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State Official Says Socialists Are 'Trying To Start Your House On Fire'

SD GOP Facebook

Public Utilities Commissioner Gary Hanson delivered a surprisingly fiery speech during an Election Night watch party on the Facebook page of the South Dakota Republicans.

But the speech was not about Hanson's re-election to a fourth term on the state commission.

“This is not going to be a typical election speech,” Hanson said, “because I’m amazed at the sometime insane positions that socialists have taken. I don’t want to throw a lot of bricks or rocks or anything, but I am going to be provocative.”

The rest of Hanson’s Tuesday night speech was an anti-socialist, anti-Democratic Party manifesto. The former Sioux Falls mayor touched on a range of issues while saying “socialists control the Democrat Party.”

“There’s trouble in River City. Whether we win or lose this election, this is not the end of the strife in our country,” Hanson said. “Socialists are not just knocking on the door. They are in your house, breaking the furniture and trying to start your house on fire.”

'Pooped in their pockets'

Hanson accused Democrats of supporting open borders. He said Democrats want to take away the right to bear arms, and they want to defund police departments.

“An entire Democrat Party has capitulated to socialists’ most absurd positions,” Hanson said. “We need to stop being so timid. We need to generate a vigorous defense and enthusiastic offense every day – not just every two years.”

Hanson said Democrats want to destroy free enterprise, and support abortion on demand. He criticized national Democrats for expecting a peaceful transition of power if they win the presidency.

“When Democrats lost the election four years ago, they chanted, ‘He’s not my president.’ They rioted, looted, and destroyed property,” Hanson said. “Now, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have the gall to make an issue that the Republicans must provide a peaceful transition. Hey, Socialist Democrats, we were not the ones burning down cities because Trump was elected. You were.”

Hanson also talked about race.

“And what about the black vote? The Democrats have taken them for granted and pooped in their pockets for decades,” he said. “The Republican Party’s policies have done a great deal for black families, including higher employment and prosperity.”

Gary Hanson's full speech to the Republican election watch party.

Climate change, Social Security

On climate change, Hanson said Republican positions are mischaracterized.

“We have allowed Democrats to label us as anti-environmentalists because we continue to argue about climate change. Stop arguing about it. It does not matter who wins the argument. It’s a distraction. It only serves the purpose of allowing Democrats to create and to perpetuate the image that we are ignorant and uncaring.”

But then Hanson urged Republicans to turn away from fossil fuels.

“When they’re burned, they’re gone forever. We have a responsibility to pass this wonderful inheritance called Earth onto future generations in a better condition than it was gifted to us.”

Hanson also sent mixed messages on Social Security. Democrats created the program, and some critics call it socialist. But Hanson said it’s essential.

“Social Security may be the only financial support many people will have for retirement and to keep them from becoming homeless,” he said.

Wednesday morning in a phone interview, Hanson explained his motivation for the speech, saying he chooses his words carefully.

“I felt news media would pick up on it, folks like you would be interested in hearing about that message, because I felt it was very, very important,” he said. “So I was compelled to chat with people on a basis of where I thought the country was going and where I was hoping that it would go."

Democratic official responds

The speech did not go over well with the chairman of South Dakota’s Democratic Party. Randy Seiler criticized Hanson for focusing on national politics instead of issues relevant to the Public Utilities Commission.

Seiler said Hanson’s claim that socialists control the Democratic Party is not accurate.

“Because we don’t share his position as Democrats on some issues like climate change, immigration, on education, on health care, on diversity, he condemns the entire Democratic Party because we do not think like him,” Seiler said.

He called Hanson’s remarks “irrational” and “unhinged.”

“And it just saddens me to think that an individual who will be sitting as one of three public utilities commissioners going forward and ruling on issues that have to do with some of the most environmental and sensitive issues in South Dakota, and the regulation of utilities, has this kind of personal agenda which basically condemns people that don’t think like he does,” Seiler said.

Tuesday’s win sends Hanson back to the Public Utilities Commission. He currently serves as commission chairman.

-Contact SDPB reporter Seth Tupper by email.

Seth supervises SDPB's beat reporters and newscast team. He works at SDPB's Black Hills Studio in Rapid City.
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