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Campaign Finance: Sutton Competitive with Jackley and Noem; Seiler Explodes out of Gate

Yesterday was the deadline for filing pre-primary campaign finance reports in South Dakota. Let’s pick up some pieces of the statewide races:

In the Governor’s race, Republican Kristi Noem outraised primary opponent Marty Jackley by 17% and outspent him by 15%:

Pre-Primary 2018 (1/1–5/16) Marty Jackley Kristi Noem Billie Sutton
Beginning Balance $1,552,944.42 $2,141,694.81 $664,230.53
Indiv unitemized $33,182.00 $46,467.69 $57,286.93
Indiv itemized $470,302.45 $542,860.71 $327,519.00
Entities $14,935.00
Parties $4,050.00
SD PACs $27,500.00 $2,500.00 $5,000.00
Non-SD PACs $25,750.00 $1,500.00
Candidates $1,000.00 $6,100.00
Other $793.82 $145.04
Total Income $530,984.45 $619,372.22 $416,535.97
Operations $1,513,600.84 $1,738,969.96 $201,822.18
Contribs $6,650.00
Total expenditures $1,513,600.84 $1,745,619.96 $201,822.18
Cash on hand $570,328.03 $1,015,447.07 $878,944.32
In-kind contributions $9,202.50 $22,121.06 $9,240.71

Both raised more than Democrat Billie Sutton, as one would expect of Republican primary opponents duking it out while an unchallenged Democrat coasts to the general election campaign. But Sutton raised more than twice as much as he spent, raised more in small individual contributions than either Noem or Jackley, and, as of May 16, had $309K more in the bank than Jackley and only $137K less than Noem.

Jackley continues to sort his itemized individual donors by last name for easy searching. Noem continues to sort her itemized donors by street address to frustrate efforts to study her donor roster. Sutton, after taking heat from this blog for adopting Noem’s annoying obfuscatory sorting practice, pleasantly changes to sorting his donors by last name.

Terry LaFleur, who failed to make the Republican gubernatorial primary ballot and now seeks unchallenged the Constitution Party’s nomination for governor, got one donation: $2,500 from Term Limits Now PAC of Alexandria, Virginia. The other $5,420.40 that LaFleur spent driving around the state, fixing his car, and advertising came from his own pocket change. LaFleur calls that personal spending a “loan,” but I’m not seeing donors lining up to pay him back. But LaFleur gets bonus points for transparency for itemizing individual expenditures within categories and, in several cases, telling us where he spent his money (Hy-Vee, Cost Cutter, Alpha Media, KXLG, Super 8, the Prairie Vista Inn…).

LaFleur is in better shape than Lora Hubbel, who spent $10,452.21 of her own money to fail to make the same GOP gubernatorial primary ballot. She also got $200 worth of help from unitemized supporters. She’s now campaigning against Sen. Wayne Steinhauer for his District 9 seat in the GOP primary. She’s raised and spent zero cash for that campaign; Steinhauer reports raising $4,350 and spending $2,314.73 to keep his part-time job.

Meanwhile, in the race for Attorney General, Jason Ravnsborg is raising a whole lot of money to win the nomination for attorney general:

Pre-Primary 2018 (1/1–5/16) John Fitzgerald Lance Russell Jason Ravnsborg
Beginning Balance $0.00 $13,663.78 $31,965.10
Indiv unitemized $2,295.00 $1,795.00 $625.00
Indiv itemized $12,915.00 $5,420.00 $49,855.20
Loans $10,000.00
SD PACs $300.00
Non-SD PACs $3,000.00
Total Income $25,210.00 $10,515.00 $50,480.20
Total expenditures $12,825.82 $16,065.68 $18,188.69
Cash on hand $12,384.18 $8,113.10 $64,256.61
In-kind $350.00

With a month to go until the Republican convention, Ravnsborg is sitting on more than three times as much money as his Republican challengers John Fitzgerald and Lance Russell  combined (most of the money Fitzgerald has left is his $10K loan to his own campaign). But consider that, unlike Noem and Jackley, who must convince tens of thousands of primary voters to vote for them at their far-flung polling places across the state, the A.G. candidates need only convince 100, maybe 150 Republican convention delegates to support them at the convention in Pierre. Add in what each candidate spent in 2017, and so far (assuming 150 delegates to win the nomination), Fitzgerald has spent $106.93 per needed vote, Russell $157.31, and Ravnsborg $242.70. Jeepers, just buy each delegate a gold watch….

