Breaking — Dusty Johnson – Daugaard Chief of Staff

Bob Mercer reports the new team style approach that Gov-Elect Daugaard is taking….and the big news is that newly re-elected PUC chairman Dusty Johnson will leave the PUC and move to the Governor’s office (I think that moves his office up one floor in the Capitol)

Read it here at the Mitchell Daily Republic.

This is a very interesting choice for Dusty who was just handily re-elected to the PUC.  His state wide vote total was second highest — just behind Senator Thune — which almost doesn’t count as Thune had no one running against (yes I know — we all know that – but it’s just sorta fun to keep saying).

I’m always a little leery when people who just finish an election then jump ship for another job…..Dusty is one of the rising stars in the SD GOP……this move will just stoke the fires of speculation about what office he’ll be seeking next….

I see TC beat me with the announcement by a few seconds — check his post for all the details on how the Gov-elect is setting up the team and the rest of the players.

140 Replies to “Breaking — Dusty Johnson – Daugaard Chief of Staff”

  1. Jeff J.

    Interesting… Dusty will do well. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that he may be thinking about higher office. My question is, how does a jump from PUC to the COS spot help him get there?

  2. oldguy

    Dusty is a great guy. I think its wrong when you run for a office, get elected then resign. I feel cheated as I both gave money and voted for Dusty.

  3. Troy Jones

    To be asked to be COS is humbling, especially for a new Governor about to embark on a new vision. I can’t see how one who cares about making South Dakota better like Dusty can even contemplate not taking it.

  4. oldguy

    Troy I think when people ask for ypur vote they are asking you to commit to them and it should be a two way street. I agree Dusty will be great but am just saying

  5. Slappy

    I don’t blame him one bit for making this move, but it’s a little shady and a slap in the face to everyone who voted for him. Would I have taken the gig? Hard not to. It pays $30,000+ more than his PUC spot. But don’t run for office if you don’t want to serve there. I lost some respect for DJ, but I do wish him well.

  6. Elais

    It seems very suspect of Daugaard to do that. I guess the Governor felt entitled to put another toady in the PUC spot, cheating the people out of their vote. That’s the trouble with the GOP, South Dakota never gets any real choices anymore as the the GOP just awards each other positions and offices.

  7. Arrowhead

    This was very crafty of Dusty because in the political world of SD political up and comers Dusty Johnson really only has one political equal. – Marty Jackley –

    Dusty has almost guaranteed himself an appointment to Johnson’s Senate seat or to Noem’s congressional seat if Tim Johnson can’t continue or if there is a need to appoint someone to Noem’s seat if she is appointed to Johnson’s Senate seat.

    Dusty needed to do this because his political career couldn’t survive six more years in PUC talking about iphones while Marty was talking about Healthcare, sex offenders or other real world issues.

  8. Anonymous

    My guess is Dusty will encourage someone older who wouldn’t grow into a political threat.

    However I would encourage the choice of a young legislator who knows the energy issues. We have a good crop of up and coming legislators in the Senate and a few in the house. I’d pick someone who could grow into a political star like Dusty, Marty, Barnett, Gant, Jarrod etc. and make our bench even deeper! – that is exactly what the voters said when we chose Noem and the convention chose Barnett, Sattgast and Gant.

  9. Democrat

    As a Dem I even voted for Dusty because I like what he did at the PUC–but I’m upset that he just leaves. I know, I know he was offered a better position, a promotion, state wide recognition blah blah blah….but as a voter I really feel cheated by what he did. And the comment about Noem in the Senate–she scores a whopping 16 on her ACT, breaks all sorts of the law, is alreading turing into a puppet for the GOP, oh good heavens let’s get real! First of all Senator Johnson is a very gracious, dedicated, fair man who is there for South Dakota–let him do his job.

