The 92nd Session of the South Dakota State Legislature convened on January 10, 2017. In the State House of Representatives, one of the first orders of business was to officially elect Rep. G. Mark Mickelson, of Sioux Falls, as speaker of the house.
Mickelson is the third generation to serve as house speaker, following grandfather George T. Mickelson and father George S. Mickelson. No other father-son duo in South Dakota has served as speaker.
George Theodore Mickelson was born in Selby in 1903, the son of a Norwegian immigrant farmer. He earned his law degree from USD and returned to Selby, where he was first elected to the State House in 1936. Mickelson was elected speaker pro tempore in his second term, and became house speaker for his third term, the 1941 session. In 1942, he was elected attorney general.
After two terms, Mickelson ran for governor in 1946. In the Republican primary, He defeated incumbent Gov. M. Q. Sharpe, who was seeking a third term, and then easily won the general election. Mickelson implemented the state’s right-to-work law and served as governor during a time of post-war prosperity, with a focus on highway construction, development of water projects, expansion of the state universities, and the strengthening of state finances.
Following his time as governor, Mickelson served as federal district judge in Sioux Falls, until his death in 1965. As a federal judge, made landmark rulings that protected the property rights of Native Americans.
George Speaker Mickelson was born in Mobridge in 1941. He was born in January, while his father was serving in Pierre as speaker of the house. For that reason, although his parents had intended to name him “George Theodore,” the elder Mickelson’s house colleagues convinced him to name his son “George Speaker.” It was an apt middle name.
Like his father, the younger Mickelson earned his law degree from USD, and then he settled in Brookings. He was elected to the State House in 1974, 38 years after his father was first elected. Also like his father, he became speaker pro tempore in his second term and house speaker in his third term, serving as speaker in the 1979 and 1980 sessions.
George S. Mickelson was elected governor in 1986, making the Mickelson’s the state’s only father-son duo to serve as governor. He focused on economic development, implemented gaming as a result of a citizen vote, and declared a “Year of Reconciliation” with the state’s tribes in 1990. Mickelson died in a plane crash in 1993, the first South Dakota governor to die in office.
George Mark Mickelson was born in 1966, the year after his grandfather passed away. He attended USD for an undergraduate degree in accounting, and then earned his law degree from Harvard Law School. Mickelson returned to South Dakota and entered business in Sioux Falls. He was first elected to the State House in 2012, again 38 years after his father was first elected. Like his father and grandfather, he became speaker pro tempore in his second term, and house speaker in his third term, beginning with the 2017 session.
Mickelson had begun to explore a 2018 gubernatorial candidacy, but announced in late 2016 that he would not run for governor.