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SD House lawmaker initiates billboard campaign against Sen. Lee Schoenbeck

State Rep. Liz May (R-Kyle) behind her PAC “Conservative Principles,” is targeting Senate President Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck (R-Watertown) with billboards critical of him in his district.
State Sen. Lee Schoenbeck (R-Watertown) is on the receiving end of a negative political...
State Sen. Lee Schoenbeck (R-Watertown) is on the receiving end of a negative political campaign from another state lawmaker, after having targeted several incumbent state lawmakers himself recently.(Submitted DNN/KOTA)
Published: May. 3, 2022 at 8:10 PM CDT
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WATERTOWN, S.D. - After initiating his own negative mailer campaign targeting incumbent lawmakers, Senate President Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck (R-Watertown) is on the receiving end of one.

Much like the mailers Schoenbeck sent out targeting a handful of state lawmakers in April, the billboard campaign targeting the veteran Senator in Watertown refers to him as a “tax and spend” lawmaker. Specifically, the billboard refers to a vote that Schoenbeck took this previous session to oppose lowering the state sales tax rate, and to testimony that he gave during that same State Affairs committee hearing on the sales tax about why he originally favored raising it in 2016.

“It is a strange vote to attack me for fighting for funding for Lake Area Technical College,” Schoenbeck said in response to the billboards. “I voted in favor of Lake Area Technical College and I did fight hard for that (in 2016).”

The PAC funding the billboards, “Conservative Principles,” is chaired by State Rep. Liz May (R-Kyle). It was created on April 26th, just days after Schoenbeck launched the mailer campaign. May says she did this directly as a result of Schoenbeck’s rhetoric towards other lawmakers. Specifically, as a result of Schoenbeck referring to State Rep. Tom Pischke (R-Dell Rapids) as “strange” in an interview with Dakota News Now/KOTA Territory News last week.

“I thought it was a comment that was completely uncalled for,” May said. “When I saw that comment, I thought that is it for me, that completely crosses the line.”

May said she wasn’t sure how many billboards the ad would be appearing on, but that it would be displayed through the end of the primary election.

The billboard campaign is just the latest chapter in a long series of disagreements between two factions of the Republican Party in Pierre. May is a part of the faction made-up of House Republicans who often find themselves at odds with the political establishment in the state, and disagreeing with people like Governor Kristi Noem on issues such as COVID-19 vaccine mandates, government spending, and a variety of social issues.

“Lee is a friend of mine, I would have him over for supper or go to mass with him,” May explained. “When it comes to politics, we are just in different camps.”

Early voting has already begun across the state of South Dakota. The primary elections will wrap up on June 7th.

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