1980 Wins for Oahe Supporters
Oahe supporters in the southern-most tier of the Oahe sub-district gained three seats on the sub-district board in the 1980 elections, but United Family Farmers maintained its control over the sub-district board. The UFF not only lost board seats but they also lost their allies in the White House when challenger Ronald Reagan spoiled President Carter’s re-election bid and won the presidency.
1980 was also notable in that United Family Farmers played a role in ruining Senator George McGovern’s re-election bid to the US Senate. McGovern’s ouster hurt Oahe, but the project was already reeling. New President Ronald Reagan (took office in 1981) and his administration brought an entirely different philosophy about environmental issues to the White House than the philosophy followed by President Carter and his staff. Members of Reagan’s team began strategizing with pro-Oahe forces, particularly South Dakota Governor William Janklow, to use the Oahe controversy to advance the Republican Party and to promote different types of irrigation development.