South Dakota conservatives stymied on recent high-profile measures by Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard are eyeing the end of his last term in early 2019, betting their preferred policies will fare better under either of two Republican front-runners looking to replace him.
Since his 2014 re-election, Daugaard has won a pair of tax increases, supported expanding the Medicaid health program and blocked gun-rights and transgender “bathroom” bills, much to the dismay of conservatives in this heavily GOP state. They’re predicting that the top two Republicans vying to succeed Daugaard — Attorney General Marty Jackley and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem — will be more supportive of their ideas.
“There are a number of conservative legislators in South Dakota that are frustrated right now, that are saying we just have to ride out Gov. Daugaard’s last remaining year,” said state Rep. Lynne DiSanto, who this year sponsored a bill that would have loosened restrictions on carrying concealed handguns. “I think that Gov. Daugaard has pretty clearly shown his colors — especially during his second term.”
Daugaard vetoed DiSanto’s proposal that would have let people carry concealed handguns without a permit shortly before neighboring North Dakota’s governor signed a “constitutional carry” law; Daugaard also rejected such a measure in 2012. In 2016, Daugaard vetoed a bill that would have restricted which bathrooms transgender students could use at school, saying it didn’t address “any pressing issue” and that such decisions were best left to local schools. Supporters scuttled a similar proposal this year after he threatened to do it again.
Jackley and Noem have already offered support for both ideas. Backers have said they plan to wait until 2019 before pushing them again.