RAPID CITY, SD -
Several longtime Republican South Dakota legislators lost in Tuesday night's primary.
And a former lawmaker who helped recruit candidates to knock out established politicians on primary night is calling the results a victory for true conservatives.
Speaker of the House Val Rausch is not going back to Pierre this year after he lost his bid for the South Dakota Senate to fellow Republican Tim Begalka. Begalka was supported by conservative activist and former lawmaker Gordon Howie who now heads up the Life and Liberty Group in Rapid City.
"Our mission statement is to promote conservative Christian principles," Howie said.
Howie stops short of calling it a Tea Party movement but sees Begalka's win over the Speaker of the House as one of the biggest victories on primary night.
Howie helped promote some of the candidates who knocked out other long-time Republicans such as Senator Tom Nelson, who was one of the three candidates who was endorsed by Governor Dennis Daugaard and lost.
"If you keep score, I would never do that, but some people are keeping score and they're saying the governor lost this round; conservatives won," Howie said.
Ernie Otten's victory over seasoned Republican Legislator Gene Abdallah is another victory Howie is happy with.
However, House Majority Leader David Lust doesn't view the results as a major movement of ultra-conservative candidates in South Dakota.
"When you look at each race individually the dynamics of how hard a candidate worked, the money involved, the community dynamics, I'm really hesitant to draw with a broad brush and make sweeping pronouncements as to the results and what they mean," Lust said.
Howie says his group will continue its efforts into the general election and beyond.
"We're dedicated to working with conservative organizations around the state to see that conservative principles prevail not just in the general but in the 2014 races as well," Howie said.
That's why some of the surprises on primary night this year may not be surprising anymore in upcoming elections.
As for many of the negative and misleading mailers that went out against several of the long-time legislators who lost, Howie says his group doesn't agree with those tactics used by other groups, but says the record of those established Republican candidates needed to be exposed.
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