History in the making: 2018 primary

118b491d-0473-432e-9c5d-2be5ea68fda4Here’s a look at some of the history that could be made in Tuesday’s GOP gubernatorial primary.

If Kristi Noem wins…

  • Noem would be the 1st woman to be the Republican nominee for governor of South Dakota. She is the 4th woman to seek the Republican nomination for governor, and would be the 2nd woman to win a major party’s nomination. Read more about the history of women running for Governor of South Dakota at this post.
  • Noem would the 1st current or former member of Congress to be the nominee of either major party for Governor of South Dakota. She is the 3rd candidate for governor to have served in Congress; all three served in the U.S. House. No current or former U.S. Senator has ever run for Governor of South Dakota. Another blog post looked at the history of members of Congress running for governor.
  • Noem would be the 2nd Hamlin County native to be nominated by a major party for Governor of South Dakota, following Warren E. Green, who was nominated in 1930 and renominated in 1932. Both Green’s farm and Noem’s family farming operation are near Hazel.
    • In addition to Noem and Green, the only other Hamlin County resident to run for governor is H. H. Curtis, who was the Prohibition Party nominee in 1902.
  • A previous blog post looked at milestones that Noem could achieve if she is elected in November. Another blog post looked at the history of lieutenant governor running mates.

If Marty Jackley wins…

  • As a native of Meade County, Jackley would be the 3rd from that county to be nominated by a major party for Governor of South Dakota, following Republican Carv Thompson in 1972 and Democrat Bob Samuelson in 1990.
    • Tom Gerber of Sturgis was the Libertarian Party nominee in 2006.
    • Another Meade County native, Walter Dale Miller, served as governor when he succeeded to the office after Gov. Mickelson died, but Miller lost his bid for the Republican nomination in 1994.
  • A Jackley v. Sutton matchup would be only the second time that the general election for governor features two West River nominees. The first time was 1936, when Republican Hot Springs businessman Leslie Jensen successfully challenged Democratic Gov. Tom Berry, a Mellette County rancher who was running for an unprecedented third term.
    • This would mean that either Jackley or Sutton will be the state’s 5th West River governor, following Tom Berry, Leslie Jensen, M. Q. Sharpe and Walter Dale Miller.
    • A previous blog post looked at the 9 major party nominees for governor from West River.
  • Jackley would be the first sitting AG nominated for governor in 40 years, since Bill Janklow in 1978. A Jackley win would be the 16th time that an attorney general or former AG has been nominated for governor; this includes 7 times that the nominee was a governor or former governor who was also a former AG. A previous blog post looked at the history of AG’s running for governor.
  • A previous blog post looked at milestones that Jackley could achieve if he is elected in November. Another blog post looked at the history of lieutenant governor running mates.

Election milestones

These are various records for gubernatorial primaries in South Dakota. Polling would indicate that none of the “biggest win” records are likely to be broken by Jackley or Noem. For that reason, the “closest election” records are listed first, although the primary would have to be extremely close to break these records.

(Note that “no-incumbent” means there is no incumbent running in that party – there may be an incumbent running in the other party. “Open-seat” means there is no incumbent running in any party. The 2018 Republican primary, obviously, is both “open-seat” and “no-incumbent.”)

  • Closest percentage margin in:
    • 07 Vessey
      Robert S. Vessey

      Any gubernatorial primary: 1.9% by Robert S. Vessey in 1908. This was the first-ever Republican gubernatorial primary and remains the closest. Vessey won 50.9% to 49.1% for John L. Browne. Vessey was a progressive state senator from Wessington Springs. Browne was a former house speaker and Aberdeen farmer who represented the party’s conservative “stalwart” faction. (This was a Republican, no-incumbent, open-seat primary so it holds those more specific records as well.)

