This list is a compilation of those who made a substantial impact in politics during the past election and is made up of people we see having considerable involvement in the political world over the next several cycles. The list represents elected officials, activists and staff members. Obviously it is not a perfect list, but it is the way several of us saw the last election and forsee future elections. We tried to restrict the list as much as possible to people the age of 40 (or under). There were too many good people to stick with 40 names, so a few are combined.
40. Ryan Budmayr ?Budmayr was a staffer for Daugaard during his campaign for Governor and currently serves as Dennis Daugaard?s scheduler.
39. Jenna Haggar ? She won in District 15 in Sioux Falls with over 40% of the vote in a 3 way race. Hagaar has been very active in Sioux Falls GOP politics and with pro-life initiatives.
38. Lance Hildebrandt ? Hildebrandt worked on the campaign of Scott Munsterman in the 2010 Governor?s primary helping deliver a strong second place showing by the Munsterman campaign. Hildebrandt also helped get Larry Tidemann elected in Brookings and is currently working as constituent service representative for Congresswoman Noem in Watertown.
37. Andrew Christianson – Christianson worked for Noem?s election campaign during the final couple of months and is her current legislative director.
36. Kristin Conzet ? Appointed to the legislature by Governor Rounds in 2009. Conzet won her own term in 2010 and represents district 32 in the state house with Brian Gosch.
35. Justin Rollins ? Rollins served as Jason Gant?s campaign manager during the 2010 SOS election. He currently works for Gant in the SOS office.
34. Jessica Arends ? Arends took over as Noem’s Finance Director after the primary ended. She inherited a well run-machine from volunteers who organized Noem’s primary campaign and continues to raise sizable funds for Noem’s reelection.
33. Will Mortenson ? After serving as Dusty Johnson?s campaign manager and helping him win over 70% of the vote during the 2010 cycle, Mortenson now serves as a policy analyst for Governor Daugaard.
32. Aaron Lorenzen ? Last year Lorenzen was appointed to fill the vacancy of County Auditor in Faulk County then ran for the position in the November election winning over 70% of the vote. Lorenzen was then hired to serve as Election Supervisor of South Dakota Elections in the SOS office with Jason Gant. Chris Daugaard ? Epitomizes the kind of person Dennis and Linda would raise. Daugaard was very active on many levels during his father?s election and has been a great ambassador for his family during the primary and through today.
31. Tony Post ? Though new to South Dakota as the new ED of the SD GOP, Post is known for his skilled work in the election of Congressman Chip Cravaack in Minnesota?s 8th congressional district and his organizing skills with the Minnesota GOP.
30. Quentin Riggin?s ? ?Q,? as he?s become known as to his friends, is an active member of the 2002 and 2004 victory campaigns and delegate to many conventions. Q was elected as President of the South Dakota Young Republicans at the 2010 GOP convention in Huron.
29. Eric Fahrendorf (former Chair Lincoln), Josh Haeder (Chair Beadle), Drake Olson (Former Chair Minnehaha), These three county chairs worked very actively with candidates through the primary, convention and general election. They made a strong impact when it came to getting the right people nominated in June. It was very striking at convention that we had so many young people stepping up to leadership roles in our party.
28. Brock Greenfield – At Greenfield’s young age, it’s hard to believe he’s been in the legislature as long as he has. Greenfield has served in the Senate and is currently serving in the State House. He is also the former Executive Director of South Dakota Right to Life.
27. Jason Lutz ? Lutz was a constituent service rep for Senator Thune. Following the 2010 election Lutz began serving as Deputy State Auditor for Steve Barnett. Justin Ohleen ? A former staffer to Vice President Cheney in the Department of Homeland security, Ohleen returned to work for a short time as political director of the SD GOP with Lucas Lentsch. Ohleen currently serves as the Deputy of School and Public Lands under Jarrod Johnson.
26. Mike Lauritsen ? His presence has been a staple of GOP politics since Beth Hollatz was interim ED of the SD GOP following the 2004 election cycle. Lauritsen has become a go-to guy for legislators across the state.
