It is just over three weeks until the South Dakota’s Republican gubernatorial primary, which pits Congresswoman Kristi Noem against Attorney General Marty Jackley. The winner of the competitive primary contest will face Democratic Senate Minority Leader Billie Sutton in the fall election.
As Jackley and Noem criss-cross the state’s sixty six counties, political observers wonder how geography will play into the result. Will the candidates win their home areas – Noem in the Northeast and Jackley in the West? Who will win in the James River valley, or in the Republican stronghold north of Pierre and west of Aberdeen? Of course, the Sioux Falls area is key – 25% of SD Republicans reside in Minnehaha or Lincoln county.
For reference, I am posting county-by-county maps showing the results Republican gubernatorial primaries in every open-seat primary since 1978. They may or may not have much predictive value, but they are an interesting reference as we await the primary. All data is taken from the SD Secretary of State’s election history page. (In my opinion, 1986 and 1994 are the most interesting, as these were the closest of these five).
(For reference, I have included a map labeled with county names at the bottom. If you are interested, I have these election maps for every gubernatorial primary and general election since 1889. Use the contact tab if you’d like to see one in particular.)
- Bill Janklow was the attorney general and a native of Flandreau (Moody County).
- LeRoy Hoffman was a state representative and farmer (and renowned opera singer) from Eureka (McPherson County).
- Clint Roberts was the president pro tempore of the State Senate and a Lyman County rancher.
- George S. Mickelson was the former house speaker and an attorney from Brookings (Brookings County). He was also the son of former Governor George T. Mickelson. Mickelson narrowly avoided a run-off election with Roberts, winning just over 35%.
- Clint Roberts had also been a candidate in 1978. The Lyman County rancher had served as Governor Janklow’s secretary of agriculture, and then spent one term in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1981-83.
- Lowell Hansen was the lieutenant governor and the owner of Jackrabbit Bus Lines in Sioux Falls (Minnehaha County).
- Alice Kundert was the secretary of state and former state auditor, and a native of Mound City (Campbell County).
- Bill Janklow had served as governor from 1979-87, and lost a 1986 challenge to incumbent U.S. Senator Jim Abdnor in the Republican primary. Following that loss Janklow had relocated to rural Brandon (Minnehaha County). He was the seventh governor to attempt a comeback, and would be the first to succeed.
- Walter Dale Miller was the incumbent governor, having succeeded to the office on April 19, 1993 when Governor Mickelson died in the crash of the state airplane. He had been a longtime legislative leader and was a Meade County rancher.
- It is worth noting that both Miller and Janklow named running mates prior to the primary, although their names did not appear on the primary ballot. Miller’s running mate was Lt. Governor Steve Kirby of Sioux Falls (Minnehaha County). Janklow selected Carole Hillard, a state representative from Rapid City (Pennington County).
- Mike Rounds was the former senate majority leader, and a businessman from Pierre (Hughes County). He was an underdog for much of the campaign but benefited from the negative campaign waged by the frontrunners.
- Mark Barnett was the attorney general and a resident of Pierre (Hughes County).
- Steve Kirby was the former lieutenant governor and a Sioux Falls (Minnehaha County) businessman and investor. Kirby was the only candidate to designate a running mate before the primary; he elected former House Speaker Harvey Krautschun of Spearfish (Lawrence County).
- Dennis Daugaard was the lieutenant governor. A Dell Rapids (Minnehaha County) native, he was the executive director of Children’s Home Society of South Dakota.
- Scott Munsterman was a chiropractor and the mayor of Brookings (Brookings County).
- Dave Knudson was the senate majority leader and a Sioux Falls (Minnehaha County) attorney. He had also served as chief of staff to Governor Janklow.
- Gordon Howie was a Rapid City (Pennington County) rancher and businessman, and a state senator who embraced the “Tea Party” movement. Howie named a running mate before the primary, selected Kermit Staggers, a Sioux Falls (Minnehaha County) professor who had served in the state senate and lost a bid for mayor earlier that year.
- Ken Knuppe was a Buffalo Gap (Oglala Lakota County) rancher and former president of the South Dakota Stockgrowers.
Labeled South Dakota county map
Notes: “Oglala Lakota County” was known as “Shannon County” prior to 2015. As it is shown on this map, Jackson County also includes the former Washabaugh County; the counties were merged in 1983. The 1978 election map above denotes that with a grey border; although separate, the two counties jointly reported election results in 1978.