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Daugaard will not endorse 2018 candidate for governor

When the 2018 governor's race rolls around, don't expect Gov. Dennis Daugaard to take sides. With a tough Republican Party primary battle brewing between U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem and Attorney General Marty Jackley, the two-term South Dakota governor...

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Gov. Dennis Daugaard shakes hands with a voter at a Republican Party event in 2014. (Daily Republic File Photo)

When the 2018 governor’s race rolls around, don’t expect Gov. Dennis Daugaard to take sides.

With a tough Republican Party primary battle brewing between U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem and Attorney General Marty Jackley, the two-term South Dakota governor said he doesn’t intend to endorse either candidate.

“No, no, I’m staying out of that,” Daugaard told The Daily Republic earlier this month.

Daugaard became the fifth Republican governor elected in a row since 1978 and easily won his 2010 and 2014 races with 61.51 percent and 70.47 percent of the vote, respectively, but the popular term-limited governor has routinely suggested his political career will come to a close once he’s replaced. But Daugaard declined to say who he’d like to see fill his post.

With Speaker of the South Dakota House of Representatives Mark Mickelson bowing out of the race, the two top GOP candidates offer substantial experience in two major areas of importance for South Dakotans: criminal justice and agriculture.

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Noem, who made a career as a farmer and rancher before entering politics, has served on the House Agriculture Committee. And if elected, Noem would become the first woman to serve as governor of South Dakota.

Jackley, however, has served as attorney general and U.S. attorney for the District of South Dakota while helping guide the state through corruption scandals and drug epidemics.

When asked which field of expertise is more critical for South Dakota in the immediate future, Daugaard carefully walked the line between the two candidates.

“I think we need to focus on all of the above, we really do,” Daugaard said. “We can’t ignore one aspect of our state’s needs and focus on another, we really need to be looking out for the whole state.”

As of Wednesday, no Democratic candidate has declared intentions to run for governor in 2018. State Sen. Billie Sutton, D-Burke, did, however, tell The Daily Republic in 2016 he hadn’t counted out a run for the state’s highest office.

Although Daugaard will refrain from endorsing a possible replacement, he told The Daily Republic this month he would endorse his former chief of staff, Mitchell resident Dusty Johnson, if he runs for Noem’s U.S. House seat in 2018.

Johnson’s campaign announced early this month it had raised more than $104,000, and another possible candidate, South Dakota Secretary of State Shantel Krebs, has also been reported to have interest in the congressional seat.

Related Topics: ELECTION 2018KRISTI NOEM
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