Previous Page  8 / 32 Next Page
Information
Show Menu
Previous Page 8 / 32 Next Page
Page Background

6

The South Dakotan

run for governor, her daughter suggested Prentice for the role as

campaign manager.

“As a small town accountant, I’m used to doing everything

myself. That part of allowing someone else to be in charge

of a campaign was hard,” Wismer said. “But I trusted my

daughter’s judgment.”

Prentice said she was genuinely surprised at the time to be

asked to be Wismer’s campaign manager. But Wismer reassured

the 2010 graduate that her reputation was highly regarded

among state legislators who knew Prentice’s skills and work ethic

through previous campaigns.

“It helps that our personalities are similar,” Wismer said.

“We don’t sweat the small stuff. We trust each other to do our

own thing.”

As of June, the biggest hurdle for Prentice in her role as

campaign manager was the Democratic primary. Wismer faced

Joe Lowe, former director of the state Wildland Fire Suppression

Division, and won the election with 44 counties and more than

55 percent of the vote.

Prentice was not anticipating divisions within South

Dakota’s Democratic party after the primary, but she said it was

a challenge after Wismer’s win to encourage Lowe supporters to

value party unity.

“As a party, we need to serve and support the candidate that

won. And this became more difficult than I thought it would,”

Prentice said. “We were calling Joe’s supporters for days to

remind them that Susan still needs their support to win.”

Prentice’s connection to the University of South Dakota

remains strong. She keeps in contact with fellow political science

graduates and said they support each other through continually

changing career paths.

“I don’t know if I considered myself the best student when

I was at USD,” she said. “But the information I learned and the

connections I made through the political science department

stayed with me when I left Vermillion, which is huge.”

Even though she is no longer her student, Prentice said she

still reaches out to Bierle on occasion for campaign advice.

“She’s one of the people my whole time there, when I had

problems, I would go to her,” Prentice said. “I think it speaks a

lot to the quality of professors in the department that they are

able and willing to give advice once you leave campus.”

From keeping schedule to

campaign manager

Webb, a Belle Fourche, S.D., native, thought

she would go to law school when she started

at USD, but soon realized she harbored

a passion for politics and took up leadership roles in student

organizations that included the Political Science League and

College Republicans. She also interned with a lobbying firm

in Washington, D.C., and worked as a legislative intern for

Republican State Sen. Dave Knudson, who was majority leader

at the time.

It was during her time in Pierre that Webb met Dusty

Johnson, a mentor and fellow USD graduate who would help

guide her to become the governor’s campaign manager. Webb

joined Johnson’s campaign for the Public Utilities Commission

(PUC) after graduation in 2010. Johnson said Webb came to his

campaign as a “driven, thoughtful and organized” individual,

and said she worked 18 hours a day for nearly 150 days. Webb

said she learned from Johnson how to run an effective and

efficient campaign, especially in a race where not many people

are familiar with the office.

“It wasn’t a high profile race, but it taught me the value of

hard work because we had to work to inform voters about why

PUC mattered,” she said.

Webb became director of constituent services for the

governor’s office in November 2010. But for almost three years,

Webb has held an even more significant role for the governor

as his scheduler. She had to know where the governor was and

needed to be throughout the day and that he had what he needed

to be prepared for each event.

“I got to know the governor and first lady very well because

that was part of my job,” she said. “When I was approached to be

campaign manager, that was one of the main reasons they said

they wanted me for the position.”

Webb had to take a leave of absence from the governor’s

office to run his campaign. She had offices in Pierre, Sioux Falls

and Rapid City, and typically spent four days of the week on the

road, three days in Pierre. The constant juggling required hard

work on Webb’s part but that is one of the reasons Daugaard said

he wanted her to run his campaign.

“She is bright, enthusiastic and organized, and I trusted her

to manage my campaign for re-election because she shares my

values,” he said. “Linda and I are so appreciative she agreed

to help.”

The 2010 graduate said USD taught her how to manage

a busy lifestyle. Webb said her political science professors

and classes showed her the value of working hard, being an

efficient communicator and how to be a professional and

responsible individual.

Johnson said Webb has left a remarkable impression in each

position she has held in the past four years.

“I am buying as much Kelsey Webb stock as I can get my

hands on. If she wants to be successful in business, she will be.

If she wants to be successful in politics, she will be. If she wants

to be president of a university, President Abbott better watch

out,” Johnson said.