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MERCER: A modest thought: Linda for governor

PIERRE — Last Saturday morning I celebrated the end of the main run of the 2017 legislative session with breakfast out. On the way home we stopped at the grocery store. I was loading softener salt into our car when they waved from the next row and started walking over.

Maybe the governor and the first lady in other states go grocery shopping on Saturday mornings and we just don't know it. They had on what looked like Sunday-best black topcoats. Her beautiful white blouse showed at the neck. His white shirt collar and light purple tie splashed from the open vee of his coat.

Their attire made me wonder if there was a service of some type. Instead they volunteered they had just sat for their church picture. We instantly paired off, husbands and wives, for a few moments of socializing. Then we went our ways.

Those of us men lucky enough to marry well know there is truth when we refer to our better half. I like to think it's something that Dennis Daugaard and I have in common. He has his Linda and I have Ellen. I know my life is better for it. I don't doubt his is, too.

An old friend and I talked the other day about when we lived in the same neighborhood in an older part of Pierre. As we talked about what we missed — the conversations in the yards, seeing each other's children grow, knowing whose dog was loose — I acknowledged that I feel lucky to live where I do now.

Going around the cul-de-sac, there are four men who are successes in their fields, each with a wonderful wife. All have children, including one son who helped his father shovel our snow when I was in the hospital during the December and January storms. All four of the men helped keep our place clear.

Seeing Dennis and Linda Daugaard the other morning set me thinking about what it would be like if she ran for governor in 2018 when her husband's two consecutive terms are up. I'm not proposing that, but my guess is she would be tough to beat.

More important, what would South Dakota's first woman governor bring to the office that is different than our 13 decades in a row of men?

I don't doubt a woman would see the public value of a triple-A bond rating for state government, but I don't know whether it would top her agenda. Maybe we would see more emphasis on children and teachers. There's nothing wrong with that.

We nearly had a woman as governor back in 1930. Gladys Pyle finished at the top of the Republican primary but didn't have enough votes for a clear victory. Instead the nomination after seven rounds at the Republican convention went to Warren Green who had finished last in the primary.

In recent decades women occasionally have run for governor in the two major parties. None won. We'll have another opportunity in 2018 when U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem and state Attorney General Marty Jackley seek the Republican nomination.

Meanwhile we have 21 months left with the Daugaards. Let's enjoy them while we can.