Editor's note: This is an installment of Campaign Roundup, a periodic feature in the Rapid City Journal this election year.
Shantel Krebs has upped the ante in the U.S. House race’s snake fight.
On Tuesday, Krebs released a video in which Johnny Brockelsby, of the Reptile Gardens tourist attraction in the Black Hills, announced his support for her campaign.
Brockelsby says in the video, “Congress is filled with many unsavory critters." Scenes in the video show Krebs handling a snake under Brockelsby’s supervision.
“I taught Shantel myself how to wrangle a snake,” Brockelsby says, “so you can be sure that she’ll be ready to take on Congress.”
Krebs, who is currently South Dakota’s secretary of state and lives in rural Fort Pierre, will face two fellow Republicans in the June 5 primary election: Dusty Johnson, a Mitchell businessman and former public utilities commissioner, and Neal Tapio, a Watertown businessman and state senator. The winner will advance to the general election to face at least one opponent, Tim Bjorkman, a Democrat and retired judge from Canistota.
Snakes have played a recurring role in the race. In August 2016, Krebs posted a video on social media of herself holding a dead rattlesnake she had shot.
Then, in July 2017, Johnson was featured in a social media video using an ax to kill a rattlesnake at a Teen Age Republicans camp in the Black Hills.
Tapio on tariffs
Tapio announced his support Wednesday for President Donald Trump’s newly deployed policies on tariffs and intellectual property.
“President Trump is right, this isn’t a war,” Tapio said. “We’ve already lost the trade war with China. The President is addressing trade imbalances that simply cannot be kicked down the road any longer.”
Sutton touts common sense
Democratic state Sen. Billie Sutton, of Burke, who is the only Democratic candidate for governor, released a one-page document Tuesday titled "Consistent Common Sense: From the Senate to South Dakota's Highest Office.” The document outlines his legislative priorities from his eight years in the South Dakota state Senate, including these:
• Government integrity, including measures to remedy South Dakota's accountability and transparency problems.
• Economic and workforce development, including career and training programs, affordable housing and economic investments.
• Education, including Sutton’s service on the Blue Ribbon Task Force to raise teacher pay, and studies of the need for early childhood education in the state.
• Health care, including working to keep rural hospitals open, supporting nursing homes, and attracting health care professionals to the state.
Noem announces rural project
On Tuesday, Republican candidate for governor Kristi Noem, who is currently the state's U.S. representative, announced her Rural Revitalization Project.
Aspects of the project include:
• Expanding rural broadband and enhancing cell service by pushing the Federal Communications Commission to create a fairer and more rural friendly Universal Service Fund formula.
• Promoting rural job growth by equipping students with skills for ag-related industries, reviewing permitting structures to be sure they promote economic development and respect local control, expanding opportunities for value-added agriculture, and improving rural infrastructure.
• Growing the workforce in rural health care by developing recruitment and retention strategies, reviewing licensing requirements and pursuing federal waivers and grants.
• Helping rural schools by developing a pilot program to fill teacher shortages in high-need areas, and exploring options such as new incentive programs for local working professionals and enhanced mentoring of teachers.
Jackley gains endorsements
Republican candidate for governor Marty Jackley, who is currently the state's attorney general, announced several endorsements recently, including endorsements from Deadwood Mayor and state Rep. Chuck Turbiville, Lincoln County State's Attorney Tom Wollman, and McPherson County cattle rancher and former state representative Charlie Hoffman.
Gubernatorial candidates miss ballot
Two declared candidates for the Republican nomination for governor, Lora Hubbel and Terry LaFleur, did not make the ballot prior to the recent deadline for members of political parties, according to the South Dakota Secretary of State’s Office. Neither Hubbel nor LaFleur turned in enough valid petition signatures from registered voters.
So far, the only certified candidates for governor are Republicans Kristi Noem and Marty Jackley, and Democrat Billie Sutton. Independent candidates have until April 24 to file nominating petitions.
Democrats proud of slate
The South Dakota Democratic Party said Thursday that 110 Democrats have been certified as candidates for the Legislature, and that the party is running candidates in every legislative district, contesting 101 out of 105 legislative seats.
The party said the number of legislative seats that will be contested by Democrats this year is the most by Democrats in South Dakota in a midterm election since the current format of legislative elections began in 1984.
For two local women, the film “The Greatest Showman” has become one of their greatest treasures.
Friends Vikki French, 69, and Char Schrum, 64, saw the movie Wednesday at the Elks Theatre for their 13th and 10th times, respectively. The majority of their viewings took place at the Elks.
“The story celebrates humanity,” said French, of Rapid City. “That story is what initially inspired me and continues to be the primary reason I celebrate this film. It’s about the ability for people to create a loving and supportive family, to remain loyal and loving even when they feel abandoned, and to rebuild their lives after the appearance of complete devastation.”
