Top Political Stories of 2019: #10 Dusty Johnson sworn in as South Dakota’s lone Congressman
For as many years in state politics, Dusty Johnson has been a strong presence, whether it has been working behind the scenes on campaigns, or in running for office himself as an indefatigable campaigner.
When Johnson ran in 2004, defeating incumbent commissioner Jim Burg, Johnson became the youngest utilities commissioner in the nation, where he served one term, and was elected to a second prior to becoming chief of staff for Governor Dennis Daugaard. Later running for congress, Dusty handily bested all competitors.
Serving in Congress isn’t campaigning, but Johnson’s high-energy has served him well in office, as well as attracting experienced staff to serve as part of his team as he was sworn in as South Dakota’s lone Congressman in 2019, including Andrew Christianson and Courtney Heitkamp from former Congresswoman (now Governor) Noem’s team, as well as Katie Murray from Senator Rounds’ office.
While a strong team has helped Johnson avoid some pitfalls of being a freshman Congressman, being a dedicated policy wonk in an ever more polarized political climate might be the rocky shoals that team Johnson has to navigate, as Johnson found out this year when he took a strong stance on the separation of powers between Congress and the President on one portion of funding for a border wall. There were some who chose to use it to weave a narrative characterizing Johnson as being anti-Trump. While that came off as momentary static, it did give former primary opponent Neal Tapio something to grab onto in floating a possible rematch among his supporters.
As time has passed, Tapio’s momentary attention over teasing a re-match appears to be stalled out as Johnson has pressed forward into the job of being a Congressman, with Johnson earning praise from President Trump, and actively supporting the President as Democrats have pressed forward with an impeachment which they have yet to move past voting on.
Congressman Dusty Johnson has been very, very active in 2019, and shows no signs of letting up. Dusty currently boasts extremely strong polling among not just Republicans, but among South Dakotans as a whole, and faces only third-tier Democrat opposition at best as he seeks re-election in 2020.