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Greenfield Campaigns for Pro-Tem Vote, Promises Stace Nelson a Chair

Senator Brock Greenfield (R-2/Clark) apparently thinks the public is tuned in enough to the details of managing the Senate that he used his own campaign funds to send a postcard to members of the public outside his district asking people who cannot vote for him to support his bid for Senate President Pro-Tempore. My copy arrived Monday, two days after the GOP caucus voted to nominate Senator Greenfield for that position:

Senator Brock Greenfield, postcard, received DFP 2016.11.14.
Senator Brock Greenfield, postcard, received DFP 2016.11.14.
Senator Brock Greenfield, "Contract with South Dakota," received DFP 2016.11.14.
Senator Brock Greenfield, “Contract with South Dakota,” received DFP 2016.11.14.

Who serves as Senate Pro-Tem probably registers in the concsciousness of one out of 1,000 South Dakotans. Senator Greenfield’s ascent may raise that ratio in Clark to one out of 100. Out of those 863 South Dakotans whom you want on your trivia team, maybe 86 care who serves as Senate Pro-Tem, and of the 35 who aren’t in the Senate, maybe five will bother to text their Senator and say, “OMG, great pledge! Vote 4 Brock!”… and three will punctuate that message with “LOL”.

A rational manager of campaign funds doesn’t send a card like this out of district asking people who can’t vote and won’t influence the vote to vote. Such a card delivered across the state adds no value to a campaign fund set up to win a district-level vote. Senator Greenfield’s card seems to serve the same purpose as Jason Ravnsborg’s avid campaigning to GOP groups against the ballot measures this year: he’s angling for statewide attention for a statewide run… although given the chute is full for U.S. House and Governor, Greenfield’s aspirations are necessarily lower, like treasurer or School and Public Lands.

I do notice some tantalizing arithmetic in Senator Greenfield’s pledge:

The five major leadership positions in the Senate require significant tie and attention. Those positions are President Pro Tempore, Majority Leader, Assistant Majority Leader, Minority Leader, and Assistant Minority Leader. The 29 Committee Chair and Vice Chair positions are also very demanding. To ensure that the Senate provides the best legislative oversight, management, and representation, only those Senators not already holding major leadership positions will be appointed as Committee Chair or Vice Chair, and no Senator will be appointed to more than one Committee Chair or Vice Chair position while there are still others who are willing and able to serve in those positions [Sen. Brock Greenfield, “Contract with South Dakota,” direct mail, received 2016.11.14].

I count thirteen Senate committees, each with a chair and vice chair. The Senate gets either the chair or vice chair of the Joint Appropriations Committee and of the Joint Legislative Procedure Committee, bringing the chair/vice chair total to 28. I’m sure by the time breakfast is done, eager readers will tell me which one I’ve missed to bring us to Greenfield’s 29.

In the 2016 Session, Senators did double or triple duty on the following committees:

  1. Nationally recognized tax hiker Senator Deb Peters (R-9/Hartford) chaired Senate Appropriations and Joint Appropriations.
  2. Senator Larry Tidemann (R-7/Brookings) vice-chaired Senate Appropriations and chaired Government Operations and Audit.
  3. Senator Gary Cammack (R-29/Union Center) chaired Senate Legislative Procedure, Joint Legislative Procedure, and Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Logic and Joint Rule 7-10 suggest that the Senate Appropriations and Legislative Procedure chairs ought also have one of the big seats in each Joint committees. So that leaves 27 seats that Greenfield seeks not to fill with doubles or caucus leaders. Take out leadership, and he has 27 Republicans and 4 Democrats from whom to choose those chairs and vice chairs. If one Republican balks at the burdens of chairship, Pro-Tem Greenfield’s pledge will oblige him to appoint an eager Democrat to help run a committee. To avoid that awful outcome, Senator Greenfield will have to place atop some committees radical right-wingers like Senators Lance Russell, Phil Jensen, Stace Nelson, and Trumpist tool Neal Tapio. (I’ll advocate right now to give Nelson the GOAC chair. Then we’d get to the bottom of EB-5 and GEAR UP.)

But Senator Greenfield vows not to think about such distinctions when picking chairs:

As President Pro Tempore, it is my commitment [sic: dangling participle—opening phrase should be followed immediately by “I”, which it is intended to modify] to every Senator and every South Dakotan that the duties and responsibilities of the office will be kept free of party and intra-party politics. Every Senator will be extended the honor and respect due to him or her as a representative of the great people of South Dakota [Greenfield, 2016.11.14].

Here Senator Greenfield distinguishes himself from the petty, immature attitude expressed by my Senator-Elect Al Novstrup, who said during the campaign that he would let past personal grievances get in the way of working with fellow Senators on public policy. Senator Greenfield appears to be telling Novstrup, one of the newly elected Senate whips, that the Senate is far bigger than such petty gripes and that he properly intends to respect every Senator as the duly elected voice of thousands of South Dakotans.

Hmm… maybe Greenfield’s odd little postcard will get me to call my Senator-Elect and vote for Greenfield after all.


  1. Stace Nelson 2016-11-16

    Executive & Planning Board?

    This is conservative, ethical, leadership. We should all be applauding Senator Greenfield for his wisdom, courage, and leadership.

    He had a great campaign speech which cited the elements of his post card. It was either his reforms, or his boyish good looks which resonated with a majority.

    I haven’t looked forward to going to Pierre like this, since January 2011.

  2. Rorschach 2016-11-16

    Is Greenfield still living in his parents’ basement?

  3. Roger Cornelius 2016-11-16

    It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference who chairs and vice chairs what committee except that as we know the most incompetent are usually elevated to the highest levels of government in South Dakota.
    Whate we can look forward to with this legislature are more attempts to attack transgender teens, ways to circumvent Roe vs. Wade, more ways in which to raise taxes and state fees, (as I understand it the state has a $12 million shortfall in this years budget and that will have to made up somehow).
    But the most important issue will not be addressed, corruption will continue and ways to cover it up will be of the highest priority.
    republicans are critical of Democrats for using the same old methods in their election campaigns yet they go to Pierre and do the same old things with their ill fated legislation.
    The only thing that will change in Pierre will be the color of their suits.

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-11-16

    I agree, Roger: who chairs committees under the GOP supermajority won’t affect the big Trumpist ugly coming down from the 2017 Legislature. Half the decisions will be made by the Governor, and the other half won’t matter much.

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