Running mates in the primary

The campaign between Congresswoman Kristi Noem and Attorney General Marty Jackley for the Republican gubernatorial nomination is heating up, and Senate Minority Leader Billie Sutton is waiting to take on the winner in the general election.

(For a longer discussion of factors affecting 2018 LG selections, see this post.)

It remains to be seen whether Jackley or Noem will announce a running mate before the primary. Doing so can create positive, free media coverage, appeal to a different set of voters, and add a lieutenant governor candidate as a force-multiplier on the campaign trail. But it also takes away the ability to “unify the party” after the primary, and it may disappoint others who hoped to be selected.

Sutton, meanwhile, is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.  Although he will likely select his running mate after the primary in June to help shift the focus to the general election campaign, he could do so at any time.

(Keep in mind that a running mate is not officially nominated until the party convention in late June. The primary ballot would not include the running mate’s name, in any case – the choices on the primary ballot will be “Kristi Noem” and “Marty Jackley.”)

If Jackley or Noem select a running mate prior to the primary, it will be unusual but not unprecedented.  Since 1974, when candidates for governor and lieutenant governor first ran as a ticket, a non-incumbent candidate for governor announced a running mate before a contested primary in just the following instances:

Carole Hillard
Lt. Governor Carole Hillard
  • 1994 – Bill Janklow picked Carole Hillard, a Rapid City state representative, as his running mate during the primary. Janklow was running against Governor Walter Dale Miller, who as an incumbent already had a running mate in Lt. Governor Steve Kirby. Janklow/Hillard prevailed in the primary and in November.
  • 2002 – Steve Kirby, who was in a competitive primary against Mark Barnett and Mike Rounds, selected Harvey Krautschun, a former house speaker from Spearfish. Kirby lost the primary to Rounds, who won in the fall.
  • 2010 – Gordon Howie, a Rapid City state senator who identified with the “Tea Party” movement, selected Kermit Staggers, a Sioux Falls city councilman and former state senator who had just lost in a bid for mayor. Howie finished fourth in the primary, behind Dennis Daugaard, Scott Munsterman and Dave Knudson. None of the other primary candidates selected a running mate, although Munsterman had announced that he would allow the State Republican Convention to pick his running mate, rather than making a selection himself.

There is one more instance that doesn’t exactly qualify.  Earlier this year, Lora Hubbel, who was running for governor as a Republican, announced that her running mate would be Bruce Whalen of Pine Ridge, the 2006 Republican nominee for U.S. House. Hubbel, however, failed to qualify for the gubernatorial ballot and is now running for state senator.