2018 continues to swirl in our collective consciousness. Updated rumors.

Three months ago, I pulled out my political crystal ball based on what was happening at the time, as well as rumors, and came up with a chart of how I believed the landscape would be looking in 2018.

Three months later, I’m hearing things, I’m seeing things, and it’s as good a time to update the chart, as well as expand it, Because you can’t look at one part of the landscape without looking at another.


As noted last time in the Governor’s race,

There is absolutely no doubt that Attorney General Marty Jackley and incomingHouse Speaker Mark Mickelson are firmly in the race. And except for the fact thatCongresswoman Noem has to dispatch sacrificial lamb Paula Hawks, I’d say that she would be a sure thing.

But instead, we need to wait for December or so for confirmation.

From there, it gets a lot murkier. Lt Governor Matt Michels does his job quietly, but being at the podium this past weekend at the GOP convention, Matt showed us that we should not forget about him as time goes by.

Michels might be less likely than Noem to run, but as a familiar face to politicos and donors, he’s got a lot more game than many people might think, with extensive connections to this state’s healthcare and legal industries.  In other words, he has resources people might not credit him for. And he’s an exceedingly approachable and friendly guy.

Read that entire thing here.

What has changed in the past three months? I’ve been hearing rumors lately of Secretary of State Shantel Krebs not so much looking at Governor, but preparing to follow in Kristi Noem’s footsteps, should Noem make the leap.   The word on the street – and don’t give them anymore credence than rumor at this point – is that she’s out talking to people, potentially about fundraising & support for a run.

That warrants renewed attention, and if true, gives a bit of a signal that there might be something to the rumors of her being in the initial planning stages.  Krebs had been looking at Congress before Noem jumped into the race, way back when, so there is precedent for her interest.

And if we’re speculating on the Congressional seat being open, that brings in a couple of gentlemen who have long said to be interested in the spot who had previously been in the service of the Governor; former PUC Commissioner Dusty Johnson, and former attorney for the Governor Jim Seward.

I have heard a tidbit or two about Dusty and Congress. There’s talk.

Dusty would be an intriguing entry into the contest, as he has ballot experience, and is universally well-liked, even among many Democrats. Oh, and there is that army of minions who he’s brought up since near-infancy called TAR’s. Seriously, Dusty participated in TAR’s with, or has mentored nearly a generation of young Republicans, whether they remained active in politics, or not.

If he jumps in, I think you’ll see a wave of youthful enthusiasm in the contest that eclipses his opponents. One might even consider it akin to what we saw when John Thune ran against Lt. Governor Carole Hillard for Congress. Even if I told them I was being neutral, and to stay out of it, I don’t think I could hold back my girls, nor my son from wanting to walk in parades and go to work.

There’s a lot of respect, and loyalty from many of those kids. And they would be ready to work.

Jim Seward would be an interesting candidate in the race as well. With his military background, as well as his long carrying water for the GOP, he would appear to the West River crowd and offer them an alternative to what some may view as “establishment candidates,” whether a correct assumption or not.  Much would depend on the kind of campaign Jim would be able to put together.

Given recent history, I think you’d also see at least two others jump into the race if the leading candidates aren’t able to raise enough money to scare them away. I think you’d see a random legislator jump in, as well as the inevitable “I’m more conservative than all of them” tea party offering.

It could be a long a bruising primary for all of them, which isn’t a bad thing, as they’re going to have to have their “A” game ready for the Democrat after June.  I suspect if the seat is vacant, they’ll be facing none other than former US Attorney Brendan Johnson.

Given that Brendan literally comprises the entirety of the Democrat’s bench, it’s going to be a donnybrook of a battle, and both sides will have significant enthusiasm.

And that’s all I’m seeing in the swirling mists of my crystal ball at the moment.  Any thoughts, comments, or notes from the field that I’m not hearing?

