SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Republican Kristi Noem turned to Vice President Mike Pence to help rally supporters in Rapid City as Democratic candidate Billie Sutton had events in the Sioux Falls area to close out the surprisingly competitive race for governor.
The candidates made their final arguments during the last full day of campaigning before Tuesday’s election. They were both wrapping up statewide tours capping the race, which recent polls have found to be close despite South Dakota’s heavy conservative tilt.
Meanwhile, Republican Sen. John Thune held events for Noem in eastern South Dakota. The four-term congresswoman also benefited from a September fundraiser featuring President Donald Trump.
Noem would be the state’s first female governor. Sutton, a state senator and former professional rodeo cowboy, would be the first Democratic governor elected in over 40 years.
In the U.S. House race to succeed Noem, Republican front-runner Dusty Johnson had stops set in western South Dakota including the Pence event. Democrat Tim Bjorkman capped his campaign with a Sioux Falls rally.
Voters will also settle five ballot questions, among them measures that would reshape the state’s citizen initiative system and raise tobacco taxes for the first time in more than a decade.
The most active are campaigns on either side of Amendment W, a government ethics overhaul, and a plan to increase tobacco taxes to make state technical schools more affordable called Initiated Measure 25. The tobacco industry has sunk millions of dollars into opposing the tax hike, which was losing in a recent poll.
Americans for Prosperity-South Dakota and the campaign against Amendment W planned to reach 75,000 South Dakota residents in the final days of the election cycle, Don Haggar, AFP’s state director, said in a statement last week. Doug Kronaizl, spokesman for pro-amendment group Represent South Dakota, said in a statement that supporters’ goal is to drop 10,000 pieces of literature in Sioux Falls to end the race.
An October poll found more people supporting Amendment W, the ethics measure, than opposing it, but a lot of respondents were undecided.
Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time on Tuesday.
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