Dennis M. Daugaard

Contact Information

Telephone:605-773-3212 (Main phone number)
Telephone:605-331-2010 (Main campaign number)
Campaign finance

Candidate Background

Birth place:Sioux Falls, SD
Residence:Garretson, SD
First Elected:2010


Next Election:2014

Undergraduate education: University of South Dakota


Graduate education: Northwestern University


Dennis Daugaard was born in Sioux Falls, S.D. He grew up on his family's farm near Garretson, where he now resides. He earned a bachelor's degree in government from the University of South Dakota and a law degree from Northwestern University.

Daugaard worked in law and insurance in Chicago for three years, and then worked for a bank in Sioux Falls from 1981 to 1990. In 1990, he joined the Children's Home Society of South Dakota, which works with disadvantaged children. He became executive director of the organization in 2003.

Daugaard served in the South Dakota Senate from 1997 to 2003, when he became lieutenant governor. He was elected governor in 2010.

He and his wife, Linda, have three children.


Dennis Daugaard took office as South Dakota governor in January 2011 facing a projected $127 million budget gap. Rather than tapping state reserves, the Republican governor persuaded the GOP-dominated South Dakota Legislature to balance the budget by cutting state spending by about 10 percent, including a substantial reduction in state aid to school districts.

However, when South Dakota's economy and tax revenues recovered, Daugaard and the Legislature in 2012 began to restore much of the cuts made a year earlier.

He got high marks for his work in the summer of 2011 coordinating the state's response to flooding caused by record flows in the Missouri River. He brought in the National Guard to build sandbag walls and patrol emergency levees that were built to hold back high water over a three-month period.

In 2012, Daugaard won legislative approval for his proposal to give bonuses to top teachers, phase out teacher tenure and recruit candidates for math, science and other critical teaching fields. The governor said the moves would improve student achievement, but Democrats and the state's main teachers union countered that the money would be better spent raising general aid to schools. Opponents referred the education measure to a statewide vote in the November election.

Daugaard, who served as lieutenant governor for eight years, defeated four other candidates in the June 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary with the help of then-Gov. Mike Rounds. He defeated Democrat Scott Heidepriem in the fall election.

Daugaard and Rounds had become friends when both were in the state Senate. When Rounds ran for governor in 2002, he picked Daugaard as his running mate.

Daugaard stayed in the background during most of his time as lieutenant governor, playing a supporting role to Rounds. Daugaard is a staunch opponent of abortion.

His 2010 campaign emphasized his humble beginnings working on his family's dairy farm, attending a one-room country school until seventh grade and then working his way through college by washing dishes, waiting tables, welding in a factory and painting water towers.

He also detailed plans to create more jobs in South Dakota and pledged to balance the state budget without seeking tax increases.

American Conservative Union Rating: Not rated

Americans for Democratic Action Rating: Not rated


Dennis Daugaard won his June 2014 primary, he will face Susan Wismer in November.

(Last updated by The Associated Press on June 11, 2014.)

Last updated 3:16pm March 1, 2018