An unsettled PUC – Part 1

Word travels fast across this state in political circles. And the word right now is that the PUC appointments of Chris Nelson and Kristie Fiegen made this past year by Governor Dennis Daugaard are very much still up in the air when it comes to potential rivals choosing to get in or stay out and the likelihood of delegates to the 2012 GOP convention in Sioux Falls staying uncommitted for an extended period of time.

Chris Nelson

The four year term (AKA Dusty’s seat): In Chris Nelson’s case the talk is that he is very concerned about facing a strong challenger from the delegate rich Minnehaha/Lincoln County area. The convention delegates have changed quite a lot since he won the nomination for Secretary of State in 2002. Ten years is a long time in politics, and last year he lost a congressional primary race to a relatively unknown Kristi Noem. In that race, Nelson showed a lack of direction early on and gave the appearance that his hand was forced by announcing his candidacy the day after Blake Curd had officially announced he was running for the nomination.

At the 2010 convention in Huron, then state senator Jason Gant hailed from Sioux Falls and was able to garner an insurmountable percentage of delegate support from his home area. Of the 61 delegates representing Minnehaha at the 2010 convention, Gant received support from 49 for the GOP nomination for Secretary of State, representing over 30,000 of the 38,000 votes from that one county. That is an incredible number when a candidate only needs to receive about 100,000 votes to win. This advantage is even more striking when Lincoln County delegates are factored in, totaling nearly 50,000 votes between the two Sioux Falls counties.

The hard part for Nelson’s opponent would be to capitalize on that potential.

This is why talk around the state in political circles makes a potential run by state senator, Shantel Krebs, the perfect storm confronting Chris Nelson at the convention in 2012. When you factor in her very outgoing personality, she could make Nelson’s habitually low profile campaign a weakness in the race once again. The possibility of a credible challenge starts to look very real.

37 Replies to “An unsettled PUC – Part 1”

  1. cool!

    Has nelson ever ran a competitive race at convention or has he always had it easy and been unchallenged?
    I know Dusty and Jarrod have never gone through the convention challenged either. Some are lucky…

  2. Job Creator

    Chris has done a fantastic job wherever he worked. He would be my choice for any position that came open, including Thune’s. But our nominating and electing habits reward entertainment many times rather than competence and this harms Chris in the nominating/electing process. Not saying that any of these other candidates wouldn’t do a great job, but Chris has proved up time after time – in the job.

    It used to be when a politician or judge got an appointment from a Republican governor, the rank and file honored that.

    Today, Republicans seem to be much more willing to challenge the authority of the leadership. Still in the process of deciding if that’s a good thing or a bad thing for the Republicans. Probably a bad thing since the rank and file have gotten in line when told since the beginning of time.

    The hold on centralized power is breaking down.

  3. Troy Jones

    I think primaries and contested conventions are a healthy part of the process.

    If Chris (or anyone else) thinks they deserve being annointed for life, he is mistaken. If he does a good job in office, I would expect him to be nominated.

    If Shantel (or anyone else) thinks taking on a capable public servants in the position is a cakewalk, she is mistaken

    But all in all, this speaks to the depth of the GOP when we can talk about two people of the caliber of Nelson and Krebs pursuing one office. If the Dem’s wanted to contest the consitutional offices from the legislature, would they have any legislative candidates left?

    1. Anon

      Just as long as they are not freshman conservative legislators who might make a name for themselves by pointing out problems…

    1. Mr. Obvious

      OMG! Really? We can’t have elected officials thinking for themselves and voting based on what’s best for everyone instead of toeing the party line! That would be anarchy!

      1. Anon

        You are correct! It is much better to have them claim to be one thing when running for office, to get the support of the Republican voters, then work tirelessly against the GOP party platform and obstruct those who do support it.

        There are two other options honest people can chose from if they do not want to support the GOP Party Platform South Dakotans voted on…

            1. Troy Jones

              You are one angry, self-loathing dude. Unfortunately, you project it onto other people. You really should see someone.

  4. anon

    My advice to Shantel would be…

    If she wants to run for congress and thinks Kristi will run for senate in 2014 then wait and run in 2014 for Congress. She is more than capable.

    If she thinks Rounds will run for Senate in 2014 and force Noem to stay in the House then I would advise her to strongly consider running for PUC.

    That is my advice to her.

    Nelson is not the invincible heavy weight people make him out to be but it would be a tight race regardless. I think Shantel would win however.

  5. Kristi Golden

    Shantel is great public servant and no doubt would be outstanding if she were to seek office beyond the legislature….That being said, I have it on excellent authority that she is NOT going to run for the PUC.

    1. Anonymous

      Because Krebs wants to run for CONGRESS… She visited the RNC before deciding to sit it out in ’10 and then Noem got the jump on her again. Much like she did in leadership.

      It isn’t a secret that Noem isn’t a fan of Krebs or Peters or any of the women in Pierre – or most of the legislators that weren’t in ledership. I suppose they aren’t big on her either but seeing Noem and Krebs forced to work together would be very interesting.

      1. Rounds 2014!

        Interesting, but it will never happen because Kristi won’t be in congress after Mike Rounds takes her out in the senate primary. Maybe she can stay on as Boehner’s spokesmodel. She’s getting lots of on-the-job training now. Rounds left with a 70%+ approval rating. Congress is what….9%?

        1. aspire

          Rounds will be very interesting to watch. I don’t really have a favorite in that one anymore. Used to be Kristi but I’ve moved back to neutral ground.

        2. Hmmm

          The longer Rounds stays out of office, the more forgettable he is. Yes, he had a high approval rating as governor, but what SD governor hasn’t had higher than average numbers? Rounds didn’t do anything memorable as governor and doesn’t have much of a record to go on other than he lead SD through a very noncontroversial time during a fairly boring and unimaginative 8 years. Not much vision there.

  6. anon

    It doesn’t change the fact that Nelson is nervous about Krebs challenging him. I bet he thinks about it a lot.

    I’d like to see Nelson work for the nomination. I don’t have a lot of love for career pols.

  7. Les

    Nelson is working very hard for our state at the PUC.

    I find it interesting you wish to see him elsewhere without any knowledge on his performance and the potential cost to our state if we keep flipping our commissioners for strictly political reasons.

  8. Troy Jones

    Les, I agree. I dont know why we just want to throw out good public servants like getting a new pair of jeans. Chris Nelson has been a most honorable servant. At the same time, he was appointed to the position so I have no problem with him having to earn party endorsement nor with someone challenging him.

    Sidenote: Has Chris grown back the ‘stache?

    1. part timer

      Are we more dedicated to the party or the people? It appears the party is more important than the people of SD

      1. Anonymous

        I keep waiting for the stache to come back and see him running around wearing aviator shades and some 80’s shorts on the campaign trail.

    2. anon

      Maybe because South Dakotans spoke during the last election and didn’t want a career pol in office. Career pols are one of the hardest things to get rid of. Nelson served as SoS for 8 years. He worked there for 20+. He lost in 2010.

      Then Daugaard appointed him to office once again… Why couldn’t he just appoint Chris to a cabinet position instead of elected office?

      Good guy? Sure. Does that mean he is entitled to hold public office forever? no.

      1. anon

        Dusty left the PUC because he knew 12 years of PUC and he would be old news with Jackley and Michels coming up. you have to stay fresh in SD Politics.

  9. caheidelberger

    Nelson has experience. Krebs has “an outgoing personality.” If the Noem contingent holds sway among Republicans, Krebs will win. Alas. I want experience and policy wonkery, not just personality.

    Nelson can beat Krebs… if he grows the mustache back! 🙂


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