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Hess: Monae Johnson May Be as Bad as Ravnsborg

Journalist Dana Hess, who quit reporting on Pierre politics last year due to his disgust with dysfunctional Legislative partisanship, says Secretary of State Monae Johnson is another “less than qualified elected official” who has ascended to power on voters’ blind partisanship rather than objective assessment of qualifications:

Johnson unseated incumbent Secretary of State Steve Barnett at the Republican convention by using election denier buzz words like “election integrity” and “voter fraud.” To those who pay attention to elections in South Dakota, it seems like the state has plenty of the former and little to none of the latter, but that doesn’t matter to Johnson and it didn’t matter to 61% of the voters at the GOP convention who kicked Barnett to the curb.

Johnson, who campaigned on bringing more transparency to the Secretary of State’s office, roundly refused to say whether she believes that Joe Biden beat Donald Trump in 2020. Now South Dakotans find themselves in the position of having an election denier running the office that oversees elections. That’s like having a member of the Flat Earth Society run your globe company.

When Barnett cut out for the private sector, Johnson was sworn in early as secretary of state. Her short time in office has been notable for the veteran staff members she’s let go for no good reason [Dana Hess, “Don’t Let Party Loyalty Trump Voting for Competent Candidates,” South Dakota Searchlight, 2023.01.02].

Hess worries the early signs from Johnson’s management of the Secretary of State’s office is that she will be as bad at her job as killer Jason Ravnsborg was at Attorney Generaling:

Recent history shows that we may be putting too much faith in political parties to field serious candidates for office. It’s up to voters to look at the qualifications of candidates and, sometimes, put aside their party loyalties in favor of electing the most qualified people. If we had done that, perhaps the state could have avoided the dumpster fire that resulted from Ravnsborg’s tenure as attorney general and maybe we wouldn’t be catching the first whiffs of the smoldering mess that Johnson is making in the Secretary of State’s Office [Hess, 2023.01.02].

The last thing any South Dakota elected official should want is to be compared to the only South Dakotan ever impeached and removed from office by the South Dakota Legislature.


  1. Mark Anderson 2023-01-03 08:19

    Well Cory, at least South Dakota doesn’t have the right wing world setting up camp in it like Florida. Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon all those jokers and the supposed experts delving into “election integrity” moved into Sarasota. The Boys from Brazil around Bolsonaro are in Florida. What a lulu he left Brazil in.
    Monae must have a cracked Johnson to believe the bull sheet she does but what can anyone do, other than point out her phallus seize.

  2. buckobear 2023-01-03 09:46

    Hess’ column really just goes to negating his earlier one blaming the Democrats for our one-party rule state government.
    The blame lies with the voters.

  3. P. Aitch 2023-01-03 10:52

    Give her a chance!
    Maybe the “Peter Principle” won’t happen.

  4. larry kurtz 2023-01-03 12:58

    $20 says Monae Johnson will be far worse than Colonel Ravnsborg.

  5. 96Tears 2023-01-03 13:14

    When the national press starts phoning Monae about her thoughts on the 2020 presidential election, how is Kristi Noem going to keep her gagged? Monae’s first action in office was a reckless one by firing Kea Warne, the most competent person in 50 years in the SOS office. Maybe Monae will follow her governor’s lead and jump into the presidential primary to one-up Kristi on the Trump Election Denier Coalition. She seems to be fashioning her political image to make her CPAC worthy:

    – Monae has no qualifications to be President of the United States. Neither does Kristi.
    – Monae has no record of accomplishing good things for South Dakota in office. Neither does Kristi.
    – Monae can cuddle up and pose with American flags. So can Kristi.
    – Monae’s on record as a Trumpian Election Denier. Not Kristi. Uh oh!
    – Monae has no idea what she’s doing in office, except to seek higher office. Ditto for Kristi.
    – Monae has no chance of abusing the state aircraft for political or personal use. Kristi is now officially unrestrained in violating the state law.
    – Monae can’t fire state employees because they won’t help her whelp cheat a certification test or get a state job. Kristi is going to get a lot of questions in Iowa on this.
    – Monae hasn’t started her plastic surgery transformation into GOP presidential material. Kristi has overdone it.
    – Kristi has Corey Lewandowski. Monae doesn’t — yet.

    See? A side-by-side comparison reveals some competition for Kristi beyond South Dakota’s borders. To be a GOP candidate in good standing, you don’t need brains, experience or insight. In fact, all three of those work against you. Monae hasn’t crafted Kristi’s desperate barfly appeal yet, but give her and the plastic surgeons time. Being elected doesn’t mean you have to work in Pierre; it means you have a paycheck and resources to work on running for higher office.

    Judging by today’s first vote for House Speaker in Congress, the quackatorium of right-wing extremism is strong and not inclined to be shushed or told no. This is the core group of election deniers who is willing to toss a wrench of the gearworks of any GOP effort. Considering the cold shoulder treatment Team Noem got in their own state convention, Monae may have a base that wants to support a real true believer.

  6. John 2023-01-03 13:18

    Political parties are private corporations. Political parties interests are: a) raising money, to b) remain in power. Political parties have no vested interest in good governance, being good stewards, seeking justice — their sole motivation is remaining in power.
    Open primaries and rank choice voting reduce influence of political parties.

  7. Dicta 2023-01-03 13:32

    Foment crazy for years to build your political alliances, don’t be surprised when you lose control.

  8. grudznick 2023-01-03 20:30

    There should be a group formed, grudznick will chair, which issues a monthly “Insanest or Incompetentest List.” I don’t me the run of the mill sad sack whackadoodles or incompetents (sorry, Mr. Kloucek, you’d be a permanent shoe-in for #1 otherwise) in the legislatures, I mean statewide elected officials. Since perhaps 1972.

    Current starting point for said list:

    1. Mr. Ravnsborg
    2. Mr. Gant
    3. Mr. Butler
    4. Ms. Monae
    5. Ms. Krebs

  9. e platypus onion 2023-01-04 17:32

    Waaaaay too juicy not to share (sorry it is OT) Magat SOH wannabe Mccarthy has failed 6 votes already. Some magats are considering joining Dems to elect an alternative speaker.

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