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Jackley, Noem year-end reports could suggest what's coming in GOP race

PIERRE -- There definitely is anticipation and perhaps some hesitation over what the campaign finance reports could reveal Monday about the competition between U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem and state Attorney General Marty Jackley.

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PIERRE - There definitely is anticipation and perhaps some hesitation over what the campaign finance reports could reveal Monday about the competition between U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem and state Attorney General Marty Jackley.

The two Republicans are battling for favor by their party's voters in the June primary election. The winner would be the Republican nominee in the November general election that decides the next governor of South Dakota.

Many of the Republicans probably voted for both Jackley and Noem in 2010 and 2014 when their names appeared on the same November ballots for their current offices.

But this year's primary contest could turn hotter than any previous time in South Dakota's history because of the money Noem and Jackley can turn loose against each other.

Noem is only the second woman to win more than a placeholder's seat in either chamber of Congress. She defeated the first, U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, the Democratic incumbent, in 2010.

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A November victory would make Noem the first woman elected governor of South Dakota. The win also would be the first time that any member of the state's congressional delegation returned from Washington, D.C. to be governor.

Jackley meanwhile hopes to be the first attorney general elected governor since Republican Bill Janklow did it in 1978.

Jackley is the first South Dakotan to be president for the national attorneys general association. He has signed South Dakota onto many lawsuits challenging the validity of federal laws and regulations.

This would be the first major test of Jackley as a statewide candidate. He hasn't run in a statewide primary election before. He crushed his 2010 opponent, Democrat Ron Volesky, and his 2014 opponent, Libertarian Chad Haber.

Jackley was U.S. attorney for the district of South Dakota and appeared destined back to private law practice when he received an appointment in 2009 from then-Gov. Mike Rounds to fill the remaining year-plus on Larry Long's second and final term.

Noem was a state representative in the 2010 statewide primary for the Republican nomination for U.S. House. She defeated another state representative, Blake Curd, and Secretary of State Chris Nelson.

Jackley and Noem meanwhile already squeezed out a third major Republican, House Speaker G. Mark Mickelson, from the 2018 Republican primary.

Mickelson, whose father and grandfather were the only parent and son to have been governors of South Dakota, entered the race two years ago.

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Mickelson raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in a short time. Then he changed his mind about running, reversed away from the campaign and gave back the donations.

Secretary of State Shantel Krebs said Friday evening her office would wait to post the Jackley and Noem reports on Monday. Many candidates seeking election to other offices also turned in their reports before the 5 p.m. deadline Friday.

As of Saturday morning 158,918 voters were registered as Democrats; 245,137 as Republicans; 120,386 as no-party affiliation or independents; and 2,923 as members of the Libertarian, Constitution and other parties.

Voter numbers are perhaps most significant to the third major candidate, state Senate Democratic Leader Billie Sutton. The most recent Democratic candidate to be elected governor of South Dakota was incumbent Dick Kneip in 1974.

Sutton filed his 2017 campaign finance report Jan. 22. He showed $829,515.47 of income and $165,284.94 of spending during 2017. He carried a balance of $664,230.53 into 2018.

Sutton campaign treasurer Gary McKellips said Sutton raised $55,089 from individuals who gave $100 or less and $383,580 from individuals who gave more than $100.

Sutton campaign reported $18,915.18 from entities; $6,949 from political parties; $200,920.01 from in-state political action committees; $20,500 from out-of-state political action committees; $134,828.20 from candidate committees; and $8,734.08 in other income.

Sutton appears to be without a challenger for the Democratic nomination in his party's June primary. He has offered a significant variety of legislative proposals and should be able to work on promoting a positive image this winter and spring while Noem and Jackley go after each other.

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Another advantage for Sutton is he can save a major chunk of his cash for the November general campaign while the two Republicans face the temptation of tapping more and more of their money to spend against one another in their primary.

Noem meanwhile escalated the maneuvering the day before the deadline for filing the 2017 campaign reports. She called Thursday for reforming South Dakota's political contributions laws.

"Current campaign finance laws in South Dakota contain loopholes that could allow corporations and individuals to shatter campaign contribution limitations," she said in a statement issued by her gubernatorial campaign staff.

"While reforms are needed to address these problems, I will not wait to act until the campaign finance laws catch up to what's right. I will lead by example. And if elected as your governor, I will work with the Legislature to close these loopholes," she said.

Noem specifically called for banning corporate contributions, which the Legislature made legal in 2017.

She also wants limits placed on amounts that political action committees can donate to state candidates in South Dakota. Those amounts currently are unlimited, again a decision of the Legislature.

Noem also asked for a change in the state law that lets individuals donate up to $4,000 directly to a candidate for governor and donate another $10,000 to a political action committee that also could support the same candidate for governor.

Noem's 2016 report for her governor's campaign account showed income of $1,834,259.49 and spending of $27,124.09.

Noem's income included a transfer of $1.6 million from her U.S. House campaign account.

Jackley's 2016 report for his governor's campaign account showed income of $1,012,233.42 and spending of $11,311.14.

Jackley's income included a transfer of $368,475.63 from his Friends of Marty Jackley political action committee and $416,405.63 from his Jackley for Attorney General campaign account.

The Republican primary could turn on a clash between what the federal government allows congressional candidates for fundraising and what state government allows state candidates for fundraising.

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