All Republican going in, all Republican coming out.
That was the general election story Tuesday for South Dakota's six constitutional office races.
Public Utilities Commission Chairman Dusty Johnson led a Republican sweep of the often-overlooked constitutional office races -- including the PUC, secretary of state, attorney general, treasure, auditor and school and public lands commissioner.
With 661 of 791 precincts reporting statewide Tuesday night, the first-term PUC commissioner had an overwhelming lead over Jefferson businessman Doyle Karpen -- 74 percent to 26 percent. Johnson said he believed voters responded to his commitment to his job and performance during his first six-year term.
"I think they appreciate that six years after I was elected, I'm still out busting my butt every day trying to do to make my little corner of the world better," Johnson said.
He praised Karpen for running an issue-oriented race and said it was important to have opposition.
"The bottom line is, when politicians have to go out on a campaign and participate in a statewide job interview, it's good for the process," Johnson said.
At the same point in the vote count, Republicans led in other races by comfortable margins, as well.
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In the race for secretary of state, Republican state Sen. Jason Gant led Democratic state Sen. Ben Nesselhuf 55 percent to 39 percent, with Constitution Party candidate Lori Stacey in third with 6 percent.
Gant said he believed his focus on protecting the integrity of the state voting system was important to voters.
"It was the issues, talking about voter fraud and concerns about our elections, and making sure we run our elections fair and legal," Gant said. "I think that message resonated with South Dakotans, and I'm going to stick with it."
Attorney General Marty Jackley, a former U.S. attorney appointed to the attorney general's job when Larry Long became a judge, led former state legislator Ron Volesky 67 percent to 33 percent. Jackley said voters complimented him on state involvement in multi-state legal actions to protect states from federal intrusion on health care and gun and ammunition regulations, as well as a suit on Black Hills forest management.
"I've learned a lot about what people want in this campaign. I intend to use it to be a better attorney general," he said.
In the treasurer's race, Republican state Auditor Rich Sattgast led Democrat Tom Katus, a former state senator from Rapid City, 66 percent to 34 percent. Republican Steve Barnett led Democrat Julie Bartling 61 percent to 39 percent in the auditor's race. And Republican Jarrod Johnson led Democrat Bob Pille 67 percent to 33 percent in the School and Public Lands commissioner's race.
Contact Kevin Woster at 394-8413 or firstname.lastname@example.org