Home > Republican, South Dakota > Notes about Dusty Johnson and Mike Rounds at the Brown County Republicans Reagan lunch

Notes about Dusty Johnson and Mike Rounds at the Brown County Republicans Reagan lunch

January 9, 2014
Dusty Johnson speaking in Aberdeen

Dusty Johnson speaking in Aberdeen

Today the Brown County Republicans hosted their monthly Reagan lunch. I’ve been going to these events for months, and I would say this had just about the best attendance. The guest speaker was Dusty Johnson, Governor Daugaard’s Chief of Staff. Following Dusty was Mike Rounds, former South Dakota governor currently seeking to win the Republican US Senate primary. Both speakers were well worth listening to today. In this post I will briefly pass on some highlights and some personal thoughts about their message.

Dusty Johnson started off by letting people know what exactly a Chief of Staff is. Basically the chief of staff is the equivalent of a Chief Operating Officer at a corporation. This means Dusty has to deal with the daily operations of the executive branch in Pierre and answers directly to Governor Daugaard. This is part of the reason I love these events, I get to find out what exactly people do in Pierre.

Dusty said one thing during the beginning of his speech that I think is worthy of repeating: “If good people are in government there is a better chance of good government.” I actually agree with that statement completely. As a limited-government advocate I believe in small government. But no matter the size government, it will only be as good as those involved. When people go to the polls this fall they should heed that statement and vote accordingly.

Talking about the upcoming 2014 South Dakota legislative session Dusty mentioned a few economic issues he feel will be hot. He expects dealing with the governor’s budget to be a top hot issue. He mentioned 85% of the budget goes to education or programs that are designed to help people. Of course included in that hot topic will be how to best spend this sudden surge of one-time money. I think this will be an interesting issue to watch over the next couple of months.

Dusty also spoke briefly about economic development. He said the session would likely include a lot of policy discussion and forensic discussions. In his view the legitimate discussion should be about how much state government should do in regards to economic development. The discussion should include infrastructure items and determining what beyond that is the realm of a good conservative economic development program. I actually hope he is right that this discussion will take place. Personally I think scandal aspects of the EB-5/Benda situation may overshadow any legitimate discussion.

Common Core came up as a question to Dusty. He started off by saying that we should be nervous about federal intervention into our children’s education. He did specify that Common Core is not technically a federal program; but that dangling a carrot in front of states so we can get some of our taxpayer dollars is basically the same thing as a federal mandated program. He went on to say there should be some basic standards to be used within the state, and that South Dakota should be deciding for itself what standards we use. Dusty called himself a true federalist and as such believes education clearly is left to the states.

When answering a question about why Governor Daugaard didn’t close all schools in the state like Minnesota, I believe Dusty inadvertently gave a good answer to common core as well. Dusty said Daugaard did not close the schools because we had a lot of diversity in weather temps throughout the state and it was thought the decisions of whether kids can go to school should be left to the school boards and the parents. I believe I will steal a variation of this answer from Dusty to use in future Common Core posts.

Mike Rounds in Aberdeen

Mike Rounds in Aberdeen

After Dusty was done speaking it was Mike Rounds time to give a short speech. For full disclosure I openly support someone else in the Republican primary, but I came into this meeting with an open mind and am going to write this post accordingly. I will simply pass on a few notes and thoughts about Rounds speech.

First I have to say this is a different Mike Rounds than I have ever seen live, or on videos. Mike spoke passionately and talked about specifics. In the past I have found Rounds to be an almost boring speaker, but not today. I don’t know if his campaign team has been coaching him, or if he was trying outdo Dusty, but whatever change he has made is working. His new approach definitely has the potential to get crowds actively supporting him; instead of just voting for him because they know his name. If he keeps this up the other Republicans in the primary might have to step their game up a bit.

Rounds did talk about out-of-state money. Many have been critical of his campaign for seeking such high amounts of campaign funds, especially from outside states. Mike said this was due in a large part because of the Super-PACs that helped to swing elections in 2012. He may find himself having to defend himself against large sums of money spent on attack adds aimed at taking him down. I have to agree with Rounds on that, this is an eventuality he has to prepare for and one I find quite likely.

Rounds mentioned the biggest problem he sees in DC right now is that Congress is letting the executive branch do whatever it wants. He went on to say his first priority if he becomes Senator would be to become part of a team of Republicans that will unify to reduce regulation.

The Aberdeen American News was there, so I will let them report on the specifics of what Rounds said. But I will say that Rounds was doing a good job of actually specifying conservative stances, instead of being general. Most of these were standard issues such as getting rid of the federal Department of Education, stopping Obamacare, and removing burdensome regulations. With this new-found surge of passion and talking about the issues Mike is acting more like someone who really wants to be a US Senator. It will be interesting to see if this lasts and how it impacts the Republican primary.

After the meeting I did speak briefly with Mr Rounds on a few issues. He does stand by the EB-5 program and believes at its core the foreign investment of money has helped the US economy. He pointed out that many small businesses are still applying for EB-5 money and that only cases such as the Aberdeen Beef Plant get any attention. I think we will find out in June if Republican voters agree with Mr Rounds on his stance.

As always the Brown County Republicans held an informative event that was worthy of attending. I recommend anyone interested in politics on any level to attend these monthly Reagan lunches.

PS. Even after this meeting I still don’t support Mike Rounds, but I think the other candidates have to take into account this new surge of passion from Mike.

  1. Merlyn Schutterle
    January 9, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    Oh! So the leopard is changing his spots.

    • January 10, 2014 at 8:44 am

      Yeah, and it may work pretty well for him…

  2. Reagan Republican
    January 9, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    Very good Ken. I really appreciate being able to read about the events and candidates on your blog and enjoy your perspective. You are well informed.

  3. tara volesky
    January 9, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    Mike Rounds is a great Politician. Don’t fall for the B.S.

    • January 10, 2014 at 8:44 am

      I think those that don’t actually follow issues will fall for it.

  4. January 9, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    Quality reporting, Ken! Good job asking Rounds face to face about EB-5. I’d like to see some numbers on small businesses supported by EB-5. Rounds’s statement seems to change direction from what Bollen, SDRC< and GOED were saying in 2008, that EB-5 investors only wanted to invest in big projects.

    • January 10, 2014 at 8:50 am

      I was actually quite surprised he was willing to talk about EB-5. You’ve researched EB-5 more than me and probably realize more than anyone it is hard to prove/disprove how much program helps because of its lack of reporting requirements. I actually wonder how Mike will handle this in a debate.

  5. Drew Dennert
    January 10, 2014 at 12:14 am

    I thought Mike’s speech today was very similar to his speech at the 2012 Brown county Lincoln day, this is the second time I have seen him display such energy. And it will be interesting to see which style he chooses in the future.

    • January 10, 2014 at 8:51 am

      Yeah, I didn’t realize he had this in his toolbox. But that is OK, just means those opposed have to work even harder to get their message out.

  6. January 10, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Ken, did anyone ask him about taking money from the feds to implement common core? What was is relationship with Tom Daschel as far serving together on a committee to implement Obama care? Can’t wait till he finally debates the other candidates. By the way Mike Rounds is a very nice person, but maybe it’s time to send a BOSS out to Washington, because what we have now is not working.

    • January 10, 2014 at 11:30 am

      Common Core came up. But I forgot to take notes about his answer and I can’t remember any specifics.

      I agree with you. There needs to be better leadership in DC, and I don’t think Rounds fits that bill. Unfortunately in elections leadership is not truly a hot topic… making it hard for better candidates.

  1. February 27, 2014 at 7:04 am
Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: