This is the “one thing leads to another” thread of the South Dakota Gubernatorial race as the fall and rise of candidates seemingly follow the laws of physics.

The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November is no longer the end of election season. It’s apparently the start of a new season as candidates are compelled to make themselves a candidate even before the old campaign signs are removed.

Domino #1 to fall in this process is the exodus of Mark Mickelson from contention for South Dakota’s highest office. Saying he wanted to focus on being a father, Mickelson graciously bowed out of the 2018 edition leaving the possibility open for a run in 2022 or 2026 should things work in his favor.

Domino #2 tumbled with the video announcement of Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s plan to perhaps be the first woman elected Governor of South Dakota. Connect the dots between these first two dominoes if you wish in any manner you like. There is plenty of room for interpretation.

Domino #3 is directly linked to #2. It’s just a case of which was going to happen first. Attorney General Marty Jackley has been considered a candidate for the governorship in the Rushmore State. One day Ms. Noem was by her lonesome in the race for Governor, the next day she’s got a dancing partner for the primary.

Stacked together as these dominoes were, the laws of physics were inescapable as we learn once again that campaign inertia is a hard thing to harness.

How about the immovable object placed into the paths of the candidates? A different type of law that forced the hand of these two combatants looms large in the process.

The recently voter-approved IM 22 will limit contributions for candidates running for Governor or any statewide office to the tune of $4,000 per individual or campaign committee. Now the irresistible force of thousands of dollars already raised by these two candidates will be in play. The formalities of filing as a candidate had to be completed prior to the law taking effect.

Let us also not forget the Newton’s Third Law portion of the discussion. With the action of the candidates entering the 2018 race for Governor, there is the equal and opposite reaction of the South Dakota Democrats.

Within hours of Noem’s proclamation, the Democrats issued their response.

“Today's announcement is further evidence that Kristi Noem's political career is more important to her than serving the people of South Dakota. Six days after being re-elected to Congress, she announced her intentions to run for another office. South Dakota only has one representative in the U.S. House, but rather than representing South Dakota the next two years Rep. Noem will be running for governor.

"During the next two years, Democrats will hold Rep. Noem accountable for her lack of commitment to the position the people of South Dakota entrusted to her, as well as her unreasonable and out-of-touch record the days she actually showed up to work in Congress - including voting to shut down the government while South Dakota ranchers suffered the effects of a terrible blizzard, voting against the reauthorization of the Violence against Women Act, and voting for the Ryan budget, which included turning Medicare into a voucher program."

After Jackley’s intentions were known, the Democrats volleyed back.

“Just like Kristi Noem, his opponent in the Republican primary for Governor, Marty Jackley has long made it clear he prioritizes his career advancement over fulfilling the duties he was entrusted with by the people of South Dakota. His weak and delayed response to government scandals, such as waiting until after the 2014 election to file charges in the EB-5 case, show he was more concerned with political expedience than seeing justice done. Instead of focusing on South Dakota issues, he frequently expended precious taxpayer resources on frivolous lawsuits.

"South Dakota needs change in Pierre, not the same old unreasonable and out-of-touch policies offered by Marty Jackley and Kristi Noem. Over the next two years, South Dakota Democrats and our candidates will offer an alternative vision of a state government that works for everyone, not just the powerful and well-connected, while reflecting South Dakota values such as fairness, rewarding hard work, and revitalizing our rural and urban communities."

To really get your mind going, think of adding another potion to the mix. If Amendment V had passed, the primary in that setting would winnow down the candidate pool to just two contestants. Feel free to connect more dots, but this part is only based on theory with not enough experiments in a controlled setting to make it law.

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