Rounds founds Norbeck PACFormer governor still deciding whether he will run for U.S. Senate in 2014.
By: Denise Ross, The Daily Republic
Former Gov. Mike Rounds plans to use his six-month-old political action committee named for early 20th century politician Peter Norbeck to help fund the campaigns of a certain flavor of candidate.
The one-time state Senate majority leader known for his loyalty to the GOP is sticking to helping the ranks of his own party, but he is also assisting legislative candidates who aren’t “afraid” of government’s role in modern American society, he said.
“I am primarily looking for folks who understand that private enterprise is a good thing and that conservation is a good thing, like Peter Norbeck had done,” Rounds said. “I chose Peter Norbeck as an example of good government. Here was a guy who was a successful businessman, yet he stayed actively involved in the political scene. He was responsible for the creation of Custer State Park. ... He was actively engaged in the highway system in South Dakota. He wasn’t afraid of government investment in infrastructure.
“He was looking not just at short-term stuff, but looking long-term for the state.”
In late 2011, Rounds seeded the fund with $50,000 from his still-open governor’s candidate fund, which now has $207,000 in remaining funds. The Norbeck PAC also has received $10,000 from First PREMIER Bank President Dana Dykhouse of Sioux Falls and $5,000 from the GPS PAC, funded by First PREMIER founder T. Denny Sandford.
Rounds said he believes it’s a better approach for the Republican Party’s prospects to include more donors via a political action committee rather than for him to directly fund other candidates from his governor’s campaign account, which is allowed under South Dakota law.
“I just thought rather than it come from my governor’s account, I would set up a separate account and try to put together a team of folks interested in the same type of activity,” Rounds said. “The last couple of years, Republicans have been very successful picking up seats in the House and Senate. It might be a stretch to fund them all using traditional methods, using Republican Party dollars. This is one more way to get people actively involved in selecting candidates for long-term leadership.”
While the most recent campaign finance report on file shows no distributions, Rounds said he intends to make most, if not all, of the distributions from the Norbeck PAC for the 2012 cycle by summer’s end. That timing, Rounds says, is designed to wrap up activity for the Norbeck PAC before the Pierre native announces whether he intends to run for the U.S. Senate in 2014.
“I want to get through the process of finishing up with the Norbeck PAC and completing all that, getting the funds out to legislative candidates before we get involved in a national process,” Rounds said.
While Rounds said he is planning to wrap up his PAC activity and to make the proper arrangements for his business, Fischer Rounds & Associates, before entering a Senate race, he also insists he has not made up his mind to run. He and his family are considering the dramatic change in lifestyle serving on Capitol Hill would bring.
“If we do something that big, in terms of where we live and where we work and so forth, we want go forward with our eyes wide open,” Rounds said.
Should Rounds get elected to the Senate, that would strengthen his ties to Norbeck, who served as South Dakota’s governor from 1917 to 1921 before serving three terms in the U.S. Senate.
The next campaign finance reports for the Norbeck PAC and other South Dakota PACs are due Oct. 26.