SoDak Governors and the @SoDakGovs twitter feed are written by Tony Venhuizen.
An Armour native, Tony earned his B.S. in history and political science from South Dakota State University. He earned his J.D. from the University of South Dakota School of Law, where he was an editor of the South Dakota Law Review. A former chief of staff to Governor Dennis Daugaard and Governor Kristi Noem, he is a member of the South Dakota Board of Regents. He lives and works in Sioux Falls, where he is running unopposed as Republican nominee for State House of Representatives from District 13.
Tony managed Daugaard’s successful 2010 gubernatorial campaign. He worked in the Governor’s Office throughout the Daugaard administration, including four years as chief of staff. Tony stayed on in the administration of Governor Noem as a senior advisor, and then returned as chief of staff. Governor Noem appointed Tony to the South Dakota Board of Regents in 2021; he had previously been appointed to the Board by Governor Mike Rounds, serving from 2003-08. Tony also worked on Rounds’ successful gubernatorial campaigns in 2002 and 2006.
Tony is on the board of the Trail of Governors, which has commissioned and placed life-size statues of every former South Dakota governor throughout the capital city of Pierre. He also serves on the board of the South Dakota State Historical Society Foundation, and has encouraged the placement of South Dakota State Historical Society markers to honor former governors, with new markers placed honoring Andrew Lee, Coe Crawford, William McMaster, Carl Gunderson, Harlan Bushfield, Joe Foss, Nils Boe, Frank Farrar, Walter Dale Miller, and Bill Janklow.
In 2014, Tony’s essay “Leaders in the Land of Infinite Variety: A Collective Portrait of South Dakota’s Governors” was included in The Plains Political Tradition: Essays on South Dakota Political Culture, Vol. 2, published by South Dakota Historical Society Press. In 2017, Tony appeared on C-SPAN’s “American History TV” during the show’s visit to Pierre. Tony was interviewed for segments on the State Capitol Building and on the Trail of Governors. In 2021, Tony edited and annotated the autobiography of Governor W. J. Bulow; excerpts from the autobiography were published in South Dakota History in Spring 2021, and his essay, “William J. Bulow: The Conservative Democrat Who Time Passed By” will be included in the forthcoming The Plains Political Tradition: Essays on South Dakota Political Culture, Vol. 4 in Fall 2022.
Tony advocated for the designation of Peter Norbeck’s birthday, August 27, as a state working holiday. He also coordinated the commissioning of a bust of George S. Mickelson, which was placed in the State House lobby in 2018 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Governor Mickelson’s death. In 2012, Tony led the effort to pass legislation that preserves the papers of former governors and ensures that all papers eventually become available for historical research. The laws are codified at SDCL 1-27-1.19, 1-27-1.20, 1-27-1.21 and 1-27-1.22.
While in the Governor’s Office, Tony was particularly honored to help coordinate the Capitol memorial services for former governors William J. Janklow and Walter Dale Miller.