Dennis Daugaard

Dennis Daugaard
32nd Governor of South Dakota
Assumed office
January 8, 2011
Lieutenant Matt Michels
Preceded by Mike Rounds
37th Lieutenant Governor of South Dakota
In office
January 7, 2003  January 8, 2011
Governor Mike Rounds
Preceded by Carole Hillard
Succeeded by Matt Michels
Member of the South Dakota Senate
In office
Personal details
Born Dennis Martin Daugaard
(1953-06-11) June 11, 1953
Garretson, South Dakota, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Linda Daugaard
Residence Governor's Residence
Alma mater University of South Dakota (B.A.)
Northwestern University (J.D.)
  • Attorney
  • Non-profit executive
Religion Lutheranism[1]

Dennis Martin Daugaard (pronounced DEW-guard; born June 11, 1953) is an American politician who has been the 32nd Governor of South Dakota since January 2011.

He is the first governor of South Dakota or any state in the United States to be the child of deaf parents.[2][3][4]

Background, education and family

Dennis Martin Daugaard was born in 1953 and raised on a family farm near Garretson, South Dakota, the son of Florence Margaret (Kennedy) and Raymond Victor Daugaard.[5] He was a child of deaf parents. (Such children are referred to as CODA, child of deaf adult(s), and a national interest organization for adults was founded in 1983 because of their common issues as mediators between the deaf and hearing worlds.) His father's family descends from immigrants from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. While Dennis Daugaard was growing up, his family used American sign language as the primary language of their home.[3] Daugaard went to a local one-room country school as a child. For high school, he had to go to the city of Dell Rapids; there he played the French horn. He graduated in 1971.

Daugaard attended the University of South Dakota in Vermillion where he was advised by William O. Farber. Daugaard graduated USD in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science in Government and went on to attend Northwestern University School of Law, where he earned a Juris Doctor in 1978. Daugaard worked to pay his way through law school, serving as an ASL interpreter, driving a bus through the downtown Loop, and working as a law clerk and security guard.[3]

Early career

Daugaard settled in Chicago, Illinois, working as an attorney from 1978 to 1981, before returning to South Dakota. He married Linda that year and they have three children: Laura, who is married to Jay Mitchell; Sara, who is married to Tony Venhuizen; and Christopher, who is married to Emily Conway.

Daugaard took a job as an executive banker in Sioux Falls, South Dakota from 1981 to 1990. He left the bank to become the Development Director for the Children's Home Society of South Dakota, serving from 1990 to 2002. He became Executive Director, serving from 2002 to 2009.

Daugaard was supportive of the Republican Party. His first entry into electoral politics came in 1996, when he was elected as a South Dakota State Senator. In 2003, Daugaard was elected as the 37th Lieutenant Governor of South Dakota, serving in this position for two terms.

Service as state senator

Daugaard served as a member of the South Dakota State Senate from 1997 to 2003. While serving in the state legislature, Daugaard said that his priorities were helping children and the disabled, as well as reducing crime.[6]

South Dakota lieutenant governor

He was elected in 2002 on a ticket with Governor Mike Rounds, and the two were re-elected in 2006. As a lieutenant governor under the South Dakota Constitution, Daugaard served as the President of the South Dakota Senate. In addition, he served as the chair of the Workers' Compensation Advisory Council which reviews and makes recommendations regarding South Dakota's worker compensation program. While serving as lieutenant governor, Daugaard also fulfilled other duties as assigned by the governor and delegated by the state constitution. He served as a member of a commission that dealt with state constitutional amendments and was chairman of a state task force that considered options which would reduce the number of South Dakotans lacking health insurance coverage.

In 2009, Daugaard promoted legislation to establish the South Dakota Ellsworth Development Authority, which will promote and manage economic development in Rapid City and other areas surrounding Ellsworth Air Force Base in western South Dakota. Daugaard has promoted the Honor Flight program, which honors World War II veterans.[6]

2010 and 2014 gubernatorial campaigns

Governor Dennis Daugaard is briefed on flood preparations

After serving two consecutive terms as lieutenant governor in the administration of South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds, Daugaard stepped forward as a Republican gubernatorial nominee in 2010. He won the primary election against several other candidates. Daugaard chose Matt Michels to join his campaign as the lieutenant governor candidate.

