Senate Minority Leader Joins Governor’s Race

BURKE, S.D. – One Democrat is taking on four Republican candidates in South Dakota’s race for governor in 2018.

At his family ranch in Burke, Senate Minority Leader Billie Sutton announced he’ll be spending the next year and a half vying for the seat.  But, there was a small hiccup.  Right before an introductory band began singing, a member casually announced Sutton’s 2018 campaign plans.

KDLT asked Sutton if the plan was to have him make the announcement in his speech and he said, “Yeah it was, but plans don’t always go the way you plan, so that’s alright!”

The premature announcement didn’t stop the crowd from celebrating when they heard the news from Sutton himself.  The view behind the state senator’s stage, though, was part of the plan.

“I see the values that make us South Dakotans,” says Sutton.

On the west side of the Missouri River, among horses and rolling hills, is where Billie Sutton grew up.  He says it’s this setting that inspired him to run for governor, rather than South Dakota’s lone U.S. House seat, which is also up for grabs in 2018.

“I have no interest of being in Washington,” says Sutton. “I’m a South Dakotan. I love South Dakota, and I think I can have a bigger impact here.”

With a current Republican-led legislature, Sutton knows the campaign won’t be easy.

“To get anything done, I’ve had to work past party lines,” he says.

But, it’s also not the first time he’s faced a challenge.

“At a rodeo in Minot, North Dakota, my horse flipped over on me in the shoot,” he explains. “I was instantly paralyzed. My life was changed forever in that moment.”

Sutton says he had two choices at that point: take the easy way out or do it the ‘cowboy way.’

“Never give up, and never quit,” he says, which is the motto he’s going to live by in his pursuit of a higher office.

“We would do away with the status quo, of making sure we don’t have any corruption anymore and then we would move on to our priorities of education and health care and economic development,” says Sutton.

Starting this fall, Sutton will hold a series of town hall meetings across the state.  He says his campaign is going to take a grassroots approach, with a lot of volunteers.

The other candidates in the race include South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley, U.S. Representative Kristi Noem, former state representative Lora Hubbel, and a newcomer, Terry LaFleur.  All are Republicans.

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