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The Latest: Sutton: Team 'fought a heck of a fight

SIOUX FALLS (AP) — The Latest on Election Day in South Dakota (all times local):

1 a.m.

Democrat Billie Sutton says he's wished Republican Kristi Noem well after her victory in the South Dakota governor's race and encouraged her to reach across the aisle to find common ground.

Sutton lost Tuesday's election for the state's top political prize. The senator and former professional rodeo rider cultivated a moderate image to make the race unusually close in the conservative state.

Sutton says his team "fought a heck of a fight," but they were always underdogs. Sutton says he hopes Noem focuses on government transparency, overhauling campaign finance and tamping down the cost of higher education.

He says there's a strong future for South Dakota if the state works together. Noem says her priorities include focusing on education, filling workforce needs and dealing with public safety issues.


12:35 a.m.

Voters have rejected a ballot question that would have made South Dakota's constitution tougher to change.

A ballot measure rejected Tuesday would have increased the majority vote threshold for a constitutional change to 55 percent of votes cast.

Critics said the amendment could hamper direct democracy in the state, which in 1898 became the first in the nation to adopt citizen initiatives. Supporters argued it would be an added safeguard for the state's fundamental political document.

The Legislature voted this year to put the amendment before voters. Republicans have pushed changes to the ballot question system since the 2016 election season brought 10 questions and millions of dollars from out-of-state groups.


12:25 a.m.

Republicans have been elected to serve as South Dakota's auditor, treasurer and lands commissioner.

Rich Sattgast won his bid to become South Dakota's state auditor. Sattgast triumphed Tuesday over Democrat Tom Cool, a former legislative candidate. He succeeds outgoing state auditor Steve Barnett.

Sattgast maneuvered a switch from his current position as state treasurer to win the office of state auditor.

Josh Haeder has beaten Democrat Aaron Matson in the race for state treasurer. Haeder is a former staffer for U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds.

School and Public Lands Commissioner Ryan Brunner has won re-election against Democratic candidate Woody Houser. Brunner, a Republican, won his second term in Tuesday's election.


12:20 a.m.

Republican U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem says she feels relieved to have won South Dakota's competitive governor's race after working hard to share her vision for the state.

Noem, who beat Democrat Billie Sutton in Tuesday's election, says she's grateful to the people of South Dakota for putting their trust in her. Noem will become the first female governor in state history.

She says it's "pretty humbling," but wasn't a big focus of the campaign. Noem says her experience helped her win, and now her priorities are focusing on education, filling workforce needs and dealing with public safety issues.

Sutton, a state senator and former professional rodeo rider, cultivated a moderate image to make the race unusually close in the conservative state.


12:12 a.m.

Republican Steve Barnett has beaten Democrat Alexandra Frederick in the race for South Dakota secretary of state.

Barnett won Tuesday's election to succeed outgoing Secretary of State Shantel Krebs. Barnett has served two terms as state auditor since first getting elected in 2010.

Frederick is a rancher in Todd County.

The secretary of state has duties including serving as is South Dakota's chief elections official.


12:10 a.m.

South Dakota voters have rejected an effort to raise tobacco taxes to make state technical schools more affordable.

Voters dismissed the measure Tuesday after the tobacco industry spent millions of dollars opposing it. The measure would have increased taxes on different tobacco products. The tax on a 20-cigarette pack would have increased by $1 to $2.53.

Critics argued it hurt small businesses. State officials estimated it would have raised about $25 million.

The measure's goal was to create a fund to lower tuition and fees, offer scholarships and provide financial support for the state's four technical institutes.

A report last year to a legislative panel found South Dakota's tech institutes charge the highest average resident fees and tuition regionally.

State voters last approved a tobacco tax hike in 2006.


12:05 a.m.

South Dakota voters have approved a ban on out-of-state fundraising for citizens' initiatives.

The measure passed Tuesday imposes a major new restriction that experts say is unlikely to survive legal challenge.

Republican House Speaker Mark Mickelson sponsored the initiative. He's said it's necessary to preserve the ballot measure process for state residents. The measure passed without major campaigns supporting or opposing it.