The Daugaard and Michels gubernatorial ticket beat Democratic rivals Scott Heidepriem and Ben Arndt by 61.5% to 38.5% in the November 2010 general election.[7] Daugaard was the first child of deaf adults to be elected as governor of any state in this nation. During his campaign, he stressed that he has often promoted issues affecting the deaf and hard of hearing, and is sympathetic to their children, most of whom are hearing, as he is.[3]

Governor Daugaard and Lieutenant Governor Michels were re-elected in November 2014.

Daugaard administrations

In 2011, Daugaard established the first Office of Tribal Relations in his cabinet, appointing J.R. LaPlante (Cheyenne River Sioux) as its Secretary. No other state government has such an office. LaPlante had a law practice in Vermillion, and had served as the "chief judge and court administrator for the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe in Fort Thompson. In addition, he had served as an administrative officer for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe."[8] He worked with Daugaard to build government-to-government working relationships on key issues such as "housing, economic development, public safety, and human services."[8] He used mediation to resolve conflicts, for instance, reaching agreement among state, county and tribal officials in Charles Mix County to recognize the Yankton Sioux’s historical presence in highway signage.[8]

Electoral history

South Dakota State Senate 9th District Election, 1996
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Dennis Daugaard 5,419 59.13
Democratic Mark Rogen 3,746 40.87
South Dakota State Senate 9th District Election, 1998
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Dennis Daugaard (inc.) 4,581 62.38
Democratic Mark Anderson 2,763 37.62
South Dakota State Senate 9th District Election, 2000
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Dennis Daugaard (inc.) 6,218 66.65
Democratic Donald Beaner 3,111 33.35
South Dakota Governor Republican Primary Election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Dennis Daugaard 42,261 50.42
Republican Scott Munsterman 14,726 17.57
Republican Dave Knudson 13,218 15.77
Republican Gordon Howie 10,426 12.44
Republican Ken Knuppe 3,186 3.80
South Dakota Governor Election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Dennis Daugaard 195,046 61.51
Democratic Scott Heidepriem 122,037 38.49
South Dakota Governor Republican Primary Election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Dennis Daugaard (inc.) 60,017 80.87
Republican Lora Hubbel 14,196 19.13
South Dakota Governor Election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Dennis Daugaard (inc.) 195,477 70.47
Democratic Susan Wismer 70,549 25.43
Independent Michael Myers 11,377 4.10


  2. Schaffhauser, Erich (November 3, 2010). "Deaf Community Happy With Daugaard Win". Sioux Falls (S. Dakota) KELO-TV. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "First CODA becomes the Governor of South Dakota". Fookem and Bug. February 6, 2011. Retrieved July 6, 2012. |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  4. "Gov to Speak at NAD (National Association of the Deaf) Conference". Deaf News Today. May 15, 2012. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  6. 1 2 "About Dennis". South Dakota. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
  7. "The 2010 Results Maps". Politico.Com. Retrieved September 4, 2010.
  8. 1 2 3 Randy Dockendorf, "LaPlante Resigns As Sec. Of Tribal Relations", Yankton Press & Dakotan, 23 April 2014; accessed 17 August 2016

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dennis Daugaard.
Political offices
Preceded by
Carole Hillard
Lieutenant Governor of South Dakota
Succeeded by
Matt Michels
Preceded by
Mike Rounds
Governor of South Dakota
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Joe Biden
as Vice President
Order of Precedence of the United States
Within South Dakota
Succeeded by
Mayor of city
in which event is held
Succeeded by
Otherwise Paul Ryan
as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jack Dalrymple
as Governor of North Dakota
Order of Precedence of the United States
Outside South Dakota
Succeeded by
Steve Bullock
as Governor of Montana
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