Congressman Dusty Johnson? Sure sounds like it…

Just caught wind of an interesting little rumor making the rounds the past few days. Allegedly, Daugaard’s Chief of Staff Dusty Johnson is actively laying the ground work for a congressional run if Noem chooses to seek Tim Johnson’s senate seat in 2014. The source also told me that he has dropped hints of already seeking Senator Thune’s backing if he were to run. The source did not say if Dusty had sought Noem’s backing.

This is all coming on the heels of a speech Dusty gave in Huron at the annual Beadle County Lincoln Day Dinner, a “Washington is broken” style of speech. The speech reportedly left many in attendance wondering why the Chief of Staff to the Governor was more focused on the problems in DC rather than advocating for the Governor’s policies and the issues facing our state.

He compared his experience with today?s political climate in Washington.

?I get that annoyed, I get that frustrated almost every time I think about the ridiculous regulations of Washington, D.C.,? said Johnson.

He talked about the current administration?s lack of leadership regarding to health-care reform, financial reform, and economic leadership. The current administration?s reforms have contributed to the mounting U.S. debt, he said.

?Although I hardly ever hear it said, it?s true: Our per capita debt right now is higher than the per capita debt in Greece. Now that?s ridiculous financial leadership,? said Johnson.

He specifically referenced the ridiculousness of the 947-page Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the 848-page Dodd?Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Both acts have cost jobs lost for not only thousands of Americans, but also hundreds of South Dakotans.

Johnson’s speech only seemed to pour gasoline on the rumors already swirling around the Capitol and across the state.

Word has it that he is not the only person looking into the possibility of an open House seat. He’s presumably not even the only person in the same office. Daugaard’s chief legal council, Jim Seward, is purported to be actively interested in running for congress if Noem moves into the senate race. Seward, with his military and legal background, would also offer a very compelling choice for an open house seat.

The big question, however, is whether Noem intends to jump into a senate race with former Governor Mike Rounds who himself has been dropping unsubtle hints about interest in running for the senate seat currently held by Tim Johnson.

The only thing certain is that congresswoman Kristi Noem holds the fate of many political hopefuls with regard to her future decisions. (And yes, I’m assuming she wins handily in 2012.)

97 Replies to “Congressman Dusty Johnson? Sure sounds like it…”

  1. toga

    Noem would be smart to screw Dusty over and stay in the House.

    I would get a big kick out of that happening.

    1. Agot

      Noem probably will run for the house again and Rounds will run for the Senate.

      Even though I’d vote for Kristi – Rounds would probably win a primary between the two for the Senate seat.

      Dusty has zero experience in the private sector and has run nothing in his life. That walmart job was probably one of the last jobs he’s had in the private sector.

      I can see the campaign commercial now…Dusty as a dancing bear was his last job in the private sector.

      No military experience – all state government experience – everything he’s done has been for himself living off of relatively well paid government jobs.

      1. Anonymous

        Just like Tom Daschle, no private sector experience, no military experience, just well paid government jobs. The big difference is their political views on all topics, Tom liberal, Dusty conservative.

          1. gopdad

            You forget Governor of Alaska. I am not a big Palin fan, but she was more qualified than Obama. Last I looked, mayor and governor had more responsibilities than community organizer?

    2. Nick

      Not only do I hope Dusty runs for Congress but I hope he challenges Noem. Talk about a trade up.

      You guys stop ripping DJ and understand he is better than what we currently have.

  2. Anonymous

    You can count me in the Seward camp between those two. I like Dusty but he’s not the person he once was when he was in the PUC. He has become politically ambitious and is not in politics for the greater good anymore. He’s a climber.

    1. Jammer

      I tend to slightly agree with you regarding your comments about Dusty as he has appeared to change for the worse the last couple of years. However, I still think he is a very good person and would be an excellent choice for the House seat.

      I think he has many of the problems in Washington properly identified. However, I think he and the state would be best served if he put more effort and thought into what is broken in Pierre. I am still very disappointed in how he addressed the recent report on state government corruption.

