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Tapio, from Watertown, says 'South Dakota strong'

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the third of three candidate profiles for the open U.S. House seat being vacated by Kristi Noem. The three Republican candidates running in Tuesday's primary are Dusty Johnson, Shantel Krebs and Neal Tapio.

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Neal Tapio, former South Dakota state legislator and campaigner for President Donald Trump.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the third of three candidate profiles for the open U.S. House seat being vacated by Kristi Noem. The three Republican candidates running in Tuesday's primary are Dusty Johnson, Shantel Krebs and Neal Tapio.

Neal Tapio is a Republican state senator from Watertown serving his first two-year term in the South Dakota Legislature.

Campaign slogan: "America first. South Dakota strong."

Campaign finances: Tapio raised $13,335 from individual contributors between Jan. 1 and May 16, according to the Federal Election Commission. He loaned his campaign $155,020, the FEC said. His first disbursement was for $266.25 on Feb. 14 to Launch Collective for web hosting, installation and web design. He had spent $131,567.97 as of May 16.

Where he stands: Tapio lists five issues on his campaign website in this order: gun rights; right to life; taxes; government corruption; and education.

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On gun rights: "As a hunter I value the importance of gun rights, and understand that hunting is a part of our heritage. But the 2nd Amendment isn't just about hunting, it's also an important part of South Dakotans' right to self-defense." He said he received as a state senator an A rating from the National Rifle Association and the National Association for Gun Rights.

On the right to life: "The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are at the core of my beliefs, I am 100 percent pro-life."

On taxes: "Looking ahead, I think we need to be skeptical of any new tax increase proposals, two of the past three legislative sessions we have seen significant new tax increases pass."

On government corruption: "South Dakota has done a less-than-adequate job of preventing corruption in state government. In the last several years we have seen such problems with EB-5 and GEAR UP, the people of South Dakota deserve answers from those accountable and as your state Representative I will support all efforts to ensure that the corruption we have seen in the past is uncovered and not repeated."

On education: "The parent is the most important component in a child's education and should be the final authority in determining the educational opportunities and tutelage of their children. Each school is unique and their interests are better left to local parents, teachers and school boards. As South Dakota's Congressman, I will continue to work to ensure that our schools receive the necessary funding for our children to thrive, while working to maximize parental control over the educational process."

Personal: Tapio was born Sept. 19, 1970. He is a graduate of Watertown High School and Moorhead State University. He is director of sales for national accounts for a manufacturer of no-solvent parts washers.

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