It’s been about 45 days since we last visited things, and while there haven’t been a lot of changes, we’ve solidified up some things.
The statewide races for Governor and Congress seem to be stabilizing, although, there’s a little time left for people to jump in. Mainstream GOP candidates Marty Jackley ad Kristi Noem are campaigning hard across the state, while fringe candidates ‘Dr’ Terry Lee LaFleur and Lora Hubbel are relying on gimmicks and social media, eschewing most GOP events.
Neal Tapio indicated he’s most definitely planning to run for Congress, joining the field currently held by former PUC Commissioner and Governor’s Chief of Staff Dusty Johnson, and Secretary of State Shantel Krebs. Dusty and Shantel are devoting most of their campaigning to the GOP Lincoln Day Dinner Circuit, with Dusty having a campaign kickoff today across the state in 3 cities.
Who might join either of those marquee races? There’s still lots of room to jump in the water, but I would look to Congress being the more accessible.
Insiders don’t expect State Sen. Stace Nelson, who placed third in the 2014 US Senate primary, to jump in a major statewide race in 2018. I’ve had people cite both health and lack of funds as reasons he’d likely stay out, although as recently as this past legislative session, it was noted to me that he was trying to talk people into it.
If Nelson would decide to run for statewide office this cycle, as an underperformer in 2014 at the statewide primary level, his only realistic path may be in a Constitutional office where the GOP Nominees are chosen at convention. At convention, the delegates tend to be more conservative, and may accept him as a nominee. Generally, the path after that is easy, as Democrats provide only nominal opposition, if any at all.
Larry Rhoden who defeated Nelson to place second in that same 2014 Senate race seems to be sitting quietly so far this cycle, although many see him as a genuine contender in the future or quite possibly as someone who might be tapped as a Lt. Governor candidate. Depending on who wins the GOP nomination for Governor, that could be a genuine possibility for the affable State Representative.
And what about Senate President Pro Tempore Brock Greenfield? I’ve had people note to me that they could see him jumping into a Constitutional office race and doing well. The question would be “which of his contemporaries would he challenge?” We’ve got a pretty good field right now, so making the case why any of them should not go to Pierre might be the biggest hurdle for any contender.
We’re within days of starting a 12 month countdown to the June Primary Election of 2018, when things will really start to get crazy. Hold on to your seats!