After being term-limited out as Secretary of State and losing to Kristi Noem in the GOP primary for that U.S. House seat, Nelson has snagged a pretty nice consolation prize that will keep his brains and talent in Pierre serving the people.
But what's this -- no experience necessary?
Daugaard appointed Nelson despite the Secretary of State lacking any experience in the utilities industry, saying Nelson was the right person for the job.
"He's demonstrated time and again that he's willing to fairly interpret and apply our state laws without regard for politics," Daugaard said [David Montgomery, "Secretary of State to fill Johnson's PUC vacancy," Rapid City Journal, 2010.11.23].
No experience in utilities, and he gets the job? That's it—I am totally sending Daugaard a résumé. Make me Secretary of Education! I've at least been in a few classrooms! That's more experience than Nelson has for the job he just got.
The official Dems' line will surely echo what we heard from House Minority Leader Mitch Fargen yesterday on SDPB's Dakota Midday: same old bureaucracy, same old cronies.
But here's a more interesting narrative I see developing. Daugaard moves the chairs to give Dusty Johnson a better position from which to launch a statewide campaign... say, U.S. Senate in 2014. Daugaard finds a way to keep capable and decent public servant Nelson in the game. I see both of these moves as signals from the mainline South Dakota Republicans, the fellas who got a heck of a lot more votes than Rep.-Elect Kristi Noem did on November 2, that they're keeping their best guys in the chute for Tim Johnson's Senate seat. Noem won thanks to lots of outside Tea Party groups (and overheated conservative males searching "Kristi Noem bust" on Google Images) that pose a threat to the proper order of South Dakota Republicanism. The adults in the party aren't going to let that get out of hand.
My, we humans do tend to see patterns where there may be none, don't we?
Update 12:22 CST: The Dems' response, from party exec Erin McCarrick in a press release five minutes ago:
It looks like the Daugaard Administration is the new retirement home for State employees who are term limited or who have paid their dues to the Republican Party. How are we going to fix the huge budget deficit we are facing with the same players?
Just as many businesses are kept out of government contracts in Pierre through the no-bid process, possible qualified persons are being kept out of positions in Pierre. South Dakota should question the hiring process in Republican Administrations—are there no other qualified people in South Dakota, or do they already live in Pierre?