There might not have been a worse time for Ben Nesselhuf to run as a Democrat in South Dakota.
The longtime District 17 legislator decided to try and take a step up in the political ladder and seek election as the next South Dakota secretary of state.
But election night in South Dakota proved too rough for Democrats in the state, and Nesselhuf was no exception as he lost the secretary of state race to Republican candidate Jason Gant.
Gant had built a comfortable 15 percent lead by 11 p.m. on Tuesday and was declared the winner at about 10 p.m.
"It looks like I may have picked the worst year in my life to run as a Democrat," Nesselhuf said with a chuckle. "We knew from the beginning it was going to be a tough race, so our goal was to put ourselves in position to win if the dominos fell the right way, and I felt we did that."
Nesselhuf invested a lot in the campaign and even though he lost, he still thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
"I put my heart and soul into this race in the last year, and I was hoping for a better outcome," he said. "We traveled across the state, and I wouldn't change this experience for anything."
Nesselhuf has been traveling around the state for the last year and met with tens of thousands of voters.
Now that the election is over, Nesselhuf just has two things he wants to do right away.
"I've had a nap scheduled for the day after the election for the last two months now and I am looking forward to that," he said. "I will also spend the next couple of days with my fiancé who I haven't had that much time with during all of this."
Nesselhuf clearly had his sights set on the secretary of state position. So much so that he doesn't know what the next couple of weeks will hold.
"I have no plans and there was no Plan B," he said. "I have no immediate plans, so I will start hitting the pavement."
Nesselhuf served the last 10 years as a legislator for Clay and Turner counties. The campaign for secretary of state was his first statewide election.
Nesselhuf said he did notice a couple of big differences when comparing his legislative races with his statewide campaign.
"There are a lot more miles on the car, and instead of doing yard signs we had to do commercials," he said. "It was basically the same grassroots strategy, we just did it bigger. It was the same basic stuff, just more of it."
Nesselhuf is now 35 years old and just tasted his first attempt at seeking a state office. after serving 10 years in the South Dakota Legislature, but a return to the political arena isn't square on his agenda at the moment.
"I don't know if elected office will be in the cards again, but you can't rule it out," he said. "You never know what the future holds. I wouldn't rule it out, but I have no plans to do it."
Nesselhuf did take time to thank the part of the state that allowed him to get into South Dakota politics.
"I want to thank the people of Clay and Turner counties for the time they allowed me to serve," he said. "That was a real honor in my life and they are going to be happily served by a new team, and that energy will be there."
"I had a wonderful experience over the last 10 years," he said.
Nesselhuf may have lost his seat in District 17 by running for secretary of state, but he has no reservations.
"I have no regrets at all," he said. "I met tens of thousands of people and had a lot of fun. This was the best year of my life."