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ADORED FORMER PRESIDENT RETURNS TO THE HELM AFTER LENGTHY HIATUS

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POLITICAL ANALYSIS

SCOTT HERMAN TAKES THE WHEEL AS VICE PRESIDENT

By Gregg Bear

ROSEBUD — Beloved, 3-time former President William Kindle was handed a landslide-return to the coveted RST presidency late last month, which also brought back to the political fold former Antelope Rep. Scott Herman to the vice presidency, according to official votes tallied by RST Election Board.

The Aug. 27 actions of tribal voters only confirmed by ballot President Kindle’s presidency, which was already decided by RST Council months earlier, stemming from the crashing downfall last May, in roll-call vote, of former President Cyril Scott due to grievous ethics violations.

Last spring, in the face of an upcoming election, the council immediately elevated Kindle from vice president to president subsequent to Cyril Scott’s May impeachment.

The council then quickly pulled from its ranks former Rosebud Rep. Richard Lunderman as acting vice president, effectively blocking any political attempt to reverse Kindle’s presidency before the election, according to political observers.

Lunderman, a relative newcomer to the political scene with only two months remaining in his first term, accepted his new rise to power despite criticism that it would give him unfair political advantage in his announced plan to seek the presidency. Political observers contend the advantage was sufficient to push Lunderman successfully through the primary election, no easy deed in a field of eight candidates, with some professing greater experience.

But once through the primary portal, Lunderman ran into a brick wall.

Kindle, an old pro at low-key presidential campaigns held formidable name recognition from three previous terms, and was seen throughout the reservation as a frequent visitor at wakes and funerals.

With that wind at his back, Kindle took what political capital he had and used it to roundly thrash his opponent in the August General Election by 997 votes, coming in with 1,665 votes to Lunderman’s 668, almost a landslide.

To political observers, Kindle received much of his political uplift from the reservation’s two largest communities, Antelope (439 to 139) and Rosebud (277 to 126).

Unmeasurable, but no less worthy of mention, is the long heralded RST-employee voting bloc—said to virtually assure any fortunate candidate possessing name recognition, known pay bonuses, and frequent days-off—giving the supposed candidate some 700 votes or more, should he desire a bid for the presidency.

Since his early days as White River businessman and repeated two-year terms as president, Kindle had ample time to quietly cultivate the winning support of employees when it came to the polls, according to political observers.

Lunderman, who accepted the switch to constitutional officer, ostensibly without stipulating that he return to his elected post after two months, clearly knew that a failure to win the presidency would leave him out in the cold, and without a job.

As a council representative for Rosebud Community for nearly three years, pushing an education platform and considered a rising star on the council floor, any analysis would suggest Lunderman stood a much better chance at reelection to the council had he gone that route and did more campaigning in the face of tough competition, where he could have served a couple of election cycles and built more name recognition before making his bid, say analysts.

Political observers say it's all about name recognition and large family clans entrenched in the political fabric of the tribe, mixed with plenty of good fortune.

In the vice presidential race, former Rep. Lenard Wright may have had the name recognition from years on the council, but former Rep. Scott Herman had the political backing and the clout, creating a near landslide with 1,482 votes to 849.

There was both triumph and heartbreak in this year's tribal elections. Some will return to try again next go-around, others will move on to more tangible things.

Politics takes stamina and a determined willingness to be lucky.

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