Get ready for quieter times in South Dakota politics followed by the great electoral convergence in 2026.

I had a conversation with one of South Dakota’s politicos a while back pointing out that state politics have a major, major election cycle coming – one which could dwarf the election we just had.  And just for fun I charted out the road we’re traveling down in the lead up to 2026, as we’re in for a few relatively quiet years in South Dakota politics followed by one of the biggest election donnybrooks we’ve seen in South Dakota. (This chart assumes there will be no major changes in incumbents):

The 2020 Election is the first stop in our path to the great convergence. Given the activity occurring now, there’s little to make anyone believe there will be major changes, and the incumbent statewide officeholders should return to office handily, since the Democrat party stands disorganized, and out of money.  Mike Rounds and Dusty Johnson, along with Public Utilities Commissioner Gary Hansen should all be re-elected handily.

Given the number of incumbents in office, 2022 will also likely bring a great number of incumbents returning to office. 7 incumbents will up for election, with the only available seat being the Office of School & Public Lands.. (which I hear at least 1-2 are already considering).

Led by US Senator John Thune, Governor Kristi Noem, and most likely Congressman Dusty Johnson, at the top of the ticket, I predict a very organized and coordinated effort for the election, and it will be running on all cylinders.

Moving forward, 2024 will be comparatively sleepy, if not downright boring. The Presidential races that year will be lively for those who seek to succeed President Trump, after his election to his second term. But that just leaves us a Congressional race, with Dusty Johnson, assuming his re-election, and Kristie Fiegen in the Public Utilities Commission.  Just two statewide races besides President, so watch for activity to be quieter.

And then we hit 2026 – the time of great upheaval!  That elections will start with a minimum of five open seats due to term limits, and the sky is the limit.  At that time Senator Mike Rounds will be the key as to whether things really open up.  If he’s spy for continuing in office, it locks up the top of the ticket. But if he decides to call it quits, the math will be wildly recalculated, and the state’s entire political structure will descend into madness.

You could have Governor Kristi Noem challenging Congressman Dusty Johnson for US Senate, at a time when Secretary of State Steve Barnett and Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg are fighting in a race for Governor. And all happening while State Senator Jordan Youngberg is announcing for the Congressional seat against Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken.

With it being eight years from now, we could see people running who have yet to place their name in consideration for the State Legislature. 2026 could be an electoral fight whose likes many of us haven’t seen in our lifetimes.

As South Dakota politicians start to outline their long-term goals, 2026 is going to play more and more into their planning calendars as they look for the best opportunities for advancement.  Politics is as much about timing as it is anything else. And the opportunities that will be available eight years from now offer the greatest chance for those willing to roll the dice.

Stay tuned. And keep an eye on the crystal ball.

52 thoughts on “Get ready for quieter times in South Dakota politics followed by the great electoral convergence in 2026.”

  1. This is a great post! It could keep us commenting for YEARS!

    School and Public Lands–will Jim Bolin run? Mike Lauriteson?

    Dusty could be vulnerable to the right PRO TRUMP PRO fighting illegal immigration candidate primary challenge…Everyone I talk to about him mentions not supporting the President…a steep hill of money name ID, but an opening.

    Also who is not even in office or in the legislature that will run for statewide office in 8 years…I doubt few would have predicted Josh Haeder or Jason Ravnsborg in 2010 would be statewide office holders in 2018.

    Plus add 8 years to people’s lives like Rhoden…who is what 60 now…I don’t see him running at 68 for anything.

    1. Definitely fun to speculate, and watch the political jockeying unfold. 8 more years of experience for the young blood Senator Youngberg, could make him a real powerhouse. And he’d be supported by the rural vote, which adds to the likelihood he’ll run.

    2. Saying no to Trump is a positive thing to me. At least Dusty has some principles.

      1. Principles? Ha! Dusty is just playing games, like when he pretended to be a Republican to get elected before he came out as a Democrat.

    3. I agree. Borglum could challenge Johnson. I doubt she would win but his vote against the wall will not go unnoticed.

    4. Wait Gary Hanson is running for PUC again? 24 years in the puc?

      Can’t Greenfield run or new blood?

  2. What will Sattgast try for next? Is he going for the Vern Larson record of years in office?

  3. Barnett and Ravensborg have zero chance of being the next governor. They won’t make it out of a primary. Barnett doesn’t do anything and Ravensborg doesn’t do anything other than drive to political events which is doing nothing.

