Conservatives do well in GOP legislative primaries in SDPIERRE — Conservatives exerted greater rule over the roost Tuesday in Republican primary elections Tuesday for seats in the Legislature, overcoming the endorsements made in some cases by Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
By: Bob Mercer, Republic Capitol Bureau
PIERRE — Conservatives exerted greater rule over the roost Tuesday in Republican primary elections Tuesday for seats in the Legislature, overcoming the endorsements made in some cases by Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
The most obvious message was delivered by an airplane flying over the Capitol through much of Election Day. The aircraft towed a giant banner urging voters to support former Rep. Jeff Monroe, of Pierre, rather than Rep. Tad Perry, of Fort Pierre, for the Republican nomination in District 24.
With 23 of the district’s 24 precincts counted, Monroe held a slim lead of 2,001 votes to Perry’s 1,965. Opponents of legalized abortion had strongly backed Monroe’s campaign in the fight to select a successor to Sen. Bob Gray, R-Pierre, who is retiring.
Perry appeared to win in Hughes County but Monroe received more support in Stanley, Sully and Hyde counties.
While the governor didn’t openly involve himself in the Monroe-Perry contest, he did in five others. One was in northeastern South Dakota, and Daugaard’s man took a drubbing.
Sen. Tim Begalka, of Clear Lake, overwhelmingly turned back the challenge of House Speaker Val Rausch, of Big Stone City, in their Republican battle for the District 4 Senate nomination. Begalka beat Rausch 1,105 to 549.
Daugaard and Secretary of State Jason Gant had endorsed Rausch, who was out of eligibility for re-election to the House of Representatives. Begalka now faces Democratic Rep. Steve Street, of Milbank, in the November general election for the Senate seat.
Another gubernatorial endorsement went sour as Lawrence County Commission member Bob Ewing of Spearfish crushed Sen. Tom Nelson, the mayor of Lead, for the Republican Senate nomination in District 31.
Ewing won 1,602 to 980 despite Daugaard’s backing of Nelson. No Democratic candidate filed, leaving Ewing with a clear road ahead to the Capitol.
Nelson is in his fourth year in the Senate. Last winter he led the successful effort in the Legislature to raise the Deadwood gambling bet limit to $1,000 effective July 1.
The governor appeared to pick up a win, barely, when Sen. Deb Peters, of Hartford, narrowly led her challenger, Rep. Lora Hubbel, of Sioux Falls, in their District 9 Republican primary. Peters, whom Daugaard endorsed, was up 405 to 365 with eight of nine precincts reported.
Another Daugaard endorsement went to Sen. Bruce Rampelberg, of Rapid City, who seemed well on his way to winning a rematch against George Ferebee, of Hill City, in their primary.
One of the conservative movement’s top candidates suffered a blow-out at the hands of Sen. Craig Tieszen, of Rapid City. Tieszen thumped challenger Stacey Wollman by 2,115 to 551.
In another Republican contest for a Senate nomination, Rep. Phil Jensen, of Rapid City, appeared to have defeated former Rep. Mike Buckingham, of Rapid City. With 12 of 14 precincts reported, Jensen led 1,128 to 832. The incumbent, Sen. Elizabeth Kraus, R-Rapid City, didn’t seek re-election.
An incumbent who was in danger of losing Tuesday was Sen. Jim Putnam, of Armour, who was running in a four-way primary for two Republican nominations to House seats in District 20. Putnam has served 26 years in the Legislature.
Rep. Stace Nelson, of Fulton, and Kyle Schoenfish, of Scotland, a former Democrat, led in that contest. With 25 of 26 precincts counted, the tallies were Nelson 1,494; Schoenfish 1,299; Putnam 1,129; and Roger Hofer, of Bridgewater 469.
Ernie Otten Jr., of Tea, ousted Rep. Gene Abdallah, of Sioux Falls, in their primary battle for the Republican Senate nomination in District 6 for Lincoln County. Otten won 772 to 538 and will face Democrat Dick Gors, of Tea, next.
The Republican version of political moderation prevailed in Senate District 20, as Sen. Mike Vehle, of Mitchell, blew past challenger Steve Sibson, of Mitchell, in their Republican primary. Vehle won 1,938 to 1,043 and now faces Democratic former legislator Quentin Burg, of Wessington Springs.
Sen. Art Fryslie, of Willow Lake, beat challenger Norbert Barrie, of Turton, for the Republican Senate nomination in District 2. Frysle won 724 to 653 and will compete against Democrat Chuck Welke, of Warner, in November.
Mark Mickelson, a son of the late Gov. George S. Mickelson and grandson of former Gov. George T. Mickelson, easily won a Republican nomination to the House from a Sioux Falls district.
Meanwhile former Sioux Falls mayor and former legislator Dave Munson placed last in another three-way primary for two Republican slots.
Among the current incumbents who lost in Republican primaries Tuesday were Rep. R. Shawn Tornow, of Sioux Falls, Rep. Mark Venner, of Pierre, and Rep. Mark Willadsen, of Sioux Falls.
House Democratic assistant leader Mitch Fargen, who moved from Flandreau to Sioux Falls, lost his bid for election from his new district.