Daugaard endorsements inject suspense into SD primariesThe GOP governor angered many conservative Republican lawmakers when he endorsed candidates they consider too liberal.
By: Chet Brokaw,
SIOUX FALLS (AP) — Gov. Dennis Daugaard's decision to endorse some Republican candidates over others in five legislative races injected some political suspense into Tuesday's primary election, as South Dakota voters weighed whether to follow the governor's recommendations or ignore them.
The GOP governor angered many conservative Republican lawmakers when he endorsed candidates they consider too liberal. Those conservatives, allied with tea party groups, said the governor should stay out of primary contests, but he said he decided to back five candidates he believes have been effective legislators, particularly those who supported his plans to balance the state budget in the past two years.
The governor endorsed House Speaker Val Rausch of Big Stone City in a Senate primary against Sen. Tim Begalka of Clear Lake, and he backed Sen. Deb Peters of Hartford over Rep. Lora Hubbel of Sioux Falls.
In western South Dakota, Daugaard endorsed Sen. Bruce Rampelberg of Rapid City over challenger George Ferebee of Hill City, Sen. Tom Nelson of Lead against Lawrence County Commissioner Bob Ewing of Spearfish, and former lawmaker Mike Buckingham of Rapid City over Rep. Phil Jensen of Rapid City.
Another key Senate primary unfolded in a district that includes the state's capital. Republican Sen. Tad Perry of Pierre, former head of South Dakota's university system, was being challenged by former lawmaker Jeff Monroe.
Hubbel, a tea party-backed conservative, said she planned to spend the hours leading up to the primary supporting her daughter, who was due to give birth but was involved in an accident over the weekend.
"That's first and foremost on my mind," Hubbel said.
Peters, meanwhile, was putting stickers on her campaign's yard signs to remind people to vote in Tuesday's primary election.
"And I've got a bunch of gals doing some phone calls reminding folks to vote ... We're busy," Peters said.
Each of South Dakota's 35 legislative districts elects one senator and two House members at large, except for two Senate districts that are split into two separate House districts, each of which elects its own representative.
Primaries were held in districts where a political party had more than one Senate candidate or more than two House candidates. The exception was in the two areas with split House districts, where primaries were held if a party had more than one House candidate.
Republicans had 12 Senate primaries and 15 House primaries. Democrats had only three House primaries.
Republicans now outnumber Democrats 30-5 in the Senate, while the GOP has a 50-19 edge in the House, where one current representative is an independent affiliated with Republicans.
The last time Democrats controlled a South Dakota legislative chamber was the two-year term after the 1992 election, when they won a 20-15 edge over Republicans in the Senate.