2014 Elections

Shannon County Name Change One Step Closer

Feb 12, 2015

A bill to rename Shannon County as Oglala Lakota County sailed over its first legislative hurdle in an unanimous vote before the Senate State Affairs Committee.

In November Shannon County voters, which is on the Pine Ridge Reservation, approved the name change by a large majority.  

The Native Vote And Future Elections

Dec 10, 2014
Matika Wilbur

The 2014 election is well over.   But for some it’s not too soon to start thinking about 2016 or even 2020 and beyond. This is especially true if your goal is to get school age kids interested in voting.

An effort to increase voter turnout in tribal communities in South Dakota is continuing–and some say the 2014 election shows past efforts paid off.

You can find out more about Sicangu Lakota Artist Frank Waln at his website here.

GOAC Continues EB-5 Inquiry

Nov 13, 2014

The State Government Operations and Audit Committee heard testimony from officials with the Board of Regents on EB-5 and alleged fraud that occurred when a key player privatized state oversight of the program potentially raking in millions in private profit.
Democrats on the committee cited frustrations at not being able to get to the bottom of the alleged fraud.   
But committee Republicans say criminal prosecutions are outside the preview of the legislature, they cite an ongoing federal investigation into the EB-5 program.

Along with statewide races yesterday, Oglala Sioux Tribal members elected a new president. John Yellow Bird Steele defeated incumbent Bryan Brewer. And Shannon County residents voted to change the name of the southwest South Dakota county to Oglala Lakota County. The name change now must be approved by the state legislature. Rapid City attorney Charlie Abourezk, who helped organize the get out the vote effort in tribal communities, and SDPB's Charles Michael Ray joined Dakota Midday election results on the Pine Ridge Reservation yesterday.

Nate Wek / SDPB

Along with victories by Dennis Daugaard, Kristi Noem and Mike Rounds in a Republican sweep of statewide races Tuesday, the GOP will also maintain their dominance in the state legislature with supermajorities in both houses. State Senate Majority Leader Tim Rave and State House Minority Leader Bernie Hunhoff joined Dakota Midday with their perspectives on yesterday's election results and what they mean for their respective parties.

Dakota Midday: Post Election Analyisis

Nov 5, 2014
Nate Wek SDPB

Around 54 percent of South Dakota's eligible voters went to the polls yesterday for the midterm elections. In the most closely watched race, former Republican Governor Mike Rounds won his bid to become South Dakota’s next U.S. Senator. He replaces retiring Democrat Tim Johnson. Rounds’ win last night helped Republicans take control of the U.S. Senate.

Republican Kristi Noem won a third term as the state’s lone representative in the U.S. House of Representatives. Governor Dennis Daugaard was re-elected as part of a Republican sweep of all statewide offices.

Rounds Wins Four Way US Senate Race

Nov 5, 2014
Rounds for Senate

Republicans took control of the U.S. Senate in Tuesday’s election.

South Dakota U.S. Senator Elect Mike Rounds is part of the wave of new GOP Senators.

Rounds, who served two terms as South Dakota’s governor took office with over 50% of the popular vote in a four way race for the open seat.

Balancing the budget without raising taxes and criminal justice reform are among the accomplishments Governor Dennis Daugaard cites in his bid for re-election. Daugaard first became involved in politics in 1996 when he was elected to the state legislature. He served as Mike Rounds' Lieutenant Governor before South Dakotans elected him the state's chief executive in 2010. Daugaard faces challenges from Democrat Susan Wismer and independent Mike Myers in Tuesday’s election.

Kealey Bultena SDPB

When South Dakotans go to the polls on Tuesday, they’ll vote on a ballot measure dealing with healthcare. Initiated Measure 17 would change state law by requiring health insurers to include all willing and qualified health insurers on their provider lists. It would allow medical doctors, clinics, and specialty hospitals to become part of insurance networks that they currently can’t join.

South Dakota Public Broadcasting

With less than a week before Election Day, several recent polls are showing Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike Rounds with a comfortable lead over Democrat Rick Weiland and independents Larry Pressler and Gordon Howie. The Sioux Falls Argus Leader/KELO-TV poll has Rounds leading with 42 percent, followed by Weiland with 33 percent, Pressler 13 percent and Howie at 2 percent. 10 percent are undecided. This is in contrast to polls from earlier this month that suggested a much tighter race.

