Todd Schlekeway steps away from the senate

This is one of the more disappointing blog posts I’ve written. Disappointing for me and our state, because South Dakota is losing one of its finest legislators and public servants (for the time being anyway). Senator Todd Schlekeway has a great reputation across all political camps in our state and provides a true example of the kind of character and integrity our legislature is fortunate to have.

Schlekeway sent out this press release:

For Immediate Release:
June 12, 2012

Schlekeway Named Executive Director of National Trade Association

(Sioux Falls, SD) Sioux Falls resident and District 11 State Senator Todd Schlekeway has been named Executive Director of The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE), a non-profit trade association providing a unified voice for tower erection, maintenance and service companies.

NATE ( is headquartered in Watertown, South Dakota and its growing membership consists of over 560 companies located throughout the United States, Bahamas, Canada, Ghana, Jamaica, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Trinidad, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.

?I am very excited about this exciting professional opportunity to work for a dynamic national association like NATE that is headquartered in my home state,? Schlekeway said.  ?NATE has an outstanding leadership structure in place led by its Board of Directors.  I also look forward to working with NATE?s dedicated and talented staff to continue to advance the mission of the association,? Schlekeway added.

?The tower construction and maintenance industry is the backbone of our modern day communications and NATE member companies are responsible for building and maintaining telecommunications and broadcast towers around the globe,? Schlekeway stated.  ?Our members will continue to be vital to the expansion of broadband wireless and 4G communications moving forward.  As an association, we will continue to work relentlessly to create a culture of safety in this industry through effective safety training and by formulating and adhering to uniform standards of safety,?

Schlekeway also stated that due to his new position as Executive Director of NATE, he will not be seeking re-election to the State Senate in November.  ?Serving the people of District 11 and the city of Sioux Falls in the state legislature the last four years has been an incredible honor and experience.  I have enjoyed working with my constituents, legislative colleagues and state government employees during the last four years.  ?I  have loved every minute of it.?

Schlekeway indicated that the Minnehaha County Republican Party has a process in place that will name a GOP candidate to replace him on the ballot in November.

Your guess is as good as mine as to whom the Minnehaha County Republican party will choose to fill Schlekeway’s vacant seat. With Lora Hubbel serving as vice chair of the Minnehaha county party, one might wonder whether she will find a way to move back into her old district to get this appointment. Considering she just lost to Deb Peters in a senate primary of her own, the timing couldn’t be better.

I believe that Tammy Weis is still serving as Committeewoman, so there could easily be a push behind the scenes to get Hubbel on the ballot.

One might also wonder if Governor Daugaard would have a preference in the selection process.

Another thought is Jim Stalzer or Christine Erickson. Both had a good showing in the primary last week to represent district 11 in the house. Stalzer is more of the Tea Party mindset, but a very reasonable fellow. I do not know Erickson, but if the decision was to be between these two, my suspicions would be that Erickson would be the preference considering she bested Stalzer in the vote count.

Clearly there are other possibilities in the discussion, perhaps a former legislator. Mark Willadsen likely wouldn’t be the ideal choice considering he has a history of not being the most reliable vote getter.

Either way it will be hard to replace the thoughtful and steady leadership Schlekeway offered in Pierre.

My main concern is that the process to replace Schlekeway will become a microcosm of what is transpiring across this state in GOP circles. It could easily become a contentious and divisive process amongt the rank and file of the active GOP members of our community. As most of us know, it doesn’t take much to divide a county party. The number one priority for the executive board must be to select a nominee who can retain this senate seat in the fall.

We wish Senator Schlekway and his family the very best in the future!

(The Argus has a story about it also)

63 Replies to “Todd Schlekeway steps away from the senate”

  1. Anonymous

    This is going to be a blood bath between tea party crazies and the regular gop conservatives that make up the party.

    And on the eve of the state convention too…

    1. Big Sky (aka "BS")

      How can you tell a “tea party crazies” from regular gop conservatives?

      Are the Taxed Enough Already Party people the ones that support the SDGOP conservative platform and the regulars are the ones that are “pragmatic,” have the governor’s endorsements, and pick & choose which conservative ideas (enough taxes, pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment, individual accountability, death sentence, etc.) they support?

  2. insomniac

    Rave should have kicked Tammy out as committeewoman a long time ago. Tammy is divisive. Look it up in the dictionary and her picture is next to the word.

    1. Anonymous

      so being divisive is a disqualifying factor to serve in a GOP county party?

      does that mean that you must agree with with everyone else a majority of the time to be in the GOP?