  10. insomniac

    A move built on being guaranteed an appointment to higher office. Dusty is a good man and well deserving. I would rather have him in the PUC but this was a better political move to be closer to the man who will make the appointments if Thune becomes President or Johnson retires.

  11. Anon

    I appreciate all that Chris Nelson, Mike Melhaff and Vern Larson has done for the state and party, but Daugaard has the chance to appoint a rising star to the PUC.

  12. Weather Man

    I would appoint a woman if I was Dennis Daugaard. Other than Kristi Noem we don’t have many.

    Deb Peters, Shantel Krebs or… Who else is there?

  13. Dave R

    Elais: You expect the Governor to appoint a democrat? Jerstad or Volesky, perhaps?

    Insomniac: You are right, if Thune becomes President, he will take a lot of Republicans from SD for his administration. WE need a deeper bench in case that happens.

  14. John

    I’m not happy about this. Dusty was the one Republican I voted for in this year’s election. I don’t like that Daugaard can just appoint someone I don’t know and didn’t vote for. Can we call for a special election in this case? This just seems like a big middle finger to the voters… or at least this voter.

    After reading the article, I do like that Daugaard wants to be more hands-on with governing. I prefer that to Rounds’ hands-off, invisible approach. I was chatting with my local legislator one day and his big complaint was he never ever saw Rounds when they were in session. And I always hated how Rounds waited for the session to end and then just did whatever he wanted (even going against what our legislators voted to do). I’m hopeful that Daugaard’s administration won’t commit the same sins.

  15. Why this was a bad decision

    1. I voted for Dusty to be the PUC commissioner at convention and in the general. I am a passionate Dusty Johnson supporter and support him in his decision. But I do agree with those who are upset because they spent money to keep him in the PUC or voted for him for PUC and campaigned for him to remain in the PUC. (I didn’t vote for him to pull a Sarah Palin and let someone I have no idea who they are take his place for PUC… Because I supported Dusty Johnson doesn’t mean I support anyone to be his replacement – that person better be freakin’ phenominal to replace Dusty)
    2. Dusty just devalued his stock – BIG TIME – he is no longer his own person or his own candidate. In my opinion Dusty was the front runner to any office he wanted from 2010 on. Now he is in the same position Chris Nelson was in. We don’t want career government workers in our highest offices. If Dusty wants to be Governor someday he was already positioned to be that guy. (I know it would have been a competetive race against Jackley and Michaels or whoever else may come along.)

    I feel Dusty just put himself from 1st to 3rd because he is nolonger an outsider he is part of an administration. He is no longer young and refreshing he is a Rounds staffer, PUC and Chief of staff. TOO MUCH GOVERNMENT! Jackley is now the frontrunner and Michaels is #2. I love Dusty but don’t understand why he doesn’t want to be seen as an outsider… This move hurts Dusty’s brand.

    The only way this is a good move is if Dusty gets a sweet appointment to Congress or Senate.

  16. Snow Man

    He hasn’t even been sworn into office after his reelection and he is going to another office? I wonder what he would have thought if this was Jackley or Sattgast or Barnett or Gant or Jarrod?

    You run because you want to serve the state. You make a committment to the people who invest money and time into you. Dusty can do whatever he wants but I believe he should have remained commissioner of the Public Utilities at least partway through his second term.

    He hasn’t even been sworn in yet. I just find if kind of sad because this had to have been in the works while he was running for reelection.

  17. Troy Jones

    Snow man,

    As someone who has been around the process, this absolutely was not in the works. Maybe the Governor elect conteplated during the campaign but I doubt he shared it with anyone until the Governor-elect said, “Dusty, you fit my profile for COS better than anyone I can imagine. I’d like you to do this for me.”

    When the Governor asks (ala the President), unless you believe you can’t do the job and can convince the Governor of this, it is selfish to turn the Governor down.

