With his famous last name, G. Mark Mickelson would seem to be destined for a career in South Dakota politics.
Mickelson, 50, whose father and grandfather both served as governor, is already a District 13 Republican state representative from Sioux Falls, serving since January of 2013. Now, a run for governor appears likely.
Mickelson founded and is president of Mickelson & Co. in Sioux Falls, a firm geared toward financing in the rail industry.
He earned a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1993, and also earned degrees in public administration and accounting from the University of South Dakota.
Mickelson has a political action committee that is raising money, but he has not yet officially declared his run for governor, a post held by his father, George S. Mickelson, who served from 1990 until his death in plane crash in April 1993, and his grandfather, George T. Mickelson, who served from 1947 to 1951.
Mickelson was in Rapid City on Friday and sat down for a chat as part of the Journal's ongoing Newsmaker 5Q series (with a bonus sixth question tossed in.)
Journal: Why are you interested in running for governor now and what would be your agenda be if elected?
Mickelson: I’m certainly interested in that position. I do have another election in November. (I want to) move South Dakota forward, helping private enterprise and partnering with the private sector to make sure that we in the government are doing everything that we can do to create opportunities for our children to stay here.
What would you describe as your signature accomplishment as a state lawmaker?
Technical school legislation, including a joint resolution that’s going to be voted on as a constitutional amendment — Constitutional Amendment R — this fall, that provides clarity to the technical institutes in terms of their mission and to the Board of Regents so they can work together and understand their role in strengthening our workforce and creating opportunities for young people right here. So vote 'yes' on Constitutional Amendment R this fall.
What do you see as the three biggest problems facing the state in the next four years and do you have a plan to deal with them?
Young people leaving and yes I have a plan. Maintaining the state’s and the local citizen’s ability to control programs. So much of that has been removed to the federal government in terms of matching funds and rule requirements. So taking a very limited approach to strings attached to federal dollars would be my plan there. And working really hard with every public official to reestablish the transparency so that people know that what’s happening in this is something they have the right to know and understand.
Do you support Gov. Daugaard’s efforts to expand Medicaid in South Dakota and do you think it would be appropriate to call a special session for that purpose?
I am concerned about the strings attached to the past proposals to expand Medicaid, and I have voted 'no' on past efforts brought by past legislators to go ahead and expand Medicaid, principally fiscally concerned and also concerned with the rules that come with the money.
The PAC organized on your behalf has raised nearly $600,000 for the 2018 gubernatorial election, much of it from so-called “Republican insiders.” What does that fact say about you, your campaign and a possible Mickelson administration?
People who gave to my PAC are attracted to a message of economic opportunity for the next generation for our children to stay here in South Dakota. None of that money was contributed from a PAC. It came primarily from friends and family. I’m fortunate to have had about 800 of them contribute.
Here's a bonus question: What role, if any, do you think your famous last name will play in the election?
I don’t know. I think people will think he’s entitled to it and is he going to work hard, so I’ll have to work hard to make sure people get to know me and know I’m going to work hard. People that read this can ask my legislators and ask what my work ethic is. What interests me is what we might get accomplished. That’s what really interests me in the legislative efforts, is what can we do to move the state forward. As long as we’re working on positive things in that regard, that will take care of itself.