Jackley leads in Rapid City fundraising
Among the marquee 2018 Republican candidates converging on Rapid City this weekend, campaign finance reports indicate that Marty Jackley has so far received the most financial support from Rapid City contributors.
Jackley, the state’s attorney general, and Kristi Noem, the state’s lone U.S. representative, are seeking the Republican nomination to succeed Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who will be forced out by term limits.
Jackley, Noem and hundreds of other Republicans gathered Saturday evening at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center for the Pennington County Lincoln Day Dinner. The annual event is a magnet for Republican politicians who crave support from crucial voters in Pennington County, which trails Minnehaha County in registered Republicans but has turned out more Republican voters than Minnehaha or any other South Dakota county in each of the last three primary elections.
Jackley and Noem created their gubernatorial fundraising committees in mid-November. Between then and the end of 2016 — the most recent period covered by state-level campaign finance reports — Jackley’s committee received 71 itemized individual contributions totaling $47,300 from people with Rapid City addresses. That accounted for 21 percent of the $223,850 in total itemized individual contributions to his committee (contributions of more than $100 are required to be itemized, while the sources of lesser individual donations do not have to be disclosed).
Jackley now lives and works in Pierre but was raised in Sturgis, formerly resided in Rapid City and still has family farm and ranch property in the area. He said fundraising success or failure in a candidate’s home region is a telling sign.
“That’s the signal,” he said. “People at home know who you are.”
During the same period, Noem’s committee received 10 itemized individual contributions totaling $28,650 from people with Rapid City addresses, which accounted for 14 percent of the $211,690 in total itemized individual contributions to her committee.
Noem grew up on a farm and ranch in rural Hamlin County in northeastern South Dakota near the town of Castlewood, where she still resides. Campaign spokesman Justin Brasell said Noem’s rural roots should help her overcome any advantage Jackley may have from growing up in the West River region, where ranching is a big part of the economy.
“Kristi did well there in the U.S. House race primary in 2010 and expects to do well there again,” Brasell said.
The campaign finance reports for the gubernatorial committees do not tell the full story of the Jackley and Noem fundraising efforts, because both candidates have benefited from money that was raised before they entered the race. Noem has transferred money into her gubernatorial committee from her federal campaign committee, and Jackley has transferred money from his attorney general committee and has received money from a Friends of Marty Jackley political action committee.
At the end of 2016, Jackley had about $1 million on hand in his gubernatorial committee and Noem had about $1.8 million.
Noem and Jackley could face additional opponents in the June 5, 2018, Republican gubernatorial primary election. Past Republican gubernatorial candidate Lora Hubbel and Minnehaha County Republican Terry LaFleur have each said they are running for governor, according to media reports, but Hubbel has not reported any fundraising and the Journal could find no campaign committee registered to LaFleur.
To the Journal’s knowledge, no South Dakota Democrats, independents or members of other parties had officially declared a candidacy for governor as of Friday.
In South Dakota’s other marquee statewide 2018 Republican primary race — for the nomination to seek the U.S. House seat being vacated by Noem — Shantel Krebs has raised more money from Rapid City contributors than her opponent, Dusty Johnson.
Krebs, who is currently serving as South Dakota’s secretary of state, created her federal campaign committee on March 13. Between then and the end of March, her committee received 20 itemized individual contributions totaling $19,300 from people with Rapid City addresses, which was 15 percent of the committee’s $128,000 in total itemized individual contributions.
Johnson, a former member of the Public Utilities Commission and former chief of staff to Gov. Daugaard, created his federal campaign committee Nov. 16. Between then and the end of March, his committee received seven itemized individual contributions totaling $4,050 from people with Rapid City addresses, which was 2 percent of the committee’s $207,497 in total itemized individual contributions.
After other fundraising and expenses were factored in, Johnson had about $203,000 left on hand at the end of March, and Krebs had about $133,000.
Johnson, of Mitchell, said his early West River travel has been limited by the demands of his East River-based job as a vice president at Vantage Point Solutions, a Mitchell telecommunications company. He has plans for more fundraising and campaigning in Rapid City and the rest of the West River region, he said, and he expects to do well there.
“I think we’re so early on,” Johnson said, “that there’s probably some danger in extrapolating out and trying to find too much meaning with a relatively small amount of data.”
Krebs works at the Capitol in Pierre but lives in rural Fort Pierre. She said her first fundraising report, which covered 18 days from the start of her campaign to the end of the reporting period, reflected strong early support.
“I think it sends a clear message that I’m a very serious candidate,” she said.
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As of Friday, the Journal knew of no other declared Republican candidates for the U.S. House seat, or any independent or third-party candidates. Democrat Chris Martian, of Rapid City, has said he is running for the Democratic nomination.
Krebs, Johnson, Noem and Jackley were all expected to speak briefly Saturday and spend time working the room at the Pennington County Lincoln Day Dinner. The event serves as a fundraiser for the Pennington County Republicans, who use the proceeds from ticket sales and a silent auction to fund their operations and get out the local Republican vote at election time.
State Rep. David Johnson, R-Rapid City, the vice chairman of the Pennington County Republicans, said there is never any doubt that all the top-level Republican candidates in South Dakota will show up for the annual event.
“If you don’t show up for a Lincoln Day Dinner in Pennington County,” he said, “you’re giving a slight to the wrong people.”
Support for that opinion can be found in election data. In each of the last three primary elections — 2016, 2014 and 2012 — more Republicans voted in Pennington County than any other county in South Dakota, even though Pennington County had roughly 13,000 fewer registered Republicans than Minnehaha County (home to the state’s largest city, Sioux Falls) during each of those elections.
In the 2016 primary, for example, 12,599 of 35,948 registered Republicans in Pennington County voted, for a turnout of 35 percent. In that same primary, 8,989 of 49,586 registered Republicans in Minnehaha County voted, for a turnout of 18 percent.
The statistical gaps between the two counties were similarly large in the 2012 primary and narrower in the 2014 primary, but Pennington County had more Republican voters and a better Republican turnout percentage each time. The last time Minnehaha County produced more Republican primary voters than Pennington County was 2010, although Pennington County still had a slightly better turnout percentage that year.
Numerous factors — including the number, type and competitiveness of local races on a ballot — can influence the Republican turnout in a primary election. But David Johnson, the legislator and local Republican county officer, said dedication to conservative Republican principles also tends to be stronger west of the Missouri River and particularly in the Black Hills.
“We’ve always felt,” he said, “that the Pennington County Republican Party is the most active party in the state.”