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State Sen. Tapio enters the race for U.S. House

WATERTOWN -- Republican state Sen. Neal Tapio confirmed what many already knew on Monday. The Watertown native, fourth generation South Dakotan and state campaign director for Donald Trump's successful campaign for president in 2016 announced he'...

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WATERTOWN - Republican state Sen. Neal Tapio confirmed what many already knew on Monday.

The Watertown native, fourth generation South Dakotan and state campaign director for Donald Trump’s successful campaign for president in 2016 announced he’d join the field of candidates in the 2018 race for U.S. House of Representatives.

Tapio joins a Republican field that already includes former Public Utilities Commission member and Mitchell resident Dusty Johnson and Secretary of State Shantel Krebs. The trio will square off in the June primary election.

In a statement released Monday, Tapio promised to “expose the hypocrisy of establishment politicians rushing furiously to cas themselves as Trump populists.” He also said his decision wasn’t sparked by political ambition, but rather a “need for real people to answer the call to public service.”

“I’m not a career politician,” Tapio said. “But in the real world of business and corporate enterprise, I’ve been preparing for this moment my entire life, by experiencing at a very high level the way business really works and the way our government has increasingly blocked and hampered the ability for normal people to experience the American Dream.”

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Tapio is the president and CEO of NT Sales and Leasing, Inc., which specializes in the sales and financing for industrial cleaning equipment and founded New Horizon Homes, a builder of single-family homes. But he often referred to his ties to President Trump throughout his statement on Monday.

He also aimed to separate himself from established politicians in the state, included massively popular Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who won his re-election campaign by a landslide margin in 2014. He also targeted U.S. Sen. John Thune, another candidate who has overcome challengers by mammoth margins.

“If John Thune and Dennis Daugaard had their way, Donald Trump would have been off the Republican ticket and Hillary Clinton would be our President today, God help us,” Tapio said. “I think that’s a level of cowardice and tone deafness that says it all. And it’s clearly not representative of how South Dakotans voted for this President.”

The Watertown Republican is looking to replace U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem as the lone South Dakotan in Congress. Noem is running for governor of South Dakota.

Other candidates for U.S. House include Democrats Tim Bjorkman and Chris Martian and independent George Hendrickson.

In Monday’s release, Tapio announced four stops throughout the state scheduled for Tuesday. Tapio will be at NT Sales and Leasing, Inc. in Watertown at 8:30 a.m., the Holiday Inn in downtown Sioux Falls at 11 a.m., Hotel Alex Johnson in Rapid City at 2 p.m., and the Best Western Ramkota Hotel & Convention Center in Aberdeen at 6 p.m.

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