Former USD law professor announces run for governor

A former University of South Dakota law professor announced today that he plans to run for governor as an independent candidate.

Michael “Mike” Myers taught health care law and elder law at the university for 23 years. He also worked in the early 1960s for the Argus Leader and the Sioux City Journal.

But it’s in health care where Myers has his most significant experience. He was the CEO of Mayo-St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minn. and he served as an executive with other hospitals.

Myers has been an outspoken critic of the vertically integrated health systems reflected by Sanford Health and Avera McKennan, which he called “oligopolies.” And he said that health care and criticism of “corporate medicine” will be the crux of his campaign.

Myers, 77, said that patients are paying more while hospital executives earn millions of dollars a year. He called for greater transparency in medical pricing and he said he wants to create a South Dakota health insurance co-op.

He said he’s running as an independent because both political parties are captives to corporate interests.

"We’ve got career politicians that are basically controlled by the lobbies," he said.

As an independent candidate, Myers would need to collect 3,171 signatures of registered voters to qualify for the ballot between Jan. 1, 2014 and March 25, 2014.

Myers becomes the first official candidate to enter the race, but Gov. Dennis Daugaard is expected to seek  a second term.

Tony Venhuizen, Daugaard’s director of communications and policy, said the governor has been making preparations for an announcement, but it likely wouldn’t come until the end of the next legislative session. During the next few months, the governor is focusing on putting together a budget for next year and his agenda for the next session.

"I just think the governor is pretty focused on his day job, which is serving as governor and serving the people of the state," Venhuizen said.

Zach Crago, the Democratic Party’s executive director, said he’s confident the party will have a strong candidate who will “fight for South Dakota values.”

"South Dakota needs a governor who believes in rewarding work, respecting women, and investing in our children’s education, and several Democrats have already expressed an interest in the job," Crago said.

Myers grew up in norther Sioux Falls where he worked on the kill lines at John Morrell. He graduated from Cathedral High School in 1954, served in the Navy and then returned home, graduating from South Dakota State University. He is a widower with seven children.