State Senator Phil Jensen reginites war of words with Gov. Daugaard as primary election season kicks off

At yesterday’s Crackerbarrell in Rapid City, State Senator Phil Jensen made a point to go out of his way to reignite a war of harsh words with Governor Dennis Daugaard that had seemingly died down over the past year or so.

On a question about revenue, Senator Jensen said the governor has finally come out of December 2010 002the closet as a tax-and-spend liberal. Jensen said we had $9 million in tax and fee increases last year, and more would hurt everyone in South Dakota.

Read that here.

Senator Jensen was making a point of calling out the Governor, who, after turning in a series of extremely austere state budgets over the past few years had promoted fee and tax increases for infrastructure maintenance for highways last year, and is now supporting a measure to increase teacher pay from last in the nation. The Governor is also trying to put together a package for a cost-neutral expansion of Medicaid with the Federal government.

Jensen’s comments seem to be a re-ignition of what had been a long cooled war of words starting in 2012 when Jensen expressed his displeasure with the Governor supporting his opponent in the legislative primary in 2012:

Republican state Rep. Phil Jensen of Rapid City is accusing Gov. Dennis Daugaard of “declaring war on conservatives” by picking favorites in some GOP legislative primary races.


“What’s happened is the governor has declared war on conservative Republicans,” Jensen said Thursday. “He wants people in Pierre that will support and represent his agenda, not legislators that will represent the folks in their district.”

Read that here.

Moving past that, Jensen’s relationship with the second floor of the Capital weren’t warmed any at the time of his infamous comments in 2014, which earned Jensen national scorn. In order to inoculate the GOP at large from Jensen’s comments, the Governor made a direct point to distance himself and the party from Jensens’s comments which earned universal condemnation on a national basis:

Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard on Wednesday distanced himself from Jensen in a statement released to the media.

“I found his comments to be completely out of line with South Dakota values,” he said. “I don’t agree with him and I haven’t talked to anyone who does.”

Governor Dennis Daugaard at the 2014 South Dakota State Fair.

Governor Dennis Daugaard at the 2014 South Dakota State Fair.

The governor’s comments followed the story in Sunday’s Journal in which Jensen, 61, who runs a cookware sales business, explained why he supported the bill that would have allowed businesses to deny service to customers based on sexual orientation and not fear a lawsuit.

While the bill was killed, Jensen defended it to the Journal as legislation that would ensure businesses have the freedom to choose their clientele. He also said that businesses should also have the right to choose based on race and religion – whether that’s right or wrong, he said, can be fairly addressed by the free market, not the government.

“If someone was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and they were running a little bakery for instance, the majority of us would find it detestable that they refuse to serve blacks and guess what? In a matter of weeks or so that business would shut down because no one is going to patronize them,” he said in remarks published Sunday.

Read that here.

Jensen won that primary by the skin of his teeth, and went on to win that general election. Which doesn’t really explain why Jensen felt the need to throw gasoline on the smouldering fire and attack the Governor in anticipation of the upcoming election.

The word in the field is that Jensen will likely have a primary with one, if not possibly two people looking at taking him on for the State Senate seat.  With that as the case, why would he be going after the Governor in such an aggressive manner?  Is he seeking to run against a MacGuffin versus running on what he’s accomplished?

While it might give Jensen something to run against other than his primary opponent(s), distracting everyone from his legislative record, the downside might be it could give the Governor a reason to personally become involved in his race.

Never a dull moment in politics.

11 Replies to “State Senator Phil Jensen reginites war of words with Gov. Daugaard as primary election season kicks off”

  1. whats not

    Wow dennis went do nothing to keep our teachers in state.Shame on you Dennis for giving teachers a raise.Just got to say maybe one of my kids may stay here except the other three who left for high paying jobs in other states.Again shame on yuo Gov f or trying to keep teachers in this state.

  2. Anonymous

    1. There is no teacher shortage in SD.
    2. Let’s make it easier to certify teachers through non-traditional means.

        1. Anonymous

          You made a blanket statement that SD does not have a teacher shortage. You were proven wrong. Now you want to split hairs and demand a survey. Move over to the slow lane and get over yourself.

    1. duggersd

      Point number one seems to be contradicted by point number 2. If there were no teacher shortage in South Dakota, I am wondering why the have an e-learning program being administered through NSU offering World Language and Science classes to students around South Dakota.

  3. Anonymous

    Jensen is the male version of Disanto. Basically bad for conservatism.

    I don’t like that Daugaard endorsed against Jensen in that primary but Jensen is an idiot and so is Disanto. Brock Greenfield and Jim Stalzer are the conservatives I trust.

  4. duggersd

    Perhaps Senator Jensen would like to offer an alternative budget to be considered. What would he like to cut? It is always easier to criticize when you are not responsible.

  5. Anonymous

    Somebody should ask the good senator about his conduct during his first divorce in Kansas. Another interesting study would be his draft history.


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