Q & A: Diedrich hopes to become S.D.’s next U.S. Congressman

Jill Fier

Jill Fier


Larry Diedrich


Candidate for U.S. Congress

Where are you from originally?

I am from Elkton. I farm there, and I live in the same house I grew up on.

Do you have a family?

Yes, we have four children. Our oldest is adopted; we had three the old fashioned way. We had a couple of foster kids, and a couple of foreign exchange students.

How did you get into politics?

I became involved when I served as a national president of the American Soybean Association. During that time, I helped shepherd bills through Congress, testified before the House and Senate Committees in D.C. , and also worked with the administration on issues important to the soybean industry.

When did you get involved in that?

That would have been the early 90s, like ’91 to ’95 when I was very involved. I was a member of the state organization, became a member of their state board and then very quickly moved up to become the state president, and then eventually went to the national board.

That’s when I became interested in politics because I had the opportunity to deal first hand with Congress and experience that environment.

And after that?

When I came home from that, then I ran for the state house in ’96, and served two terms until 2000. Then I ran for the Senate against a 28 year veteran and won that seat, so I served from then until four weeks ago.

Why did you give up your Senate seat?

Well, I was nominated for this position on the ballot on a Saturday, and I had planned originally to continue to serve as both a Senator as well as a candidate. It became very obvious to me very quickly that I couldn’t do justice to both, so I resigned my seat in the Senate.

It was somewhat of a bittersweet experience because I have a daughter who is an intern out there, so she is serving the entire session, and I have a son who that Monday was his first day serving as a page. So there were three of us in the family on the floor in one day.

Do you think this is going to be a close election? Are you concerned about how close Stephanie Herseth came to beating Janklow in the last election?

I believe that the last race for Congress was more of a referendum on Janklow running for Congress than it was about Stephanie Herseth. There was certainly a lot of clutter, if that’s the right word for it. When you have the Senate race and the gubernatorial race, this was the third one on the ballot. The difference in this race will be with a special election solely a Diedrich-Herseth race. We’ll be at the top of the ballot, so people will sort out this race based on the candidates. It’s very helpful when you don’t have the name I.D. Stephanie Herseth ran for the last three years and spent a million and a half dollars or so on purely to improve her name I.D. The fact that this is the only race on the ballot helps me make up that name I.D.

Why do you think you’re the person to represent South Dakotans?

We will be without a Congressman for four months when this election takes place, so I believe it’s very important that South Dakotans elect somebody that has the experience to do the job from day one and not need on-the-job training. I had the experience in Washington D.C. dealing with moving bills through Congress. The third experience that helps a great deal is the fact that I’m a farmer/small businessman. I understand the issues that go with that, like making a payroll, dealing with the cost of health care insurance. I understand those first hand from that experience, and I think that is very important for a Congressman to understand.

What are your goals if you are elected?

My goals are to increase the number of job opportunities in South Dakota, in particular, helping different regions in the state establish their technology corridors. Another important issue is what we talked about earlier, the health care issue. Do what we can from a federal standpoint to deliver a more affordable health care package without the federal government taking over health care. Those are two issues, but national security is always huge, and senior citizen issues will always be on the forefront for South Dakota. And agriculture issues are always huge.

What are some of your personal interests outside of politics and farming?

I like to motorcycle, golf, snowmobile, play basketball, those sort of activities.