Chris Nelson

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Chris A. Nelson (born August 18, 1964 in Mitchell , South Dakota ) is an American farmer and politician ( Republican Party ).


Chris A. Nelson has been a farmer since 1980. He graduated from White Lake High School in 1982 . In 1987 he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science from South Dakota State University (SDSU). During his college years he became a member of the SDSU FarmHouse Fraternity and vice president of the fraternity . Nelson served as South Dakota Future Farmers of America Secretary from 1982 to 1983 .

From 1987 to 1989 he was the Uniform Commercial Code supervisor in the office of the Secretary of State of South Dakota in Pierre ( Hughes County ) and 1989-2002 State Election Supervisor at the office of the Secretary of State of South Dakota. He was also the Assembly of God Teen Bible Quiz State Coordinator from 1990 to 2002 . He served as Assistant Secretary of State of South Dakota from 2002 to 2003 and Secretary of State of South Dakota from 2003 to 2011. During that time, he was appointed representative of the National Governors Association on the United States Election Assistance Commission Board Advisers in 2005. In the Republican primaries in South Dakota's first congressional district , he suffered a loss to challenger Kristi Noem in 2010, who then lost to Democratic challenger Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in the 2010 election . On January 8, 2011, Nelson was appointed commissioner to the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission . He was re-elected twice, in 2012 and 2016.

With his wife Penny, née Pfeifle, he has a daughter named Rebekah and a stepchild.


  • 2003: Excellence in South Dakota Municipal Government Award from the South Dakota Municipal League
  • 2004: Hazeltine / Taylor Award from South Dakota Kids Voting
  • 2009: Election Center's Professional Practices Program State Award


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