It's still almost 16 months away but the mudslinging has already begun in the race for South Dakota Governor.
Four Republicans have already announced their candidacy. State Senator Dave Knudson, Lieutenant Governor Dennis Daugaard, former Brookings Mayor Scott Munsterman and rancher Ken Knuppe have already filed paperwork to run for the Republican ticket.
Monday the first Democrat threw his hat in the ring, state Senator Scott Heidepriem is starting his campaign for governor, and the Republican party is already on the attack, sending out a press release criticizing Heidepriem for switching political parties in 2003.
Just three weeks ago Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin announced she would seek re-election in the U.S. House of Representatives and not run for governor. Scott Heidepriem says that announcement led to his decision to seek the state's top job.
"I think its time that we did some things differently in this state. I think it's time we stopped giving personal contracts to cronies in state government without even opening it up to the bidding process. It's time to change the way we do business in this state," Heidepriem said.
But just hours after filing his paperwork to be the first Democrat to run for governor, the Republicans started attacking Heidepriem, sending out a press release
calling him 'The Phoniest man in South Dakota to Run for Governor,' and blasting him for switching parties six years ago.
"This is somebody who used to be Republican, or at least we thought he was, and then he switched and became a Democrat and you know the reality is these are great questions for him. Why does he think he can play for one team, switch to the other," South Dakota Republican Party Executive Director Lucas Lentsch said.
"I'm not going to respond to the Republicans' attack except to say this isn't what the people of South Dakota look for in terms of their leaders and their candidates," Heidepriem said.
Heidepriem says he's focused on becoming the first South Dakota Democrat to win the Governor's race in three decades.
"The people of South Dakota don't like monopolies, they don't like them in business, they don't like them in sports, they don't like them in education, and I don't think they like them in politics. I think the people of South Dakota think it's time we give someone else a chance to change the direction of our state," Heidepriem said.
The Republicans also said that Heidepriem has cancelled his country club membership, sold his BMW, and is selling his house to try and look like a man of the people. But the Republicans would not provide KELOLAND News with any documentation to back-up those claims, and Heidepriem denies those claims.
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