IN THE YEAR 2010……

It sounds like the cheesy tag line from a 1960’s futuristic or post-apocalyptic tale. But as the close to my series of articles this week taking a look back at the prior year and a preview of what’s to come, it’s really fitting.

I hadn’t intended to do one on this until this morning. And the credit for prompting me to write it goes to reifelman, one of the SDWC readers. I got up this AM, and in my e-mail box I noticed a comment had been placed under the topic where I note Joel Rosenthal talks about possible Herseth contenders.

(And no, despite just resigning his position with State Government, I don’t believe Jim Hagen is going to take her on.)

Anyway, reifelman made the statement “I would like to see someone give Billie Jo Waara more of a push. She is the GOP's answer to Stephanie. This might not be the right time for her, but she definitely has a future in this state.”

And my reply is “reifelman, right you are.” In fact, there are a great number of Republicans out there whom I think we’re going to see more of in the future who aren’t in office right now. Most might not be on the tip of your tongue, but they should be.

And this isn’t just speculative fiction or a reason to razz these people by directing them to the post (which often happens with this kind of stuff). These are people out there who might simply be volunteering at this point, they might not be directly involved at all, but they sit on the fringes, and people recognize, and sometimes talk about their ability to go far in the political process.

2010 is really just a benchmark – these people may be involved at a higher level sooner or it might be a short time later. But I think they’ll be involved at some point.

So now I call upon the leaky magic 8 ball staining my carpet with that murky blue fluid for one last glimpse into the future before I throw it in the trash. Tell us… Who are the members of the class of 2010? (And in no particular order….).
1. Billie Jo Waara – As reifelman said, she might be the GOP's answer to Stephanie. Well spoken, and respected by the establishment – and as demonstrated by her win as Minnehaha County Treasurer, she can produce votes in the largest county in SD.

I don’t know if we’ll see her run for a legislative seat in the near future, because I don’t know if she needs to. More likely, if I was going to expect her to run for something, I’d think she might make an attempt at one of the state constitutional offices.

Secretary of State might be a natural fit, and she could be a tough competitor for it. Although, I suspect that she might face some competition from…

2. Chad Heinrich – As Deputy Secretary of State, Chad has been getting some notice, most recently being named as a Toll fellow. And serving as the Hughes County Republican Party Chairman is getting him some valuable exposure to the party apparatus.

I think he’s possibly being looked at as heir apparent for his boss’ office in 2010, but that office can be tough for staff to move into. (Just ask Jay Vogt, Alice Kundert’s deputy).

Regardless, Chad comes off as polished, smart and professional. He may be the man to beat for that office.

3. Rachel Kippley – Former Janklow Gubernatorial and Congressional staffer, and recent South Dakota Right to Life Director, Rachel is smart as hell. She originally was in the State Bureau of Finance and Management, and moved over to 'the big office' as a result of her political experience and acumen.

The former Rachel Hansen was handed a state Right to Life chapter that was in shambles after a previous director’s controversial exit divided and tore the organization apart. And she put it back together again through hard work. Among some of the young rebels in the party, regardless of their position on abortion, her abilities are respected. (And that’s not bad from a group that doesn’t give respect without it being earned).

Newly married, she’s on break from politics for the moment, but for someone who was in the thick of things as she was, I expect she’ll be back.

4. Lance Russell – he’s probably going to show up sooner than 2010, but I don’t want to predict this one.

Without realizing it, you read about him in the paper at least weekly. For the Grasslands Coalition, Lance serves as their attorney and spokesman. Prairie Dog Issue? Lance is helping the landowners sue the federal government. Tribal Extradition Treaty? Lance is the State’s Attorney who made the unusual request of the Governor to extradite the Garnier’s from the reservation.

Within the party, this Fall River County Republican Chairman is fiercely respected and his advice and counsel are sought by many conservative West River Republicans. Especially the conservative contingent in Pennington County. Add to that, the fact that he served as Pennington County GOP Director, and State Republican Party Executive Director before he left to go to law school.

The older brother of Larry Russell, Lance is known as a tenacious fighter, no matter who the opponent is. Whether it’s running for Fall River County State’s Attorney or taking on the State GOP chair over party bylaws, don’t expect him give an inch.

But don’t consider him a rhino in a china shop. Like a careful chess player, Lance is very deliberate in the moves he chooses to make, so if he takes on a challenge, you’d better believe that the move is well thought out, and that he’s going to play to win.

5. Joel Arends – I’ve written about Joel recently regarding his giving talks down in the South East corner of the state. This law school student had his studies interrupted by a stint in Iraq, but he’s back now. And he was awarded a bronze star in recognition of his efforts.

Joel is also not untried in the political arena. Fresh out of college in Iowa, he took on the Iowa Democratic Speaker of the House. While he lost that race, I suspect the fire is still there, and we’ll see him making an attempt for a South Dakota legislative seat in the next five years or so.

6. Karl Adam – In Pierre, arguably the most political town in the state, there are few people not involved in politics that incumbents fear could enter a race and knock them out. Most often, seats become available, and a group of people run and give it a shot – there’s not a big tendency to get out of someone’s way. But if Karl got into the race, he’d be the exception.