    If Dusty is who you think he is (and I do), this is the highest appointed job in the state and you do not turn down the Governor lightly. In fact, if I’d heard it had been offered and Dusty had turned it down, I’d be disappointed in Dusty for then it would be appropriate to accuse him of not being the public servant I thought him to be. His acceptance and to subrogate his own career for the State speaks to his character.

    And we all know Dusty is a “character.” 🙂

  18. duggersd

    I can understand being disappointed that DJ will not be on the PUC. I do not believe this is really more than a bump for him, though.
    Arrowhead, if TJ is unable to continue for some reason, then the governor appoints someone to replace until an election is held. I am not sure if in this state it is until the next general election or until the end of the term. I think it varies from state to state. If KN were to be appointed, then there would be a special election. That post is not filled by appointment.

  19. BurningBrule

    “Comment by oldguy on November 22, 2010 @ 12:50 pm Dusty is a great guy. I think its wrong when you run for a office, get elected then resign. I feel cheated as I both gave money and voted for Dusty.”

    I’m in agreement. It’s along the lines of Sarah Palin resigning her Governorship to galivante around the company. I simply can’t award her my vote based on that failure to live up to her commitment.

  20. Snow Man

    I don’t know if I feel cheated Troy just disappointed. Dusty is a class act. I love Dusty I just feel he should have served part of the term he campaigned for.

    Trust me this was in the works. You don’t get these jobs unless you are interested. Dusty was on the transition team for DD and he was most likely in the running for LT Gov. I bet he was in the top 3 people.

  21. Anonymous

    Who’s gonna be first in the welfare line for free public offices? Who’s the Director of Energy policy? Follow the money.

  22. Jason Williams

    At first I was disappointed that Dusty wasn’t going to be in the PUC but the more I’ve thought about it the happier I am. I know he is a strong fiscal conservative and a really good person. Because Dusty was chosen to be a part of the administration I believe even stronger that a lot of the hard decisions will be tackled.

    It has always appealed to me that Dusty is an issues oriented person and a problem solver. Those traits are what have made him a rare and special person to elected office.

    Best wishes to Dusty!!!

  23. Troy Jones


    I might have part of details off but the thrust is the right. After Mickelson won, he was hunting in November someone where near Presho. He stopped in to see his old friend (I think they went to law school together) Frank Brost. GSM sat there talking about all the things he wanted to do, asking Frank advice, and by the time the meeting was over, Frank was offered the job.

    Now, I can’t remember if GSM planned on offering the job when he stopped by but I know FB had no idea it was coming.

    My gut is the Governor-elect might have had DJ in mind, put DJ as head of the transition team, watched him in action, and it confirmed his thoughts. Running the transition team was DJ’s interview and DJ didn’t know he was being interviewed, just like that afternoon in Frank Brost’s law office 24 years ago.

    Regarding feeling disappointed, I understand that (disagree but understand). But, if DJ is the public servant I believe him to be, I can’t see how he could turn the Governor down.

  24. Snow Man

    Well I wish Dusty the best Troy so I will go along with what you are saying even if I don’t quite agree. Dusty is the MAN! and it seems others around the area also feel the same way you do.

    I think everyone just wants Dusty to continue to be a viable candidate.

    PS I have no idea who Frank Brost is. Shantel Krebs should become a PUC member.

  25. Anonymous

    “With a House full of newly elected Republicans who pledged to cut federal spending, will the next farm bill be different? Some new members of Congress, like Kristi Noem of South Dakota, campaigned as deficit hawks, but have defended subsidies as a national security issue: the decline of farms could mean more food imports, they say. (Ms. Noem had partial ownership in a ranch that received more than $3 million in subsidies over 15 years, before her family bought her out last year.)

    Do payments to farms protect national security? Or, more broadly, how should the farm subsidy program be changed?”

  26. grudznick

    Frank, who I can still call a young man, is a tough, crusty old fellow who GSM would have fired if not for the terrible accident. He was an excellent Chief of Staff, better even than PP probably was for Rounds. I have no doubt this young Dusty gentleman will do oustanding. It’s a huge step up for him, cut him some shlack.

