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Governor Slacking Off on District 8 Senate Replacement

District 8 was only at two-thirds strength at Tuesday's brief gathering of the Legislature for the Governor's budget address. Rep. Scott Parsley (D-8/Madison) and Rep. Leslie Heinemann (R-8/Flandreau) made it to Pierre, but District 8's Senate seat remains vacant.

Former Senate Majority Leader Russell Olson announced his resignation from public office on August 13. His resignation took effect September 30, when he ascended to the throne at Heartland Consumers Power District and made way for Richard Benda to take his sinecure. Yet according to KJAM, Governor Dennis Daugaard has yet to conduct interviews for the vacant Senate seat:

Tony Venhuizen, the Governor’s Director of Policy and Communications, tells KJAM News that the governor plans to have a replacement named prior to the legislative session, and will be interviewing for the position later this month.

The 2014 legislative session starts on January 14th [Sue Bergheim, "No Appointment Yet for District 8 Senate Seat," KJAM Radio, 2013.12.04].

I am tempted to say the Governor's lack of urgency shows just how little work Russ did in the Senate. But let's keep the focus on the Governor. We're coming up on crunch time. Voters in Moody, Lake, Miner, and Sanborn counties should be able to call their Senator in the month before session, voice their concerns, and propose legislative action. A new Senator should have at least the two months an election provides before session to get up to speed on the issues and prepare bills for submission.

Governor Daugaard has had ample time to pick a replacement (Charlie Johnson! Gerry Lange! Jerry Lammers!). Governor Daugaard appointed David Anderson to replace resigning District 16 Rep. Patty Miller in about six weeks. The Governor tightened up his appointment process and turned around Senator Mark Johnston's resignation with his appointment of R. Blake Curd in just over one month. Taking four months to get around to interviewing a replacement for Olson is slacking off. Get 'er done for District 8, Governor Daugaard!


  1. TG 2013.12.05

    Does seem to be taking a while but wouldn't he kind of have to replace Olson with a Republican? Not sure about Lammers but I know Charlie and Lange are both Ds. Not sure of "the rule" on that but seems that would be how it would go. Or were you being facetious?

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.12.05

    I'm pretty sure there's no law requiring appointment of a member of the same party. The Governor can appoint whomever he wants to a vacant Legislative seat, R D or I, as long as that person meets the basic qualifications (citizen, age 21, SD and district resident—SD Constitution 3.3). Not that I'd expect Gov. Daugaard to get a wild hair and appoint Gerry or Charlie, but the point is there are plenty of smart folks in Lake, Moody, etc. who could do the job, but they could use more than a couple weeks' lead time.

    Jerry Lammers is a diehard Republican and veteran of the House, serving from 1977 to 1992. Still plenty sharp.

  3. Ellen 2013.12.05

    Olson gave the governor a list of people he would like to see serve out his term. The problem is, no one wants the job.

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.12.05

    Ellen, have you seen that list? Who's on it?

  5. Ellen 2013.12.05

    Haven't seen it. Olson told me the governor's office was doing interviews but they were having a hard time to get someone to take the job, this was in September.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.12.05

    Russ talks to you? We need to talk!

    Now why wouldn't anyone want to take Russ's Senate seat?

  7. Michael B 2013.12.05

    I know of one outstanding local citizen that has turned the governor down repeatedly.

  8. Chris Francis 2013.12.06

    To me, since Charlie Johnson actually ran a campaign, and earned votes, enough for runner-up during the last election for this seat just this past year, he should be the next in line. Having Olson give a short list of replacements to the Governor of his choosing is a disservice to the process and one that leaves our collective voices ignored. If Charlie is still interested in serving, then he should be the first and only interview, regardless of party loyalties, simple. (and enough of the assumed names on the blog, you've got a voice and a name, and if you respect this editorial process, use both)

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.12.06

    Quit teasing! Who, Michael? Who?!?

  10. Rorschach 2013.12.06

    Cory, You don't want to know who will get it. The seat will go to sdsen_2014 aka PP. He will drop down from Brookings, rent a cheap apartment, get the appointment, and run for the office with the GOP money machine behind him.

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