    1. This stint as AG will be the peak for Ravnsborg. He’s not respected in the law enforcement community and he doesn’t have the chops for anything more. He’ll be lucky if he’s even reelected.

      1. BS–come to the Sheriffs/police Chief Conference or an FOP gathering, we just had one and everyone was talking how they respected him, appreciated his engement and fighting for all of us in blue!…Jason is very well respected with law enforcement.

        You sound like the same bitter people that were anonymous here during the campaign.

        1. I know, don’t they sound like the Dems after Trump won? They can’t accept it that there candidate didn’t win, so they will sulk like babies.

        2. Afraid not. When the top prosecutors in SD’s biggest counties — you know, guys who actually understand the law and how things work in a courtroom — publicly defy him, that’s all you need to know about how well he’s respected in the law enforcement community.

          He’s a laughing stock.

          1. yeah he didn’t kiss their ass …no doubt some of them our still butt hurt that he went and got law enforcements support instead of theirs, but he is doing a fine job despite them…keep up the good work kid! us voters are with ya!

      2. Hmmmmm, how many Sheriffs supported Ravnsborg in the election? Quite a few, so your lie comes across as sour grapes. Are you Mrs. Fitz or Russell? Get over it.

        1. On behalf of Mrs. Russell, I feel I must point out she, deep in her heart of hearts, didn’t want Lance to win and become a bigger laughing stock like Mr. Ravnsborg has become.

    2. Try to spell the attorney general’s name correctly: R-a-v-n-s-b-o-r-g. Repeat it to yourself a few times and you might get it right.

      Seems like you have an ax to grind; didn’t your candidate get in and you are acting like a Democrat with the Trump election-I won’t accept it since my candidate didn’t win.

      Grow up.

  4. In what year will the Democrats win a statewide election?

    Predictions anyone?

      1. Gary Hanson will run for another term in that year.

        I like him but come on. We need term limits.

    1. I dunno, how long will it take for illegal immigrants to tip the scales and then how long after that will it take for Democrats to say they deserve the right to vote?

  5. Youngberg is a campaigning machine. He’s taken out some hard competition in both his last 2 elections. He’s going places, watch him as he moves!

    1. He does work hard…I was impressed with his second election after a close first one.

    1. Term limits are good or you never have any turn over…look at neighboring states that do not have term limits and you will find people in office for decades….

  6. With the call for a sex strike could there be quieter times for South Dakota politics? 🙂

        1. 2000 755K
          2010 815K
          2020 890-900. Call it 895?

          Solid growth, but insufficient to add a seat. Montana should get one.

    1. The only people calling for a sex strike are people who are on the killing side of the abortion issue. People on the life side will not participate. This should decrease the number of liberals in this world and increase the number of conservatives. Alyssa Milano: a gift that keeps on giving!

  7. Why no mention of Scyller Borglum? She seems to be gearing up for something.

      1. She is a newcomer to the state, I think she was unaware of how well-known and popular he is.

  8. Hmm, Youngberg in 2026? He’s driven and productive at 28, imagine what he’ll accomplish by his mid 30’s. There might be something to that…

  9. I love the Youngberg. He’s got any election in the bag. Watch him. He’s a killer

    1. I hear nothing but great things about Youngberg! He should definitely move up.

  10. I really don’t know if any State can legally ban or restrict an agricultural product from being grown by a resident of that state once Federally approved. The Commerce Clause and Federal Supremacy law would come into play before the Supreme Court if State interference occurred.
    And CBD oil was erroneously legalized in recently passed SD legislation so who knows what outcome a court challenge to either would produce.

  11. A couple of thoughts:

    -My money is on Thune not running again in 2022. My hunch is he’ll be ready to be done by then, unless he gets a shot at being Majority Leader. But he’ll have a tough race against Cornyn from Texas, if Cocaine Mitch ever hangs it up.

    -If I am correct, that moves the mad scramble up to 2022. Does Dusty run for Senate? Who runs for Congress?

    -A couple of names not mentioned: Jon Hansen, he has a bright future if he wants it. Todd Schlekeway. I think he could get back in the game at some point. Maybe when a PUC seat opens up?

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