  27. oldguy

    Troy if I understand this right you are saying the Gov. comes before the voters who voted for and gave money to Dusty for the PUC not to be COS.

  28. oldguy

    I am not arguing he won’t be a GREAT COS as he will and belive it is a great pick I just wonder if it is right to ask voters for something then say sorry I got a better deal to bad.

  29. William

    I support Dusty, because I find him to be one of the most outstanding public servants I’ve met. He’s been, and will continue to be, one of the best in any role he takes.

    As Troy stated above, when the Governor asks for your service, it’s something you accept if you’re able to. I’m sure Dusty will ensure that whoever replaces him will be an outstanding replacement for him on the PUC.

    That’s good enough for me.

  30. William


    I’m not sure Dusty considers the COS job a “better deal” for himself, considering the demands the job will make on his family time at this point in his life. If Dusty had wanted to run for a “better deal” financially, I’m sure he could have done so, and won.

  31. Troy Jones


    I think the issue is a public servant considers where they can have the most effect. PUC, while elected, is not near the position of COS. DJ is a consummate public servant.

  32. Rainman

    Again, I ask is Dusty going to show up in Pierre more now than he currently does. All of you defending him need to ask the current PUC staff when he shows up for work. He is paid to be in Pierre working for the tax payers. Will this be different. I hope so. This position is one that calls for a person to be working for the taxpayer.

  33. Voter

    I got a nice letter from Dusty today.

    He knows that this was not the politically smart thing to do.

    When he ran for PUC he didn’t “know” that Daugaard would win. He didn’t know that Daugaard would offer him the job.

    Hindsight is of course 20/20.

    Dusty is willing to step away from the PUC because he is willing to serve South Dakota, the state that he loves, and when asked by someone he greatly respects–he could not say no.

    Should anyone be surprised that Daugaard would choose one of our best for his Chief of Staff?

  34. Anon

    Dusty did not jump ship (a la Sarah Palin) to go into the private sector.

    He’s on the same ship . . . same constituents, same building, same mission. He just moved to a different position within the same organization.

    This shows clearly he cares more about making a difference than he cares about being a fancy politician. That is admirable.

    1. insomniac

      Don’t worry Dusty will teach Nelson what to do.

      Gosh I like Chris. He is hands down a good guy. Probably pound for pound better and more straight forward than most pols in SD he just doesn’t glitter or demand attention.

      I think we threw away a good man but am glad he took the PUC spot. I would have preferred someone younger like Barnett but Nelson will do well and he could still make a great candidate again one day.

      Dusty leaving is really the decision that upset me.

  35. Anon

    Just talked to Dusty. When told this might be bad for his political future, he said, “I didn’t get into public service to BE something. I got into public service to DO something (good). Making an impact today is more important that political jockeying for openings five or ten years down the road.”

    I like that kid.

  36. anon

    I like how all of the comments on replacements are on “building a bench” not on appointing someone who can do a good job and protect the rate payers unlike the political hack the new person will be replacing.

    Poltics is not a game. It’s not about a bench, it’s about the people. That’s what the Repub’s just don’t get.

  37. May

    Voters told Dusty they trusted him to fight for them and to make the state better. Dusty now has more tools and more of an opportunity to do just that. Seems like those of us that trusted Dusty should feel good Daugaard picked someone we believe in.

    1. anon

      Yeah but he should have stayed in the PUC.

      I have a hard time seeing him as electable in the future.

      Do you think Ben Ready is going to become Noem’s State Director? That is what I feel will happen. It would be a good move for Ready.

  38. Anonymous

    Dusty is a leader. Maybe he is just more intune with this type of a role rather than in the PUC? I mean what does the PUC do anyway?

    Dusty is the man for the job!

  39. Aw Shucks

    Why does this shock anyone, Repub or Democrat?