      I don’t get it…

      1. Troy Jones Post author

        I don’t know Tammy so I don’t know if my vision of divisive applies so don’t extrapolate this applies to her.

        As party leader, their first obligation is to bring unity within the party. This is a hard leadership responsibility.

        However, this doesn’t mean they have to be gushy touchy feely people. They can and should assert their views (part of leadership). But when concensus is formed, they then should accept the collective will and support it. Being a good leader also requires one to be a good follower.

        1. delegate

          What you described is ideal Troy. Unfortunately that is exactly the opposite of Tammy.

          She was run out of her own Sioux Land GOP womens club.

          1. Anonymous

            Daugaard was indeed a party uniter. He actually attended a couple of the Rep State Central Comm meetings that I attended. The first time that I can recall that a Gov had done that. Unfortunately that effort may have been undone by his endorsements. Wonder who actually suggested that he do that?

            1. Anon

              I think more of him now since he made the endorsements… He’s not all about “politically correct” like so many politicians.. He did his part to try and rid the legislature of the wingnuts.

  3. toga

    David Rose, Lora Hubbel and Tammy all should have been kicked off so David Rowtmann could become party chairman.

    David and Lora both broke party bylaws and ran in a primary while holding party leadership. They both should have resigned.

    I heard that Dave Roetman was expected to take over for Rose but did not hear why it didn’t happen. BC

    1. Big Sky (aka "BS")

      Curious what by-laws specifically were violated?

      Curious why the author didn’t ask the same question when they put their admin comment in?

    2. Anonymous

      I too would like to know what by-law was broken. I had not heard of that before and just checked through the Rep By-Laws and found nothing relating to that.

      The only rule about primaries that we go by is the party cannot take sides in a primary by using the party organization to help one candidate over another. Individual officers can help a candidate but not by using their postion, like . . . “Chairman Doe is supporting Mr Smith”.

    3. The Watcher

      Please site the bylaw that was violated. The SD GOP Bylaws do not address this issue.

      Historically it has been ethically correct for party leaders to remain neutral in the primary–it is not possible to remain neutral when your name is on the ballot.

      Daugaard as the head of the SD GOP also ignored this historical precedent this election cycle.

  4. anon

    Isn’t this Kristie Fiegen’s district? Hmmm… She probably wouldn’t mind getting another appointment…

    Schlekeway is a great public servant!

  5. mhs

    For all you self-proclaimed RINO hunters out there, the NATE is headquartered in Watertown due to the presence of a large employer, Tower Systems, Inc., a worldwide leader in the industry.

    Troy Jones made TSI a REDI Fund loan to move them to South Dakota in 1991. I wonder what all the couch potato theorists on this blog were doing to make this state a better place 21 years ago?

    1. Anonymous

      some of the people on this blog were still in school 21 years ago…unless of course one must be 45 and above to have an opinion…really 60 and above given that no 20 year old makes REDI fund loans…

      is that how south dakotans shut down debate…lack of making REDI fund loans?

      1. mhs

        The point is we should all ask ourselves “what have we done” along with “what do I believe” Service matters: whether in government, in uniform, in the community or to the party. I don’t agree on some things with Stace Nelson or Bob Ellis, but, I deeply respect them for serving in uniform. Jones, Hoffman, Schoenbeck, Hickey, et al, served the state in elected or staff positions. Cory, our loyal opposition liberal, teaches.

        So, you can throw rocks on a blog at those they don’t agree with or you can serve. Pick the candidate you agree with and go campaign, raise money, give money, you name it.

        All of use have the right to our opinions. To get respect though, get some skin in the game.

  6. Troy Jones Post author

    Todd is a bright star. I’m very sad to see him leave the Senate yet happy he is moving toward something he believes good for him and his young family. I wish him the very best.

    Personally, I think there is two choices:

    1) Move Erickson to the Senate race as she was the top vote getter in the primary and appoint someone else to the House race. Willadsen is one choice as he does have name ID but getting beat in the primary may be an issue (I don’t think so but would understand if other’s thought so).

    2) Then, regardless if this is a Senate or House seat, invite applicants from the District to apply to the Central Committee. Then, my suggestion would be for the Central Committee to vet the candidates on character and abilities (not views on issues) and submit the names to the Precinct chairs. Then, have a forum where each vetted applicant (maybe limited to no more than three) then presents to precinct chairs their views, what they bring to the table and how they intend to run their campaign and let the precinct chairs choose the nominee.

    1. Anonymous

      Mr. Jones:

      So…we shouldn’t vet candidates based on their views on the issues? We should only judge candidates based upon their character and abilities…hmmm – that is the most elitist crap I’ve ever heard.

