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Ravnsborg says he’s the GOP Senate candidate talking plans

By Dirk Lammers

Like all of the Republicans running for U.S. Senate in South Dakota, Jason Ravnsborg says he wants to cut the federal budget deficit and repeal the nation’s new health care law.

0 Talk about it

But the Yankton attorney and soldier, a political newcomer, said it’s important that Republicans do more than simply oppose President Barack Obama. Ravnsborg says he’s the one talking plans.

“We can’t be the party of ‘No’ only,” said Ravnsborg. “We have to have our own ideas.”

Ravnsborg, 37, is one of fi ve Republicans seeking the party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson.

Also seeking the GOP nomination for the June 3 primary are former Gov. Mike Rounds, state Rep. Stace Nelson of Fulton, state Sen. Larry Rhoden of Union Center and Sioux Falls physician Annette Bosworth. Rounds is considered the front-runner for the seat, which provides a prime pickup opportunity for Republicans needing a net gain of six seats to takeover majority control of the U.S. Senate.

On spending cuts, Ravnsborg said he likes the “Penny Plan” from former Florida Congressman Connie Mack IV, which would cut government spending by 1 percent each year for six years and then cap spending in the seventh year to balance the budget.

“Nobody likes to cut,” Ravnsborg said. “We like to, obviously, have all the things we have. But it’s either that or raise taxes, and I guess I would prefer to tighten the belt a little bit.”

Ravnsborg said he’d like to replace Obama’s Affordable Care Act with the Patient CARE Act offered by Republican Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Orrin Hatch of Utah. The plan would reduce health care costs while maintaining aspects important to citizens such as coverage of preexisting conditions and coverage until an adult child reaches the age of 26, he said.

Ravnsborg is a major in the U.S. Army Reserves and has been deployed three times — to Germany in 2003, Iraq in 2004 and Afghanistan in 2009. He said his military service provides a strong foreign affairs background, and working with different NATO partners will help prepare him for working across the aisle with Democratic colleagues.

“I’ve brought people together,” he said. “I’ve had to be disciplined and had adversity under pressure.”

Jon Schaff, a political science professor at Northern State University, said Ravnsborg is a long-shot to win the nomination as he’s never run for office, doesn’t have a natural constituency and has a small campaign operation. Schaff said the GOP primary winner will likely need to get at least a third of the vote.

“I just don’t see how he does that, unless everybody else so eviscerates each other,” he said.

Ravnsborg said being a political newcomer is a good thing.

“I’m not bought and paid for,” he said.