Life seems so unfair sometimes: a guy works hard networking, running around the state to more than 50 meetings to beat back ballot measures for the party, drives all the way to a big party party in Pierre to announce he’d like to be the nominee for attorney general, and what response does he get? A friend of Marty who’s been in the office for 26 years cuts in front of him in line.
On Saturday, Chief Deputy Attorney General Charlie McGuigan penned a letter to state’s attorneys statewide announcing that he will announce his candidacy for Attorney General in the near future. This comes less than three weeks after Yankton lawyer and part-time Union County deputy state’s attorney Jason Ravnsborg unveiled his desire to be A.G. at the Hughes County GOP dinner.
Job experience suggests McGuigan’s entry consigns Ravnsborg to another last-place finish, but the SDGOP can be tricky: Dan Lederman mustered some Trump insurgents to oust the party leaders’ preferred chair Pam Roberts last month. If Ravnsborg can capitalize on his own Trumpiness and possible connections to Lederman, he may surprise McGuigan in a convention tilt.
Wait a minute: Ravnsborg lives in Yankton County, right? SDCL 7-16-13 says deputy state’s attorneys must have the qualifications required of state’s attorneys. SDCL 7-16-31 says, “In any county with a population of less than five thousand persons, no state’s attorney is disqualified from holding office for failure to be a resident of that county if the state’s attorney is a resident of a county which is contiguous to the county in which the state’s attorney holds such office.” That residency requirement waiver indicates that in counties with a population of 5,000 or more, like Union County, the state’s attorney and hence the state’s attorneys deputies need to reside in the county.
There must be some other exception to that residency requirement, since I wouldn’t think qualified lawyers would go blatantly violating a simple statutory requirement. But we have precedent for such a willful violation: Bennett County spent several years with a state’s attorney who lived two counties away, in direct violation of the residency requirement.