Poli Sci Profs: Independent Prosecutor Needed For EB-5

Oct 29, 2014

Some political science professors who teach at universities across South Dakota say the EB-5 scandal requires an independent prosecutor.  They say the current system is not doing enough to get to the bottom of the case.
While other professors believe it’s still too early to make that call. 

Click play below to hear more.

Shannon Co. Auditor: 2014 May Not Top 2004 Record Turnout

Oct 28, 2014

The early voting turnout on the Pine Ridge Reservation appears to be ramping up.  But for now it may not be on track to top the record year of 2004.

Sue Ganje is the Shannon County Auditor.  

She says that 2004 contest between then incumbent Senator Tom Daschle and challenger John Thune included more than 1,600 absentee ballots cast.    Her office recorded over 4,500 total votes that election on Pine Ridge.

So far this year, Ganje says the early voting place at the Sue Ann Big Crow Center in the town of Pine Ridge has seen just over 530 early votes cast.  


Republican Kristi Noem says if she’s re-elected to Congress, she’ll focus on policies that would help grow South Dakota’s economy. She wants to overhaul the tax code to help job creators and repeal what she calls “job killing regulations.” Noem was first elected to serve as South Dakota’s lone member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010. She serves on the House Agriculture Committee and House Armed Services Committee. Noem faces a challenge from Democrat Corinna Robinson.

Get Out The Native Vote Effort Continues

Oct 27, 2014

Control of the Senate could be up for grabs in this midterm election--and some believe the Native American vote could be a deciding factor.  

In South Dakota the Native vote has a history of tipping tight races toward Democrats and there is now a large get out the vote in tribal communities.   But if and how the Native vote can change this race is still in question. 

Mike Myers for Governor

Among independent gubernatorial candidate Mike Myers’ top issues are health care and education. He taught health care law and administration at the University of South Dakota for 26 years. He also hosted the “Elder Law Forum” radio show for more than a decade and provided free advice to senior citizens. He was CEO of Mayo-St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota, and an executive at other hospitals. Mike Myers faces incumbent Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard and Democrat Susan Wismer on November 4th. He joined Dakota Midday and discussed the issues in his campaign.

A Call To Shut Down The EPA In The US Senate Race

Oct 27, 2014
Amy Varland

For U.S. Senate candidate and former Governor Mike Rounds the EPA has gone too far.  

Rounds and many others say the Environmental Protection Agency is an example of oversized federal government abusing its power and meddling too much in the livelihoods of people in South Dakota.
Rounds has spoken publically about eliminating the EPA, often to the cheers of those gathered in the crowd.
SDPB’s Charles Michael Ray asks what it would really mean if the EPA went away in South Dakota.

Debate Candidates Spar On EB-5, Social Security Issues

Oct 23, 2014

Three candidates running for South Dakota’s open U.S. Senate seat hammered Mike Rounds on EB-5 in Thursday night’s debate. 

The federal immigration program was the first question in the debate; it’s been a major issue in this year’s race.
Rick Weiland, Larry Pressler and Gordon Howie all criticized Mike Rounds for his role in alleged corruption, embezzlement and fraud in the program.
Rounds says EB-5 has been good for South Dakota.

Rounds for Senate

Rapid City Journal reporter Seth Tupper and Sioux Falls Argus-Leader political reporter David Montgomery joined the Dakota Political Junkies this week. They discussed the latest news in the race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Tim Johnson along with the unfolding EB-5 saga.

Rounds' EB-5 Story Changes Over Time

Oct 16, 2014

The EB-5 story has become a centerpiece in the U.S. Senate race.

Former Governor Mike Rounds states he had nothing to do with the alleged embezzlement and fraud that occurred in part of the program before Northern Beef Packers went bankrupt.

Rounds says he’s been upfront and transparent with the public.   
But his answer to the question, “What did you know when?” has changed over time.

Click play below to hear the rest of the story.


Candidates for the United States Congress met Thursday night on SDPB Television for a debate that covered more than one dozen topics. Both women are offering their perspectives on the federal government’s relationship with Native American tribes.

Democrat Corinna Robinson says members of Congress must focus on the issues people in Indian County find important. 

