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Dusty Johnson

South Dakota congressman-elect Dusty Johnson picks leadership team

MITCHELL, S.D. -- With just over a month until he is sworn into office, U.S. Rep.-elect for South Dakota Dusty Johnson has selected his five-person leadership team.

In a Wednesday, Nov. 28, news release, the Republican from Mitchell announced his picks for his congressional office's top leadership positions, including chief of staff, state director and communications adviser, legislative director, state operations manager and West River director. The majority of the appointees are South Dakota natives and have experience working with the state's current Washington delegation.

Tea native Andrew Christianson will serve as Johnson's chief of staff, overseeing the congressman's office and serving as chief policy adviser. Christianson is already familiar with the role: He has served as U.S. Rep. and Gov.-elect Kristi Noem's chief of staff since 2017.

As state director and communications adviser, Courtney Heitkamp will handle outreach and communications, as well as constituent service efforts. The Sioux Falls native has worked in public and media relations for ethanol and biofuel company POET, and previously worked as Noem's press secretary and political director.

Darren Hedlund as legislative director will supervise Johnson's legislative and committee work. The University of South Dakota graduate worked as U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R) legislative assistant.

Selected to serve as Johnson's state operations manager, Chelsea Schull will oversee Johnson's state offices' scheduling and operations. She had worked for Republican U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa of California and the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Johnson's fifth appointee Katie Murray will work as the congressman's West River director, working from Rapid City to oversee constituent services and outreach in South Dakota's western region. The Rapid City native was also Johnson's West River campaign manager and before that, a constituent services representative for Rounds.

Johnson, along with the rest of the 116th Congress, will be sworn in on Jan. 3.