Schrum, who lives in Eureka but often visits family in Rapid City, said “the film depicts unconditional love and forgiveness, and I’m drawn to the message of hope. Set your heart on what you want. You can do it! You are enough, so be happy with who you are!”
“The Greatest Showman” portrays the life of P.T. Barnum, founder of Barnum & Bailey Circus. The film was released by 20th Century Fox on Dec. 20 in the U.S. and has grossed $414 million worldwide. It won a Best Original Song Golden Globe for “This is Me,” and that song was also nominated for Best Original Song at the 90th Academy Awards. It’s currently 18th at the box office according to the website Box Office Mojo.
For French and Schrum, the accolades the film has earned don’t even begin to do it justice.
French originally saw the film around the holidays in Las Vegas, where she went with her mother. When she returned from vacation, she immediately took her husband to see it at the movie theater. After that, she kept checking to see when it would come to the Elks. Once it did, she took a group of friends — mostly from Agape Spiritual Center, where French is a spiritual leader.
The Elks Theatre started playing the movie on Feb. 23, and Schrum went for the first time that week. She has done all her viewings at the Elks.
“I hardly ever go to movies, but I love this one so much, I went four times in one week,” she said. “It’s 100 times better now than the first time I went. It has replaced ‘Dances With Wolves’ as my favorite movie.”
“This film demonstrates to me the truth that there is nothing outside of ourselves, like fame or riches, that can bring joy or happiness,” said French. “The music is inspiring, moving and uplifting — and the dance is outstanding. The movie has me tapping my toes and clapping my hands. I especially love ‘Rewrite the Stars,’ a powerful scene that reminds me every day, I get to do just that.”
“The music and choreography is just sensational!” added Schrum. “And I’m not usually a fan of musicals.”
According to Chris Bradshaw, who works at the Elks Theatre, the movie will play through at least April 12.
“I’ve only heard good things from people coming out of this movie. And I’ve heard many audiences clapping at the end of the movie,” said Bradshaw, 17.
Of course, both French and Schrum plan to see the film again before it leaves the Elks.
“I wish this movie could show at the theater all the time,” said Schrum. “It’s meant for the big screen.”
Hunting seasons for elk received approval Friday from the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Commission.
The rifle and archery seasons are for 2018 and 2019. The panel reached the decisions at Outdoor Campus West in Rapid City. Thousands of South Dakota residents applied for elk licenses in past years.
The archery season runs Sept. 1 through Sept. 30. The commission approved offering 142 any-elk licenses and 80 antlerless elk. In 2017 the commission had about 5,000 applicants for 147 any-elk and 130 antlerless licenses.
The Black Hills rifle season runs Oct. 1 through Oct. 31 for the seven any-elk units. There are 425 any-elk licenses.
In 2017, about 11,500 hunters applied for the 443 any-elk licenses available for the Black Hills rifle season. Nineteen Black Hills antlerless units for rifle hunters open later.
Nine of those run Oct. 15 through Oct. 31 and four reopen Dec. 1 through Dec. 16. Five others run Dec. 1 through Dec. 16. The final five run Dec. 17 through Dec. 31.
There are 700 antlerless licenses for the Black Hills rifle season’s 19 units. There were 1,150 antlerless licenses last year.
Radio tracking indicated cow elk were down about 9 percent this year in the Black Hills, according to Chad Switzer, wildlife program administrator for the state Wildlife Division.
John Kanta, regional terrestrial resources supervisor for western South Dakota, said starting the antlerless seasons at later times has worked “really well.”
“I think it was a great idea that we have those extra seasons so we could spread those hunters and not have so much crowding,” Kanta said.
Switzer also noted hunters were somewhat more successful killing antlerless elk in the Black Hills during the 2017 season than anticipated. Custer State Park has nine any-elk licenses again for 2018 and 2019. The nine any-elk licenses available for 2017 brought 8,828 applications.
The Custer State Park any-elk season runs Oct. 1 through Oct. 31. The later start is intended to avoid overlap with archery hunters. The 2017 season began the third Saturday of October and ran 16 days.
The six Custer State Park antlerless units have a total of 60 licenses. The seasons are for short periods. Two are in October, two are in December, and two are in January. Wildlife Division officials are trying to combat chronic wasting disease that seems to be infecting elk in the southern end of Custer State Park and Wind Cave National Park.
“It is tough to impress upon people the impacts of chronic wasting disease,” Kanta said. “The trouble is it happens over a long period.”
For prairie elk, there will be eight areas open to hunting in 2018 and 2019. There are 68 any-elk licenses, up from 58 in 2017, and 73 antlerless elk, down from 90 last year.
