Make that five judges running for the seat Judge Kevin Krull is leaving open in the Fourth Circuit Court. Four candidates filed to run for that West River judgeship in July. The Black Hills Pioneer reports that a fifth candidate, longtime Lawrence County state’s attorney John Fitzgerald, threw his hat in the ring at the last minute in August:
According to the South Dakota Secretary of State’s website listing candidates for the judgeship, Callahan’s petition was received on July 7, followed by Tomac on July 25, Natvig on July 27, Hogue on July 29 and Fitzgerald on Aug. 10.
Because the deadline was Aug. 9, the question arose as to was Fitzgerald’s petition received in time for him to be on the November ballot.
Suzanne R. Wetz, State Election Coordinator in the Secretary of State’s office, said the receipt date listed on the Secretary of State’s website for Fitzgerald’s petition denotes the date their office received the petitions in the mail.
For this race, state law directs that petitions be submitted to the Secretary of State’s office by the second Tuesday in August (Aug. 9 this year) or mailed by registered mail by that date and time.
“In this instance, our office received Mr. Fitzgerald’s petitions on August 10th, yet he complied with the statute as they were sent via registered mail on August 8th. As he met the guidelines set forth in statute, Mr. Fitzgerald will appear as a candidate on the General Election ballot,” Wetz said [Deb Holland, “Krull’s Withdrawal Opens up Five-Way Race for Judge,” Black Hills Pioneer, 2022.09.15].
The Fourth Circuit covers the northwest quadrant of South Dakota—Lawrence, Meade, Ziebach, Dewey, Corson, Perkins, Harding, and Butte counties. Two of the candidates—Fitzgerald and Magistrate Judge Chad R. Callahan—live and practice law in the Fourth Circuit. Two more—Jennifer Tomac and Tina M. Hogue—practice law in Rapid City. And one—former Brule County state’s attorney David Natvig—is carpetbagging his way around the Northern Hills and the high plains, hoping to parlay his reputation as Jason Ravnsborg’s underqualified, disgraced, and fired crony into some sort of ideological appeal to West River Trumpists. Fitzgerald and his West River neighbor candidates may want to have a conversation about working together so they don’t split the sensible local vote and leave Natvig with a path to victory among a unified wingnut plurality.