Jackley, Rhoden escape upsets; Barnett ousted

A record crowd at the GOP convention opted for experience in the Attorney General’s race, and for Noem’s choice in the Lieutenant Governor’s race. However, a dark horse candidate took the day in the Secretary of State race.
A record setting number of delegates attended the 2022 South Dakota GOP convention, and had a hand in selecting a number of nominees for statewide office.
Published: Jun. 26, 2022 at 8:53 AM CDT
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WATERTOWN, S.D. - A record 687 Republican delegates descended on Watertown Saturday to have a hand in picking the nominees for three statewide offices.

When all was said and done, the favorites in two of the three races would survive an upset bid, and an incumbent would be ousted.

Delegates unanimously elected incumbent Auditor Rich Sattgast, Treasurer Josh Haeder, and Public Utilities Commissioner Chris Nelson to run for the same offices in 2022. Additionally, they tabbed current State Sen. Brock Greenfield (R-Clark) to run for the School and Public Lands office in 2022. All four ran unopposed.

It was then that former Attorney General Marty Jackley was able to withstand a major upset from current Department of Criminal Investigations (DCI) Director David Natvig. Natvig, a political ally of former Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, jumped into the race late and ran a campaign focused on being “tough on crime.”

Jackley, who pulled the win out by a margin of 52.7-47.3%, lauded the experience he had previously obtained in the office.

“It is time that the Attorney Generals push back on Washington, and who better than the former Chairman of the Attorney Generals,” Jackley said to delegates before the vote. “The South Dakota Attorney General who you watched as chairman, and constantly fought back against Obama and Biden.”

Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden also managed to hold off a bid by an insurgency candidate. Former Speaker of the House and gubernatorial candidate Steve Haugaard launched a bid for the office against Rhoden right before the deadline to do so on Friday.

Haugaard supports offered that the candidacy could be a way to check Governor Kristi Noem’s power, and ultimately unite the divided factions of the party.

But Rhoden, who got a nominating speech from Noem, persuaded enough delegates that he was able to balance the Governor when needed, and by choosing him they would be uniting the party.

“We (Noem and I) do not walk in lockstep, many times I have shared my opinions with the governor and they were not received well,” Rhoden said. “And that is okay.” Rhoden went on to win, 56-44%.

And in the biggest upset of the night, Monae Johnson handily defeated current Secretary of State Steve Barnett. Johnson, a former employee of the Secretary of State’s office, had spent the campaign hammering Barnett on the issue of election integrity and security, which she argued he did not take serious enough.

“We need post-election reviews, South Dakota is one of only four states in the country without post-election reviews, so we have no idea of how accurate the machines are from the election,” Johnson said in her acceptance speech. “We have a right to know, and I will make that happen.” Johnson won by a margin of 61-39%.

As for the Democrats, they will have the opportunity to name candidates for statewide office at their convention next month in Fort Pierre.

The general election will take place on November 8th.

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