      It’s also a wholly incomplete and near sighted methodology for determining who will represent the people of D-11 as the GOP nominee.

      Let’s judge candidates based on the following:

      1) positions on the issues and how they would vote on specific policy issues in the legislature…legislators legislate…so let’s talk policy – first and foremost – when vetting candidates. Character and capabilities are process oriented questions which are important…but policy is the most important when determining a nominee.

      Legislators make laws – they are not priests or football players where we must have a morally superior or ultimately capable candidate, although preferable but not necessary or someone who can run a 4-40, although that trait would help the legislators beat the lobbyists at the annual B-Ball game!

      Your brand of republicanism is divisive and dangerous because it’s more focused on popularism as opposed to being rooted in the well founded ideals of conservatism, liberty, freedom and free markets.

      My hunch is that you partially want candidates vetted on tangential issues as opposed to policy issues because you understand the South Dakotans will more often, not always, choose a candidate that is more conservative and thus less likely to support your Chamber of Commerce-centric establishmentarian agenda (not that the chamber agenda is always bad – but the chamber doesn’t look out for taxpayers – its looks out for its members first and foremost, i.e. its complete unwillingness to oppose the penny sales tax vote this fall and opposition to parking lot gun bills because Walmart doesn’t want it.)

      This process is going to show who is focused on policy vs. those focused on well….everything else?

      1. Anonymous

        Do you have a problem with what Erickson stands for? As far as I’m concerned the GOP voters of district 11 vetted both Erickson and Stalzer last week.

        Erickson is the likely pick.

        Willadson is not a good choice because he lost in ’08 against a dem, came back in ’10 when Schlekeway left the house and ran for Senate and then lost in a 4 way primary this year. He’s unreliable.

        1. Anonymous

          What does Erickson stand for and how will she vote on policy issues likely to come before the legislature.

          Let’s have this process ask those questions.

        2. Anonymous

          yeah – lets focus on policy issues instead of all this other top vote getter stuff.

          the Minnehaha county GOP should have an open vetting of the candidates.

          I didn’t hear anybody during the primary have a debate or substantive talk about issues…this primary was more of a who could send out more postcards and flyers type event.

  7. Charlie Hoffman

    I caught this on the news yesterday on the drive home from Pierre. My first thought was rats he will be really missed. But Todd Schlekeway is never going to be far from the decision making process wherever he ends up. Knowing Todd and Jill this was a very well thought out family decision and I personally applaud both of them for taking advantage of a terrific opportunity.

    The legislature will always be something anyone can come back to later in life; should that opportunity arise, and Schlek certainly has a seat waiting for him there.

    1. Anonymous

      Scary post.

      Has the “Lust for Power Bill” taken so much effect that you have cut out the voter in the determination of who represents them and earns a seat in Pierre?

      1. Anonymous

        WTF? Are you a loon? Clearly.

        You are what is wrong with the Tea Party. It’s a shame that the normal people left so you and your crew could take over. All the losers who can’t get power in the GOP have taken over the TP.

          1. Anonymous

            and what destruction is that?

            let’s have a discussion about the different policy views of the RINOS and the TP’s.

        1. Anonymous

          Gee, history shows us that we should be concerned when power hungry people take over and concentrate power in a government.

          Keeping legislators in power on legislative committees PAST their terms after being appointed not elected by the legislature as a whole?

          Only a rino would think that is appropriate under our Constitution or conservative Republican principles.

          Clearly, you are an idiot with a weak mind. Keep calling every voter that is concerned how big government has gotten and who feel we are taxed enough already “loons… Crazies… Whackos… Tea Party… Losers…” As that is the MAJORITY of South Dakotans!

          1. Anon

            Only someone who doesn’t understand how the system works would make statements like those. And by the way….you’re NOT in the majority.

            The idea behind the committee is to try and get some balance of power back in state government. Since term limits started the balance of power has been gradually, but substantially shifted. The legislative branch is by far the weakest of the three branches.

            Without the institutional knowledge and memory long-serving legislators can offer, it’s like starting over with a new class of students every two years.

            Bureaucrats and lobbyists don’t have term limits. The Governor’s staff and cabinet doesn’t have term-limits. Knowledge is power, especially in politics.

            Rep. Lust deserves kudos for coming up with the idea of a long-term planning committee for the legislature. The committee will be far stronger with the knowledge and background of some longtime former legislators.

            Many civilians serve on state government committees, and just like the former legislators on the planning committee, all they can do is give their input…. They don’t get to vote. The power remains where it belongs.

