HURON – A dozen GOP candidates for statewide offices in the 2018 election had a few minutes each to address the party faithful Tuesday evening at the annual Beadle County Republican Lincoln Day dinner.
About 100 people attended.
The candidates talked about their families and touched on some of the campaign themes they will be fleshing out on the road as the races heat up in the coming months.
Five of the 12 are current state or federal government officeholders who are now in the running for a different post in either Pierre or Washington, D.C. Two are seeking re-election to their current posts.
Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., is in the governor’s race, as is Attorney General Marty Jackley.
Jackley said as governor he would work to create new and better jobs while helping businesses succeed. He wants to see more value-added precision agriculture and research and development. If it can’t be done in Washington, D.C., it will be up to states to improve health care, he said.
It’s also important to continue South Dakota’s quality of life so young people want to stay here, he said.
Noem said she ran for Congress in 2010 because there was so much dysfunction in Washington, D.C. She said she is thrilled there is a new Republican administration in the White House.
With the GOP in control, Congress has an opportunity to fix many of the things she has been working on, she said. Yet to do are to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, implement tax reform and continue to eliminate government regulations, Noem said.
She said she is uniquely qualified to be governor because of her experience.
GOP candidates for Noem’s seat in Congress are Secretary of State Shantel Krebs and former Public Utilities Commissioner Dusty Johnson, a one-time chief of staff for Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
Johnson said he can be effective in Congress because he is good at getting results, something he’s done in elected and appointed positions and now in the private sector in Mitchell.
He said he is running because he still cares about the country and those who are running it and wants to be a part of the solutions.
Krebs said she has used the small town family values she learned growing up on an Arlington farm as well as her business experience to modernize the secretary of state’s office and run it like a business.
While there are critical issues like the crippling national debt, she said the federal government must be held accountable like the government is here.
Three of the Republicans who want to be the state’s next attorney general attended the dinner. They are Jason Ravnsborg, John Fitzgerald and Charlie McGuigan.
Ravnsborg said voters will once again be faced with the possibility of a number of ballot issues next year, and he is urging them not to sign petitions for ones that call for recreational and medical marijuana.
For all the headaches the state would face if that becomes law, it would only see $3.5 million in new revenue, he said.
He said the state also faces a major methamphetamine problem.
McGuigan has served in the attorney general’s office for 25 years, the last 10 as chief deputy.
Those in the office are the lawyers for state government, are the chief law enforcement members who help local law enforcement investigate crimes and operate the consumer protection division.
Fitzgerald said he has a deep appreciation for what South Dakotans enjoy, such as security, freedom and the fact that they treasure unborn human life.
But he said people must be vigilant and never take that for granted.
He said he decided to run for attorney general because of the rise in illegal and dangerous drugs. It’s not a hopeless situation, but everyone must work together to protect the children and grandchildren, he said.
Current state Auditor Steve Barnett is running for Secretary of State.
As Auditor, he has reduced the staff from 18 to 16 and installed safeguards in the reimbursement process, he said. The Secretary of State maintains the integrity of elections and works to make South Dakota a business-friendly state, he said.
School and Public Lands Commissioner Ryan Brunner is seeking re-election.
The office manages state-owned land and assets and returns revenues from leases to K-12 education. That amount was $10.2 million last year, he said.
Josh Haeder of Huron is running for state Treasurer to succeed Rich Sattgast, who is running for state Auditor.
Three priorities he would have are to protect the public’s money at a time of increased hacking, increase technology to return more unclaimed property to owners and financial wellness education.
With Sattgast as treasurer, the office has taken in more than $72 million in unclaimed property this year, and turned back $25 million as of this week.
One of the challenges is the upcoming loss of historical knowledge because of retirements among those in state agencies, he said. However, he said it is also good to bring in new ideas.
Seeking re-election is Public Utilities Commissioner Kristie Fiegen.
She said she is an advocate of expanded infrastructure. She said commissioners are consumer watchdogs and while there are three Republicans on the PUC, she said they base their decisions not on politics, but on facts.