator Reid and I have always had a good relationship and that continues today. He and the DSCC have to make their judgment on viable races around the country,” he said.

“We might have a different view on South Dakota, but I continue to feel very optimistic about Rick Weiland's chances in my home state.”

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