    Dusty is a politician, pure and simple. He is looking at the next election, which in his case is the Gov’s race in eight years. It does take Denny out of a primary in four years which Dennis might face because he lacks the guts to really do what is necessary to fix state government.

    PUC Commissioner Johnson lived up to the caricature Democrats have tried to paint on him…. a tiny, Napoleanic (sorry if that’s redundant)figure who is consumed by power and the next conquest.

    He’s no big loss to the PUC. He jacked up rates on taxpayers and called it “the right thing” to do.

    Really sort of laughable overall.

  40. Why this was a bad decision

    I’ve thought about this more and realize I was wrong.

    Dusty is the right person to be in there with Daugaard making the budget work. Dusty is a well respected individual and looked at by many as a person who could have ran for Governor this year also or could have ran for Congress and for both of those offices he would have been the real deal. He is seen as a rising star in our party because of a lot of the things he has accomplished and I think he brings that added weight another chief of staff couldn’t deliver.

    He is the right person at the right time because he is well respected himself and the legislators know Dusty didn’t have to take that job. He wanted to help the state out.

  41. GO DUSTY!

    Dusty gets my vote of confidence!

    While Daugaard is running around with an ax cutting peoples positions Dusty can use the slash and burn tactic on the budget.


  42. pickles

    I think Dusty will do a really good job.

    I am concerned with who his replacement will be. Does the Governor appoint that individual or do we have a “Larry Deadrich” kind of thing after Janklow’s accident?

    I would prefer we pick a replacement who will be a future leader for other statewide office.

  43. Anonymous

    Daugaard went out and got the best guy – pure and simple.

    Even though he is apparently going to have several top people, and Michels as a full-time LG will be very important, people shouldn’t underestimate the importance of the Chief of Staff.

    Dusty probably made a bad political move, because of the backlash we are seeing here. But Daugaard made the right move by getting the right guy for this important spot. I’m glad Dusty decided to do it.

  44. William

    Comment by anon on November 22, 2010 @ 11:04 pm

    “I like how all of the comments on replacements are on ?building a bench? not on appointing someone who can do a good job and protect the rate payers unlike the political hack the new person will be replacing.”

    BULLSHIT! Dusty has been picked to be the Chief of Staff, are you SERIOUSLY stating that he’s NOT concerned about who replaces him on the PUC?

    “Poltics is not a game. It?s not about a bench, it?s about the people. That?s what the Repub?s just don?t get.”

    The “REPUB’S JUST DON’T GET””???? The people keep electing the SD GOP by ever increasing margins. The SD GOP actually holds public events that are open to the public, the SD GOP actually runs on a platform supported by the voters in this state.

    What part of the political equation do YOU NOT GET??

  45. Les

    As long as I’ve known Dusty I’ve had complete confidence in his ability to make the right choice in the best interests of our citizens.

    Disappointing for the PUC, yes, but more importantly very exciting for our states future.

  46. Anonymous

    Is Matt Michaels a full-time LG? If so I don’t know if we need that during this budget crisis.

    I’m okay with it as long as Daugaard doesn’t try to cut other elected officials staff.

  47. Anonymous

    apparently by the way you all are talking the PUC isn’t a very important position? Have we built it up into something it really isn’t over the years?

  48. Anonymous

    1 – William is right. Look at the SD GOP’s bench. If anything they have too deep a bench: After Thune, Daugaard, and Noem, you have Rounds, Michels, Dusty Johnson, Jackley, Chris Nelson, and Munsterman, for starters. The Dems have… Brendan Johnson and ?

    2 – The way the state budget works, a part-time LG, like Daugaard or Hillard, count as part of an FTE, like a third or a quarter. A full-time LG, like Walter Dale Miller or (apparently) Michels, would be a full FTE. So Daugaard will either have to have fewer staff elsewhere, or ask for more staff in his office. I’d bet he knows better than to add staff with the budget how it is.

