Jones Pranger Leaves SDDP to Work for Unnamed Democratic Candidate

Suzanne Jones Pranger
SJP in the sun…

Send Your Applications to Be SDDP Exec!

Suzanne Jones Pranger is leaving her job as executive director of the South Dakota Democratic Party to pursue “other professional opportunities working with a statewide campaign.” Jones Pranger doesn’t say which statewide campaign she’ll be working for, but the only declared Democratic statewide candidate, Chris Martian, just talked to me, and he didn’t mention having SJP or anyone else in the chute as U.S. House campaign staff. (Stay tuned for my full write-up of the Martian interview in a later post!) Dana Ferguson reads this e-mail from SJP—”South Dakota Democrats have many great potential candidates like Senator Billie Sutton who, should they decide to run, would level the playing field for South Dakota’s working class”—as a signal that SJP will work for District 21 Senator Sutton’s not-yet-declared run for governor.

Sutton is from Burke. SJP is from Burke. The big McGovern Day Dinner, a pretty good platform from which to announce a gubernatorial campaign, is two weeks from Saturday.

The SDGOP spin blog naturally portrays Jones Pranger’s departure in the worst light possible, saying she’s abandoning the Democratic Party’s “sinking ship.” I would suggest that if a young up-and-comer really thought the state party was a sinking ship, she wouldn’t tie herself to that party’s statewide nominee for (we’re assuming) Governor. She’d abandon South Dakota politics completely and go practice law.

Jones Pranger sees no sinking ship. She says in her April 10 resignation letter to the SDDP executive board that the party “is now in a better position to make gains in 2018 and in the future”:

While many states have not been financially able to do so, the South Dakota Democratic Party has maintained its staff and doubled down on outreach efforts since November. The leadership and staff at the Party has gained experience and is more committed than ever to doing their job to promote Democratic Party values of fairness, equality, and expanded opportunity in our state [Suzanne Jones Pranger, letter to South Dakota Democratic Party executive board, 2017.04.10].

And wait a minute: there’s a statewide Democratic candidate who, nineteen months out from the general election, can promise a paycheck big enough to lure a state party exec away from $3,298 a month? Holy cow—someone has some big fundraising plans… and Jones Pranger either believes those plans or has made a candidate believe them! (Note: Sutton reported $31,278.20 on hand in his legislative campaign fund at the end of 2016. That would be enough to match SJP’s current salary from now until next January, just halfway to the general election.)

The SDDP should be advertising yesterday to fill this job. They should interview applicants at McGovern Day and choose a new exec in time to announce at dinner that night. Job expectations should include the following:

  1. Ability to spend four to five hours a day on the phone with donors every workday and separate those donors from lots of their money.
  2. Ability and desire to speak on TV, radio, and Internet broadcasts, live and recorded, on a moment’s notice.
  3. Ability to write sharp, relevant, and occasionally devastating responses to Republican propaganda between phone calls for press releases, blog posts, and party social media statements.
  4. Total commitment to one goal: electing more Democrats.
  5. Ability to win that same commitment from bickerers, axe-grinders, and Debbie-Downers within the party and to crush the nuts who don’t get on board. (She doesn’t have to crush those nuts; she should just make it clear that she could if she had to.)

Don’t wait for SDDP HQ to post the job; winners, movers, shakers, send your résumés to Ben Deverman and tell him you don’t want to be a summer intern; you want to lead this party to victory!

11 Responses to Jones Pranger Leaves SDDP to Work for Unnamed Democratic Candidate

  1. Evidence would point to this being probably bad news for Mr. Sutton on two fronts. She already helped sink one ship, and some people will view the choice by him to hire her as an example of poor decision making right off the get-go. I could be wrong, but grudznick is rarely wrong. Regardless, young Mr. Sutton seems a pretty swell fellow so I’ll give him some slack and see where he pulls it.

  2. Joe Nelson

    Cory, are you applying?

  3. Mr. Nelson, that’s one of those ideas that every single person on this blog could get behind and support.

  4. I don’t know if they were necessarily close, but Suzie went to law school with Sutton’s wife. Suzie is incredibly smart and she’s motivated to actually do some good with her talents, so I’ll be pulling for her to do well anyway.

  5. First…..according to the new Constitution pushed through 2 years ago by Tom Cool from Sioux Falls and Chairwoman Thornberg, the power to hire the Executive Director is pretty much solely in the hands of the party chair.
    Second……I said when she was hired that she had hidden motives…..that she wanted to be the Administrative Assistant to the Governor or an aide to a Senator or Congressman/woman. But then, what do I know.

  6. She could be going to a statewide campaign in another state, or … she could be planning her own statewide campaign. Hmmm.

  7. I hope that she is successful in whatever she does. Democrats need people who know how to engage and bring in the money. We can look at Kansas and now at Montana to see what a dumb bunch we have nationally. I had hoped that with new leadership, there would be new aggressiveness and a desire to win in the flyover states, seems I was wrong. Know why Thune is in office, money. You get the money and you can beat these guys and gals like a pinata. When they hit you with a club, you come after them with a cannon.

  8. Joe, no, my life is in Aberdeen right now. I will not be applying for any job based in Sioux Falls.

  9. Hidden motives, Carrie? Is it really any secret that anyone who takes a job as SDDP exec has future career plans beyond that office?

  10. Briggs Warren

    Maybe I’m the odd man out, but for me, the position of party executive is a dream job. I do think whoever ends up with the job needs to commit to being there for at least six years. There also needs to be a commitment from the party brass to let them have that time.

    I also feel that the process of hiring a new executive shouldn’t take place behind closed doors. I understand the need for someone to make the final decision, but since the person who is chosen will be leading the party, the party as a whole should be able to have some input. That could be as simple as holding public forums with those vying for the job. If only to see what idea they bring to the table.

  11. Hi, Briggs! Would a completely public hiring process deter some people from applying for the job? Do any other political parties hire their execs in such a public fashion as you propose? And would you apply the same openness standard to the selection process of party chair, the person whose orders the party exec carries out?

    There’s a good question for applicants to ask in the interview: how much authority does the exec have relative to the chair? What can our party exec do on her own initiative, and how much has to go through the chair? To what extent does the exec lead, and to what extent does the exec follow the lead of the chair?