OPINION: Each major party has an AG contest

PIERRE -- Attorney general is the only statewide seat up for election in South Dakota this year that has significant races in both major political parties.


PIERRE - Attorney general is the only statewide seat up for election in South Dakota this year that has significant races in both major political parties.

Delegates, rather than voters, select the nominees. Those choices come at the Democratic and Republican conventions next month, on successive weekends.

The conventions are after the June 5 primary elections for the statewide offices of governor and U.S. House of Representatives.

This year's AG contests are especially volatile.

The known Democratic contenders are:


Randy Seiler of Fort Pierre, the past U.S. attorney for South Dakota. He retired from the federal office Dec. 31; and

Tatewin Means of Rapid City, who was attorney general for the Oglala Sioux Tribe from 2012 until 2017. Her father was activist and actor Russell Means.

The known Republican contenders are:

Jason Ravnsborg, a Yankton lawyer who goes to Union County to be a volunteer prosecutor. He finished last of five candidates, with 2.8 percent of the vote, in the 2014 Republican primary for U.S. Senate;

State Sen. Lance Russell of Hot Springs, whom the state Supreme Court publicly censured in 2011 for actions as Fall River County state's attorney; and

John Fitzgerald, the Lawrence County state's attorney since 1995, and previously the Butte County state's attorney from 1985 through 1995.

A fourth Republican, chief deputy attorney general Charles McGuigan of Pierre, suspended his campaign this year.

Democrats convene in Sioux Falls to choose their nominee Saturday, June 16. Republicans gather in Pierre to pick their nominee Saturday, June 23.


More than a promise, South Dakota needs follow-through from its next attorney general to pursue corruption.

Our state has spent five years struggling under public scandals in state government. The contamination has split Republican legislators.

First came the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program. Expanded during the Rounds administration, the Daugaard administration shut it down.

There also was mismanagement of the secretary of state office under Jason Gant, who didn't seek re-election in 2014 after state Sen. Shantel Krebs filed candidacy paperwork.

Third was the GEAR UP mess. Started under the Rounds administration, and hot-wired through a Platte education cooperative, Black Hills State University now runs it.

Fourth was repeal of IM 22 by many Republican lawmakers in 2017.

The toll so far: Two apparent suicides, five other murders, some $1.8 million stolen from taxpayers, and the resignation of a state education secretary.

The penalties: One man convicted of the lowest class of felony, for which he wasn't sentenced to a day in prison. Trials start against three others later this year.


Those trials come after the June 5 primary election for the Republican nomination for governor between U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem and state Attorney General Marty Jackley. The winner faces Senate Democratic leader Billie Sutton.

As for attorney general, Republican voters can ask Republican candidates for precinct delegates in the June 5 primary election whether they have chosen a candidate and why.

Democrats take a different route, with each county's Democratic central committee choosing at least three convention delegates. Democratic voters can ask Democratic delegates in their county if they have committed to a candidate and why.

Remember the motto on the state flag and seal: "Under God, the People Rule."

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