Canidate Profile: Ken Knuppe
Dakota Digest - 05/28/2010
On today's Dakota Digest we'll take a pickup ride with Ken Knuppe. Knuppe is a rancher and a Republican candidate for Governor. We're profiling all of the candidates on the ballot in the upcoming June 8th Primary. SDPB's Charles Michael Ray caught up with Knupe at his Ranch.
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Ken Knuppe's pickup is rattling down a dirt road. It's a clear spring morning and he's on his way out to pasture to feed his cows. The spring grass is poking up through the sagebrush and on the western horizon the Black Hills jut into the bright blue sky. The Knuppe ranch sits on the edge of the Badlands several miles east of Buffalo Gap.
"To give you an idea of how remote our ranch is when our kids went to school they went to a country school and it was 35 miles away. When they went to high school it was 60 miles away," says Knuppe.
Knuppe was born in South Dakota. He went to high school in New Underwood then on to college at South Dakota State in Brookings where he majored in animal science and business. Knuppe is a rancher, and it's ranching that brought him into politics. He is a past president of the South Dakota Stock Growers Association -an organization that turned around and grew in size under his leadership.
"What we found out is when we started involving our members of that organization and acting on their recommendations and things they felt part of that organization there was a sense of ownership of that organization and so many times today I'll be traveling around on the campaign trail and people are almost disgusted with it. I would like to be able to do what I did as a Stock Grower and do it on a state level, you know make it a little more interesting make it so people will have an ownership in our government, because after all it is our government," says Knuppe
Knuppee spent three years lobbying for the Stock Growers at the legislature in Pierre. He's been around politics, but it's clear he's not a career politician. He doesn't speak in sound bites. He is direct and straightforward. This is something he wants to bring to the state capital.
"I think you know there is games being played in Pierre. Out here everybody is pretty up front they will tell you what's on there mind and you might not like it or you might like it or whatever, and I like that. I like people being up front. You know what I see in Pierre to me there is too much politics in it," says Knuppe.
These days Knuppee isn't doing much driving on ranch roads, he is spending a lot more time on the highway, criss-crossing the state in his campaign for governor. His main message, is that of fiscal conservatism. He wants government to be more responsible.
"It's a different type of economy than we've had to deal with in the past and do we want our kids being taught and our highways being safe or do we want brand new buildings in Pierre. Basically to make it as simple as I can," says Knuppee.
As governor Knuppee would cut state bureaucracy and focus on the necessities. He lists education among those essentials. His wife Monica is school teacher. Knuppee says South Dakota teachers shouldn't be the lowest paid in the nation, on top of this he wants to get the government out of the classroom.
" It seems like we need to allow our teachers to teach. I know that sounds kind of silly but we're putting more burdens on our teachers, we're testing them but to me we're taking it a little bit too far, " says Knuppee
Knuppee calls himself the working man's candidate. He believes South Dakota is still the kind of place where a common man, a rancher, can run for office and win. He says his greatest strength is bringing people together and building the kind cooperation found in rural areas where neighbors help each other get through.
"Being a true leader is being able to find people who have the same passions or interests or who want to do the best for the state and bringing them together and putting them in positions that can make a difference it's not about me as much as it is about us," says Knuppee.
After a long drive back to Knuppee pulls his truck up to his house and heads off to complete his next chore of the day. By nightfall he'll be back on the road - heading to his next campaign stop. Ken Knuppee is one of five Republican Canidates in the June 8th primary for Governor.
Next week on Dakota Digest SDPB-Radio will profile the candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives
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