Bills capping out-of-state contributions failed in the Legislature for the past two years. Critics argued they were unconstitutional.

The measure prohibits contributions to ballot question committees from nonresidents, out-of-state political committees and entities that haven't filed with the secretary of state's office for the preceding four years.


12 a.m.

South Dakota voters have rejected a government ethics constitutional amendment put on the ballot to replace a similar measure that lawmakers cast aside last year.

The amendment's failure Tuesday comes two years after voters approved a similar anti-corruption law in 2016. Lawmakers repealed it just months later, citing constitutional concerns.

Supporters' sweeping response would have imposed stricter lobbying and campaign finance rules, established a new government watchdog panel and stopped lawmakers from changing voter laws without returning to the ballot.

Critics focused on the amendment's out-of-state funding. They argued it would undermine the constitution, making the ethics board a new branch of government with unchecked power.

Backers said the measure was meant to put power back in the hands of the people.


11:55 p.m.

Republican Rep. Kristi Noem will become South Dakota's first female governor after triumphing over Democratic state Sen. Billie Sutton.

Sutton cultivated a moderate image to make the race unusually close in a conservative state that hasn't elected a Democratic governor in more than 40 years. But Noem carried major advantages heading into Tuesday, including a massive GOP voter advantage and much more experience running statewide.

Noem didn't emphasize her gender in the campaign. She promised to protect state residents from tax increases and more government regulations, improve state transparency and fight federal intrusion.

Sutton is a former professional rodeo rider. Noem successfully cast him as a liberal and significantly outraised him.

Noem will succeed Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who couldn't run again due to term limits.


11:50 p.m.

Republican lawyer and Army Reserve officer Jason Ravnsborg will be South Dakota's next attorney general.

Ravnsborg will be the latest in a long line of Republicans to be the state's chief lawyer and law enforcement officer. Ravnsborg on Tuesday overcame former U.S. Attorney Randy Seiler, who touted his prosecutorial experience.

Ravnsborg, a partner at a Yankton law firm, campaigned as the candidate favored by the law enforcement community. He's proposed expanding programs allowing lower-level prisoners to work and establishing a meth-specific prison and mental health facility in the central or western part of the state.

Ravnsborg succeeds outgoing Republican Attorney General Marty Jackley. The high-profile office has served as a frequent springboard for gubernatorial hopefuls and takes on the state's top legal cases.


10:50 p.m.

Republican Kristie Fiegen has been elected to another term on the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission.

Fiegen beat Democrat Wayne Frederick on Tuesday to win re-election to serve a six-year term on the panel. The commission regulates utilities and has permitting authority over pipelines and wind and solar energy projects.

Fiegen was appointed to the commission in 2011 to fill a vacancy and then elected in 2012. Frederick is a former Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council member.


10:25 p.m.

Voters have approved a ballot question requiring that South Dakota constitutional amendments encompass only one subject.

South Dakota lawmakers voted earlier this year to put the measure on the ballot. There was little campaign activity around the measure ahead of Tuesday's election.

House Speaker Mark Mickelson sponsored the measure in the Legislature. He's said supporters want to make sure that voters understand what they're voting for at the polls. Critics have questioned how the proposal would work.


9:10 p.m.

Early results have Democrat Billie Sutton and Republican Kristi Noem close in the race for South Dakota governor.

The race remained tight with the vote tally more than a third complete. It was a major feat for Democrats to make this race competitive in heavily conservative South Dakota.

Sutton, a state senator and former professional rodeo cowboy, would be the first Democratic governor elected in over 40 years. Noem would be the state's first female governor.

With a cowboy's appeal, Sutton has ridden a compelling life story — a 2007 rodeo accident left him unable to walk — and a moderate image to make the campaign competitive.

The winner will succeed outgoing Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard.


8:42 p.m.

South Dakota's incoming U.S. representative, Republican Dusty Johnson, says his top priority in Washington will be getting a farm bill done.

Johnson, a former public utilities commissioner, triumphed Tuesday over Democrat Tim Bjorkman to win South Dakota's lone U.S. House seat. He was the front-runner.

