The bad news: academically underachieving Russell Olson has ridden his lifelong trajectory of Prostrollo-Janklow patronage to a new height of wealth and power, ascending to the CEO-ship of Heartland Consumers Power District.
The good news: Russ is leaving the South Dakota Senate to do so!
It is with a flood of emotion I write to you today. Earlier this morning, the Heartland Consumers Power District (HCPD) board of directors notified me of my selection as their next CEO. As such, due to the job requirements, I will be notifying Gov. Daugaard of my resignation from the SD Legislature effective September 30. You’re family…and I want you to hear it from me [Senator Russell Olson (R-8/Wentworth), letter to fellow senators, quoted by Pat Powers, Dakota War College, 2013.08.13].
Strangely dedicated to the notion that Russ is the golden boy of South Dakota politics, Pat Powers pretends that leaving the Legislature to run HCPD somehow makes Olson more likely to become Governor someday. It is more likely that Olson will fade from statewide view and play the tiddlywinks of Madison-level crony capitalism.
The Governor's logical choice to fill Olson's vacancy is the District 8 resident with more legislative experience than anyone else in Moody, Lake, Miner, or Sanborn County: Gerald Lange, who served ten years in the Senate and eight in the House. Former House Speaker and majority leader Jerry Lammers would be a close second, if he wanted to set aside lawyering for a couple months. But it's more likely that Governor Daugaard will pick a younger political crony suggested by Olson, a Madison or Flandreau version of Brian Gosch or Kristin Conzet who can say "Yes sir!" and run eagerly for re-election as an anointed incumbent Republican next year.
Readers, I invite (and, if he follows recent practice, so will the Governor) your suggestions for Daugaard's replacement of Olson. But District 8 Dems, start recruiting now: Russell Olson just handed you a pretty good break for the 2014 election.
Update 08:01 CDT: Gotta check my local news: Governor Daugaard is indeed inviting nominations for District 8 Senate:
The Governor is asking the public to nominate candidates to fill the position.
Those wishing to offer nominations should contact Patrick Weber in the Office of the Governor at 605-773-5999. Nominations should include the candidate’s name, current address, telephone number and relevant background information [Sue Bergheim, "Senate Majority Leader Olson to Resign; Governor Invites Public Input," KJAM Radio, 2013.08.13].
Friends of Gerry (or Jerry!), ring Patrick Weber's phone!