Editor's note: This is the final installment in a three-part series on the candidates for South Dakota's seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018.
Shantel Krebs is South Dakota’s secretary of state and is a candidate for the Republican nomination for South Dakota’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018.
Why she’s running: “When President Trump was elected, I was all in,” Krebs said.
She said South Dakota voters tell her they are frustrated and want “the mess cleaned up” in Washington, D.C. “It’s not working,” Krebs said. “I want to help him deliver results. That’s what my logo is: Get it done.”
How she’s organized her campaign: Krebs said it’s a lot of evenings and weekends. Her daytime focus is the office in Pierre. “I was elected to be secretary of state,” she said.
If someone on the office staff is out sick, Krebs said she or another staffer answers the office phone. She said the staff buys into her message: “We work for the taxpayer.”
Her office oversees South Dakota’s elections on a constant two-year cycle and handles an increasing workload of business filings. That led her to adopt zero-based budgets that start from scratch each year.
“There is no reason we can’t challenge the federal government to do that,” she said.
Krebs grew up in a farm family in Arlington about 50 miles east of Huron. The State Fair was an annual event, and she remembers the family stopping to buy a halter or a horse blanket before returning home.
The 1997 Miss South Dakota still wears her blue Future Farmers of America jacket when the organization’s young leaders visit the Capitol each year.
Krebs was a Sioux Falls businesswoman and a part-time state legislator in her fifth two-year term when she filed paperwork in 2013 to run for secretary of state. After that, Republican Jason Gant, the incumbent, decided he wouldn’t seek re-election.
Krebs said she was the only person in the U.S. House race who has had to make payroll and rent. She said only 36 of the current U.S. House members come from rural districts.
After she won secretary of state in November 2014, Krebs inherited an office that she said was in disarray, with business applications many weeks behind waiting in boxes. She brought in a different team, including some people who left the office after Gant won the nomination in 2010. She said her crew dug in and caught up.
She said they set accountability measures, delivered on letters of intent to the Legislature and increased revenue to state government’s general fund. The office website reports daily on her office’s progress in keeping pace on filings.
Krebs looked like she might run in 2010 for the U.S. House seat held at that time by Democrat Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, but ultimately chose not to.
Another legislator, Kristi Noem, won a three-way primary for the Republican nomination and defeated Herseth Sandlin. Noem won re-election three times and is seeking the Republican nomination for governor in 2018.
Krebs said running for Congress wasn’t the next step when she decided to go for secretary of state. “That was a big choice,” she said..
She wants to serve on the House Agriculture Committee. Krebs said it’s possible that Congress won’t approve the farm bill in 2018 and she wants to be ready. “We don’t want to rely on other countries for our food supply,” she said. “We feed the world, literally.”
How she’s raising money: Krebs formally announced her candidacy for the Republican nomination for the U.S. House seat March 14. “I’ve outraised my (Republican) opponent the last two quarters,” Krebs said. “It shows people want someone real, someone rugged and independent. I don’t just sit back — I challenge, I push.”
Krebs said people are mad and “passionately frustrated” with Congress. She said it’s “amazing” people have been willing to invest in her candidacy. The average contribution was less than $200, she said.
How she greets people: Krebs looked enthusiastic and interested. “It’s me, and that’s about it,” she said. “It’s family and a few friends. That’s about it.”