  49. William


    If it were my decision, I would certainly consider him. He’s demonstrated a dedication and competence in his past performance, regardless of political consideration, in his position of Secretary of State. I have the utmost confidence in Chris to represent our state in any position he may hold to represent our interest.

    I trust Chris to consider every decision he makes for our state, to be a decision he makes FOR our country AND our state.

    1. anon

      Chris Daugaard is a fine person Tony Vanhuezein is a little less than pleasant. Not a bad guy but the kind of guy politics seems to attract.

      One thing I always liked about Munsterman was the fact that he said his family would have to look for jobs elsewhere. I believe he said that at the Yankton LDD.

  50. Anonymous

    I’ve known Dusty for years. He’s a great public servant and this appointment only affirms that for me.

    The chief of staff is the most important albeit non-elected post in government. Dusty joins a small, unsung hero’s club that’ll still help position him down the road. Smart pick Dennis.

  51. Anonymous

    I would not be in favor of Chris Nelson. Nothing against Nelson other than the fact that he’s been in state government for too long.

    1. Name


      This is the one time I will openly disagree with you. Chris Nelson might have loaned you his signs for stencils but he still needs to get out of Government and get a real job.

      Best of luck in Pierre this year!!! You will be a great legislator.

    1. PUC-IT

      This was probably the biggest political suprise to me. I know Dusty was putting on a full court press to be LG but why on earth would he leave the PUC after the committment to the voters.

      If anyone can overcome this electoral error it is Dusty but as it stands now I won’t be voting for him. I like him but this move has caused me to start looking elsewhere for my support in 2014’s open congressional seat. (assuming Noem runs for Senate and Rounds doesn’t run for House)

      1. Dusty
      2. Shantel Krebs
      3. Jarrod Johnson
      4. Jim Seward
      5. Lucas Lentsch
      Everyone is going to target Dusty and because of that I’d put my money on Seward to win the nomination. Dusty will be the clear frontrunner so enough of the people who want to run against him will have to get in the mud and show that he is not capable. I put that on Shantel and Jarrod to do I think the oppurtunity for these 3 is becoming slim and they know that 2014 will be their only shot. If Dusty can get away with a primary like Daugaard he will win the nod if it gets rough I don’t think he can pull it out with too many crabs pulling him down. The main thing everyone else needs to remember is that Dusty would do the same to them if he was the unerdog.

      I can only imaging that there are a few others who would run also an open seat and competitive primary would clear out the current bench and make way for others to climb a little higher.

      I think people like Jason Gant, Corey Brown, Russ Olson, Steve Barnett and Todd Schlekeway are definately people to keep our eyes on for the next batch of up and comers.

  52. insomniac

    I miss PP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I think this decision by Dusty has upset me a little more than it should. Mainly it’s that Dusty is running around now telling everyone what they have to do. At least Gant, Barnett, Jackley and Sattgast stayed in the office they were elected to. I appreciate them for doing this all good guys as is Dusty. but can you imaging what Dusty would have thought if Gant or one of these other guys left office immediately after being elected.

  53. anon

    Especially as first year office holders to come in that strong. I think Barnett and Gant have an oppurtunity to fill the open hole Dusty left in the GOP base. I see Barnett and Gant as both potential candidates for higher office.

  54. David

    PUC-IT – dusty did run as an underdog, against Burg. A big underdog. Dusty didn’t say a course word about Burg. Dusty is wired differently. He’s one of those guys that would rather have his integrity than the fame or power, it seems to me. That probably limits his upside electorally.

    He’s like Janklow in two ways. Smart as a whip and tough as nails in the trenches. Of course, Dusty’s both tough and fair, which Janklow wasn’t.

  55. Name

    “Dusty is running around now telling everyone what they have to do”
    That’s the curse of the chief of staff job, insomniac. No one takes that job to be popular. Plenty of departments and elected offices didn’t want to cut their 10%. Plenty of cabinet secretaries didn’t want to get fired. Someone has to do the dirty work of delivering those messages. I never pictured Dusty as the heavy, but the word on the street is that he’s doing fine.