50 Replies to “2018 continues to swirl in our collective consciousness. Updated rumors.”

  1. Springer

    Huether fits perfectly with the Dems governing style. I’m the leader and I can do what I want. Just try to stop me. Yep, he’s their guy!

  2. Minnehaha County Observer

    Surprised you do not have Deb Peters on there. I’ve heard she’s been gearing up for quite awhile waiting for Kristi’s US House seat to open up. She is President of NCSL, Chair of Appropriations, and I believe her kids will have graduated from highschool by then. Seems like an opportune time for her to run.

  3. Misty

    “Her kids will have graduated from high school by then”

    Why is it that whenever a woman candidate is mentioned, her kids are ALWAYS mentioned in the same sentence? We never heard about John Thune’s kids or Mike Rounds’ kids or any other male candidate’s kids when a male candidate runs. What about Mark Mickelson’s kids? Anyone ever mention Dusty Johnson’s kids? I am disappointed in my fellow South Dakotans as that is the typical first response we continue to hear when discussing woman candidates. It is 2016, people.

    1. Anonymous

      Some mothers do take their kids’ situation into account, and I know it is dinosaur-speak to some of you, but the mother has traditionally been the nurturer (Oh my, did I actually type that!).

      I think we all understand it is 2016, person, but that doesn’t mean we all buy into all the claptrap about no difference between the sexes. Some women are proud that they are parents and will definitely take into account their children and the point in life they find themselves. Is there something wrong with that!

  4. Anonymous

    I’m just going to go out on a limb and say that none of this is going to happen. Kristi stays in the House – she doesn’t want to run against Mickelson and Jackley.

    Krebs is most likely to be someone’s LG. Mickelson is liberal so the only way he can win is if Noem and Jackley both run. Rhoden is my choice for random legislator to run but he’s also on some short lists for LG.

    Why would anyone want to go to DC? Name something substantial that has been done for conservatives since SHS lost. It’s not like anyone gets anything done and it’s not because they don’t want to or don’t try.

    1. Anonymous

      I’ve also heard Gary Hanson is looking at running for Governor or Congress again. I think he would still have name id and strength in SF in a crowded field.

    2. Ag Guy

      Krebs could run on getting back on the Agriculture Committee. Noem never should have left that committee and should be challenged with a primary.

  5. Anonymous

    A lot will happen in the 100 days after Trump/Clinton is sworn in. Either Kristi will want to stay or she will want to go. Either Rounds will want to stay or go after one term. That could also sway Kristi.

    So many balls in the air and not real way of knowing what will happen.

  6. Troy Jones


    I’m trying to remember the last time when people speculate about potential major/state-wide candidates where the kids don’t get mentioned. ALWAYS it is mentioned in the context of if the office pursued they have to change schools. A parent who wants 100% of support inside their house who is also asking the kids to move to a new high school is likely not to get it and makes the choice a lot harder.

    Funny sidenote: Ran into a non-political friend from Pierre at an athletic event who is all about sports. He wanted to know if the Mickelson boys were good athletes. When I asked if he’d vote for Mark if I said they were, he said he would and I think he was serious.

  7. Anonymous

    D o you actually l think Dusty would run for congress he would have to stay at that job for two years .Would he play another switcheroo and run for Senate then.

  8. Anonymous

    I still have my doubts that Kristi is going to leave Washington. I think it’s a two horse race between Mark and Marty. Look for Chris Nelson to potentially be a dark horse.

    If it is a two person race, look for Jackley to win. Mickelson has the better name recognition and early support but will prove ineffective on the trail. He comes across as a smart man in his speeches but off script he seems fake and unappealing. Jackley is strong in both departments and will take Mickelson to the cleaners.

    Just my two cents.

    1. Anonymous

      Dream on. There is a fundamental difference between the two candidate, Mickelson has a comprehensive plan for the future of South Dakota, Jackley’s only plan is to become governor.

