Some numbers in GOP race for governor

These came to me third-hand (at best) so don’t bet on them being right (or wrong). But I’m told a survey conducted at the turn of the calendar from February to March in South Dakota found U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem ahead of state Attorney General Marty General in the contest for the Republican nomination for governor.

They are the only two declared candidates so far. Supposedly the poll sample was 900; I don’t know who paid for the poll, and I don’t know the methodology (I presume telephone but don’t know whether it was an auto-caller or human beings making the contacts). The tally I’ve been told is Kristi at 39 percent and Marty at 35 percent. I don’t know if those numbers include soft support and/or leaners. I would relish getting a copy. Bottom line; If true, there isn’t much space left for a third Republican to run.

By the way, I’m told that Secretary of State Shantel Krebs is preparing to be the second candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. House to succeed Kristi in Congress. So far Dusty Johnson is the only declared candidate for the Republican slot on the 2018 general election ballot. Dusty has the backing of Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who hasn’t taken a public side in the governor contest. Dusty won re-election to the state Public Utilities Commission in 2010 but never served a day of his second term, resigning to become chief of staff for the newly elected governor. In turn the governor named Chris Nelson, the former secretary of state, to the PUC vacancy. As you might expect if you know Chris at all, he turned out to be very capable and rock steady in the new (now old) role.

Shantel meanwhile has gradually pieced together the functions of the secretary of state office following the single term of Jason Gant, who won the office when Chris Nelson was term-limited in 2010. Dusty meanwhile is trying to win the Republican nomination for U.S. House from private life again, having stepped down from the governor’s aide role after the 2014 elections.

Republicans had a three-way primary for the nomination for U.S. House in 2010 between a new legislator named Blake Curd of Sioux Falls, Nelson and Noem, who was in her second term as a legislator. Kristi won with 42.1 percent, followed by Chris at 34.6 and Blake at 23.3. Seven years later, Blake is in a key post as the state Senate Republican leader and showing his skills and abilities in the 2017 session. He’s proven quite capable (and a sharp dresser as shown Wednesday).

As a footnote to the 2010 history, I came across an interesting table of polling results from Rasmussen Reports. The Democratic incumbent, then-Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, polled 49 percent in February 2010 and subsequently varied from 46 to 50 percent in the polls that spring, while Kristi was at 34 to 35 percent for three months before surging in late May to 43 percent. After Kristi won the primary and became the No. 1 challenger to Stephanie, their positions reversed in the polling. Suddenly Kristi was up 53-41 and stayed ahead in four of the next five surveys.

Stephanie climbed back once, in September, when she led 47-45. It was the only time after the Republican primary that Stephanie received more than 44 percent support and the only time after Kristi won the primary that Kristi received less than 47 percent. Looking back, it becomes apparent that a decisive subset of South Dakota voters changed their minds in favor of Kristi Noem over Stephanie Herseth Sandlin that June.  In the real poll at the voting booth that fall, Kristi won with 48.12 percent, followed by Stephanie with 45.89 and independent B. Thomas Marking at 5.99 percent.

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About Bob Mercer

I am a newspaper reporter in Pierre where I cover state government, issues and politics for the Aberdeen American News, the Black Hills Pioneer, the Mitchell Daily Republic, the Pierre Capital Journal, the Rapid City Journal, the Watertown Public Opinion and the Yankton Press & Dakotan. I began covering the Legislature in 1985 and have lived in Pierre since December 1986. I grew up in Wisconsin, worked my way through college, took my first full-time newspapers jobs in Wyoming, and have lived in South Dakota since the summer of 1984 when I moved to Aberdeen to join the American News. I worked for the Rapid City Journal as its state government reporter in Pierre from late 1992 through late 1998. I spent four years as press secretary and a senior aide to Gov. Bill Janklow during his fourth and final term from late 1998 through 2002. I returned to journalism in January 2003 as a self-employed reporter, providing state government coverage to the Mitchell, Watertown, Spearfish, Pierre and, depending on the year, Aberdeen newspapers. In 2008, the Aberdeen American News offered to hire me as full-time member of the AAN staff, with my reports continuing to be available to the Mitchell, Watertown, Spearfish, Pierre, Yankton and Rapid City papers. The new arrangement has been in effect since January 2009 as the seven papers continue their remarkable dedication to their readers and the general public, as the only South Dakota news outlets with a full-time reporter covering state government in Pierre throughout the year. In addition to focusing on the Legislature during the annual winter session and its various activities during the interim periods between sessions, I spend many days throughout the year -- traveling as often necessary -- to cover state government boards and commissions which oversee the state universities, technical institutes, outdoors, water, environment, business, public schools, banking, agriculture, utilities, health care and various other areas of public interest. I purposely don't register to vote because of my profession; the last time I recall voting in a presidential election was the first time, 1976, when I had just turned 18. I think I voted for Jimmy Carter over Gerald Ford. Make of that what you want, just don't make much of it.

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  1. Pingback: Mercer claims Krebs moving towards Congressional Announcement – South Dakota War College

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