PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Jason Ravnsborg, who’s suspended as South Dakota attorney general through the completion of the state Senate’s June 21-22 impeachment trial, has chosen to not seek the Republican nomination again.
That decision, disclosed Friday, was signaled last month when his office’s director for the state Division of Criminal Investigation, David Natvig, announced on May 10 that he would seek the GOP nomination at the South Dakota Republican state convention June 23-25.
Republican voters across South Dakota chose many of their counties’ delegates to the convention on June 7. Natvig told KELOLAND News by email on Monday that he’s enthusiastic about his prospects for the nomination.
“I was very pleased with the results and the positive reception I have been receiving about my candidacy for attorney general. I look forward to seeing everyone in Watertown next week!” Natvig wrote.
Marty Jackley, a former attorney general, is also seeking the Republican nomination. He issued a news release May 17 listing endorsements from five DCI directors who preceded Natvig.
The endorsements from those DCI directors included Bryan Gortmaker and Brian Zeeb, who had been appointed by Jackley while he previously was attorney general. There also were three predecessors — now-Yankton County Sheriff Jim Vlahakis, retiring Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom, and Doug Lake of Pierre — who held the top DCI post from 1996 through 2008 under two previous attorneys general.
Natvig didn’t immediately respond to a follow-up question about his response to those endorsements.
Jackley goes into the convention with another potential plus: The endorsement of Governor Kristi Noem, who turned back a challenge from former House speaker Steve Haugaard last week for the gubernatorial nomination 91,653-28,313.
Noem, at the time South Dakota’s member in the U.S. House of Representatives, defeated Jackley in the 2018 Republican primary for governor 57,598-45,174.
Jason Glodt, a key figure in Jackley’s political activities, confirmed to KELOLAND News that Noem reached out to Jackley about the two rivals backing each other.
“(W)hile Governor Noem initiated a meeting, the endorsements were really mutual in coming together since it made sense for both candidates and South Dakota,” Glodt said.
The endorsements by Noem and Jackley for one another came as something of a surprise. On March 4, 2021, at a weekly news conference, Governor Noem sidestepped a KELOLAND News question about Jackley seeking a return as attorney general.
Jackley was U.S. attorney for the district of South Dakota from 2006 through early 2009. Then-Governor Mike Rounds appointed Jackley as South Dakota attorney general in 2009, succeeding Larry Long, who had accepted a Rounds appointment as a state circuit judge.
Jackley won election as attorney general in 2010 and 2014. Unable to seek a third consecutive term because of South Dakota’s term-limits requirement for state-level elected officials, Jackley sought the Republican nomination for governor in 2018.
During their 2018 primary campaign, Noem raised a variety of questions about Jackley’s management of the attorney general’s office. After Noem won the Republican nomination, Jackley was reluctant about endorsing her campaign. He finally agreed his name could be used with three other Republican statewide office-holders in an October letter announcing their support for Noem’s candidacy.
June 23, 2018 — Jason Ravnsborg of Yankton defeats two competitors for the nomination as attorney general at the South Dakota Republican convention in Pierre.
November 8, 2018 — Ravnsborg defeats Randy Seiler of Fort Pierre, a Democrat, for attorney general 179,071-145,588.
December 5, 2018 — Ravnsborg announces three appointments. Charlie McGuigan will continue as chief deputy attorney general, while Tim Bormann will be his chief of staff and David Natvig will be director for the state Division of Criminal Investigation.
September 12, 2020 — Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg crashes into pedestrian Joe Boever along US 14. Ravnsborg finds the body the next morning.
September 13, 2020 — Governor Kristi Noem holds a news conference regarding Ravnsborg’s crash.
February 18, 2021 — Prosecutors announce they are charging Ravnsborg with three class-2 misdemeanors for driving outside his lane, operating a mobile device while driving, and careless driving.
February 23, 2021 — Governor Noem, a Republican, issues a formal statement calling for Ravnsborg to resign.
