More people in more places are interested in participating in the South Dakota Republican Convention this year than in 2018. That interest is understandable, as Republicans have multiple candidates for at least three of the six statewide offices for which the party will nominate its general election candidates June 23–25 in Watertown: Commissioner of School and Public Lands (Senator Brock Greenfield and former Senator Jordan Youngberg), Secretary of State (incumbent Secretary Steve Barnett versus suspiciously Trump-talking Monae Johnson), and Attorney General (impeached incumbent and killer Jason Ravnsborg versus the last man to actually do the job, Marty Jackley).
This year there are 68 declared candidates for Republican convention delegate, 534 for precinct committeeman, and 447 for committeewoman. Delegates and committeepeople get to vote at convention, along with county party officials. So add all those folks up, and you have 1,049 Republicans who want to join their county party officials to vote on nominations and other fun at convention.
In 2018, there were 56 declared candidates for convention delegate, 464 for precinct committeeman, and 364 for committeewoman. That’s 884 GOP activists angling for convention seats.
24 counties have declared candidates for delegate, up one from 23 in 2018. Each county can send up to three delegates; if four or more declare, a primary vote picks the three. In 2018, only our three largest counties—Minnehaha, Pennington, and Lincoln—had delegate primaries. This year, seven counties have delegate primaries: the big three plus Brown, Codington, Yankton, and Meade.
In delegate and committeeperson races, a larger number and larger percentage of candidates must win primaries to earn their convention seats this year:
|2018||GOP Delegate||Precinct Committeeman||Precinct Committeewoman||total|
|jurisdictions with declared candidates||23||376||314||713|
|jurisdictions with primaries||3||68||46||117|
|% jurisdictions w primaries||13%||18%||14.6%||16.4%|
|candidates in primaries||19||155||95||269|
|% candidates in primaries||34%||33%||26.1%||30.4%|
|2022||GOP Delegate||Precinct Committeeman||Precinct Committeewoman||total|
|jurisdictions with declared candidates||24||398||350||772|
|jurisdictions with primaries||4||114||84||202|
|% jurisdictions w primaries||17%||29%||24.0%||26.2%|
|candidates in primaries||36||250||181||467|
|% candidates in primaries||53%||47%||40.5%||44.5%|
One would think the Barnett/Johnson and Greenfield/Youngberg races would have the most interesting delegate battles, since those should actually be fair fights, unlike the Jackley/Ravnsborg race, which involves an experienced Attorney General and prosecutor fighting an incompetent liar, lawbreaker, and killer with zero political future. But I am keeping an eye on the delegate and committeeperson races for possible Ravnsborg loyalists who would vote for their soft-boiled egg no matter what.
Among the possible Ravnsborg candidates facing primary challenges is Wanda Howey-Fox of Yankton, who is running for precinct committeewoman in Yankton Precinct 26. She faces Jennifer Morkve of Yankton in the primary.
Howey-Fox is a Yankton County Commissioner. She is also Jason Ravnsborg’s former law partner (i.e., the person who probably did most of the actual work for the firm while Ravnsborg played Volunteer Deputy State’s Attorney over in Union County). She gave Ravnsborg $4,000 to help him campaign for the nomination in 2018.
Howey-Fox’s brother Mark Howey of Gayville is running for committeeman in Yankton Precinct 09. He faces a challenge from James McGrath of Gayville.
Along with four candidates fighting for its three delegate seats, Ravnsborg’s home county of Yankton has seven contested committeeman seats and four contested committeewoman seats. Yankton Republican primary voters may want to quiz those contestants on which candidate they support for Attorney General.