    1. insomniac

      Dusty as a heavy is pretty funny! But I think he appears up to the challenge and probably rellishes being the most powerful man in Pierre behind DD.

      I don’t know a session of seeing Dusty in the Capitol that close to the Governors job is going to have people scratching their heads and reconsidering Jackley or Michaels.

      It’s never good to be overly ambitious. And Dusty is overly ambitious. You will see when he runs for Congress in 4 years.

  56. M

    Dusty isn’t overly ambitious — otherwise he never would have made this move. Everyone close to Dusty has said the same thing: He knows taking the chief of staff job hurt him politically, but he felt called to serve. Cutting agencies, firing state employees, and playing the heavy doesn’t make anyone popular. Selfishly, I’m sure he’d still rather be cutting ribbons on new wind farms and fighting against the federal government’s energy policy.

  57. Name

    From what I’ve been told Dusty was feeling the political “winds” changing. He new that being in the PUC (1 of 3) was never going to be competitive against so many new emerging leaders in SD.

    2004-2009 was Dusty time. Then things changed…

    It’s no secret around the Capitol that Dusty put the full court press on Dennis Daugaard to be LG and Daugaard went with Michaels instead.

    Once upon a time the PUC looked sexy (when it was Dusty and Jarrod) but then along came Marty Jackley who as AG had the ability to fight crime and challenge Obamacare in court. Then Kristi Noem decided to run for Congress and won! (she’s got guts) then DD picked Matt Michaels to be LG. And the convention went young with Gant and Barnett and suddenly Dusty wasn’t the big deal anymore. He was surrounded by (Jackley and Michaels) who would be taken seriously for any office immediatley. And if he stayed in the PUC for another 6 years Barnett and Gant might become competitors not to mention who knows how many legislators are becoming high quality candidates.

    You see Dusty had to find a reason to get out of the PUC because he couldn’t gain traction for Congress by saying he brought the iphone to SD so he wanted to get a bigger job. Anyone who tells me Dusty didn’t do this as a political move is full of BS. Of course CoS is better than PUC but it also has flaws like becoming a pure pierre government employee for most of working life isn’t a great platform in SD. Especially now. It didn’t help C Nelson against Noem and it won’t help Dusty against Seward, Michaels, Johnson or Krebs. I think Dusty made an ok move but he’s not in my top 5 for electability anymore.

    For Congress:
    2 or 3 legislators have potential.

    So maybe Dusty left the PUC because he’s salt of the earth or maybe he left because he made himself available to DD and wanted to be CoS instead of PUC. I find it more likely that this was in the works long before DD won.

  58. anon

    Agreed. Dusty needed to find a way to stay fresh and the PUC wasn’t going to cut it. He would be old news after 12 years in the PUC and a 40 year old dusty isn’t as fun as a 30 year old. I think his youth is his asset and everyone in SD politics is 35-40 when they are elected. Thune 36, SHS 34, Noem 39 etc, Daschle 29?

    DJ is still relevant but less appealing as a Pierre insider.

  59. Charlie

    Who are all you hacks? This is getting silly. Dusty is #1 on the bench. Aside from being the most powerful, he is probably the smartest and hardest working in Pierre. Also, he is the best campaigner of the bunch. In a primary, he eats these other guys’ lunches. Why do you think this is the most popular post on this blog? Dusty will have his druthers, and I doubt he wants to go to Washington.

    1. anon

      Dusty is a great guy but Marty Jackley is #1. I don’t think the iphone compares to taking down sexual predators, convicting murderers and taking on Obama’s HC law. Ask around who is #1 and you’ll find out that it’s Jackley.