    • An earlier blog post looked at the Top 10 closest gubernatorial primaries by percentage margin.
  • Closest vote margin in:
    • Any gubernatorial primary: 815, by Orville Rinehart in the 1916 Democratic primary. Rinehart, a Rapid City state representative and attorney, defeated Edmund D. Morcom, a Sioux Falls businessman. Rinehart lost the general election to Peter Norbeck. (This was a no-incumbent, open-seat primary so it holds those more specific records as well.)
    • A Republican gubernatorial primary: 1,164 by Vessey in 1908. (This was a no-incumbent, open-seat primary so it holds those more specific records for Republican primaries as well.)
  • Highest percentage of the vote in:
    • Any gubernatorial primary: 80.9% by Dennis Daugaard in the 2014 Republican primary. The incumbent governor defeated former legislator Lora Hubbel of Sioux Falls.
    • A Republican gubernatorial primary: 80.9% by Daugaard in 2014.
    • A no-incumbent gubernatorial primary: 73.0% by Andrew S. Anderson in 1924 Democratic primary. Anderson defeated Eric J. Ellefson, who also ran for the Farmer-Labor Party nomination and lost that primary on the same day. Sadly for Anderson, he did not make it to the general election – a Beresford farmer, he was trampled by a bull and died.
    • A no-incumbent, Republican gubernatorial primary: 72.0% by Carv Thompson in 1972. Thompson, a state representative and pharmacist from Faith, defeated Simon W. Chance, a state representative and farmer from Scotland.
    • An open-seat gubernatorial primary: 73.0% by Andrew S. Anderson in 1924.
    • An open-seat, Republican gubernatorial primary: 65.7% by Harlan Bushfield in 1938. Bushfield, a Miller attorney and state Republican chair, defeated Blaine Simons, a state senator from Sioux Falls.
  • Highest vote total in: 
    16 Bushfield
    Harlan Bushfield
    • Any gubernatorial primary: 84,992 by Harlan Bushfield in the 1940 Republican primary. The incumbent governor defeated A. N. Graff, a progressive Republican and former mayor of Sioux Falls.
    • A Republican gubernatorial primary: 84,992 by Bushfield in 1940.
    • A no-incumbent gubernatorial primary: 65,538 by Carv Thompson in 1972.
    • A no-incumbent, Republican gubernatorial primary: 65,538 by Thompson in 1972.
    • An open-seat gubernatorial primary: 64,929 by Bushfield in 1938.
    • An open-seat, Republican gubernatorial primary: 64,929 by Bushfield in 1938.
  • Highest percentage margin in:
    • Any gubernatorial primary: 61.7% by Daugaard in 2014.
    • A Republican gubernatorial primary: 61.7% by Daugaard in 2014.
    • A no-incumbent gubernatorial primary: 44.8% by Carv Thompson in 1972.
    • A no-incumbent, Republican gubernatorial primary: 44.8% by Carv Thompson in 1972.
    • An open-seat gubernatorial primary: 51.9% by Jim Abbott in the 2002 Democratic primary. Abbott, the USD President, defeated Huron State Senator Ron Volesky, Senate Minority Leader Jim Hutmacher of Chamberlain, and Robert Hockett of Pierre.
    • An open-seat, Republican gubernatorial primary: 38.1% by Peter Norbeck in 1916. Norbeck, the lieutenant governor and a Redfield well-digger, defeated George W. Egan of Sioux Falls and Richard O. Richards of Huron, both frequent candidates.
  • Highest vote margin in:
    • Any gubernatorial primary: 61,615 by Bushfield in 1940.
    • A Republican gubernatorial primary: 61,615 by Bushfield in 1940.
    • A no-incumbent gubernatorial primary: 40,563 by Carv Thompson in 1972.
    • A no-incumbent, Republican gubernatorial primary: 40,563 by Carv Thompson in 1972.
    • An open-seat gubernatorial primary: 35,313 by Jim Abbott in 2002.
    • An open-seat, Republican gubernatorial primary: 31,058 by Bushfield in 1938.