February 24, 2021 — Representative Will Mortenson, R-Pierre, introduces resolution seeking impeachment of Ravnsborg. House Republican leader Kent Peterson of Salem and House Democrat leader Jamie Smith of Sioux Falls are co-sponsors.
February 25, 2021 — Retired Circuit Judge John Brown, who’s been assigned the Ravsnborg criminal trial, orders the Noem administration to remove many of the materials on the case from the state Department of Public Safety website.
March 2, 2021 — Former attorney general Marty Jackley files a statement of organization and announces his attorney-general campaign. Russ Janklow, a Sioux Falls lawyer and son of the late Bill Janklow, was listed as the chair and treasurer. Russ Janklow also chaired Jackley’s 2018 run for governor.
March 3, 2021 — A House committee amends Mortenson’s impeachment resolution with language proposed by House Speaker Spencer Gosch. The amended resolution says the House “may evaluate whether articles of impeachment against Jason Ravnsborg, Attorney General of the State of South Dakota, are necessary and proceed accordingly.”
March 4, 2021 — Governor Noem at a weekly news conference declines to comment on Jackley seeking a return as attorney general. She again calls for Ravnsborg to resign.
March 8, 2021 — House votes 57-11 to adopt the Gosch version of Mortenson’s resolution.
March 12, 2021 — Ravnsborg’s defense attorney enters not-guilty pleas to the three misdemeanors. Ravsnborg doesn’t appear in court.
March 24, 2021 — Jackley announces endorsements from 59 county state’s attorneys.
March 31, 2021 — Jackley announces endorsements from 63 county sheriffs.
August 26, 2021 — Ravnsborg has his defense attorney plead no-contest to the charges of driving outside his lane and illegally operating a mobile device while driving. Ravnsborg never appeared in court on the charges. The same day, Governor Noem calls for House to consider impeaching Ravnsborg if he doesn’t resign.
September 1, 2021 — Governor Noem provides Ravnsborg investigation file to House Speaker Spencer Gosch. State Public Safety Secretary Craig Price also provides a letter to the House speaker saying that in the opinion of Price, the former head of the South Dakota Highway Patrol, that Ravnsborg should have been charged with second-degree manslaughter.
November 9, 2021 — House members vote 58-10 to establish a select committee on investigation to consider “whether the conduct of Jason Ravnsborg, Attorney General of the State of South Dakota, surrounding the death of Joe Boever, involved impeachable offenses.” The resolution says House Speaker Spencer Gosch would chair the panel and the committee shall issue a report.
March 17, 2022 — The House investigation committee send a cease-and-desist letter to Governor Noem and her administration regarding “all further disclosures of the investigative file to the public and all further attempts to pressure and influence the Select Committee Members and the House of Representatives.”
March 28, 2022 — House investigation committee votes 6-2 to issue a report that says Ravnsborg shouldn’t be impeached. The majority report concludes that the events didn’t occur while Ravnsborg was on official duty. The two Democrat members of the panel issue a minority report arguing for impeachment.
April 12, 2022 — House votes 36-31 to issue two articles of impeachment against Ravnsborg for crimes in Boever’s death and for malfeasance. Ravnsborg is suspended from carrying out duties as attorney general.
April 26, 2022 — Senate sets Ravnsborg’s impeachment trial for June 21-22, 2022. Senators also adopt rules that include holding two rounds of votes — one on convicting Ravnsborg and a second if necessary on permanently barring Ravnsborg from office; a two-thirds majority of 24 is necessary for conviction.
May 10, 2022 — David Natvig announces he will seek Republican nomination for attorney general. Ravnsborg had appointed Natvig three years earlier as director for the state Division of Criminal Investigation. The announcement signals that Ravnsborg won’t seek re-election.
May 17, 2022 — Jackley announces endorsements from five previous directors for the state Division of Criminal Investigation.
June 7, 2022 — Republican voters select delegates from their counties to attend the South Dakota Republican Party convention June 23-25 in Watertown. Delegates will determine the 2022 Republican nominees for several statewide offices including attorney general.
June 10, 2022 — Ravnsborg officially tells a news reporter that he won’t seek a second term.