Former Gov. Rounds ponders Senate run in 2014

2012-02-04T06:00:00Z Former Gov. Rounds ponders Senate run in 2014Kevin Woster Journal staff Rapid City Journal
February 04, 2012 6:00 am  • 

Former Gov. Mike Rounds said Friday that he is seriously considering a run for the U.S. Senate in 2014.

The former two-term Republican governor has previously said he was "not closing any doors" on future political campaigns. But he went beyond that Friday when asked about a 2014 run for the seat held by Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson.

"I am giving it serious thought," Rounds said.

It isn't just thought, however. A former chief of staff for Rounds, Sioux Falls businessman Rob Skjonsberg, has reserved two Internet domain sites that could be useful to a future campaign.

The domain sites are listed on godaddy.com as ROUNDSFORSENATE.com and ROUNDSFORSOUTHDAKOTA.com.

Contacted Friday about the domain reservations, Skjonsberg said he secured the names for a modest cost last year to protect them in case Rounds decided on a Senate. If the sites were reserved by someone else, it could complicate things in a campaign or possibly cost the Rounds campaign substantial amounts of money to purchase, Skjonsberg said.

"At that time, I was just working to protect him from someone who might try to capitalize on the domain should he decide to run. I was just looking out for his best interests," Skjonsberg said. "And if he decides to run? I'm a big fan and I'll be there to help. Maybe he'll use that domain site."

Rounds said he is still far from a decision on 2014, the last year of Johnson's third U.S. Senate term. Rounds said he is concentrating on his work as a partner in the Fischer Rounds & Associate real estate and insurance firm based in Pierre, where he works with his son, Chris.

"Today I'm working in private business. I like working in private business," Rounds said. "But nonetheless I want to keep my options open concerning a 2014 run."

Rounds, 57, said he is not interested in the U.S. House seat held by first-term Republican Rep. Kristi Noem.

"We have a House member, who's a Republican," he said. "I've never looked at the House race."

The Senate, however, is more interesting. And Rounds has spoken to Republican Sen. John Thune about the logistics of getting back and forth from Washington, D.C., to Thune's home in Sioux Falls.

"I've visited with Sen. Thune about how he has been able to work out keeping in contact with the family, maintaining a household in South Dakota while still working in Washington, D.C.," Rounds said. "I think John has done a super job of staying in contact with people back here and keeping his roots and staying grounded in South Dakota while participating at fairly high levels in Washington, D.C."

It would be a more complicated chore for Rounds, however, since his home is on the Missouri River shoreline north of Fort Pierre.

"Air connections are more difficult if you want to live in the Pierre-Fort Pierre area," Rounds said. "That has been part of the discussion as well."

Rounds also said he had previously discussed the transition from governor to U.S. senator with Republican Sens. John Hoeven of North Dakota and Mike Johanns of Nebraska. Both served as governors prior to their Senate runs.

As popular governor, Rounds would make for an imposing candidate for either the Senate or the House, said Ken Blanchard, a political science professor at Northern State University in Aberdeen.

"What kind of chance would Rounds have? I would think anybody would have to say it would be a pretty good one," he said. "I'm a little surprised he's not considering the House. If he's sure he doesn't want to run for the House, he has to hope Kristi Noem doesn't run for the Senate seat."

Noem is a possibility for that race, provided she wins re-election to the House this year. But she won't talk about 2014 possibilities.

"I've hitched horses up to wagons before, and I know which one goes first," Noem said, in a quote provided by her staff. "The job South Dakotans elected me to do is the one I am focused on, fighting for responsible spending cuts and homegrown affordable energy. I don't have plans for anything else besides working hard to represent South Dakotans in the U.S. House."

Bob Burns of Brookings, a professor emeritus in political science at South Dakota State University, said that despite Rounds' popularity as governor, he will have lost some standing during more than three years out of office.

"It's not easy to make a comeback, although he went out a winner," Burns said. "And that's a lot different than going out a loser."

If Noem wins re-election and ends up facing Rounds in a 2014 Senate primary, it would be a contest comparable to the clash between then-Gov. Bill Janklow and then-Sen. Jim Abdnor in the 1986 GOP primary won by Abdnor.

