Jackley, seeking return as AG, asks his backers to run for delegate seats at SDGOP convention

Capitol News Bureau
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PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota’s former attorney general wants to return to his old office next year. On Friday, Marty Jackley publicly offered to help people willing to be candidates for Republican convention delegates, so they can vote for him when the party’s nominee is chosen.

The current attorney general, Republican Jason Ravnsborg, faces three second-class misdemeanor charges after running over and killing pedestrian Joe Boever at the west edge of Highmore on the night of September 12, 2020. He pleaded not-guilty through his personal attorney last month. He continues to maintain a campaign website.

Jackley, who ran for governor in 2018 and lost to then-U.S. Representative Kristi Noem in the Republican primary, issued a news release Friday afternoon explaining why he is running for attorney general again.

He asked for ideas and money and, as a third item, offered assistance to potential delegates to the 2022 South Dakota Republicans’ convention that will be in Watertown or Rapid City.

“It is very important that our supporters actually run to be a delegate so they can vote at the convention,” Jackley said.

“Each precinct in the state can elect one precinct committeeman and one precinct committeewoman who will be delegates at the state convention,” he continued. “If you will run to be a delegate, our campaign will send you all the information you need and assist with your campaign if you are contested.”

Ravnsborg on Thursday announced via Facebook that the U.S. Army Reserves had promoted him to the rank of colonel. A date for Ravnsborg’s criminal trial hasn’t been set. Governor Noem has called for his resignation, as have the South Dakota Democratic Party, chaired by his 2018 opponent, and three law-enforcement groups. Nearly all of South Dakota’s county prosecutors and county sheriffs have endorsed Jackley’s candidacy.

Jackley was in private practice in 2006 when U.S. Senator John Thune proposed Jackley succeed Jim McMahon as the U.S. attorney for the district of South Dakota. Jackley served from 2006 to 2009, when then-Governor Mike Rounds appointed Jackley as state attorney general.

Jackley won election as attorney general in 2010 and 2014. He returned to private practice in Pierre after leaving the attorney general’s office in early 2019.

Ravnsborg won the 2018 Republican nomination over then-state Senator Lance Russell and Lawrence County State’s Attorney John Fitzgerald, then defeated Democrat and former U.S. Attorney Randy Seiler in the general election 179,071 to 145,558.

A fourth would-be candidate, Charles McGuigan, explored running during the summer of 2017 but eventually withdrew because McGuigan found that Ravnsborg had strong support among potential delegates. McGuigan was chief deputy attorney general for Jackley and continues in much the same role under Ravnsborg.

Ravnsborg had one previous run for statewide office, in 2014, when he placed a distant last in a five-way primary for the U.S. Senate Republican nomination. Former Governor Rounds won with 41,337 votes. Ravnsborg received 2,066.

After the crash that killed Boever, Governor Noem attempted several times to pressure Ravnsborg into resigning, but he declined to step down. Hyde County deputy state’s attorney Emily Sovell announced the misdemeanor charges against Ravnsborg on February 18. None tied directly to Boever’s death.

Noem released two videos of North Dakota investigators questioning Ravnsborg, but days later the circuit judge in the case ordered them removed from the state Department of Public Safety website.

State Representative Will Mortenson filed an impeachment resolution in the South Dakota House against Ravnsborg, but the language was eventually softened to put the matter off indefinitely.

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