South Dakota’s previous secretary of state, Chris Nelson, put his name on the line today (Tuesday) by announcing his support for Shantel Krebs, who is seeking the Republican nomination for secretary of state this year.
The background is complicated.
Krebs, a state senator from Renner, declared her candidacy last summer.
In the past month the current deputy secretary of state, Patricia Miller, announced that she would run for the Republican nomination too. Miller works for Secretary of State Jason Gant.
Gant decided after Krebs’ announcement last year that he wouldn’t seek re-election to a second term in 2014. He has since sold his house in Pierre and returned to Sioux Falls with his family.
Gant hired Miller as his deputy in 2012 after his previous top aide, Pat Powers, resigned.
The activities of Powers in running a campaign advisory business while serving as Gant’s No. 2, as well as other actions involving Gant’s administration of the office, came under investigation by state Attorney General Marty Jackley in 2012.
The attorney general decided there wasn’t any criminal wrong-doing. The investigation was requested by then-Sen. Stan Adelstein, R-Rapid City.
At the time he brought Miller aboard as deputy, Gant also temporarily hired Sue Roust, a Democratic former auditor for Minnehaha County, to oversee the 2012 general election for his office. Roust returned to retirement after the election cycle was complete.
Chris Nelson was secretary of state for two four-year terms and couldn’t seek re-election to a third consecutive term in 2010 under the South Dakota constitution’s term-limit provision.
Prior to his first election in 2002, Nelson was state elections supervisor under then-Secretary of State Joyce Hazeltine.
Hazeltine recently endorsed Miller for the nomination.
Nelson ran for the Republican nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives and placed second behind now-U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem in a three-candidate primary in June 2010.
Nelson’s then-deputy, Teresa Bray, and former House Speaker Tom Deadrick lost to Gant for the Republican nomination for secretary of state at the 2010 Republican state convention later that summer. Gant, who was a state senator, won the general election for secretary of state over a Democratic state senator, Ben Nesselhuf.
Nelson subsequently was appointed to the state Public Utilities Commission in January 2011 by Gov. Dennis Daugaard, when Dusty Johnson declined to serve the second term to which he was elected in 2010.
Johnson accepted the position of chief of staff for the new governor after serving on his transition team in November and December of 2010.
Nelson won election to the remaining four years of the six-year PUC term in 2012.
Patricia Miller is the wife of former Gov. Walter Dale Miller. She was divorced and he was widowed when they married in 1993 after he became governor.
Walter Dale Miller was serving as lieutenant governor when the state plane crash killed eight men including Gov. George S. Mickelson on April 19, 1993. As lieutenant governor Walter Dale Miller succeeded Mickelson. Walter Dale Miller lost in the June 1994 Republican primary for governor to former Gov. Bill Janklow.
Patricia Miller ran for the Republican nomination for state auditor in 2010. State convention participants chose Steve Barnett for the nomination. Barnett was elected to the office in November.
Krebs served six years in the state House of Representatives, starting in 2005, and has been in the Senate the past four years.