Two different approaches for LG candidates

Last weekend I wrote a piece about the plans for the two major-party candidates for lieutenant governor.

US Rep. Kristi Noem, the Republican nominee for governor, wants state Rep. Larry Rhoden to be president of the Senate and serve in a part-time role.

State Senate Democratic leader Billie Sutton wants Michelle Lavallee to be a full-time lieutenant governor.

Because of its length, some of the papers I serve trimmed the story. Here is the remainder that some cut for space reasons.

Through 1972, South Dakota elected its lieutenant governor, meaning there always had been potential for candidates from opposite parties to be elected as governor and lieutenant governor.

South Dakota voters changed the state constitution in 1972, so that Democratic and Republican candidates for lieutenant governor are chosen at statewide conventions and run on the same tickets as the governor nominees.

That switch led to many variations among governors since then.

Democrat Dick Kneip wanted Harvey Wollmann of Hitchcock to be secretary of agriculture, but then-state Attorney General Bill Janklow, a Republican, said it would be illegal.

After his 1978 victory, Janklow let Lowell Hansen of Sioux Falls do little beyond preside over the Senate.

Republican George S. Mickelson chose Walter Dale Miller of New Underwood to serve full time.

That decision proved sadly prophetic: The 1993 state airplane crash killed Mickelson and seven others and elevated Miller to governor.

Janklow in his 1994 comeback chose Carole Hillard of Rapid City months ahead of the primary against Miller, in part to split Republican ranks in the Black Hills. Janklow beat Miller.

After returning to office, Janklow gave Hillard little to do other than preside over the Senate.

Mike Rounds, a surprise winner in the 2002 Republican primary, didn’t announce his pick until after his June triumph. He chose Dennis Daugaard from Garretson and Dell Rapids.

Rounds gave Daugaard some additional responsibilities but kept him part time.

Daugaard selected Matt Michels after winning the 2010 primary. Michels initially served full time and transitioned to a busy halftime role in their second term.

The consistent trend is that each governor, whether Democrat or Republican, elected since 1972 had previously been a legislator or a state constitutional officer and selected a state legislator for lieutenant governor.

Miller was the exception to the second half of that formula, picking businessman Steve Kirby of Sioux Falls. They didn’t win.

Noem has never lost an election for a state office.

She won her two races for seats in the state House. In 2010, she won a three-way Republican primary for the U.S. House of Representatives seat; then defeated the four-term Democratic incumbent, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.

Noem has since been re-elected to the U.S. House seat three times, winning by comfortable margins. She won the June 5 Republican primary for governor, beating state Attorney General Marty Jackley, taking nearly all of the 66 counties.

Sutton, the state Senate Democratic leader, couldn’t seek election to a fifth consecutive term and carried through with a candidacy for governor. He didn’t have a Democratic primary challenger.

Both Lavallee and Rhoden faced challenges at the statewide conventions held by their political parties last month.

Neither was originally a member of the party they’re representing in the general election.

Lavallee was a Republican who changed registration to Democratic after Sutton asked her to serve with him.

Rhoden changed from Democratic to Republican about 20 years ago before his first run for the state House in 2000.

The challenge to Rhoden at the Republican state convention came from state Sen. Stace Nelson of Fulton. Nelson has loudly and repeatedly questioned the Republicanism of other legislators, including in his speech as a candidate for lieutenant governor.

Some legislative insiders already anticipate the potential of a major showdown in the Senate if Noem wins: Rhoden, who has shown just as strong or stronger, would preside over the chamber where Nelson seems like a favorite to win re-election as a senator.

Sutton’s choice of Lavallee came as a general surprise, but she had contributed to Democratic campaigns for several decades.

Many people didn’t expect Noem to choose Rhoden either, but he had been visible on her behalf for months.

Last winter Rhoden carried petitions in the legislative chambers seeking signatures for her candidacy.

He rode aboard her campaign bus during the last weekend before the June 5 primary too.

The political ties between Noem and Rhoden reach to her first term in the state House in 2007-2008 and he was House Republican leader.

Rhoden moved to the state Senate after the 2008 election because the state constitution prohibited seeking election to a fifth consecutive term in the House.

Rhoden later ran in the Republican U.S. Senate primary in 2014. He placed second in the five-way contest that former Gov. Rounds won.

Rhoden returned to the state House in the 2016 election.

After she announced her choice, Noem quickly added Rhoden to her campaign logo. He started using a Twitter account.

In Lavallee, Sutton seemed to be sending a broader message about rekindling support among Democrats and drawing back Republicans who had left the fold.

Lavallee grew up a daughter of a cattle seller in Beadle County who was locally prominent in the Huron area.

Her political alignment as a Republican symbolized the shift that had happened in the region.

The upper and middle James River Valley, where Aberdeen, Huron and Mitchell are regional centers, had been a reliably strong Democratic base as recently as 20 years ago.

By 2014 however Beadle, Brown and Davison counties had all switched to Republican, according to state voter registration records.

The same held true statewide, as Republicans broadened their margin in the past decade.

Democrats meanwhile lost tens of thousands of registered voters since 2008.

Phenomenal growth in independents and no-party affiliation voters made the attrition look worse.

Sutton wanted to signal, with his choice of Lavallee, that he welcomed the return of voters who had been Democrats but left out of disagreement with the party’s direction.

Rhoden’s 16 years as a Republican legislator included four years in the state Senate. His experience would seem to be an advantage.

Lavallee hasn’t been a candidate for legislator.

Noem, raised on a family farm in Hamlin County, is the first woman to be the Republican nominee in the history of South Dakota.

All four grew up on farms and ranches.

Four years ago, Democrats chose their first woman, state Rep. Susan Wismer of Britton.

Wismer, a certified public accountant and a third-generation lawmaker from a strongly Democratic family, chose a former legislator, Susy Blake of Sioux Falls, as running mate.

They lost to the Republican ticket of Daugaard and Michels running for a second term.

Lavallee would be the second woman to be lieutenant governor. She brings to the race decades of professional connections in the Sioux Falls business and charitable communities.

She now has her own marketing firm and previously held positions with Raven Industries, Avera McKennan Hospital and the University of South Dakota.

She’s also served on boards for Sioux Falls Development Foundation, South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and the Washington Pavilion.

Sutton’s campaign hasn’t strongly featured her on his campaign’s website, however.

The video that constantly streamed Friday across the top of the Sutton website showed him on horseback with his wife and their son.

It also showed Sutton in a variety of campaign and business settings, including several in his wheelchair.

Four photos on the page show Sutton. None shows Lavallee.

The only mention of Lavallee, three weeks after her selection, is in a news release at the bottom of the page that requires a click to read. There’s no image of Lavallee there.

Her name hasn’t been added to Sutton’s logo, either.

Noem on the other hand aggressively featured Rhoden from the start.

Rhoden’s name immediately appeared in her logo.

Her campaign site pushes out front a video showing Noem talking about why she trusts Rhoden.

She spoke about his work for others during the freak Storm Atlas disaster that crushed western ranches in the first days of October in 2013.

Noem also talked about Rhoden’s activities in his church and his time in the South Dakota National Guard.

“But you know that’s what Larry does. He serves,” she said.