The Minnehaha Lincoln Day Dinner Saturday night was an impressive event with around 500 people attending. It has been a while since we’ve had a dinner of that size. It must have doubled last year’s.
Whoever was in charge of setting the stage and decorating the convention center deserves a big pat on the back. They did a great job with the huge American and South Dakota flags set as backdrops and the music entertainment to set the mood.
Throughout the night I kept thinking how much our party has changed over the years and how fortunate we are to have so many great leaders. Marty Jackley gave an outstanding update on the health care law and made it very clear he is doing all he can to get Obamacare overturned.
Dusty Johnson proved once again that he is a fantastic Master of Ceremonies. He had probably the best line of the night and also maybe the most akward. The best was when introducing Kristie Fiegen. He commented on her opponent Matt McGovern’s recent name change. When McGovern lived out of state he was Matt Rowen, but since he’s moved to South Dakota and decided to get involved in politics he’s decided to change his name to Matt McGovern after his grandfather George. So Dusty announced that Kristie Fiegen would be changing hers back to her maiden name. “Kristie Abnor Pressler Janklow.” The reaction from the crowd clearly indicated that it was the line of the night, and I heard it repeated continuously on the way out after the dinner.
The awkward moment came when Dusty was introducing Governor Daugaard and said, (paraphrasing) This Governor hasn’t just courted controversy he’s shacked up with it and he has three kids with it. The crowd kind of half laughed and groaned. You never know how much of any of this is planned at an event but you could clearly tell the crowd was uncomfortable with the joke and most were clear about it following the dinner. Dusty quickly made a joke about how he had waded into something he didn’t intend to (unintentionally implying the First Lady might be “controversy”). He joked that he realized now why most Chief of Staffs only last 18 months. Obviously there wasn’t any ill-intention and everyone in the crowd knew that, including Dennis and Linda Daugaard who were great sports.
While listening to our speakers, I was impressed by the very powerful message delivered by Dennis Daugaard that stressed unity and a willingness to make hard decisions. He repeatedly referenced Reagan’s eighty percent ally rule and encouraged the party to come together in 2012.
For quite a long period of time the microphone went out, but that didn’t phase Daugaard. After a couple of moments he simply pushed it aside and began delivering his speech the old fashioned way, earning applause from the crowd. He is clearly a well-liked and respected Governor.
Most importantly we can tell that our Governor is an emotional person, and that was very clear when he closed his remarks speaking about his recent trip to Afghanistan and visiting the soldiers serving overseas, particularly the wounded soldiers. One thing many appreciated was that he didn’t sugar coat his trip. He gave vivid descriptions of the accomplishments of the soldiers and the injuries he witnessed.
Everytime I see Governor Daugaard speak, I am reminded why I support him. He is absolutely genuine and clearly a man of the people who has carved out a unique life story that strongly resonates with the individuals of our state. Even at the odd times when we disagree with him on issues, his sincerity makes it impossible not to respect and admire him.
The event made me wish I could attend another dinner. Until next year!