            1. Anon2

              Only someone who is part of the problem of making the system NOT work the way it is supposed to, would make statements like the above. Oh, and WE ARE in the majority. That is why you rinos try and claim to be conservative during election years.

              You are correct, legislators seeking to curry favor with the executive & judiciary branchs have gutted their own powers over the years, and continue to do so. The “Lust for Power Bill” does even more of that.

              Only arrogant politicians think they are so valuable. The truth is that our whole governmental process was NEVER designed to have politicial prostitutes stay in power as a career! True citizen legislators vote on the merits of the bills, not the special interests or juvenile antics we see with institutional politicians in place.

              The Lust super committee syphons scarce resources, media access, and scarce monies from the ELECTED legislative members and gives them to cronies appointed PAST their term limits! It flys in the face of South Dakotans’ rights to be represented by legislators they elect and subverts the proper representitive process. People like Abdallah, Rausch, Nelson, Turbiville, etc. are gone for a reason. The voters have spoken on term limites and these people specifically!

              If this bill REALLY strengthed the legislature, do you think the governor would have signed off on it?

              1. Anon

                Sorry pal, I know this will be hard to swallow, but you are not in the majority, and I’m not a rino. I’m an independent, the fastest growing sector of voters. We are the ones who decide elections.

                The reason there’s so many of us, is because of people like you. Both parties have extremists, and continually drive mainstream voters away from their parties.

                Fortunately, there’s enough of us to guarantee that neither the bleeding heart liberals, or the wingnuts will ever be in power. I think that’s where the root of your hatred for the planning committee comes from. You know as an extremist, you’ll never be invited to be part of the committee. Extremists hate anyone with any power because deep down they realize it will never be them.

                The committee was one of the best ideas to come from the last legislative session. The Governor signed the bill because he’s a good man, and doesn’t base his decisions on accumlating power. I know that’s a hard concept for you to understand, but our system in South Dakota is not broken because we still have common sense leaders like Gov. Daugaard, Rep. Lust, and Rep. Rausch.

                1. Anon2

                  sure ya are, pal… sure ya are.

                  pull your head out and do some research, South Dakotans identify themselves as over 44% conservative, so you are wrong, I am in the majority.

                  if the bill is that great, then why the need to hide and try and sell it under an anonymous listing?

                  ohhhhhh, ya… and by the way… the voters called, they said you can keep rausch…

                  1. Anon

                    That leaves 56% that aren’t… How is that a majority??

                    I consider myself a conservative… but not a wacko.

                    Strange that “Anon2” would chastise me for not using my name???

                    By the way, the election isn’t over… the wingnuts turned out to vote… all you did was guarantee Steve Street a victory and one more democrat in the legislature.

                    1. Anon2

                      go ahead and take your little “crocs” off so you can see your little piggies. if you start off with a 100, and you seperate those that identify as “liberals” 16.2%, and then you seperate those that identify as “moderate” 35.1% you will see that the conservative little piggies 44.1% are the majority.

                      Those identifying even as very conservative outnumber those moderates in the gop especially when added in with the other conservatives

                      now you are just proving my point in spades. clearly sen. begalka got a massive majority of the votes.

                    2. Anon2

                      p.s. rausch may have changed parties in 2000 from being a life-long democrat, it didn’t make him a republican, it just showed him to be a political opportunist. guess the voters are not all as stupid as people like you would hope.

                    3. Anon

                      My point is, had I been part of that survey, I would have said that I consider myself a conservative too.

                      Sadly, the wingnuts think they have copywrite to the word conservative. That’s not the case. I’m a fiscal conservative, pro-life, pro-gun independent who would have voted against Abdallah too, but I would never support the Hubbel-Howie types. You’re living in a dream world if you think your brand of conservatives are in the majority. I think Gov wannabee Howie and his 13% is about all you get to claim.

                      Again, those of us who don’t get to vote in primaries will get to vote in November. South Dakota has always had common sense when electing its’ top officials. That’s why the state is in such good shape. I’m sure we’ll continue to elect reasonable people to keep us on the right track.

  8. Troy Jones Post author


    My point is not that the issues don’t matter but matter a great deal.

    I just don’t know if that should be what the central committee does. I want (and hope this is true as I have no idea) people on the central committee are good at organization and building unity. This is the principal responsibility of the county central committee.

    I think though it would be appropriate for them to vette them on private matters (make sure a pick won’t prove to be a personal embarrassement. I said let the broader representation (precinct chairs) discern views on the issues and not the few.

    The point is the primary has passed. There is no means for the GOP voters to choose their nominee. My idea BROADENS who selects the nominee.

    1. Troy Jones Post author

      P.S. I would move Erickson to the Senate Race for one reason.

