South Dakota Legislature leadership, Nesselhuf’s quest

The South Dakota Legislature 2011 leadership teams have been set this weekend, and but one southeast S.D. legislator from each party is among the crew. Thank goodness for Yankton legislators, you could say.

In the South Dakota House, the Republican hold on the chamber following Election 2010 increased from 46 to 50 of the 70 seats. House Majority Leader will be David Lust of Rapid City, while a bit down the list as a Republican House Whip is Nick Moser of Yankton. The Minority Leader of the House Democrats is Bernie Hunhoff of Yankton, so in that position you’ll hear him being the chief dissenting voice on many proposals the GOP puts out. Hunhoff will be much more of a household name (relatively speaking) as 2011 plays out.

South Dakota Democrats took their lumps on Nov. 2, losing the congressional position held for six years by Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin and dropping more seats in the Legislature. The person who will lead the South Dakota Democratic Party will be settled on Dec. 4, and a Siouxland man wants the job. Ben Nesselhuf of Vermillion, who won’t be in the Legislature after not running for re-election when he unsuccessfully sought the Secretary of State position, wants the SDDP chairmanship.

Nesselhuf wants to succeed SDDP Chairwoman Cheryl Chapman, as does Mitch Fargen, a state representative from Flandreau. The Yankton Plain Talk has a profile of Nesselhuf’s quest, who said after losing the secretary of state position (to Jason Gant) that he planned on “finding myself a good desk job and keeping my head down.” But then he got encouragement from many Democrats.

Nesslehuf spoke directly about the tough task ahead in righting the state’s Democratic Party ship: “It’s a matter of a back-to-the-basics approach,” he said. “The party needs to be focuses on fundraising. The candidates need money to win.

“We also need to make sure our message it getting out there by talking to the press at

every opportunity and building an online presence,” Nesselhuf added. “We need to re-engage the party with a grassroots campaign.”

Nesselhuf would be taking over as the party chairman at what he considers one of the party’s lowest moments, but that didn’t keep him away from running.

“I think this is a job you take when things are going really good, or it’s at rock bottom,” he said. “The way things are going now, we are allowed to have a little fun. We can get creative and get some new ideas.”

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