    2. Daniels

      He’s not a climber, and he’s proved it. The chief of staff move was a politically damaging one, and he knew it. He did it for the greater good, as the move didn’t make any political or family sense. He’s one of the good ones.

      1. SD GOPer

        What I find interesting is the fact that the SD GOP made a “deal” with the Governor’s office that stated. “If county parties hold their Lincoln Day between this date and this date and this date the Governor will guarantee the Governor will attend and if he can’t Dusty Johnson will speak for him.”

        That is a really good deal for Dusty considering it keeps him in the lime light. That is how Dusty ended up being a keynote speaker in Beadle.

        1. Anonymous

          I wonder how often Dusty’s former west river director who is now the governor’s scheduler schedules Daugaard for something other than an LDD so Dusty can grab the mic?

      2. name

        Where do you get your news? Everyone knows Dusty lobbied hard to be Lt. Governor. (Daugaard even called to tell him he wasn’t going to be) When he was turned down he lobbied hard to become Chief of Staff.

        Don’t treat us readers like we are naive.

  3. Didn't Dusty just have another baby

    We all new this was coming and I’ve heard the rumors of Dusty’s angling for this myself.

    In 2010 he said he couldn’t run because he had little kids (it was because he didn’t think he could win). Now three months after his new child was born he’s ready to run for congress suddenly? How’s he going to explain that?

    1. name

      It’s easy he’ll just say “he’s realized that his childrens future is too important for him to sit on the sidelines.”

      Women will weep and old men will shake his hand while some of us will throw up a little in our mouth.

      But he will be formidable and probably a good legislator if he wins.

  4. Anonymous

    Didn’t he just quit a job we elected him for so he could have this one? Now he’s ready to quit again?

    No thanks.

    1. Anonymous

      That has already been discussed about above. Didn’t you read the comments or just throwing out another jab.

    2. Sarah Palin (No relation to Dusty)

      Yes but that is ok. There is nothing wrong with quitting an elected office even if you committ to the people to serve in that capacity if a better more lucrative job comes along.

      Even I don’t hold it against Dusty that he quit the PUC ($90,000) to become CoS (120,000). He had to do what is right for his family.

      1. Name

        Dusty has turned down three times that much money in the energy sector. Your insinuation that this is about money to him is petty and untrue.

  5. Anooner

    I’d be more encouraged if he were annoyed at the culture of opposition in DC that has caused the town to essentially grind to a halt – which is non-partisian, btw. I think the dude has been dreaming about DC since since jr. high.

  6. Sullivan

    If we only get one voice in the House of Reps, I would want Dusty. He would be a Paul Ryan-style representative that could actually change the conversation in DC. I hope he runs.

    1. Anony Mouse

      If we get one voice in the House of Reps, I’d prefer one that had started to deepen. Dusty is an ambitious kid, but he’s still a kid with no real world experience.

      If he ever had a job he wasn’t handed, I might take him more seriously.

        1. Fool me once...

          I think his name was John Thune and his money that dragged Dusty along. Dusty ended up getting lots of money and attention in that race. The SD GOP was loaded like a twice baked potatoe in those days.

          Dusty worked hard but he had some nice circumstances between Diedrich and Thune.

  7. iJammer

    Dusty Johnson would have to defeat a large field in the primary: all hat, no cattle and the DNC would roast Noem like the marshmallow she is.

    1. Jammer

      While imitation may be the most serious form of flattery, I find your childish behavior very progressive liberal. It is just one more example why nobody should ever take a progressive liberal seriously.

      1. Hughes County voter

        Dusty is a decent human being. I think that when the TAR’s grow up he will be seen as a stronger candidate because they can vote.

        I’m not sure all of the switching jobs has been good for Dusty but he’ll still be a strong candidate regardless. I bet he would currently poll in the 30% range and he won’t crumble in a race. Someone else would have to elevate their game to beat him. Most of these other people are not well known. Russ Olson as Senate Majority leader could compete financially. Seward would be strong in Rapid. Krebs in SF. Lederman would probably have a better statewide name id than most of the others but I’m not sure that is a positive. He has a tendancy to be for someone at the same time being against someone.

        Dusty isn’t my first choice but he will get the nomination if no one else steps up and runs.

