One year stands between now and the South Dakota general gubernatorial election, but five candidates have thrown their hats into the race to succeed outgoing Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
Assistant professor of political science David Wiltse said the elected governor would have an important impact on the lives of South Dakota State students.
“All sorts of decisions would fall into the new governor’s hands for universities like South Dakota State: new members on the Board of Regents and who makes decisions for us, how our budget is handled and really anything regarding future university policy would be decided on by the new governor,” Wiltse said.
Republican candidates Lora Hubbel, Marty Jackley, Terry LaFleur, Kristi Noem and Democratic candidate Billie Sutton announced their candidacies earlier this year. South Dakota Attorney General Jackley, House Representative Noem and Senate Minority Leader Sutton have all made visits to the South Dakota State campus since announcing their bids.
“It’s always something smart to do, try to get your name out ahead of the race,” Wiltse said. “But, I mean, beyond seeing these people in parades, they haven’t really bought anything substantial up yet. We’ll see a lot more from them next year.”
Jackley made the SDSU Research Park a stop Oct. 3 on his announcement tour of South Dakota, speaking about job creation in the state among other campaign interests. Noem visited the campus in September and met with South Dakota State University College Republicans. She spoke about her campaign’s focus on keeping South Dakota college students in the state after graduation according to Lilli Jasper, club president.
“It was awesome. I think it was the most members we had at a meeting,” the junior political science major said. “She spent more time answering our questions than actually talking about herself, which I thought was really nice.”
Jasper said SDSU College Republicans will not endorse any candidate in the race to make the club “for everyone.” She plans to have the other candidates visit the the club next year.
Compared to the other two GOP candidates in the race, Wiltse said former state legislator Lora Hubbel and attorney Terry LaFleur “don’t really stand a chance.” This is because of the lack experience in government and funding for their campaigns compared to Jackley’s and Noem’s, according to Wiltse.
The South Dakota Republican primary election will be June 5, 2018. This election determines which GOP candidate will run as the party’s gubernatorial nominee Nov. 6, 2018.
“It’s always something smart to do, try to get your name out ahead of the race. but, I mean, beyond seeing these people in parades, they haven’t really brought anything substantial up yet.”
-DAVE WILTSE, Assistant professor of political science
Jackley challenged Noem to sign a clean campaign pledge in October, to avoid “mudslinging and name-calling.” The pledge stipulated the candidates would not engage in negative or misleading attacks against the other. Noem rejected the pledge, saying she’s not interested in “campaign PR stunts.”
“That, to me, doesn’t seem to be a position of strength for Jackley — the fact that he maybe feels like he could be outspent on negative commercials and not be able to keep up with that,” Wiltse said. “We’ll have to wait and see how the money chase shapes up.”
SDSU College Democrats endorsed Democratic candidate Billie Sutton in the gubernatorial race. Club president Claire Deuter said she was excited to have him appear on campus for his second listening tour engagement.
“As a Democrat, I think it’s the same issues that Billie stands for that I’m passionate about, which, you know, is why it was so great to have him be able to hear our concerns above everything else,” said the junior global studies and political science major.
Sutton’s listening tour was coordinated to “hear from everyday South Dakotans about the issues that matter most to them,” according to a press release from Sutton. At the Listening Tour engagement in Rotunda D, Sutton emphasized his campaign message of cleaning up corruption in Pierre.
Wiltse said Sutton running as a Democratic candidate alone is enough of a determining factor that he has no shot at winning the election.
“There’s no Democrats here. We haven’t had a Democrat in the governor’s mansion in about 35 years or so,” Wiltse said. “It’s just so overwhelmingly Republican here.”
But Deuter doesn’t believe her vote for Sutton is a “throw-away.”
“You get a lot of people passionate about politics, but they don’t actually get out to voting polls,” Deuter said. “If you don’t go out and vote yourself, you’re not really doing your duty as a citizen.”
The voter registration deadline for the general gubernatorial election is Oct. 22, 2018, 15 days before the election.