USD undergrad takes helm at statewide political campaign

 Teagan McNary.
Teagan McNary. (KOTA)
Published: May. 29, 2018 at 6:03 PM CDT
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Most undergrads who join political campaigns spend their days answering phones, getting coffee and licking envelopes.

But not Teagan McNary.

This University of South Dakota political science major is the boss of a 2018 statewide campaign.

She remembers well the moment former U.S. Attorney for South Dakota Randy Seiler asked her to head up his bid for state Attorney General.

"My initial reaction was, Oh my goodness. That's terrifying," said McNary on a recent campaign swing through Rapid City.

But Seiler was serious and in March McNary, who was student body president at USD and the Coyotes' first black homecoming queen, jumped into a job many people work a long career to land.

"Her youth energizes our campaign," said Seiler. "It energizes me personally. I think it's a nice contrast us working together."

She's only 22 and still faces midterm exams, even while now she fights it out in the midterm elections.

"I only have a few credits left to graduate and so I'm taking a few classes but doing the campaign full time," she said.

And she's learning on the fly.

"Textbook learning is one thing and then hands on and being involved in it is a whole other game," she said last week at the Pennington County Democratic Party's nominating meeting for delegates to the state convention in June. Delegates there will nominate the party's nominee for Attorney General in a race pitting Seiler against former Oglala Sioux Tribal Attorney General Tatewin Means.

"So far this has been a really amazing experience for me and I guess I'll just see where it takes me," said McNary, who was raised by a single mom in Sioux Falls and Vermillion. "I didn't foresee this opportunity. It kind of came out of nowhere and I'm so glad that it did because I'm learning so much."

And keeping an eye on the horizon.

"The goal after this is law school," she said. "So maybe I'll be involved in political campaigns, but, we'll see."