Grandson of George T. Mickelson, Nephew of George S. Mickelson, and son of long time Republican activist Pat Adam, Karl is well known in the community. And he’s one of those people who could step into a local or legislative political race, and I predict the deck would be cleared. Karl is often tapped for honorary political positions, and has served as one of Thune’s top people in the area.

Any time that a local legislative seat is open, his name is at the top of Republican’s wish lists. And one of these days, he may just decide to pull the trigger.

7. Mark Mickelson – Political acquaintances and I have on occasion argued pro and con that this son of Governor George S. Mickelson will need prior elective experience before he tackles a run for statewide office.

I’d argue if he’s going to make a run for Governor, it would make it easier. Congress or U.S. Senate, it’s not needed. And who knows, it really depends on who his opponent might be. But the thing to notice here is that no one is really talking about him running for anything less. He’s immediately being considered a serious and tough contender for some of the top elective offices in South Dakota.

Progeny to that same strong Mickelson political dynasty with deep roots across South Dakota, it’s up to him what he wants. And when he decides he wants it, it’s likely it will be his.

8. Megan Olson – This choice might be a little after 2010, but Megan is no stranger to Republican politics.

Megan is the new membership services director for the Watertown Chamber of Commerce. But she is better known in Republican circles for manning the Watertown Republican Victory offices in 2002 and 2004. Daughter of the Codington County Sheriff, she has respect from elected officials and Republican activists alike.

If she stays involved, as I would expect her to be, don’t be too surprised if she’s on the wish list to tap to run for a legislative seat around 2010 (or soon thereafter).

9. Grant Walker – Another State’s Attorney on the list.

Fresh out of USD Law School, Grant Walker walked in out of nowhere and took the Walworth County State’s Attorney office as his own against an appointee. For someone so young, Grant is hooked in well politically, especially after working with the Rounds Campaign as the man on the USD campus. Grant has also spent a lot of time with various causes, such as teen court, helping to round out his impressive resume.

Since I've been involved for years, and I've been shooting my mouth off in this weblog for the last 10 months, sometimes I'm asked, "So, when are you going to run.. Or why don't you run against Stephanie?" to which I reply "ha ha ha."

Actually, not that I wouldn't. I'd love to be in the legislature someday.

It's more because my wife, Mrs. PP, would be a much more formidable candidate. I'd add her to the list for people to watch, but I'd hate to say by 2010, because it could be later.

Former School Board President, School Administrator, Former Classroom Teacher, Former State Dept of Ed Official, plus she's smart as hell, more than a passable public speaker, and a fierce debater who can quickly turn a phrase.

Besides, what other candidate can point to having six kids?

Me run for office? Probably not. I'll be too busy running my wife for Governor.


Anonymous said…
where is the beef????
Anonymous said…
Have you met/do you know all of these people?
PP said…
Actually, with the exception of Mark Mickelson, yes.

To the casual observer, a few of them might not seem like much.

But they all have that drive and know how to campaign. I wouldn't sell them short until they step up to the plate to give it a go.
Anonymous said…
There's a little more to the story of Grant Walker becoming Walworth Co SA. Talk to some people up north and they'll tell you how the Co Commissioners wanted Dan Todd out. They campaigned against him and for Walker in the primary. There was no Democratic candidate. Then - how long was he in office before he pissed off Larry Long? What I hear is the Co Commission is less than pleased with his refusal to prosecute the Mulligan case - for which they had to bring in Brown Co SAs and shell out a lot of cash. He may have walked right in to office, but we'll see how long he stays there...
Anonymous said…
Let's not forget about Matt Michels. He's a veteran, nurse, attorney, Speaker of the House, family man, and all-around good guy.
Anonymous said…
There are a few City Councilmembers in Rapid City that are younger, have drive, and intelligence.
PP said…
Anon #4 - Matt Michels is already in there. This is about those who are unknown or aren't in the show yet.

And anon #5 - the only person on the Rapid City council I would view as seriously formidable would be Karen Gunderson Olson.

She's been in the game a long time, and has run several statewide efforts. She knows her stuff.

Sam Kooiker gets a bit of attention, and he's spoken well of by a few friends.

As far as the rest, either I'm not familiar with them, or there's a reason they woudn't make a list of people that I would consider "can-do's."
Anonymous said…
Didn't Lance Russell almost lose the last SA race to a Dem. fresh out of law school? I didn't realize there were any Dems in Fall River County until I saw that.
Anonymous said…
PP -- You lost all credibility with your endorsement of Karen Gunderson Olson. She might be the most inept Councilperson now that Jean French is gone.
PP said…
I have no idea what kind of councilperson she is. I suspect she and I would be philosophically worlds apart.

But she knows how to campaign - and that's more important than anything in getting elected.
PP said…
Oh, and to the person bringing up Lance, he smoked her 60-40 as I'm told, and was one of the top county vote getters in the election.

(if vote getters is a word, that is)
Anonymous said…
wrong PP. It was 55-45
Anonymous said…
You enjoy digging into political backgrounds. Check out Joel Arends, why he left law school for a couple of years. He was in the Guard and was called up, was supposedly in Iraq, was posting supposedly from Iraq, but was in Sioux Falls. (I guess later he did go to Iraq evidently, and I know nothing about this.) But if he were to run for office, these lies would be made more public than they are now, and his credibility would be zero. Just look it up; check with students in his law class the first time around.

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