WATERTOWN, S.D. (KELO) — A former speaker of the South Dakota House of Representatives declared Friday he will challenge the incumbent lieutenant governor for the Republican nomination.
State Representative Steven Haugaard, a Sioux Falls lawyer, is taking on Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden, a rural Meade County rancher and welder, for the No. 2 spot on the Republican ticket.
Delegates will choose the nominee Saturday on the final day of the South Dakota Republican Party statewide convention.
Other Republican nomination contests that will be settled Saturday include attorney general, where former AG Marty Jackley faces state Division of Criminal Investigation director David Natvig; and secretary of state, where incumbent Steve Barnett faces Monae Johnson, a former employee in the office.
Other incumbents who aren’t challenged for Republican nominations include state auditor Rich Sattgast, state treasurer Josh Haeder and state Public Utilities Commission member Chris Nelson.
Brock Greenfield of Clark, currently a state senator who’s served 22 consecutive years as a legislator, doesn’t have a challenger for the Republican nomination for state school and public lands commissioner.
South Dakota Democrats convene in Fort Pierre on July 8-9.
Haugaard’s candidacy for the Republican lieutenant governor nomination was somewhat of a surprise Friday. He challenged Governor Kristi Noem in the June 7 gubernatorial primary election and lost by a wide margin. Noem received 91,661 votes to Haugaard’s 28,315.
Haugaard has served eight years in the state House and couldn’t seek election to a fifth consecutive term in the chamber because of South Dakota’s term-limits.
Rhoden initially served 14 years in the Legislature, then ran for the U.S. Senate nomination in 2014 and placed second in a five-way race. He won election to the state House again two years later and was running for re-election in 2018 when then-U.S. Rep. Noem announced Rhoden was her pick to run with her as the Republican lieutenant governor candidate after she won the 2018 Republican primary for governor.
Stace Nelson of Fulton, at the time a state senator, lost when he challenged Rhoden at the 2018 Republican convention for the lieutenant governor nomination. Now Rhoden faces another battle at this year’s convention.
Haugaard’s decision to vie for the No. 2 slot came amid speculation that another state lawmaker, Representative Taffy Howard of Rapid City, was planning to go for it.
Howard, who’s from Rapid City, took on U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson for the Republican nomination in the June 7 primary, but Republican voters preferred him 70,728 to 48,645. She was highly visible during the convention’s opening two days but didn’t file her name as a candidate by the Friday 3:30 p.m. deadline.
Haugaard and Howard are part of the more conservative wing of the House Republican caucus.
KELOLAND News texted a question to Howard minutes before the deadline. She didn’t immediately answer. Instead, she waited nearly an hour, after delegates finished the platform work and the official announcement that Haugaard would be facing Rhoden.
“I figured you’d know soon enough,” she said.
Noem was scheduled to speak at a dinner Friday night. She and Jackley have endorsed each other’s candidacies. U.S. Sen. John Thune spoke at a lunch gathering Friday.
The unofficial word on Friday afternoon among some Republican insiders was that Noem would wait until after the event wraps up Saturday before she names someone to replace Jason Ravnsborg as attorney general. The Senate removed Ravnsborg from office Tuesday for crimes and malfeasance connected to the death of pedestrian Joe Boever.
If Jackley receives the AG nomination Saturday, an expectation among some insiders is that she’ll appoint Jackley to fill the vacancy. Noem beat Jackley in 2018.