          1. Hoss

            Dusty would make a fine congressman and I’d be happy to have him just as soon as he can grow facial hair.

            1. Jammer

              Yeah right!!! Given a quarter to flip as an aid in your decision making, it is unlikely that you could correctly answer which way is up 50% of the time. So just who do you think will put any credibility in anything that you say?

  8. Name

    I can assure you Dusty is very much focused on his job for Daugaard. He is working hard and making the right decisions internally (the kind of decisions that create enemies). That shows his loyalty to the Governor; a more ambitious and calculating candidate wouldn’t make those tough decisions. As for the Lincoln Dinner, he was asked to speak at the Huron dinner and spoke about the topic that would be of most interest to the crowd.

    Tempest in a teapot.

          1. The fable of Dustin "Dusty" Johnson

            There once was a little boyman who won a seat to the PUC.

            He went unchallenged at the 2004 GOP convention in Mitchell for the nomination. (Hometown boy)

            He then was the baby of the Thune and Diedrich era. Raised to look fondly upon himself and his accomplishments. Of which there were many.

            When he won the election to PUC by a wider than expected margin. He celebrated like a child who could not contain himself at the Ramkota in SF. Was this a dream? He kept pinching himself.

            Over the years Dusty worked hard promoting himself and enjoying the stage. He had it all to himself and life was good.

            Then one day things started to change. Those who adored him started to have others they also adored. 6 years of unshared attention had gone to Dusty’s head. These were his people and his throng of supporters. They were to adore him. Who was this young and popular Marty Jackly who was appointed to the Attorney Generals postion being shown affection by the GOP base? AG is more powerful than PUC. Dusty looked at Marty and thought this guys young but not childish young like me and he’s only 4 years older than I am and he’s an electrical engineer aswell. “very impressive.” Dusty thought.

            Dusty consoled himself at night by repeating the thought that Marty would be content to stay in the AG’s office for eight years until the Governors seat became available. Dusty thought to himself “I won’t need to worry about Marty. I have time.”

            But just as quickley as quieted his fear another star emerged. This one in the form of GOP executive Director Lucas Lentsch. This one traveled the state speaking at events and rallying the troops. He spoke of Iraq and service to country. He was good and Dusty new Lentsch could also be a strong opponent one day.

            For now he pushed the thought aside…

            When the 2010 House race began Dusty was encouraging Chris Nelson even though behind the scenes people were encouraging Dusty to run. He wanted to jump in but with the thought of young children at home, an easy reelection campaign for PUC in front of him and the likely hood that Chris Nelson couldn’t defeat SHS dusty was safe as the future star. Dusty reconsidered running again but feared losing. What if he did run for Congress? What if he lost? Would the past ten years have been for nothing? He chose to bide his time… The open seat would be his.

            But as it often does, something happened that Dusty didn’t plan for. This unknown lady named Kristi Noem, from the middle of nowhere, announced her candidacy that had begun in secret. She had potential, star power and was a woman. She could defeat SHS and Dusty knew it. This frustrated him and in the months that followed Dusty suddenly felt trapped and the need for a new image. He was going to go stale like an open bag of chips, if he stayed in the PUC for another term (12 years). His confidence had dwindled as he feared drifting into irrelevency as all child stars do.

            What was there that was still available? “Lt. Governor.” He dreamed.

            He worked hard behind the scenes encouraging Daugaard that he would be the right choice for LG. But Daugaard wasn’t swayed.

            Daugaard announced Matt Michels as his selection and Dusty became frustrated watching the SD GOP around him discovering one new star after another. He was being relegated to the back of people’s minds. He feared the back bench. That is certainly not for him.

            Certainly not.

            For only 6 years ago he had become God’s gift to the SD GOP and now he was being lost in the shuffle. A shuffle he felt he helped create. These new candidates were young and exciting, they could speak and fundraise, they had potential. Potential that gave Dusty pause.

            Dusty scrambled… “How can I stay relevant?” “How!!!!!!” Suddenly it hit him like Katrina hit New Orleans. He must be bold. “I will become Governor Daugaard’s Chief of Staff. Tony Venhuizen will not be able to serve in that role because that would be nepotism.”

