PIERRE, S.D. — A former South Dakota attorney general who won the state a case at the U.S. Supreme Court and narrowly lost a bid for the Republican gubernatorial primary has announced he's throwing his hat in the ring for his old job in 2022.
Pierre attorney Marty Jackley, 50, who served from 2009 to 2019 as AG for South Dakota, issued a video on his personal Twitter page on Monday, March 1 noting "there's a lot going on in our state right now," in a campaign kick-off for an election still 20 months away.
"This isn't about me," said Jackley. "This is about the people of South Dakota and what you need in your state attorney general's office."
The announcement arrives amid a scandal-plagued tenure of his successor, Republican Jason Ravnsborg, who is facing a potential impeachment proceeding, calls for his resignation from the state's highest office and law enforcement leaders, as well as three misdemeanor charges in county court stemming from his autumn car crash that left a pedestrian dead along a rural roadside less than an hour east of Pierre.
Ravnsborg's personal spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday from Forum News Service.
Jackley's tenure as attorney general, served alongside Govs. Mike Rounds and Dennis Daugaard, culminated in 2018 with an oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., in favor of invalidating a legal standard that prohibited states from collecting sales tax on out-of-state vendors. Ultimately, the court agreed in a 5-4 ruling in South Dakota v. Wayfair with Jackley's position, opening up a new revenue stream for the state's coffers.
While unusual, the potential match-up between Jackley and Ravnsborg and perhaps another challenger is reminiscent of a 2018 three-way challenge for the Republican nomination between the current AG, then a Yankton attorney, and two other prosecutors, Lance Russell of Fall River and Lawrence County's John Fitzgerald. Ultimately, Ravnsborg won his party's nomination and he went on to defeat retired U.S. Attorney for South Dakota, Randy Seiler, the Democratic candidate, in the statewide race.
It's still unclear whether Ravnsborg will stay on as attorney general, though he's vowed through a spokesman not to resign. On Wednesday, a resolution containing two articles of impeachment will be brought before the House State Affairs committee in Pierre. Legislative leaders have proposed a 10-person committee that would investigate whether the AG committed "impeachable offenses" in his conduct during and after the fatal Hyde County crash.
If Ravnsborg resigns or is impeached, Gov. Kristi Noem — who has also called on Ravnsborg to step down — would appoint his successor. Last week, in a brief interview with FNS, Jackley declined to comment on whether he would fill that role if offered.
A Sturgis-native, Jackley lost to Noem in a tough battle for the Republican nomination for governor in 2018 by 12 points. But chatter in the state house has turned to Jackley in recent weeks, given the increasing scrutiny of Ravnsborg.
"Thank you for all the calls," said Jackley, on Monday. "Your thoughts and prayers mean more to me than I can say."
Republicans will choose the AG nominee at the state convention in June 2022 in Rapid City.