Dusty Johnson handily won the race for the U.S. House Tuesday night, leading a Republican wave through the constitutional offices, however, the race for Governor remained neck-and-neck as the Plainsman went to press.
Johnson, a former Public Utilities Commissioner and chief of staff for current Governor Dennis Daugaard, handily defeated Democrat Tim Bjorkman (61 to 36 percent) with 464 of 698 precincts counted in the state, while Independent Ron Wieczork had 2 percent of the vote and Libertarian candidate George Hendrickson garnered 1 percent. Jason Ravnsborg held a slim lead over Randy Seiler (55-45 percent) in the Attorney General race.
Through the early returns, the race to replace Daugaard, featuring former Republican U.S. Representative Kristi Noem and Democratic S.D. State Senator Billie Sutton was within one or two percentage points at every update on the Secretary of State’s website. As the votes continued to be tabulated, however, Noem began to open up a small lead and held a 51 to 48 percent margin, with more than 300 precincts remaining to be counted
Further down the ticket, South Dakota’s fiercely Republican majority kept the majority party in charge of the various constitutional offices.
Steve Barnett outdistanced Democrat Alexandra Frederick by a 2-to-1 margin in the race to be the next Secretary of state, a margin matched by Rich Sattgast in his win over Tom Cool for State Auditor. Huron’s Josh Haeder held a 62 percent to 38 percent lead over Aaron Matson in the State Treasurer race, the identical margin that Ryan Brunner held on Woody Houser in the race for Commissioner of School and Public Lands.
Kristie Fiegen will retain her seat on the Public Utilities Commission, defeating challenger Wayne Frederick 65 percent to 35 percent.
The overwhelming winner on the night was Supreme Court Justice Janine Kern, who was retained by an 84 to 16 margin.