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Paul Ten Haken Jumps Into Sioux Falls Mayor’s Race

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There wasn’t a lot of drama — maybe a little — when Paul Ten Haken announced he was running for mayor of Sioux Falls.

His name was on a short list of potential candidates for a year, but then gained momentum when he stepped down as president of Click Rain, the digital marketing firm he founded. Ten Haken had been making the rounds talking to people about a mayoral run and then made it official with a press conference today (Tuesday).

Obviously, you don’t put these things together overnight, and there’s always a lot of cat and mouse leading up to these announcements. TenHaken had the video ready, as you can see above.

Ten Haken will be a formidable candidate right away, joining former city councilors Jim Entenman and Greg Jamison as the top-tier of the now-seven hopefuls for the job, currently held by Mike Huether.

First, Ten Haken will be able to raise money. He’s well connect in the business community, particularly the growing tech sector. This election will require plenty of money, given the candidates and what’s at stake.

That said, Entenman and Jamison don’t lack for connections or fundraising ability either. All three are business-orientated Republicans (for the record, it’s a non-partisan race) who can court big donors in the Chamber of Commerce crowd.

Each has to build their own constituency and organization. In this race, organization may play a huge role. Identifying and targeting your likely voters and then getting them to the polls likely will spell the difference between making a run-off and not.

You know who’s good at that? Former-Obama-campaign-strategist-turned-coffee-shop-owner Steve Hildebrand. Hildebrand has expressed deep interest in who the next mayor will be, including contemplating a run himself. But he’s not a gun for hire either. He’s deeply committed to issues such as poverty and education and the state of working families.

To get Hildebrand on board, a candidate would have to share those views.

And yes, there are other candidate, including former City Councilor Kenny Anderson Jr. and business owner Nick Weiland who would be on progressive side of the spectrum. But it’s unclear the level of support or organization they have.

Weiland can tap into the organization of his father — former Senate candidate and current anti-corruption activist Rick Weiland — but the son is not as well known or as accomplished as dad.

Anderson, whose father Kenny Anderson Sr. was the first African-American city councilor, also has a constituency and deep roots. It’s unclear, however, whether he has access to the kind of money this campaign may require.

The rest of the current field includes City Hall watcher David Zokaites and Mike Gunn, and bless them for doing their civic duty.

I would say we probably haven’t seen the last candidate enter the race. There’s room for an accomplished progressive that would stand in contrast to the trio of businessmen currently at the top of the handicapper’s list. Where does HIldebrand land? Does he sit it out? Does he get in himself?

It’s still early.

The first round of the municipal election is April 10 with the runoff May 1.

It’s going to be a good one.

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