One unit covers portions of Butte, Lawrence and Meade counties. Another unit covers Bennett and parts of Jackson and Mellette counties. A unit has portions of Butte County. A unit has parts of Fall River County.
The new unit for prairie elk is Harding County. It has eight of the 68 any-elk licenses. Elk outside the Black Hills are tending to increasingly use private land and the season is intended to help address landowner-depredation issues, Kanta said.
Elk are “coming back” on the prairie across western South Dakota, according to Kanta, and they’re doing damage in places farther from the Black Hills too.
“They’re covering large areas,” Kanta said. “They may be here today and 20 or 30 miles away tomorrow,” he added.
“It’s pretty apparent they’re spreading out and going to new areas,” Chairman Barry Jensen, of White River, said. He suggested the Wildlife Division be “pro-active.” “Whatever you can do to stay ahead of that would be good,” Jensen said.
WASHINGTON — Unwilling to yield, President Donald Trump and China's government escalated their trade clash Friday, with Beijing vowing to "counterattack with great strength" if Trump follows through on threats to impose tariffs on an additional $100 billion in Chinese goods.
Trump made his out-of-the-blue move when China threatened to retaliate for the first round of tariffs planned by the United States. But for someone who has long fashioned himself as a master negotiator, Trump left it unclear whether he was bluffing or willing to enter a protracted trade war pitting the world's two biggest economies against each other, with steep consequences for consumers, businesses and an already shaken stock market.
"They aren't going to bully him into backing down," said Stephen Moore, a former Trump campaign adviser who is now a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation. He said the Chinese "are going to have to make concessions — period."
The White House sent mixed signals on Friday as financial markets slid from investor concern about a significant trade fight. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC he was "cautiously optimistic" that the U.S. and China could reach an agreement before any tariffs are implemented but added, "there is the potential of a trade war."
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters the U.S. was "not in a trade war," adding, "China is the problem. Blame China, not Trump."
Trump's latest proposal intensified what was already shaping up to be the biggest trade battle for more than a half century. The U.S. bought more than $500 billion in goods from China last year and now is planning or considering penalties on some $150 billion of those imports. The U.S. sold about $130 billion in goods to China in 2017 and faces a potentially devastating hit to its market there if China responds in kind.
Global financial markets have fallen sharply as the world's two biggest economies squared off — the Dow Jones industrial average sank 572 points Friday.
Trump told advisers Thursday he was unhappy with China's decision to tax $50 billion in American products, including soybeans and small aircraft, in response to a U.S. move this week to impose tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods.
Rather than waiting weeks for the U.S. tariffs to be implemented, Trump backed a plan by Robert Lighthizer, his trade representative, and was encouraged by Peter Navarro, a top White House trade adviser, to seek the enhanced tariffs, upping the ante.
White House chief of staff John Kelly and Mnuchin concurred with the move, as did Kudlow, who traveled with the president to West Virginia.
China said negotiations were impossible under the circumstances but Trump officials said the president and his team remained in contact with President Xi Jinping and expressed hope to him of resolving the dispute through talks. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the two sides remained in "routine contact."
In Beijing, a Commerce Ministry spokesman said China doesn't want a trade war — but isn't afraid to fight one.
"If the U.S. side announces the list of products for $100 billion in tariffs, the Chinese side has fully prepared and will without hesitation counterattack with great strength," spokesman Gao Feng said. He gave no indication what measures Beijing might take.
Trump has also pushed for a crackdown on China's theft of U.S. intellectual property, and he criticized the World Trade Organization, an arbiter of trade disputes, in a tweet Friday for allegedly favoring China. Trump asserted the WTO gives the Asian superpower "tremendous perks and advantages, especially over the U.S."
U.S. officials have played down the threat of a broader trade dispute, saying a negotiated outcome is still possible. But economists warn that the tit-for-tat moves bear the hallmarks of a classic trade rift that could keep growing. Worry is intensifying among Republicans, who traditionally have favored liberalized trade.
"The administration needs to be thinking about the unintended consequences and what are those ripple effects, those domino effects, and what are the retaliatory actions that are likely to be taken," said South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the Senate's No. 3 Republican, in an interview with KDLT-TV in Sioux Falls.
The standoff over the trade penalties began last month when the U.S. slapped tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. China countered by announcing tariffs on $3 billion worth of U.S. products. The next day, the United States proposed the $50 billion in duties on Chinese imports, and Beijing lashed back within hours with a threat of further tariffs of its own.
Further escalation could be in the offing. The U.S. Treasury is working on plans to restrict Chinese technology investments in the United States. And there's talk that the U.S. could also put limits on visas for Chinese who want to visit or study in this country.
Kudlow told reporters the U.S. may provide a list of suggestions to China "as to what we would like to have come out of this," and those issues were under discussion.