            Dusty became confident again. He knew he had the chance to bring in his puc campaign staff into the governors office. He was able to choose his replacement and also Kolbeck’s (since his wife served on the junior achievement board with Kristie Fiegen). Nelson and Fiegen would be indebted to him for his noble acts of generosity. They would seek his advice. Life would be good.

            From the Governor’s office he would be able to control the SD GOP. He could mold it in his image. He would hire someone out of state who was fresh and untarnished. Someone who didn’t have loyalties to others in our state. Dusty would bring this new person in under his wing.

            But in the heat of the moment his ambition and fear clouded his once perfect judgement. He abandoned a seat he had told voters he wanted. He committed to them that he would serve for PUC again. Suddenly it was no longer important to him to follow the will of the voters. His promises could be undone and his word was no longer his bond. It was his desire that mattered. His will was an upward step into the circle of stars in the SD GOP. Where he undoubtedly belonged.

            He told himself: I can serve the people better as CoS than PUC. The people do not know what they need so I will have to decide for them. This would be best for all of us.

            He would wait and plot. He would hold steady until the moment presented itself and then like a knight returning to the kingdom from battle he would be ready and appear offering himself to the people of South Dakota again. This Dusty Johnson would be stronger and more powerful than the dusty of old. This Dusty would not shy away from the future or be intimidated by an election bigger than PUC.

            And so he declared in secret and later to the world that he would return and return he shall…

            An observation of sorts from those who witnessed the last 8 years take place.

            1. Anonymous

              That was pretty good, and probably pretty accurate. But I still like Dusty, and I still think he’s smarter and more capable than just about anyone else whose fable you haven’t written.

              1. scooby

                I could not stop laughing! Dusty is going to be tough. And the little fella’s ambitous.

                We shouldn’t be blind
                He is qualified and smart as a tack
                But I get the feeling he wouldn’t mind
                Stabbing someone in the back.

            2. GH

              I’m close enough to Dusty and his family to know your fable is BS. Dusty held a campaign event for Marty in Pierre, and Lentsch would not have been hired as a division director at Ag if Dusty didn’t want him to be. Those don’t seem like acts of a man looking to torpedo his rivals. Dusty gushes about Kristi in public and private. That doesn’t seem like a guy who is bitter that she stole his spotlight. You have Dusty pegged all wrong. You assume motivations that are not true. Whether you want to believe it or not, he is a good guy.

              1. Anonymous

                I remember hearing Dusty question the Noem candidacy. “She got in too late.” “She couldn’t raise the money.”

                The above might be a funny fable but do you think it is really BS? I doubt it sir. I truly doubt it all is.

            3. Anonymous


              Remember Dusty is from Pierre and his wife is from Mitchell. He always had the attitude that anyone who served in a constitutional office should live in Pierre but it was ok for himself to live in Mitchell rather than pack up and move to Pierre.

              You know he needed two hometowns in case he were to run for office someday.

              1. Anonymous

                Being a little jerky, aren’t you? His wife has a successful business in Mitchell and they aren’t interested in selling it to move to Pierre. Why do you care?

                I’ve heard Dusty admit that it is easier on constitutional officers when they live in Pierre (especially for their families). He has said that one town would make his life less stressful, but that real life is complicated. I fail to see why anyone other than a hater would see that as a personality flaw in Dusty. Seems like honesty to me.

  9. Anonymous

    I like both of these guys, but they are sure giving Daugaard poor advice. This year’s legislative session was a failure of leadership. Poorly designed/presented bills, outsourcing, excessive bonuses, dramatically increased spending and no identifiable conservative vision. Daugaard’s agenda may disqualify both of them before any 2014 primary. We do not need any more Romney’s–it is a sure recipe for defeat.

  10. Anonymous

    I question Dusty asking for our vote for the PUC then promptly quitting. But I don’t question his intelligence or his ability. He has a lot of promise, and no doubt he’s been preparing for a seat in Congress for a long time. We could do worse (like right now). We’d be better represented in DC if we had Dusty right now rather than Noem.