      Dusty hurt his stock after he left the PUC before taking the oath. It might not matte now but in a primary where people view winning the nomination as the way to become a congressmanwoman he will have a lot of work to do.

      1. Charlie

        C’mon anon… you just sound bitter. Jackley beats Ron Volesky and now he’s a giant killer? Dusty is not PUC anymore, and COS compares just fine with AG. Jackley is solid, but I think #1 depends on who you ask. I’ll take the better campaigner any day.

    1. Palinesque

      I still don’t believe that this wasn’t in the works long before the campaign was over. Dusty wanted to be LG and convinced Daugaard to take him. No way Daugaard ask someone who just won a political office of their own to leave and work for him without prodding and encouragement.

  60. Desk Job

    Here is my thing on this issue.

    Dusty asked people for money to run for PUC so he could keep his job. People helped him and paid him money so he could campaign.

    Chris Nelson ran for Congress and lost because he hadn’t done anything but Government jobs.

    Dusty then wanted out of his committment he made to the people of SD and encouraged Daugaard to hire him.

    It just isn’t a resume for success. He should have stayed in the PUC.

  61. Charlie

    Dusty’s true supporters still support him today and will again tomorrow. The administration and the people of this state are fortunate to have him as COS.

    The Governor made a great choice in appointing Nelson. He is an exemplary public servant and did an excellent job as SOS.

  62. Name

    Here’s the truth . . . Dusty wanted to stay at the PUC. As PUC he got 10x more speaking invitations and 10x more press than he’ll ever get as COS. Daugaard appealed to his sense of committment/service, telling him no one could do a better job at COS as Dusty and that during these challengig times Dusty needed to be willing to serve. It was a selfless, not selfish move.

    1. anon

      This is not believable… Dusty is a good guy but I’m certain he wanted out of PUC. Jackley, Noem and Michaels were eclipsing him and it is exactly why he left.

      No one cares about the PUC. They like Dusty. Dusty needed a bigger more impressive stage.

      1. Name

        I don’t buy it either. Dusty wanted to be closer to the governor’s mansion. Good guy but he’s too ambitious. and it showed in 2010 and it wasn’t flattering.

        1. Name

          Name, you don’t get it. Think about it. Everyone knew this move wouldn’t look good, including Dusty (he said so in the news stories that came out that day). It damaged him among some folks, for sure. The fact that he accepted the calling shows he isn’t ambitious, at least not in the “I have to hold a high elected office to make a difference” kind of way. Service, not title.

  63. Name

    The PUC is not a great constitutional office. there are 3 of them. Dusty knew it had limited potential. Don’t tell me Daugaard wasn’t preasured.

  64. Name

    Pure and simple. If a guy campaigns and asks me for money for the campaign and I give it to him I expect that person to stay there. If he wanted to apply to the Governor’s office than he could have done it without my money or $100,000 of other peoples money.

    I don’t remember giving Chris Nelson money for the PUC

    1. Name

      That’s a dumb comparison. Isn’t there a difference between walking away from the tough decisions for millions of dollars and fame (Palin) and jumping into the tough decisions, still working for those same voters, and being willing to work behind the scenes (Dusty)?

  65. Name

    I wasn’t a huge fan of this move when I first heard it. As I have seen how this new administration functions though I think SoDak is much better served with Dusty as chief-of-staff. What we are seeing out of the Governors Office is a breath of fresh air, and from everything I hear Dusty is a pretty big part of that change. You see his name in the paper about 1/20 as much as you used to but he is helping to make government much better and much leaner. Maybe a bad trade for him politically but a good trade for SoDak.

  66. anon

    I’ve heard people say that Dusty was asked to be CoS so Daugaard could clear one more person out of the way for Michaels. I think Dusty is running for Congress in 2014.

    1. Name

      Yeah, I wonder, though. He’s an incredible chief of staff; might he enjoy being the technocrat running government more than he’d enjoy being the politician running government? Maybe he’s happy where he’s at?


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