SIOUX FALLS — When The Associated Press called the South Dakota governor's race for Dennis Daugaard at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, his running mate Matt Michels was in a familiar place: serving as the master of ceremonies for the state Republican Party election results party in Sioux Falls.
With a tear in his eye, he thanked the party for asking him to MC the night.
"It is a nice thing they asked me to do this," said Michels, a Vermillion native. "It has kept me from getting too emotional."
That humbleness is what has led him to this newest public service office.
"I was raised with the idea that in order to receive you have to give and that there is no better way to give than through public service," Michels said. "Perhaps the biggest misconception about politics, especially here in South Dakota, is that people who choose to run for office are 'elite.' We are not elite; we are just like everyone else, just like our neighbors, and we were raised to serve."
That resolve was echoed by his mother, Pat Michels.
"Our family has always been in politics," she shared while smiling at her son on stage. "My father was clerk of the house from 1921-1939, except when the Democrats were in charge. His wife's grandfather was a state legislator at the same time. I know they are all looking down with great pride tonight."
That pride is shared by his son, Collin.
"I have done my part to help, but I am just one of the thousands across the state who have joined in," Collin said. "But, this is nothing different for my family. I grew up watching my dad serve. People need to be in politics for the right reason. Everyone should be involved, but my dad does it for the right reason."
The lieutentant governor-elect credited the people of South Dakota — and Yankton County in particular — for leading the charge for his current endeavor.
"The people of Yankton have always been so good about supporting those from our community," he said. "They have supported the Briests and all of the families of our men and women in the military. They have supported any family in need. Now, they have chosen to support my family. That is the giving spirit of Yankton that we treasure."
Michels said that he was very surprised to have the election called so early, but he was glad that it was.
"I have always been involved with local elections, which are not called early," he said. "I was not sure what to expect tonight, but this was humbling and overwhelming.
"I have tried to live my life as my parents taught me, making a living by giving. I am having a great life."