"It would be of that magnitude," Burns said.

Rounds cautions people, however, against assuming too much for now. Those people include Skjonsberg.

"He's made it clear that if I decide to do anything, he'll be there for me," Rounds said. "I've told him I'm keeping my options open. But it's not the time to be making decisions for 2014."

Contact Kevin Woster at 394-8413 or kevin.woster@rapidcityjournal.com

 

 

 

Copyright 2015 Rapid City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(9) Comments

  1. tiredwrkr
    Report Abuse
    tiredwrkr - February 04, 2012 9:52 pm
    no matter who is elected to congress they need to remember while they MUST pay attention to their states populace's wishes what may look good to the states may not be good for the nation and that my friends is an absolute prerequisite
  2. luther
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    luther - February 04, 2012 9:24 pm
    How embarrassing for South Dakotans! Ugh
  3. Jonnnn
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    Jonnnn - February 04, 2012 3:25 pm
    One If By Land said: "Rounds was at BEST a so-so Governor. If elected, he would be at BEST a so-so Senator. Which would admittedly be a slight improvement over the incumbent."

    Oh my aren't we generous. Rounds better hope the voters forget his legacy that included: the largest state budget deficit in history;ran a state budget deficit for 7 of 8 years; hired more state workers than any other governor; expanded the state budget more than any governor in the modern era (53% in 7 years); increased pay for the top 19 state employees 30%; oversaw state education results continue their 30+ year flat-lining; maintained his own private air taxi service for the benefit of himself and family to visit kids school events; attempted to transfer funds around state government to mask the cost of the Rounds air force; gave TransCanada $38 million to build a pipeline through SD they were building anyway; lead by example by building and living in a house in a floodplain then expecting bailouts when it flooded; etc. Yeah, Rounds will fit in very well in the Senate.
  4. dodasd
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    dodasd - February 04, 2012 3:12 pm
    Obama wont like this!
  5. Dog Soldier
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    Dog Soldier - February 04, 2012 1:05 pm
    No need to worry about weekly travel back to South Dakota. Its taxpayer funded, no cost to you. Ask noem and thune how it works for them.
  6. Peter_Wiggin
    Report Abuse
    Peter_Wiggin - February 04, 2012 12:18 pm
    Fast Eddie said: "Are you kidding me? Rounds asked Thune about traveling back and forth from DC to SD. Thune obviously has no problem getting around as he's been to Africa lately with Bono. However I don't think that meeting had anything to do with staying in touch with the people of SD. In all fairness to Thune I understand he was in Rapid City lately. I suppose to be fair I should do a little research to find out what Thune has done for SD since he's been Senator. That might give a clue as to how effective Rounds might be as a senator, two peas in a pod so to speak."

    While your at it check how many times Johnson has voted the party line over the objections of the people here in this state.

    Senators are elected to vote the will of the people who elected them not the party lines in Washington and that goes for both of them.
  7. Pea
    Report Abuse
    Pea - February 04, 2012 11:41 am
    Easy now Professor Ken, by any measure in politics today a Senate run in 2014 is a lifetime away! The ex-governor’s career would be turned upside down to include any juvenile corrections votes made in the 90’s for example, plus all business practices to date!
  8. Fast Eddie
    Report Abuse
    Fast Eddie - February 04, 2012 8:21 am
    Are you kidding me? Rounds asked Thune about traveling back and forth from DC to SD. Thune obviously has no problem getting around as he's been to Africa lately with Bono. However I don't think that meeting had anything to do with staying in touch with the people of SD. In all fairness to Thune I understand he was in Rapid City lately. I suppose to be fair I should do a little research to find out what Thune has done for SD since he's been Senator. That might give a clue as to how effective Rounds might be as a senator, two peas in a pod so to speak.
  9. Report Abuse
    - February 04, 2012 7:16 am
    Rounds was at BEST a so-so Governor. If elected, he would be at BEST a so-so Senator. Which would admittedly be a slight improvement over the incumbent.
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