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Jackley to succeed Ravnsborg as South Dakota attorney general; Noem yet to announce interim appointee

With no Democrats announcing their candidacy for the position, Jackley will advance through November’s general election, securing the seat for a January swearing-in.

Marty Jackley speaks at the McGovern Civic Engagement Forum at Dakota Wesleyan University in 2017 during his gubernatorial campaign.
Marty Jackley speaks at the McGovern Civic Engagement Forum at Dakota Wesleyan University in 2017 during his gubernatorial campaign.
Mitchell Republic file photo
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WATERTOWN, S.D. — Marty Jackley will serve as South Dakota’s next full-term attorney general.

At the South Dakota State GOP Convention, held Thursday through Saturday in Watertown, the largest state convention on record gathered to nominate the Republican candidates to the November ballot.

In the race to replace Jason Ravnsborg, the former attorney general who was impeached, removed and banned from holding future office for crimes and malfeasance in office relating to the 2020 crash that killed a South Dakota pedestrian, Jackley’s resume and record spoke for itself to delegates as they decided the future of the office.

A Sturgis native, Jackley already has nearly three decades of experience working in the public sector.

In 1995, Jackley began his legal work clerking in South Dakota’s U.S. District Court. In 2006, he was appointed — and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate — by President George W. Bush to serve as the state’s U.S. Attorney. Three years later, he was appointed by Gov. Mike Rounds to replace Larry Long as South Dakota’s Attorney General.

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In his almost 10 years as the top cop, Jackley and his team investigated and prosecuted various major crimes, including the state’s EB-5 and GEAR UP scandals — both of which involved deaths and financial malfeasance with public monies — as well as the Annette Bosworth case, in which the gubernatorial candidate was convicted of perjury and filing false documents. He also argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in South Dakota v. Wayfair, successfully claiming that the state should be able to collect sales tax from online sales from companies without a physical presence in the state.

In 2018, Jackley unsuccessfully ran for Governor of South Dakota, falling in a primary election to then-U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem with 44% of the vote. Since his gubernatorial defeat, he has served as the state’s attorney for the counties of Jones and Haakon, while also working in private practice.

In March, roughly five weeks before Ravnsborg was impeached by the South Dakota House of Representatives, Jackley was the first to announce his candidacy for attorney general. David Natvig, current director of the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation (a division of the Office of the Attorney General), announced his candidacy against Jackley in May.

Days ahead of his impeachment, the then-suspended Ravnsborg confirmed he would not seek re-election, clearing the way for a two-man race for the Republican nomination.

On Saturday, the third day of the state’s Republican convention, Jackley beat out Natvig with 52.7% of the vote. With no Democrats announcing their candidacy for the position, Jackley will advance through November’s general election, securing the seat for a January swearing-in.

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Former Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg looks down at his notepad during his impeachment trial at the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre on Tuesday, June 21, 2022.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

Awaiting Noem’s appointment

From the day he was impeached in April until the day he was removed last week, Ravnsborg was suspended from executing the duties of his office. Since his removal, the state has been operating without an attorney general, with the main duties of the office taken up by Natvig as well as Chief of Staff Tim Bormann.

It’s up to Gov. Kristi Noem to appoint Ravnsborg’s interim replacement, who would serve from the day of their appointment until January, when Jackley can be sworn in.

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Though political opponents in the 2018 gubernatorial election, Noem gave Jackley her endorsement in the attorney general’s race this election cycle.

There’s no timeline prescribed for when Noem must appoint a replacement, and it’s something she could forgo, though some lawmakers have speculated it’s possible for Noem to appoint Jackley to prevent a lapse in the position.

Regardless, Noem has not yet made any public statement regarding an appointment, making no indication of who, or if, she will appoint.

101321.N.DR.BRIDGEDEDICATION2.jpg
Lt. Governor Larry Rhoden speaks during a South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs State Bridge Dedication Ceremony honoring U.S. Army Air Force Combat Veteran Sergeant William Christensen in October at American Legion Post 194 in Parkston.
Mitchell Republic file photo

Republican ticket finalized for various offices

At the Republican convention, delegates finalized their nominees in two other contested races in the state, as well as other races that were uncontested within the party.

Following an unsuccessful primary election for governor by Rep. Steve Haugaard, R-Sioux Falls, current Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden defeated Haugaard in the party race for the nomination to run alongside Noem in her re-election bid to the Office of the Governor. Rhoden won with 56% of the vote.

Former employee of the Secretary of State’s Office Monae Johnson upended incumbent Steve Barnett in the race for Secretary of State with 61% of the vote. Johnson harped on election security, drawing eyes to the 2020 election in which President Donald Trump blamed the loss of his re-election bid on fraud in certain states.

Other Republican nominations include:

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  • Rich Sattgast for auditor
  • Josh Haeder for treasurer
  • Brock Greenfield for Commissioner of Schools and Public Lands
  • Chris Nelson for Public Utilities Commissioner

The South Dakota Republican Party said on Twitter that the completed ticket will head into election season “as a united team to win every statewide office.”
Nominated Republicans will find out their Democratic challengers on the November ballot following the Democratic convention, which is set to run July 8-9 in Fort Pierre.

Dunteman covers general and breaking news as well as crime in the Mitchell Republic's 17-county coverage area. He grew up in Harrisburg, and has lived in South Dakota for over 20 years. He joined the Mitchell Republic in June 2021 after earning his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He can be reached at HDunteman@MitchellRepublic.com, or on Twitter @HRDunt.
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