South Dakota voters to decide 24 legislative primaries
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — Some former South Dakota lawmakers are trying to mount comebacks. One Republican is running for both state Senate and attorney general, and four Democrats are competing in a crowded primary likely to guarantee the two winners seats at the Statehouse.
Voters are set to decide two-dozen legislative primary races in the June 5 election. Officials this week drew numbers out of a South Dakota mug with a bison on it to set the candidates’ order on the ballot.
Here’s a look at some of this year’s most interesting primary races:
Voters across South Dakota are set to decide 24 legislative primary races. Democrats will have two Senate and five House primaries, and Republicans will have nine Senate and eight House primaries. The South Dakota Democratic Party said Thursday that 110 Democratic candidates are running for 101 out of the 105 seats in the Legislature. Democratic Party Chair Ann Tornberg says it’s another sign of the momentum her party has in South Dakota and around the nation.
State GOP Chairman Dan Lederman says Republicans plan to run a vigorous campaign this season with 115 candidates running for 97 legislative seats. He said the party applauds South Dakota Democrats for their “biennial pantomime of pretending they’re a viable political party,” but that “quantity should not be equated with quality.”
It’s a Republican rematch. Former Sen. Bruce Rampelberg is taking on hard-right incumbent Sen. Lance Russell, who bucked his House term limit in 2016 by casting Rampelberg as a moderate and easily ousting him from the southwest South Dakota Senate seat. But this year, Russell will have to explain to voters why he’s double dipping: the Hot Springs lawmaker is running for Senate and state attorney general.
Former Rep. Patricia Shiery is also competing in the Republican primary.
Republican Rep. Lynne DiSanto will try to switch chambers this year after four years in the House. DiSanto is a high-profile conservative known for supporting permitless concealed carry legislation.
DiSanto earlier this year urged Republican legislative leaders to take Capitol misconduct allegations more seriously after a colleague made her fear for her safety on the House floor.
DiSanto is seeking the west river Senate seat being vacated by Republican Terri Haverly, who has endorsed GOP candidate Ryan Smith in the primary race.
Former Rep. Patrick Kirschman, incumbent Rep. Jamie Smith, nonprofit program coordinator Linda Duba and Josh Reinfeld will compete in a four-way Democratic primary race for two spots in the Sioux Falls district. Kirschman, who previously represented the area, is eyeing a return to the Legislature after getting defeated in a 2016 Democratic Senate primary.
No Republicans have filed to run for House in the district.
For ex-Republican governor candidate Lora Hubbel, it’s try, try again to get back into elected office. Hubbel, who unsuccessfully ran a hard-right challenge against GOP Gov. Dennis Daugaard in 2014 and this year fell short of the primary ballot as a governor hopeful, is instead mounting a surprise bid for a Minnehaha County Senate seat that she couldn’t clinch in 2016.
Hubbel, a onetime representative, will face Republican Rep. Wayne Steinhauer, who is looking to move to the Senate with the departure of Sen. Deb Peters.
Daugaard appointed Steinhauer to the House in 2015. Steinhauer won election with the highest vote share of the four House candidates in that district in the 2016 general election.
Democratic Rep. Susan Wismer, who lost to Daugaard in the 2014 governor’s race, will run for outgoing-Sen. Jason Frerichs’ seat. Wismer will face Allison Renville, a convention delegate for former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, and Thomas Bisek of New Effington, in the Democratic primary race.
No Republicans have filed to run for the northeastern South Dakota Senate seat.
A Rapid City-area Republican House primary includes incumbent Rep. Sean McPherson, who has been fighting cancer. He is up against Ed Randazzo, director of political operations at conservative group Family Heritage Alliance Action, and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology doctoral candidate Scyller Borglum, an engineer and entrepreneur.
The two primary winners are set to face a pair of Democrats in the fall.