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Dennis Wants Dusty… and Some Other Mostly Moderates

Governor Dennis Daugaard endorsed his former chief of staff, Dusty Johnson, for Congress last year. He comes on the airwaves now to reaffirm that endorsement, saying Dusty Johnson is the very best man to represent South Dakota in Congress:

This spring, Dennis gave Dusty one one-thousandth of the million dollars (actually, $999,567.80) his gubernatorial campaign fund was sitting on at the end of 2017.

Whom else is Daugaard endorsing with his campaign cash this spring?

Daugaard for South Dakota, contributions to candidate committees, supplement to pre-primary report, filed 2018.05.21.
Daugaard for South Dakota, contributions to candidate committees, supplement to pre-primary report, filed 2018.05.21.

The only Republican Legislative candidates on that list not facing primary challenges are Partridge and Solano. Daugaard is throwing in behind three district tandems: incumbents Holmes and Zikmund in District 14 versus R. Shawn Tornow, incumbents Peterson and Schoenfish in District 19 against Michael Boyle, and incumbent appointee Michael Diedrich and newcomer Jess Olson in District 34 against Janette McIntyre. Daugaard so far has chosen to back only one horse in the three-way District 25 House race, former legislator Jon Hansen (boo! booooo! Daugaard’s worst choice!). Hansen competes with Zikmund for icky right-winginess among Daugaard’s picks: past water-carrying for the second floor probably makes up for those endorsees excesses in Daugaard’s book.

In just one instance is Daugaard backing a newcomer over an incumbent: Amanda Scott in District 33 over perpetual thorn in the mainstream Republican side Senator Phil Jensen. Daugaard has thrown money at moderate Republicans trying to unseat Jensen in two past primaries, 2012 and 2016. Daugaard’s money was ineffective against Jensen, if not counterproductive, both times.

Overall, Daugaard endorsements of GOP Legislative primary candidates have been a coin flip.

p.s.: One oddity in Daugaard’s 2018 donations: $50,000 to Matt Michels for Lt. Governor? Michels isn’t running for anything, but he burned up $2,649.90 on travel (perhaps to Lincoln Day Dinners, where I’m sure he was the funniest man in the room) and $1,000 on contributions to candidates far down ticket. As of May 15, Michels was still sitting on $47,764.50. Is Michels planning to fire off some last-minute checks to help his boss’s primary favorites?


  1. mike fom iowa 2018-05-24 17:46

    What are Johnson’s qualifications for corruption? How will he fit in and will he need to be trained to be corrupt or is it hereditary in South Dakota wingnuts?

  2. Debbo 2018-05-24 22:28

    “icky right-winginess”

    I like that. It’s so visual and so apt. I have an image of something really sticky and stringy on one’s fingers. Can’t fling it off, wiping it off just smears it around. Gross, disgusting, repulsive, mucus-y.

  3. Jason 2018-05-24 23:50

    I have a feeling Dusty isn’t going to win because of Dennis.

  4. jerry 2018-05-25 02:01

    Jason is correct! Opie is not gonna win, Tim Bjorkman is! The Judge rules baby.

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