One of the counter-arguments immediately popping up against the Adelstein plan to require primary elections for all elected state offices is that the posts are low-paying. Currently only the governor and members of Congress face primaries in South Dakota. Candidates for all of the other statewide executive offices are decided by political party delegates at their state conventions. (Quite often party rooms aka hospitality suites are involved in the vetting and horse-trading processes during afternoons and evenings and early mornings.) So here’s what the current folks holding state executive offices are making:
Gov. Dennis Daugaard — $100,972.40;
Secretary of State Jason Gant — $80,713.76;
Attorney General Marty Jackley — $100,866.31;
Auditor Steve Barnett — $80,713.76;
Treasurer Rich Sattgast — $80,713.76;
Lands Commissioner Jarrod Johnson — $80,713.76;
Public Utilities Commissioners Chris Nelson, Kristie Fiegen and Gary Hanson — $94,131.76 apiece.
Legislators, who face primaries, receive $12,000 total for a two-year term plus expense allowance during days in legislative session and other business.
I was also curious how much each of these incumbents had on hand at year-end (2012) in their campaign accounts. The numbers show it’s definitely better to be governor than some of the other offices, even though they don’t have a big spread in official pay.
Daugaard showed $1,046,585 cash on hand in his campaign account;
Sattgast $682; and
Johnson is term-limited and can’t run again for land commissioner in 2014. The others can seek re-election to their current offices if they choose in 2014.
Fiegen, who just won a six-year term in November, showed $2,732 at year-end. Nelson, who just won the four years remaining on the six-year year term that Dusty Johnson won in 2010 but gave up to become the governor’s chief of staff, had $13,759. That was after he gave Fiegen’s campaign $5,000 at the end of 2012, which also explains Fiegen’s positive balance.
And Hanson showed $18,518. He is up for re-election in 2014. PUC members aren’t subject to term limits.
As for Gant’s political action committee called Committed To Victory, he terminated it Oct. 24. That same day he emptied the account by reporting $1,666.12 on office supplies and sent $10,000 to his campaign account. In his campaign account, using part of the $10,000, he repaid $5,000 toward a loan he had made to his campaign which he reported at $26,123.83. He also reported another $1,000 in contributions. And he reported other expenditures of $2,054.53. The remaining balance then was the $3,997 mentioned in the list above. He reported no contributions to other candidates or committees in 2012. It would appear he is shutting down his political operation. Gant was the real target of the Adelstein plan.