Readers of this blog might be interested to know that I have decided to run for the South Dakota State House of Representatives from District 13. Although not strictly a South Dakota history topic, I can tie it in by noting that, in the modern history of the position of Governor’s chief of staff, there have been two former chiefs of staff who went on to serve in the State Legislature.
Ron Williamson was Bill Janklow’s chief of staff during his first term beginning in 1979. Williamson later served as adjutant general. In 2002, he considered a candidacy for governor, but instead ran for State House, serving one term from 2003-04. He didn’t seek reelection.
Dave Knudson served on two occasions as Bill Janklow’s chief of staff, in 1995 and in 1999. Knudson was elected to the State Senate in 2002 and served eight years from 2003-10. For the last four years, he was senate majority leader. Knudson ran for governor in 2010 and lost the Republican primary to Lt. Governor Dennis Daugaard.
The most politically successful former chief of staff is South Dakota’s current congressman, Dusty Johnson. Johnson had already served in the Rounds administration and as public utilities commissioner when he joined the Daugaard administration as chief of staff, serving from 2011-14. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018 and is currently seeking his third term.
Another former chief of staff, Ted Muenster, who served Governor Dick Kneip from 1971-4, ran for U.S. Senate in 1990. He was the Democratic nominee and lost to incumbent Larry Pressler.
I served as chief of staff to Governor Dennis Daugaard from 2014-19 and to Governor Kristi Noem from 2020-21. If elected, I would join Williamson and Knudson as a former chief of staff serving in the legislature.