Already, an Open Seat

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 17, 2016 — This week also brings us the 2018 election cycle’s first open seat. South Dakota Rep. Kristi Noem (R-AL) announced that she will run for governor in the next election. Incumbent Dennis Daugaard (R) is ineligible to run for a third term under South Dakota election law, so the open seat is guaranteed.

The timing of her announcement, extremely early in the brand new election cycle, directly related to a new South Dakota election law. Beginning today, a new campaign finance initiative, passed by voters last week, takes effect. This will limit to $4,000 the amount an individual or entity can contribute to a South Dakota statewide candidate. By officially declaring herself a candidate Tuesday, Noem can still transfer all $1.9 million remaining in her congressional campaign account to her new gubernatorial campaign committee. Obviously, this will give her a major advantage in preparing for a different statewide run.

The congresswoman can count on drawing tough primary and general election opponents, however. Attorney General Marty Jackley (R) has also indicated his intention to run, and many others are soon likely to follow suit.

We can now expect a spirited battle for the open at-large congressional race, particularly in the Republican primary. Even though this race has almost one and one-half years remaining before any votes are cast, the new 2018 election cycle is apparently already underway.

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