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MERCER: SD’s women in politics: Hear ’em roar

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opinion Mitchell, 57301
The Daily Republic
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Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

PIERRE — The decision by state Rep. Susan Wismer to run for the Democratic nomination for governor means there could be at least three women seeking two or possibly all three of the top three spots on the November election ballot.

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That would be both historic and good. South Dakota has never had that many women running for the major statewide offices.

First, there is the incumbent. Republican Kristi Noem is up for re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Noem is now in her second term. She defeated the Democratic incumbent, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, in 2010.

Between Herseth Sandlin and Noem, a woman has held the state’s House seat for10 straight years.

The Democratic challenger to Noem is expected to be Corinna Robinson, who left Rapid City as a young woman for a career in the military, Robinson returned last year in preparation to run.

Unless something unforeseen occurs, the streak of a woman in that important seat will extend to 12 years.

Meanwhile the U.S. Senate seat will be open because of Democrat Tim Johnson’s coming retirement. The availability has attracted five Republicans, including one woman, Dr. Annette Bosworth.

To this point Bosworth hasn’t broken through in a crowded field of better-known candidates in the Republican primary, such as former Gov. Mike Rounds, state Sen. Larry Rhoden and state Rep. Stace Nelson.

The only Democrat running for the Senate — and he is certainly piling up the miles and the visits town to town — is Rick Weiland, a former aide to then-Sen. Tom Daschle.

Then there’s the Wismer candidacy for governor. She is the second Democrat to announce a candidacy, joining Joe Lowe, of Piedmont, in seeking the nomination.

Most of the other Democratic members of the Legislature lined up Tuesday to show their support for Wismer at her low-key announcement.

A few other Democratic lawmakers committed to Lowe last year, but only after they were told she had decided against running.

Wismer said Tuesday her campaign takes a backseat until after April 15. She wants to finish legislative session, which ends March 31, and then wrap up tax-preparation season. She is an accountant with a family business in Britton.

That means she’ll be running a campaign of about 50 days against Lowe before the Democratic primary on June 3.

Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard hasn’t formally announced his candidacy. He might have a primary challenge from former state Rep. Lora Hubbel, of Sioux Falls.

Daugaard’s report filed a year ago showed more than $1 million on hand in his campaign account.

His new filing for 2013 finances shows more than $1.7 million on hand as of Dec. 31, 2013.

Wismer, Robinson, Bosworth and Hubbel are in the same boat in one respect. They aren’t well known and are up against strong, proven winners in Daugaard, Noem and Rounds.

Before Herseth Sandlin and Noem, and Lt. Gov. Carole Hillard, Republican Gladys Pyle was the only woman to succeed or nearly succeed at the highest levels in South Dakota.

That was in the 1930s. In between came Helen Reddy and her 1972 hit on AM radio, “I Am Woman.”

Hear them roar.

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