Of course, Ravnsborg could be stacking up the bucks to prove he’s the only candidate who can go toe-to-toe with golden-touch Democratic contender Randy Seiler:

Pre-Primary 2018 (1/1–5/16) Tatewin Means Randy Seiler
Indiv unitemized 1150 2650
Indiv itemized 900 82350
Entities 4000
Parties 250
Non-SD PACs 5000
Other 3.86
Total Income $6,050.00 $90,253.86
Total expenditures $75.12 $29,034.28
Cash on hand $5,974.88 $61,219.58
In-kind 950

In less than a month of serious public fundraising, former U.S. Attorney Randy Seiler raised $4,000 more than all three Republicans combined. He also raised nearly $15 for every dollar former Oglala Sioux Tribe attorney general Tatewin Means did. I don’t know where the smart money is going in the AG races, but the pre-convention money so far is going to Seiler and Ravnsborg.

Seiler reports already spending over $29,000 on advertising, promotional items, and other campaign goodies. Means says she has spent only $75.12, all on bank fees, to which I say, (a) get a better bank and (b) come on, now: those splendid campaign videos didn’t shoot themselves.


  1. Kelly Cooper 2018-05-22 15:12

    It’s amazing. Ravnsborg has never had a criminal jury trial as a prosecutor and he’s running for AG.
    How can you lead law enforcement when you have failed to even have one trial. This will be the biggest fraud committed by anyone in South Dakota if this guy wins the nomination.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-05-22 15:37

    Jackley is crowning himself the campaign finance champ by pointing out that $1.2 million of her total campaign funds came from her mostly out-of-state Congressional campaign funds and that he has outraised her by $163,000 since they started campaigning in November 2016.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-05-22 15:38

    Kelly, how has Ravnsborg managed to raise so much more money than his far-better qualified opponents for a job he’s not ready to do?

  4. Kelly Cooper 2018-05-22 16:39

    I believe it’s really his money he inherited from his mother. I don’t think all of the donations are legit.

  5. John 2018-05-22 16:51

    If you look back at Fitzgerald’s other reports you will see he put in nearly $3000 the first report…so he has basically broken even also. Take out the money he put in and he has no raised money on hand. As I have said before as Democrats he is the weakest GOP candidate in the field.

    This just proves it again.

  6. John 2018-05-22 16:54

    PS—the biggest fraud to ever run for AG was and always will be Chad Haber …end of story …just saying :)

    Couldn’t resist.

  7. leslie 2018-05-22 16:56

    the AG will head a hunded lawyer firm, the biggest in the state, with dozens of criminal lawyers.

    Lets make it Ms. Means or Mr. Seiler, democrats. It will change the very texture of this red neck state. Vote Sutton, governor, and Bjorkman, US Rep, too!

    I think we may be running against Jackley given the tone in RC. just a guess. We get a shot at AG AND Governor this election. Buh-by marty

    btw, nationally, Merrick Garland murderer McConnell has told the GOP Sen that he is weighing canceling at least part of the four-week summer break, a move that could help the GOP in the midterm elections by forcing Democratic senators up for reelection to stay in Washington.

    Democrats are defending more than two dozen seats, while the GOP is only defending nine. Lets make sure all our friends and relatives in those states vote democratic. our very lives are at stake. Trump has no business making national and world policy. Tom Bjorkman can make a difference now that horse whisperer-insultress Noem is gone.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-05-22 20:38

    Kelly, Ravnsborg has a remarkable number of max donations and very few small donations:

    Unitemized: $625
    Mark Neitzke, Vermillion: $4000
    Jamie Neitzke, Vermillion: $4000
    Brian Rupp, Burbank: $4000
    Aaron Lorenzen, Faulkton: $4000
    Rich Ravnsborg, Quimby, IA: $4000
    Todd Wood, Miami Beach, FL: $4000
    Wandy Howey-Fox, Yankton: $4000
    Kyle Wickenheiser, Dallas, PA: $4000
    Marc Rupp, Wakonda: $4000
    Jack Neitzke, Vermillion: $3000
    Joseph Wyatt, Pierre: $1500
    Rachel Wyatt, Pierre: $1500
    Frank Farrar, Britton: $1000

    There’s another $6885.20 in itemized donations on an attached sheet that appears not to be posted yet. But out of the above names, Kelly, do you see any sign of laundered inheritance money? Ravnsborg wouldn’t have to hide such money: if its his inheritance, he can spend all he wants. If it’s from “immediate family” out to third degree of kinship (great grandma/pa, aunt, uncle, niece/nephew), there’s no limit.

  9. Rorschach 2018-05-22 20:56

    Ravnsborg with his complete lack of any legal experience looks more like someone that Trump would appoint to his cabinet than a legitimate candidate for election. He’s not even qualified for the job of state’s attorney in a medium population South Dakota county, let alone Attorney General.

  10. BlackHills76 2018-05-22 22:20

    We’re going to have the first seriously competitive Governors race since 1986 or maybe even the early 70’s this year. I honestly believe Billie Sutton is the most electable Democrat running since Dick Kneip. If you have a few dollars to spare this young man is a good place to put them.

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