"They are not getting the funding they need to continue their language training, their cultural training in their institutions, their colleges, and they would certainly like some help with that," Robinson says. "They would like better health care. They have to drive a long ways sometimes to get to a nearby clinic, or, when an emergency happens, there’s not an ambulance close by.  They certainly struggle with drug and alcohol abuse. And we certainly need to do a better job at listening and visiting hearing their concerns."

Robinson is running against incumbent Republican Congresswoman Kristi Noem. Both women say federal officials need to respect tribal sovereignty. Noem says she wants to ensure Native Americans don’t fear that federal organizations can come into businesses and claim jurisdiction on reservation land.

A political action committee is committing more money to the US Senate race in South Dakota. A PAC known as Mayday is adding $250,000 to its earlier pledge of $1 million.

The money is going to media time to support Democrat Rick Weiland. He faces Independent Larry Pressler, Republican Mike Rounds, and Independent Gordon Howie in the race for United States Senate. One political scientist says he expects more national attention as poll numbers show a close competition.

Rounds for Senate

In his campaign for U.S. Senate, Republican Mike Rounds says voters have a very clear choice between philosophies on how government should run and which direction the nation should head in the future.

Rounds served in the state legislature before first being elected governor in 2002. Following his second term in office, he returned to his insurance and real estate business. Rounds faces Democrat Rick Weiland and independents Larry Pressler and Gordon Howie in the November 4th election to fill the seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Senator Tim Johnson.

Wanblee To Get Early Voting Office

Oct 15, 2014

Voting rights advocates say a satellite polling place is coming to the town of Wanblee. 

The small town on the Pine Ridge Reservation has become a contention point over equal access to the polls for Native Americans in this election.

Pressler for Senate

South Dakota's contest for U.S. Senate is receiving national attention as a race that was considered safely Republican but is now seen as closer than expected. Some recent polls have Republican Mike Rounds in first at around 35 percent with either Democrat Rick Weiland or independent Larry Pressler in second place just a few points behind the former governor.

Yellow Bird Steele Leads Pine Ridge Primary

Oct 15, 2014

The Oglala Sioux Tribe Election Commission is verifying the results of Tuesday's primary election.   
Unofficial tribal presidential primary results have Harold Eagle Bull in third place with 512 votes, incumbent Tribal President Bryan Brewer with 944 votes, and former Tribal President John Yellow Bird Steele leading the field at 1465.

But the results could change as the numbers are finalized.  

On Pine Ridge the top two candidates in a presidential primary don’t automatically advance to the general election.

SD "Rez Tour" Aims To Increase Native Vote

Oct 14, 2014

The Native American vote can make the difference in tight statewide races in South Dakota.  

U.S Senator Tim Johnson credits support in Indian Country in 2002 for his 400 vote victory over then Rep. John Thune.  

This week a group is making a final push to get more Native people signed up to vote before the voter registration deadline.

Democratic State Representative Susan Wismer is campaigning to replace Republican incumbent Dennis Daugaard as South Dakota governor. She grew up in the northeast South Dakota community of Britton. She's an accountant who has been doing bookkeeping and taxes in her home town for the past three decades.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Candidates for United States Senate are weighing in on the federal government’s role in Indian Affairs. The four men running for South Dakota’s open seat met Monday at a Sioux Falls Rotary Club lunch for a panel discussion. Candidates agree that something needs to change for sovereign Indian nations.

Gordon Howie is running for US Senate as an Independent. He says poverty and dysfunction exist on Native American reservations because politicians claim they champion Indian communities and don’t follow through on their support.


Each of the three candidates for Governor of South Dakota is highlighting why voters should choose him or her to lead the state. With less than one month until people go to the polls, gubernatorial hopefuls met on live television for a debate on South Dakota Public Broadcasting. The debate lasted one hour. This latest gubernatorial faceoff touched briefly on several statewide issues, but two primary topics dominated the discussion: education and health care.

Corinna Robinson for South Dakota

If she’s elected to Congress, Democrat Corinna Robinson says she’ll make creating jobs for South Dakotans a priority. She’s critical of Washington politicians who she says put politics before people. Robinson is a Rapid City native and retired military officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. After twenty-five years in the army, she led the Anti-Terrorism Force Protection Directorate at the Pentagon. She says she has the leadership skills that will allow her to work across the aisles in Congress. Robinson is challenging Republican incumbent Kristi Noem in the November 4th election.