The Democratic Party candidate for South Dakota’s at-large U.S House of Representatives seat, Matt Varilek, said South Dakotans deserve a congressman who is going to provide them with the representation they deserve.
Varilek spoke to students and community members at the University of South Dakota during a rally Oct. 18.
Varilek, who served on the staffs of Sen. Tom Daschle and current Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), said there are many challenges the government faces in the future, but that with optimism and diligent mindsets, they are challenges that can be handled and dealt with.
“Right now, we see so much gridlock, so much dysfunction, so much of, ‘my way or the highway’ attitudes,” Varilek said. “Those are reminders of why we need members of Congress to come to the office with a more constructive attitude and a constructive approach.”
Varilek, who faces incumbent candidate Kristi Noem, said he wants to see more action occur in Congress, instead of the stalemate activity he claims Noem has been a part of throughout her first term.
“This dysfunction has lead to failure in passing a farm bill, failure to pass a deficit plan, and now there is a fiscal cliff looming,” Varilek said. “Eventually I decided I should take the plunge (of running for office), because I feel like I can do a better job representing the interests of South Dakotans.”
College Democrats President Joyce Trudeau described the importance of this representation in Congress, saying college students are an important voice in this year’s election.
“Students are at a point in their lives where we need to get together and really show what issues are important to us,” Trudeau said.
Sophomore Rachelle Norberg said 2012 is looking to be a significant election year.
“Students need to care,” Norberg said. “It’s an important race for South Dakota.”
Trudeau said one way of beginning to be heard is by registering people to vote.
“We have been trying to educate people on the election as much as possible,” Trudeau said. “One way we have been doing this is by tabling and registering people to vote.”
Sophomore Emily Weiss agreed with Trudeau that an informed voter is an important voter.
“Young adults are uneducated (about the election) and it’s important to get our voices heard,” Weiss said.
Since his announcement to run for Congress in December 2011 and later winning the Democratic primary in June 2012, Varilek has been heavily campaigning to win the votes from a primarily Republican state.
“This is an underdog campaign,” Varilek said. “We always knew (Noem would) outspend me, and that I would have to outwork her.”
Raising nearly triple the amount of her opponent, Noem is in a much more comfortable financial campaign situation than Varilek; however, he says his campaign has come a long ways so far in this race.
“I’m proud that we have made good progress,” Varilek said.
As of Oct. 5, Noem leads the race 44 to 49 percent, according to projection polls.
With nearly two weeks left until South Dakotan voters head to the polls, Varilek said the only left to do is keep practicing the same strategy they have been from the start.
“It’s exciting, and we’re going to keep on doing what we have been doing since the beginning, when nobody thought we stood a chance,” Varilek said. “We are going to continue a lot of travel around the state so we can meet people face-to-face, because when you make those connections, that’s how we will pull-off this upset.”