South Dakota: Businessman Poised to Enter House Election

Posted November 14, 2007 at 6:24pm

Businessman Chris Lien (R) is close to announcing his candidacy for the at-large House seat held by Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D), the state GOP confirmed this week.

Lien is based in Rapid City, where since the 1940s his family has operated Pete Lien & Sons Inc., a multidivision, multistate construction supply company with about 450 employees. Lien is president of Birdsall Sand & Gravel, a division of Pete Lien & Sons.

There is speculation that his family’s business might afford Lien — who is in his early 40s — the ability to spend a significant amount of personal funds on a matchup with Herseth Sandlin, should he win the GOP nomination.

Lien, who confirmed his intention to run in Wednesday’s Argus Leader newspaper, would be a first-time candidate. However, he would not be the first member of his family to seek federal office.

Lien’s father, Charles Lien, unsuccessfully sought the Republican Senate nomination in 1972. Meanwhile, the younger Lien’s résumé includes service on both the Rapid City and South Dakota chambers of commerce, as well as participation in a county Republican Party.

Although no other Republican has announced for South Dakota’s at-large House seat as of yet, several Republicans have been considering a bid. Regardless of who eventually secures the GOP nomination, the general election likely will prove to be an uphill battle for the Republicans.

Herseth Sandlin is well-liked in the Republican-leaning state — not to mention the fact that she banked $500,219 to close the third quarter.

Those Republicans considering running against her include Larry Russell, a former political aide to Sen. John Thune (R); state Rep. Deb Peters; state Rep. Shantel Krebs; and Sioux Falls City Councilman Pat Costello.

Krebs, a Sioux Falls businesswoman whose husband is Gov. Mike Rounds’ (R) press secretary, is giving serious consideration to running next year, as is Russell.

— David M. Drucker