SD Sen. Nelson says he's retiring from politics

Nelson said he will serve until Dec. 10, cites military injuries and frustration with state politics

Marine Corps veteran and State Sen. Stace Nelson gives the keynote address during the Parkston Veterans Day Program on Monday in the Parkston Armory. (Matt Gade / Republic)

District 19 State Senator Stace Nelson announced Sunday that he will be retiring from politics on Dec. 10.

Nelson, R-Fulton, wrote in a statement to local newspapers that injuries related to his military service and frustration with South Dakota politics are behind his decision.

"I cannot put into polite words the disgust and frustrations I had this year with state elected officials’ response to the flooding and misery many of you suffered under those conditions," Nelson wrote. "These politicians can call special sessions to raise your taxes, deploy National Guard troops to foreign countries, and blow your hard earned tax dollars on pheasant habitat boards and other excessive spending; however, they refused to have our troops help those devastated by the flooding or provide emergency financial aid to communities hard hit twice this year."

Beginning as a representative before being elected as a senator, Nelson has represented District 19, which includes Bon Homme, Douglas, Hanson, Hutchinson and McCook counties, since 2010. He wrote that 2019 has been the most frustrating year for him during that time, in part due to legislators entering the annual budget bill just before the legislative was set to end, "passing it within minutes without any hearings or serious discussion, with most legislators not even reading the bill."

Nelson, 52, said he has recommended that Gov. Kristi Noem appoint Michael Boyle, a pastor in Parkston, to serve as Nelson's replacement until an election is held for the position in November 2020. Nelson also ran for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2014, but was defeated by Sen. Mike Rounds.


"We must get such honest people into office that will fight for the voters, and what’s right, instead of the go along to get along weak politicians that answer to the establishment political machine," Nelson said.

Nelson told The Daily Republic he also no longer wanted to leave his wife home alone for days at a time while attending session in Pierre, citing a break-in he said recently occurred about a mile and a half away from their home.

Prior to his political career, Nelson served more than 23 years of federal service, including in the Marine Corps, and as a military policeman, marksmanship instructor and criminal investigator. In 1999, he was honorably discharged due to aggravation of permanent injuries he sustained in August 1992 when as a criminal investigator he was assaulted by a suspect in a car while apprehending him.

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