by Jay Kruse, Chief Advocacy Officer
The midterm elections are less than one week away! Many of you are probably looking forward to an end of all the political ads and campaign materials in your mailbox! However, you can be sure that following the election, focus will almost immediately shift toward the 2024 presidential race. It’s a never-ending cycle!
Similar to Jeff’s ND election preview which you can check out here, there isn’t a lot of drama expected in any of the South Dakota’s major legislative races. Republicans will most certainly retain their super majority in Pierre as we head into the 2023 legislative session.
Senator John Thune is a heavy favorite to retain his seat in the U.S. Senate with the potential to be the next Senate Majority Leader depending on how thing shake out across the nation in a few tight Senate races. Senator Thune is being challenged by Democratic candidate, Brian Bengs and Libertarian candidate Tamara Lesnar.
Another heavy favorite to retain his Congressional seat is U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson. Dusty was first elected in 2019 and is looking to serving his 3rd term. His lone challenger is Collin Duprel, the Libertarian Party candidate.
Our prediction: Senator Thune will be comfortably reelected to his 4th term, in addition to Congressman Johnson winning in a landslide.
South Dakota Governor
The statewide SD race receiving the most attention on both the local and national levels is most definitely the race between current Governor Kristi Noem and Jamie Smith, Democratic candidate and a former Sioux Falls area legislator. Also in the race is Libertarian candidate Tracey Quint. The political ads are ramping up in the final days before the election and Governor Noem has hit the trail hard along some big name national political figures, including Glenn Youngkin, Governor of Virginia and former U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.
According to a recent poll from KELOLAND News, Emerson College, and The Hill, Governor Noem is a 19-point favorite to defeat Jamie, but time will tell.
Our Prediction: Governor Noem will be elected to her second term earning 55 percent or more of the vote.
Constitutional Amendment D
Title: An initiated amendment to the South Dakota Constitution expanding Medicaid eligibility.
Attorney General Explanation: Vote "Yes" to adopt the amendment; Vote "No" to leave the Constitution as it is. Medicaid is a program, funded by the State and the federal government, to provide medical coverage for low-income people who are in certain designated categories. This constitutional amendment expands Medicaid eligibility in South Dakota. It requires the State to provide Medicaid benefits to any person over age 18 and under 65 whose income is at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level, plus 5 percent of the federal poverty level for the applicable family size, as provided in federal law. For people who qualify under this amendment, the State may not impose burdens or restrictions that are greater than those imposed on any other person eligible for Medicaid benefits under South Dakota law. The South Dakota Department of Social Services must submit to the federal government all documentation required to implement this amendment and must take all actions necessary to maximize federal funding for this expansion.
Fiscal Note - The proposed expansion of Medicaid could cover an additional 42,500 eligible individuals, with a total estimated cost over the first five years of $1,515,214,000. For the first five years under current federal law, the state's share of expenses could be $166,244,000 with the state recognizing additional general fund savings of $162,473,000.
Initiated Measure 27
Title: An initiated measure legalizing the possession, use, and distribution of marijuana.
Attorney General Explanation: Vote "Yes" to adopt the initiated measure; Vote "No" to leave South Dakota law as it is. This initiated measure legalizes the possession, use, and distribution of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia by people age 21 and older. Individuals may possess one ounce or less of marijuana. They may also distribute one ounce or less of marijuana without payment or other consideration. Marijuana plants, and the marijuana produced from those plants, may be possessed under specific conditions. Marijuana plants may only be grown, and the marijuana from those plants may only be possessed, in counties or cities where no licensed retail marijuana store is available or where allowed by county or city ordinances. Certain violations of the restrictions the measure places on the possession, use, and distribution of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia are subject to various civil penalties. Individuals under age 21 can attend drug education or counseling instead of paying a civil penalty. The measure legalizes substances considered felony controlled substances under State law. Marijuana remains illegal under Federal law. Judicial or legislative clarification of the measure may be necessary.
Our Prediction: Constitutional Amendment D and Initiated Measure 27 will both be voted down by a margin of roughly 5 to 7 percentage points.
Stay tuned to the Memo next Wednesday for post-election coverage.
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