Johnson says he will work hard to get on the House Committee on Agriculture and get a finished farm bill. Johnson says the people of South Dakota have hired him, and he's "not going to disappoint them."

Johnson focused during the race on fiscal discipline, proposing changes such as increasing the age for Medicare and Social Security eligibility for younger people. He will replace Republican Rep. Kristi Noem.

Bjorkman, a former judge, had pledged not to take special interest donations and said health care is the nation's most pressing problem.


8:25 p.m.

Republican Dusty Johnson has beaten Democrat Tim Bjorkman to win South Dakota's U.S. House seat.

Johnson was the favorite throughout the race. The former public utilities commissioner and past gubernatorial chief of staff ran an energetic and well-funded campaign as a traditional conservative.

Johnson focused on fiscal discipline, proposing changes such as increasing the age for Medicare and Social Security eligibility for younger people. He will replace Republican Rep. Kristi Noem, who ran for governor.

Bjorkman, a former judge, had pledged not to take donations from special interests and said health care is the nation's most pressing problem.


8 p.m.

Polls have closed across South Dakota, where the governor's race between Republican Kristi Noem and Democrat Billie Sutton was the top contest.

Polling places were open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time. Recent polls found the governor's race to be close despite South Dakota's heavy conservative tilt.

On top of choosing the state's next chief executive, voters were also picking their next U.S. representative and a host of other statewide officials.

Meanwhile, Republicans were hoping to keep their supermajorities in the state Legislature.

Voters also settled five ballot questions, among them measures that would reshape the state's citizen initiative system and raise tobacco taxes for the first time in more than a decade.


4:15 p.m.

Minnehaha County Auditor Bob Litz says voting is running smoothly in South Dakota's most populated county.

Litz says the weather is a little cool, but hasn't stopped voters from going to the polls in the county that includes the city of Sioux Falls. He says lines ebbed and flowed throughout the day.

Election superintendent Judy Martin oversees polls at Avera Prince of Peace Retirement Community. She tells the Argus Leader that voters came out in higher numbers than normal and people were eager to vote.

Litz tells The Associated Press the county's 13,500 to 14,000 absentee ballots were being tallied Tuesday afternoon, and his office is also working on getting supplies out to precincts that are running low. So far, he says, he has no reports of anything unusual.


12:40 p.m.

South Dakotans are deciding whether a conservative or a moderate will be in the governor's office for the next four years.

Sioux Falls Republican Sam Tyrell says he voted in favor of four-term GOP congresswoman Kristi Noem because he likes her conservative platform.

Democrat Billie Sutton has downplayed his party and offered a moderate message. Sioux Falls resident James Livermont says he was attracted to a candidate who could reach across the aisle.

Noem was the immediate favorite after surviving a GOP summer primary. But Sutton rode his compelling backstory — a former rodeo cowboy who turned to politics after he was paralyzed in a 2007 accident — to a tight race.

Sutton would be the first Democratic governor in 40 years. Noem would be the state's first female governor.


7 a.m.

It's a cool and in some areas a blustery Election Day in South Dakota.

The National Weather Service forecast says highs across the state will be in the 20s and 30s. There's a wind advisory in effect for the northwest through the evening, with gusts up to 45 mph. And there's a chance for afternoon snow in the northeast.

Polls are beginning to open across the state. They'll stay open until 7 p.m. local time.


12:05 a.m.

Voters in South Dakota are choosing between making Republican Kristi Noem the state's first female governor or making Billie Sutton the first Democrat in the office in 40 years.

Noem was the immediate favorite after surviving a Republican summer primary. But Sutton has made it a surprisingly tight race. He's downplayed his party and ridden a compelling backstory as a former rodeo cowboy who turned to politics after being paralyzed in a 2007 accident.

Also on the ballot Tuesday are measures that could dramatically reshape the state's citizen initiative powers. One proposal would block the Legislature from changing voter laws — or the ballot question system — without a public vote. Other measures would make the constitution harder to change and ban out-of-state fundraising for ballot questions.