Top Political Stories of 2019: #9 – State Rep. Scyller Borglum rolls the dice in challenger campaign against US Senator Mike Rounds.
Shortly after the start of 2019, the rumor mill started dropping nuggets out there that State Representative Scyller Borglum might privately expressing an interest in something…. more. Something involving an office higher than she already had. And nobody really knew what.
They knew she had someone working with her on media.. but what else was percolating?
Was she going to run against the State Senator in her District – Alan Solano – in the next election? Was she looking at a statewide office in 2022? There was even a little talk of her running for US Senate… but that seemed unlikely, because in South Dakota, no one in recent memory has ever has ran a primary challenge against an incumbent federal elected official. Not since Republican Mike DeMersseman challenged Congressman Jim Abdnor in the Republican Primary for the Second District Congressional seat in 1972 – which was so long ago that we had two Congressional Districts.
It was enough that people were paying attention to every announcement that Borglum would make.
The background rumors rose to a crescendo when a March meeting took place between Congressman Dusty Johnson and State Representative Borglum, where the two have decidedly different opinions of the discussion that took place.
A press release went out from Borglum with some fairly incendiary language going after Congressman Dusty Johnson for asking about rumors of her running against US Senator Mike Rounds, accusing Johnson of a “DC-style ambush.” Congressman Johnson disagreed and noted that “He thought the meeting went well,” until “he saw the Monday news release.”
From that late April incident through May, it was ever more apparent that there was a challenger campaign that appeared to be in motion. By early June, it appeared that someone was out buying up Borglum related domains. And we started hearing more about Borglum entering a race for Senate. And by the start of the next campaign finance reporting period, there was no doubt that the race was on with campaign invites blasting across Facebook. Since that time, Borglum has been pursuing the race against incumbent US Senator Mike Rounds.
For his part, Rounds has been devoting his time to his US Senate duties, and equally devoting his time to his wife, former first Lady Jean Rounds, who had taken ill from a form of cancer, and had been treating at Mayo Clinic. Rounds seemingly has been in no hurry to announce. If anything, Rounds has been running under the radar on the campaign side, but when campaign activity does pop up, it’s obvious the campaign is afoot, as he’s posting impressive quarterly fundraising numbers, and had strong events.
Since announcing, Borglum has been criss-crossing the state as she’s been grinding out campaign appearances supported by friends and family serving as her campaign team. Rounds has campaign staff already in place, and is expected to make an official announcement soon, but from all indications, he’s in. It’s just a matter of when he feels the need to pull the trigger.
Starting January 1 candidates will be in the next critical phase of the campaign, when they collect signatures to be placed on the ballot, while they also have to contend with legislative duties; with Borglum in Pierre, and Rounds in DC.
There’s much more to come on this story.. and we’ll be watching it unfold in the coming months.