      There were 1,695 votes cast in that primary. Assuming everyone voted twice in the house race (not likely the case but I suspect substantially the case), there were 848 Republican voters who voted.

      Erickson got 529 votes (62.3%). Stalzer got 447 (52.8%). Willadsen got 362 (42.7%). Karr got 357 (42.1%). Erickson’s margin over Stalzer is about equal to Stalzer’s over Willadsen/Karr.

    2. Arrowhead

      Troy Jones is right.

      It wouldn’t be a bad idea for the central committee to discuss this decision with Schlekeway. He understands what it takes to win this district.

      State Senator REP 11
      Todd Schlekeway 7055 – 64.83%
      State Senator DEM 11
      Tom Cool 3828 – 35.17%

      State Representative
      DEM 11
      Darrell D. Solberg 5756 – 25.73%
      Don Rose 4299 – 19.21%
      State Representative
      Mark K Willadsen 5615 – 25.10%
      Todd Schlekeway 6704 – 29.96%

    3. Anonymous

      The principal responsibility is not building party unity…it’s winning races.

      There can be a divided party…as there clearly is now and the GOP can still win races.

      In fact, big GOP gains this year will prove that the TP didn’t hurt the party but in fact strengthened it by bringing diversity of thought, reflection, conversation and dialogue.

  9. Troy Jones Post author

    I have no idea if Erickson is a favorite of the “RINO’s” or those who claim “true Repubublicans.” Stalzer either.

    Here is what I know.

    The primary has passed and the primary voter of that district chose Erickson as the top choice. To choose someone else is a statement to the Republicans of that district I don’t think the Central Committee should make.

    More important, in four person races of which there were 5 such primaries (3 & 5 person races is more math that I want to do to compare apples to apples), only the following did better than Erickson: Bolin, Latterell, & Nelson.

    Of the second place finishers, only Miller had a lower % than Stalzer.

    I dont mean to demean Miller or Stalzer as it appears they had strong opposition who didn’t win (Miller had Bolin getting picked by 80% of the voters & Stalzer had Erickson). But, it shows in the face of tough opposition, Erickson did better than average.

    P.S. When you look at the groupings for those who got nominated:

    You have the top three (Bolin, Latterell, Nelson)who did very well and got more than 68%.

    You have the middle group who got 59-63% (Erickson, Romkema & Schoenfish)

    And the final four that got between 49-54%.

    1. The Watcher

      The voters chose newby Erickson for the house–not the senate. The process is no longer about election results—-and I think that Todd S. and the GOP leadership planned it that way–so there would be more control over who the candidate is by the GOP leadership.

  10. Anonymous

    Why would anyone consider anyone other than Kerri Weems for goodness sake?! She served district 11 before and never lost a race. She’s John Thune’s sister in law. She ought to be the top choice ahead of anyone who has never run a general election campaign and ahead of Willadsen who has lost more races than he has won – including this year.

    1. Anonymous

      That could be an interesting option.

      I bet it’s Luken’s or Weems. Hubbel will want herself. You know she wants herself.

      1. Anonymous

        Correct me if I am wrong, it is her old district that she won her last election in (that “they” Gerrymandered her out of)?

        Curious, she appears to support the SDGOP Platform (Republican principles) so what is wrong with her?

  11. Donna

    I think someone I know said it best about Schlekeway. “He’s got rockstar potential like Kristi Noem but he’s a nicer person.”

  12. Maddog

    Schleckeway is a class act, but let’s just call this what it is. He is taking a job with NATE as executive director. Do you suppose he will use his political experience to “lobby” state and federal government on behalf of NATE? Wouldn’t that make him an influence peddler? So he has used his political acumen to land a job that will allow him to lobby legislators at the state and federal level to make money for those who pay his wage. I wish him well, but call it what it is, please.

  13. Anonymous

    I have often wondered if Schlekeway would run for Mayor. I know he has some strong supporters around the state that have been really encouraging him to run. He would be a strong candidate if he were to run.

  14. Anonymous

    I hope Weems or Lukens are interested. Either one of them would be great.

    Weems already has legislative experience from being in the House before. The only reason she didn’t run in 2008 was to spend more time with family.

    1. Anon

      I’m not sure who is pushing so hard for Weems, but that’s not a good choice. She wasn’t very effective as a legislator before. Too much emotion and knee-jerk reactions.

  15. Mee

    Not Erickson. She may not say tea party, but she certainly is. Not as nutty as Hubbel, but she’s certainly in that right camp. Willadsen or Weems would be a good moderate republican – with great common sense. Of course they’re probably considered Rinos.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.