Why House conservatives ate one of their own
Rep. Scott Odenbach wanted to promote American exceptionalism. He faced surprising opposition.
PIERRE – When the final vote was announced, Rep. Scott Odenbach looked like he’d taken a punch to the gut.
Three years of work came to an end by one vote on the House floor. Though his measure to create a Center for American Exceptionalism at Black Hills State University garnered a 46-23 majority, Odenbach’s bill needed 47 votes to advance to the Senate.
It was no surprise that the chamber’s six Democrats voted against the idea. They were suspicious that a new center at Black Hills State was a front for promoting conservative ideology. And while the bill specifically called for creating standards for teaching Native American history, Democratic Rep. Peri Pourier of Rapid City noted that several tribal education groups opposed the bill because they didn’t think Native American history would be represented to their standards.
But it was surprising that they were joined by six of the most conservative members of the House of Representatives. What’s more, Odenbach, a Spearfish lawyer, had supported five of them during the primary elections through his political action committee, Liberty Tree PAC. Some had faced tough challenges, but Odenbach had helped them over the finish line.
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