    This Seward adulation mystifies me. The only thing the guy has ever run for is a state house seat – and he lost. If he wants to run for congress he better step up and put his name on the ballot for some lower office first.

      1. Boy Genius

        I’m actually a fan of Seward. He would be a great candidate. Up until this past year the guy has worked in the private sector and been in the military.

        Go ahead and ripp on him but the guy is a strong candidate if he runs.

  11. Agot

    Winning other elections is the worst qualifier for elected office – especially today. Prior elected service is an indicator of just that – prior elected service.

    Many of the problems we face are a result of the lack of elected leaders with experience outside of government.

    What experience does Dusty have outside of state government?

    Seward’s experience of running his own law firm, advising corporations and individual clients and volunteering to serve in the military is more of what we need.

      1. Scottsdale

        Seward is someone I really want to see run. His service is above and beyond Dusty Johnson’s. Seward would be a strong contender in the west and a great fundraiser.

        He just can’t let Dusty hog the spotlight all the time. Get out and speak Jim!

  12. 73*

    No offense to Dusty but what Seward, Russ Olson, Shantell Krebs, Dan Lederman and yes Kristi Noem all have on him is the fact that they haven’t worked in government their entire lives.

    Dusty is 36 years old. Imagine if he were elected in ’14 that means he’d be in DC until he retired in his 70’s. We are looking at someone who would be in DC for 40 years.

  13. Boy Genius

    I agree with whoever said the last private sector job Dusty ever had was the bear/clown suit he wore when working at Wal-Mart for the day selling slurpies.

    1. Anonymous

      It’s premature if you don’t understand politics. There are 4-5 people who would be very credible candidates in a congressional race in SD right now. Most people can’t just jump in and turn on a switch. It takes jockying and locking down support. Lots of behind the scenes talk.

      I’m sure Dusty took the CoS postion from Daugaard so he could get to know more big money donors.

      The only reason Noem could flip the switch in the primary was because Nelson and Curd were weak candidates. And Curd’s campaign had money but they didn’t lock up some of the biggest Thune donors in SD. Stupid on their part.

      Olson, Seward, Krebs, Lederman blah blah blah are all in another league than Nelson and Curd. That is why Dusty has to prepare early to keep everyone out.

      It’s the same reason Rounds is going public so early. He doesn’t want a primary.

  14. Joe the Shitters Full

    It is a good probability, for anyone who follows SD state politics, that Dusty Johnson will end up Governor Johnson. The only thing our lonely U.S. House seat serves as is a launching pad for bigger and better things. The U.S. House seat would be a great path into the Governor’s seat. Likewise, I think the only way a democrat would have a chance in hell at Governor, would be to first win the U.S. House seat. Thoughts?

  15. Anonymous

    Has any one heard yei if the subsidy queen Noem is going to support Johnsons bill on cutting subsides for those rich farmers, also the man in the empty suit has he signed on yet.

  16. Anonymous

    Haters, some you really have problems. You are so mean and I can’t even believe the lies you peddle. Can any of you substantiate the insults you throw out? This guy works hard, makes good policy and management decisions, turns down lucrative offers in the private sector, and honestly gives a damn.

    He sounds like a threat — lets attack him!

  17. M.D.

    Personaly I would like to see 3 or 4 good people run for this. Not someone going around declaring senator thune’s blessing. Anyone who believes thune would back dusty in a primary is foolish and that means dusty if what I have also heard he is saying is true.

  18. TedE

    I remember that little whippersnapper giving his speech when he first won. You’d have thought he beat Daschle that night.

  19. Anonymous


    It’s good to know that Lentsch’s job requires Dusty’s blessing. Considering Lucas is responsible for organizing one of the biggest GOP victories in SD history while Dusty bilked donors for money to win a race he never was going to serve a day in.

    Real nice. But I guess that is politics, huh?

  20. Les

    From the penthouse to the outhouse with Dusty huh? I am very confused by the posters. So much for predictability. Dusty is a young man with great ambition who we’ve seen very few mistakes from in the past.

    Don’t think for a moment Dusty couldn’t have taken a high paying job with Century Link, or others of similar venue.

