Randy Seiler of Fort Pierre was crossing the state Thursday, holding news conferences first in Rapid City and hours later in Sioux Falls to formally open his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for state attorney general.
A former U.S. attorney who retired in December after a career as a federal prosecutor, Seiler continues as a temporary, part-time contracted deputy state’s attorney for Hughes County.
He filed with the secretary of state’s office in early January and the Capital Journal reported his candidancy two months ago. But Seiler made his run’s formal roll-out Thursday, capping it with a fundraiser Thursday evening in the Sioux Falls home of Brendan Johnson, who he succeeded as U.S. attorney for South Dakota in 2015.
He will face one opponent at the Democratic party convention June 15-16 in Sioux Falls.
Three Republicans are vying for their party’s nomination also to be chosen at their state convention June 20-23 in Pierre.
The new AG will be chosen by voters at the general election in November as Marty Jackley, current attorney general, is running for governor.
Seiler, 71, says he’s running on his career experience as a prosecutor at every level.
History might seem against him, because only two Democrats have been elected attorney general in the state, years ago and each served only two years.
Seiler said Thursday he looked to another bit of more recent history, when Republicans, he says, were looking for a new attorney general in 2009 after Larry Long resigned.“They looked across the state and made the decision that the person best qualified was the person operating, managing and occupying the position of U.S. attorney, Marty Jackley.”
Now, as Jackley is moving on running for governor, Seiler sees himself as the most erstwhile top federal prosecutor in the state who now is best fitted to be the state’s top prosecutor.
President Trump nominated Ron Parsons of Sioux Falls to succeed Seiler as U.S. attorney and he was sworn in at the beginning of the year.
Seiler spent 22 years in the U.S. attorney’s office, mostly as a leading prosecutor, under both Republican and Democrat U.S. attorneys. His last nearly three years he spent as the U.S. attorney, leading a team of 60 lawyers and other staff workers prosecuting serious federal crimes.
Seiler emphasizes his work with American Indian tribes, coming down hard on crime and also serving as federal tribal liaison, working with tribal members.
That emphasis might be because his Democratic opponent for the party’s nomination is Tatewin Means, former attorney general for the Oglala Sioux Tribe who announced her candidacy formally a few days ago.
Now chair of graduate studies at Oglala Lakota College, Means, who lives in Rapid City, would be the first female attorney general in state history.
Republicans seeking the office include John Fitzgerald, Lawrence County state’s attorney in Deadwood who lives near St. Onge; Yankton attorney Jason Ravnsborg, who is a deputy state’s attorney for Union County; and state Sen. Lance Russell from Hot Springs who is a former county prosecutor.
Charles McGuigan, chief deputy attorney general to Jackley who registered his candidancy for fundraising purposes more than a year ago, withdrew in mid-March, saying “the stress of the campaign is not in my health’s best interest.”
Seiler might have a good chance, despite being a Democrat, based on comments on the strongly Republican blog, Dakota War College, where commenters have said, perhaps grudgingly, that Seiler is a strong candidate who likely will win crossover votes and could win.
Seiler says he will make fighting methamphetamine his “primary priority” as attorney general.
He grew up in Herreid and served in Vietnam with the Air Force in the late 1960s.