25. Joshua Shields ? Kristi Noem?s campaign manager during the 2010 general election. Shields now serves as Noem?s Communications Director. Prior to working for Noem, Shields ran Blake Curd?s congressional campaign during the primary.
24. Deb Peters ? Senator Peters tends to stay more low key than some of her fellow lawmakers who are presumed to have greater ambition. She holds a CPA and for a time was discussed as a potential candidate for Auditor last election. The discussion now tends to focus on whether or not she will enter the National Committeewoman election since Mary Jean Jensen is widely expected to step down.
23. Casey Phillips ? Phillips has had a very active career in politics working for the Republican State Leadership Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee. Phillips is a welcome sight at GOP events in Sioux Falls or at GOP conventions.
22. Justin Cronin ? Cronin ascended through the ranks and became Assistant Majority Leader in the House of Representatives when Kristi Noem left to run for Congress. He is 1 of 3 officials from legislative District 23 to currently hold a leadership position in the State Legislature.
21. Matt McCaulley ? A former legislator, McCaulley is an influential lobbyist and has considerable influence in conservative politics.
20. Sam Kooiker – A veteran of Rapid City politics, Kooiker had previously served on the city council until he was elected Mayor earlier this year in an upset victory over incumbent Alan Hanks.
19. Tony Venhuizen ? Venhuizen served as Dennis Daugaard?s campaign manager during the 2010 election. He also serves as the Governor?s Director of Communications and Policy. Venhuizen helped deliver over 50% of the vote in the primary election and 60% of the vote in the general. Jordan Stoick ? A surprise choice to serve as Noem?s Chief of Staff following the 2010 election cycle. Stoick has a strong reputation around the state and in DC.
18. Ben Ready ? Largely considered by many to be the first person Noem asked to be her State Director, Ready continues to serve Senator Thune as his economic advisor. Ready?s influence goes beyond his job title; he also carries considerable weight with GOP activists across the state.
17. Bob Gray ? Gray stepped in to the SD GOP Chairman role succeeding Karl Adam after the 2008 election. Gray?s first move as Chairman was to make Lucas Lentsch Executive Director. Gray has been a veteran of political activism and his knowledge was a great asset in rebuilding the SD GOP into a true force.
16. Lucas Lentsch ? Lentsch led the SD GOP to historic victories in 2010. As Executive Director, he rallied the troops after the devastating election of 2008. Lentsch was relatively unknown in most political circles at the beginning of his tenure beginning in 2009. After the GOP feared losing the Senate in 2008, under Lentsch?s leadership we regained supermajorities in both legislative houses.
15. Jarrod Johnson ? Johnson is a solid guy and a hard campaigner. In 2010, he didn?t have a credible opponent so he didn?t need to campaign much. Since he will be term limited in 2014, we are left to wonder what is in his future? Johnson is someone who has potential for higher political office.
14. Shantel Krebs ? She certainly was on the radar screen as a potential congressional candidate in 2010 before taking a pass. Krebs is a current state senator and the former Vice Chair of the SD GOP. She is considered by many to possess the skills needed to run as a serious candidate for statewide office.
13. Steve Barnett – I ?m not sure a candidate could come from farther off the radar than Barnett did when he entered last year?s convention primary. For his first political race he faced off against the gracious former first lady Patricia Miller and Representative Tim Rounds. In the general election, he faced off against Julie Bartling who had many years in elected office behind her. Barnett was a former constituent service representative for Senator Thune.
12. Dan Lederman ? It is impossible to be more active in SD politics than Lederman and would be foolish to look at the future of politics in SD and not expect to see his name mentioned as a potential candidate for statewide office. Lederman represents District 16 in the state senate.
11. Corey Brown ? Brown is a hard guy not to like. He is Assistant Majority Leader in the SD Senate and represents District 23. Brown chose to seek elected office in 2006 following his service in the military. Brown also serves his hometown of Gettysburg as Director of Economic Development.