Danforth, Juhnke, Schaefer win area legislative primariesPolitical newcomer Perry Danforth beat former legislator Ron Volesky in the District 22 state Senate Democratic primary Tuesday. In District 21, state Rep. Kent Juhnke and political newcomer James Schaefer finished first and second in their state House race and will advance to the general election.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
Political newcomer Perry Danforth beat former legislator Ron Volesky in the District 22 state Senate Democratic primary Tuesday.
In District 21, state Rep. Kent Juhnke and political newcomer James Schaefer finished first and second in their state House race and will advance to the general election.
Danforth beat Volesky 926-504, a 65 percent to 35 percent victory. It was the only contested Senate primary in the area.
Danforth, a retired Third Judicial District court services officer, will face Republican state Sen. Tom Hansen on Nov. 2. All three men are from Huron, but their district includes Hand and Jerauld counties and part of Beadle County.
“I ran on one main issue and it brought all the issues together: Getting rid of the partisan politics,” said Danforth, 59.
This is the Huron native’s first bid for public office. He was the Third Judicial District’s chief probation officer when he retired in 2008 after 30 years with the state.
Danforth said he wants to see funding restored for education in the state — “I think we’re cheating our children,” he said — while making sensible cuts to balance the state budget.
Danforth said legislators must listen to the people in their district.
“That’s why they call them representatives,” he said.
Volesky is a political veteran who has sought a variety of offices under both major party banners. He served 14 years in the House — three terms as a Republican and four as a Democrat — and two years in the Senate as a Democrat.
“He’s a very quality candidate, and we did our best, and sometimes you just don’t win,” Volesky said.
Volesky said it was too early to write his political obituary.
“You never know what the future will bring,” he said.
House District 21 state Rep. Juhnke, of Vivian, and Schaefer, of Kennebec, finished first and second and will be the Republican candidates for the two state House seats in the district. Lee Qualm, of Platte, finished third in the GOP primary, the sole House contest in the area.
District 21 includes Jones, Lyman, Buffalo, Brule and Charles Mix counties.
Juhnke garnered 1,320 votes, or 39.4 percent, while Schaefer received 1,082 votes, or 32.3 percent, and Qualm got 946 votes, or 28.3 percent. Voters could cast ballots for two candidates.
District 21 Rep. Thomas J. Deadrick, R-Platte, is running for secretary of state.
Juhnke, a farmer who is in his fifth term in the House, said he is a proven commodity who voters supported.
“Incumbency’s such an asset when you’re in five counties,” he said. “Name ID, known product. There’s no surprises with me.
“I have a voting history and I defend it,” Juhnke said. “People have seen my signs, the advertisements in the paper, the things with my logo.”
He said he will team with Schaefer and state Sen. Cooper Garnos to offer a united GOP slate in the fall, but he expects a spirited race. Juhnke and Schaefer will run against Democrats Norm Cihak, of Dante, and David Reis, of Oacoma, on Nov. 2. Garnos will face Steve Smith, of Chamberlain.
“I think the Democrats in District 21 have fielded three strong candidates,” Juhnke said. “It will take teamwork in the five-county area. It will take door to door, beating the pavement.”
He had a bit of drama when his father, 79, was hospitalized Monday with a broken arm, cracked ribs and a “touch of pneumonia.”
Juhnke said his father was “feeling better tonight” but would learn this morning his son had finished first in the primary.
Schaefer, a rancher and businessman, advanced to the general election in his first race for political office.
“We really had a lot of support,” he said. “We had our own committee that worked very, very hard.”
Schaefer said he plans on campaigning by asking voters what issues concern them.
“I think mainly we’re going to focus on listening to the people and trying to garner things they’re uncomfortable with and things it would be better to change,” he said.
Schaefer said he looks forward to campaigning with the incumbent GOP District 21 legislators.
“We’re going to work as a team,” he said.