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'War College' blogger Pat Powers logs off website

South Dakota's best-known blogger is stepping away from the online world of politics, gossip and opinion.

At least he's trying to do so. Pat Powers, who founded and did most of the writing for South Dakota War College, a Republican-leaning blog, turned it over to five other conservative writers this week. Blog is a shortened term for a web log, or an online forum.

"I talked about it during the last election," he said Thursday. "Finally bit the bullet this time."

But politics will remain part of his life, Powers said.

"I think it's safe to say I'm going to remain involved in politics here in South Dakota," he said. "I've got people talking to me."

Powers said he named the blog South Dakota War College as a tribute to the Army War College. He intended it to be a place for people who wanted to run for office or learn more about politics.

He launched it in February 2005 in the wake of the tumultuous John Thune-Tom Daschle Senate race, in which bloggers played a significant role.

"It was inspired by a number that were started after that," Powers said. "And I thought, 'I could do that, too.' "

He already had a wealth of experience in South Dakota politics when he entered the online arena.

Powers said he served as a Republican legislative campaign coordinator in 1988 and 1990 and was the executive director of the Pennington County Republicans.

In 2002, he was the campaign coordinator for Mike Rounds, who was elected governor that year.

Powers, 44, said he produced 8,000 blog posts, which generated somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 comments from readers.

He pulled all his writing and the comments off the site when he handed it over to the other writers. But Powers, a Pierre native, said some or all of it may reappear in another format.

It is a retrospective of South Dakota politics during the last five and a half years, he said.

While discussions on the blog could grow combative at times, Powers said he thinks there was more light than heat.

"I have no regrets," he said. "It is what it is. And it's across the South Dakota blogosphere. Sometimes it gets a little personal, a little nasty. Politics tends to get very personal."

Although his politics are conservative, he feels all sides were given a chance to comment on his posts.

"I have many, many friends who are Democrats who were avid readers," Powers said.

The blog, which featured ads, broke even over the years, he said. Of course, that's not counting the hours he devoted to it.

"I probably put, it's hard to quantify, a couple hours every day," Powers said. "I suppose I worked 15-20 hours a week."

Powers, who lives in Brookings, said he will focus on his family and career as a Realtor but may get involved in politics again.

Although there are rumors, including some on the blog he founded, Powers said he isn't in line for a job with any newly elected Republicans.

"Dennis Daugaard didn't call," he said. "Kristi (Noem) didn't call."

That doesn't mean his passion for politics has been diminished. Powers served as the campaign manager for Scott Munsterman, the former Brookings mayor who came in second in the GOP primary for governor.

Munsterman quickly returned to the political field, however, when a state House candidate dropped out this summer and he replaced her and was elected.

Powers and his wife, Michelle, have seven children.

He has a daughter in college and another who is developmentally disabled. Devoting several hours a day to writing for and monitoring his blog was something he could drop, he said.

"I have a number of things going on. Too much on my plate," Powers said. "There's other challenges for me."

Other political blogs have undergone changes in recent months, as liberal blogs Hog House Blog, Middle Border Son and Robbinsdale Radical have either shut down or greatly reduced their volume of content.

"They're all being replaced by other blogs," Powers said. "Sometimes you just get a little burnout."

He said making a blog a success requires constant new content and monitoring. It's a lot of work.

Traffic is up this week on the blog, he said. "I see that as a good sign that the new writers are getting people to come back," Powers said.

He still owns the name and the blog is on his server. Powers said he may offer to sell it at some point.

"For right now, I'm content," he said.

There is one small problem, Powers admitted.

"I already find myself wanting to go back and post and comment."

The Daily Republic offers commentary and seeks input on politics and other issues at its blog, Republic Insider. The blog can be found via a link at mitchellrepublic.com or directly at mitchell.areavoices.com.

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