  9. Anonymous

    You missed an important part on Huether: he’ll take the path of least resistance. If Noem does not run for congress, Huether will make his run there. It’s an easier sell to the people. It’s only been a few years since we’ve had democrats at the federal level. He’ll run as a blue dog democrat, you know the laughably fiscally conservative and socially moderate wing of the democrat party.

    If Noem stays in the house – and she will because there is NO way that leadership lets her open a seat that could go blue – Huether will run for governor. However, it’s entirely plausible that he doesn’t run as a democract. If he runs for governor, he’ll do so as a fiscally conservative, independent candidate who has a proven record of getting the job done and building consensus.

    Caution to people who don’t understand things: I’m not saying Huether is a fiscal conservative or social moderate or consensus builder or a job getter doner, what I’m saying is that is how he’ll run. That’s his pitch. I feel I need to point this out becuase so often blog commenters miss the point.

    1. Anonymous

      I won’t vote for Huether as I wouldn’t fall for the façade you portray as his running style. I would like to know who someone votes for nationally. If they say they voted for Obama both times, that tells me enough to know that they don’t share my view of where this country should be going.

      Also, someone who puts his mug on billboards claiming to be advertising for Sioux Falls is obviously an egotistical type who wants everybody to know who he is. I would like somebody humble besides being conservative-like I thought Daugaard was.

      1. Anonymous

        The scary thing is that most voters don’t think like you do. I’m glad you’re educating yourself early.

  10. Anonymous

    Hey, Pat care to share your methodology on coming up with your confidence levels?

    At least the Argus in there legislative race analysis relied somewhat on measureable research.

  11. Anonymous

    Mark Mickelson/Chris Nelson would really be a great ticket. Nelson would bring the enthusiasm to Mickelson’s campaign that is currently missing on the stump.

    1. Anonymous

      I think a Gary Hanson- Chris Nelson ticket would be better along with Dusty for Congress. A PUC dream team!

  12. Anonymous

    Shantel and Dusty are both great candidates who have proven that they are hard workers. Dusty has probably lost some IT factor by leaving the PUC to work for Daugaard. It’s hard to run on someone else’s record because there will be things he wants to take credit for and things he will want to run away from. You get the good and the bad.

    I don’t know Niel but I’m sure there would be 5 or 6 other legislators who would be interested in running also. He wouldn’t be at the top of any lists because he hasn’t even been sworn in as an official at this point.

    Rhoden would be the guy I think of as the top of the legislative crop. Then Westra even though he won’t be running for the legislature this cycle. Let’s not forget about Lynn Disanto who is working for Donald Trump and a big deal in the west river tea party crowd. Someone from west river will run. Let’s also not forget Daugaard could run and so could Matt Michels. Both would be strong. If David Lust comes back look out for him and if Brian Gosch wanted to run or Tim Rave it could get really crowded and contested. Kristi would probably back Tim Rave for her seat. Which would make him very formidable.

    1. Anonymous

      I suspect if Noem runs for Governor she will encourage some of her donors to get behind someone like Rhoden or Rave. I don’t see Noem just walking away from her spot and not having a successor in mind.

    1. Anonymous

      Jackley/Krebs sounds good. Mickelson/Rhoden sounds good. Jackely needs some SF help and Mickelson needs some west river help.

  13. Anonymous

    Dusty never should have resigned from the PUC. I voted for him and he walked away from his duty to the voters.

    1. Anonymous

      I get it, 11:54 am, but it wasn’t like he left for a pay day . . . the Governor asked him to serve those same voters in a different way. Dusty knew it was a bad political decision, but still answered the call. That’s not all bad.

        1. Pat Powers Post author

          I would personally attest to the fact that that was not the case. It was a difficult decision for Dusty, but ultimately it was a position in which he thought he could do the greatest good for SD.

          1. Anonymous

            I would not support dusty. You can’t name something he’s done that wasn’t done by Daugaard and 105 other people.

            Seward needs to run. If not Krebs.

  14. Troy Jones

    You realize how quick these rumors go poof when Noem decides she is in too good a place to serve our State than run for Governor.