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Herseth Sandlin Talks Family, Politics



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It has been more than two years since former South Dakota Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin has been in the public eye. Many of us haven't seen or heard from her since she lost her re-election bid in 2010. Ever since then, many have wondered if she will ever get back into politics. KDLT's Jill Johnson sat down with Herseth Sandlin to find out what she's doing now and what her future holds.

One of the first things we notice walking into Stephanie Herseth Sandlin's home is the piano that sits in her living room, a house warming gift after moving from Brookings to Sioux Falls this past year.
Wanting a piano since she was 7, at 42, she says it's about time she got one.

Herseth Sandlin said, "I do enjoy some of that quiet time, just losing myself in a great book or sitting down at the piano playing some pieces I have known for years or trying to work up a new piece."

Playing the piano is something the South Dakota native says she does to relax, but it doesn't seem as if she's relaxing much these days. Since losing the 2010 election, she's taken a job at Raven Industries in Sioux Falls.

"As often happens with lawyers who work with different clients, sometimes those clients recruit those lawyers in house and one of my clients was Raven Industries and I had this wonderful professional opportunity when they expressed interest in the possibility of having me join them full-time," said Herseth Sandlin.

But Herseth Sandlin is also focused on being a wife to her husband, Max. And, just like in the commercials you may have seen back in 2010, she's still chasing around her son Zachary, who is now 4-years-old.

"They'll say how is your little boy, how old is he now?" said Herseth-Sandlin. "I suppose it stems from one or two of the campaign commercials that we had especially the one where I'm trying to keep up with him running from room to room."

Now, instead of late night votes in Congress, she's busy watching Zachary grow up and gets to do things that he likes to do, which often times means playing Angry Birds. Even more importantly though, it means tucking him into bed at night.

Herseth Sandlin said, "I feel like there's more control over the schedule, it's more predictable. I do some travel with Raven Industries but it's not nearly as much travel as I did when I was in Congress."

Herseth Sandlin says she's living her life with no regrets, but admits, there are times when she misses serving in an elective office.

"I feel like I will always seek out opportunities to serve and I'm just really pleased that things have unfolded the way they have for my family, despite the disappointments of the 2010 election," said Herseth Sandlin.

She says losing her seat to now Congresswoman Kristi Noem was tough to swallow, but knows there are no guarantees when you enter politics. Instead, she says, she chose to learn from her mistakes.

Herseth Sandlin said, "I lost my first one and you often learn more from losses or failures than you do from the successes and in both cases for me, both in 2002 and in 2010, new opportunities, new doors that were opened that wouldn't have likely been there if I had not been part of our political process and system."

However, the Herseth family knows a thing or two about challenges, and rising up to those challenges.

Herseth Sandlin said, "The Herseth family has had it's share of success and also been on the losing side of elections starting with my grandfather, my grandmother, Lorna, is the only one that had a solid winning record in politics."

So it's hard to believe 2010 was the last time we'll see Herseth Sandlin run for office. Now that Sen. Tim Johnson has announced he's retiring, her name has been mentioned as a potential candidate to run against Former Gov. Mike Rounds in 2014.

"I anticipate there will be some pressure and there's already been some wonderful encouragement for me to consider getting back into elective office and government service and I have some hard decisions to make," said Herseth Sandlin.

Until she makes an announcement, many will be on the edge of their seats, waiting to hear what's in store for Herseth Sandlin.

"The pull of elective office and government service will likely be there tomorrow, and next week and next month and ten years from now and it's a wonderful part of my family and I just appreciate the encouragement," said Herseth Sandlin.

However, one thing is for sure. With four stepchildren and a child of her own, she says she doesn't see herself having anymore children.

Herseth Sandlin said, "I think it's been hard as a working mom to keep up with one, right?!"

But as she closes one chapter, she's leaving the possibility of another, open.

When asking whether Herseth Sandlin will run for U.S. Senate in 2014, the former Congresswoman says she hopes to make a decision soon.

In a statement she said, "This is going to be a difficult decision because while I loved serving South Dakota, I also love my work at Raven Industries, and Max, Zachary and I are thoroughly enjoying our family life in Sioux Falls.  I would prefer to make this decision much later in the year, but I'm going to try to do so yet this spring or early summer."

Herseth Sandlin's name has also been mentioned as a candidate in the race for governor.
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