    Don’t like what Dusty is saying? He works for Gov DD. Around my office you don’t last long by throwing me under the bus!

    I would love to see Jim in congress. He has business savvy, military experience and the comprehension to do the job right.

    Gov Rounds, not securing that senate seat for our party and taking your skills to DC will be a disappointment.

    1. scooby

      I’m with you Les, I’d take Rounds and Seward any day.

      That is if Stace Nelson doesn’t have anything to say about it.

  21. Troy Jones

    Good story but assumes a character flaw Dusty doesn’t have. He grew up in Pierre and I have known him since he was born.

    Dusty is a basic good government Republican. He will sacrifice himself if it is good for getting better government. Taking the Cos position is an example. While not a good political move on the surface, the best politics is good governing. Dusty will have a record by which to be judged.

  22. Clay Bill

    Man … talk about making a mountain out of molehill. Read the story in the Huron paper and stop focusing so much on Bill’s highly inaccurate rumors and innuendo. Dusty was addressing a Lincoln Day Dinner, for crying out loud. It’s a time when Republicans traditionally bash Democrats. About the only way to do that in South Dakota (since Dems are a rare breed here) is to focus on Obama and his policies.
    Dusty is too smart to waste an opportunity to speak to South Dakota Republicans by using that time to focus on Daugaard and state issues after the horrible legislative session the governor just experienced. You expect him to talk about how great the governor’s education reform legislation is, while, as he is speaking, South Dakotans are circulating petitions to refer the bill (which barely passed) in hopes of killing it?
    Dusty did exactly what a good South Dakota Republican should — he praised the governor, Noem and Thune while aiming criticism at Obama. That’s all.

    1. Anonymous

      That makes sense. Why in the world would Dusty talk about outsourcing jobs to Wisconsin to recruit 1000 workers to SD, and a 8% bonus to state workers at a Republican function? He just had to work with whatever material was available. Hopefully it dawned on him while writing the speech that he better give a little better advice to Daugaard in the future.

  23. Capitol Bulldog

    I like what I’ve seen from Dusty and Seward, but how about Marty Jackley for Congress? He would be excellent in DC. He certainly has the desire for higher office, and he has a certain authority and gravitas that Dusty just doesn’t have. Seward’s a lawyer, he would make an excellent AG when Jackley heads to Congress.

    1. M.D.

      And jackley is fighting Obamacare to win while noem talks about her fluff vote against it like she was successful in overturning the law.


      That does suck.

      It always amazes me that between 1 and 2 years go by everytime I see John Thune and he always remembers me by name.

      Noem on the other hand introduced herself to me like 5 times in ’10 and also could never remember my name.

      1. Nick

        I think people are a little hard on Dusty.

        If that guy was in congress he’d be 10 times as effective as Noem is. Anyone who thinks Noem is a decent Congresswoman needs to look at John Thune and then Tim Johnson and realize she is closer on a brain wave scale to TJ than JT.

        I’m telling you guys that Dusty would understand the healthcare law, talk about it, educate people and articulate his opposition. Noem just nods, pushes out her pouty lips and says Mmm while trying to stay focused listening.

        Dusty might not be the best person but he’s a smart wipper snapper.

        And Tim Johnson is a JOKE!!!

        1. small talk

          When Dusty runs he won’t need private sector experience because He’ll just say his wife runs a small business. That is also him.

          Hey, it isn’t like Noem ever balanced a budget without federal money. ie her farm and the state.

          I too want Marty to run.

          1. Anonymous

            I heard DJ backed off the congressional talk in Aurora County last night. It was all about DD and state issues.

            Very interesting. I guess he doesn’t want to be seen as a public candidate just yet.

  24. Anonymous

    Rumors are that House Majority Leader David Lust has eyes on running for Congresswoman Noem’s seat when she runs for the senate.

    Curious if it is a placeholder feint for his former law firm partner Jackley or if it is a serious idea?

    If it was a serious idea, it was idiotic to engage in the vindictive politics of this last session. Mock them all you want, the conservative base of the GOP is very active and he has galvanized them against him.

    Dusty is a sharp man, and has the campaigning ability to pull it off.


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