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In South Dakota, Rick Weiland Is Channeling the Ghost of George McGovern

Boosted by a scandal, a new prairie populist is trying to sing his way to an upset.
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Rick Weiland addresses a campaign rally.

Griffin Hammond/Bloomberg

CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. – First came the dinner of roast beef, green beans, and a salad that combined the tang of macaroni and mayo with the crunch of hand-crumbled Fritos. Then came the raffle for a handsomely detailed rifle that retailed, they were told, at $1599. Then, finally, three dozen activists at the Brule County Democratic Party annual’s “Fun-raiser” turned in their folding chairs and heard from their 2014 candidates.

“We have to win this year,” said State Senator Larry Lucas, a longtime legislator who’d be retiring in December. “We’ve had good candidates before, and we have great candidates again, but now, we also have a scandal. The Republicans have opened the door for us.”