Resumes from inexperienced job seekers list every success, large and small, promising to be earnest. Experienced candidates enumerate only the major accomplishments they led. Unless pay is a concern, employers seldom opt for inexperience.
In the race for South Dakota attorney general, the impressive resume of former U.S. Attorney Randy Seiler towers over that of Yankton attorney Jason Ravnsborg. Except for the “D” behind his name, Seiler should be assured victory on Nov. 6. He should be elected anyway.
The most critical role of the state attorney general is to set the tone for prosecutions, making tough calls based on real, broad experience.
The Journal endorses Democrat Randy Seiler for attorney general because of his demonstrated ability to lead prosecutors.
Ravnsborg, a Republican, has an impressive military background, years of work in civil law, and he has supported the Republican Party by working to defeat four initiated measures. In exchange, his party rewarded him with this nomination.
Ravnsborg is young and ambitious — he ran for U.S. Senate as a 38-year-old in 2014. As the Army Reserve commander of a transportation battalion, performing service in both Iraq and Afghanistan, he has demonstrated leadership. He is pro-life and pro-Second Amendment.
But there’s a big hole in his resume: Ravnsborg has minimal if any experience as a prosecutor in criminal case jury trials. It matters.
In South Dakota, the letters AG have long implied aspiring to governor. For at least a generation, however, every Republican AG candidate has brought some prosecutorial experience to the post.
Current AG Marty Jackley had served as U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota and was named the 2008 South Dakota Prosecutor of the Year. Larry Long, AG from 2003 to 2009, had been the state’s chief deputy attorney general. Mark Barnett, AG from 1991 to 2002, had served as the state’s attorney for Hughes County. Roger Tellinghuisen, AG from 1987 to 1991, had been Lawrence County state’s attorney. Tellinghuisen and Mark Meierhenry, the Republican AG before him, have both endorsed Seiler.
Campaign slipups prevented Ravnsborg from accepting two invitations from the Journal editorial board to present his case. On his campaign website, Ravnsborg pledges to travel to every county, every year; lead from the front by discussing the important issues of the day and ordering solutions; keep his door open for anyone to come visit and ask questions or report concerns; and be a strong advocate for law enforcement.
Seiler, a Vietnam veteran who has prosecuted 70 jury trials and has experience in 500 felony cases, set these goals: Address the opioid and meth problems in South Dakota; address the lack of transparency and conflicts of interest that have mired state government; and protect consumers, especially the elderly, from scams.
As former U.S. attorney for the District of South Dakota, Seiler essentially performed the role of attorney general for the federal courts. He resigned after changes in the White House foreshadowed his inevitable departure. Seiler has no plans to seek another elected office after becoming attorney general. He won’t spend the next four years leaning on experienced staff while campaigning for governor. He has no reason to waste taxpayer dollars by playing politics with the rule of law.
Seiler has represented the victims of homicide, child sexual abuse and rape. As U.S. attorney, Seiler directed his office to partner with health care providers to promote the rights of people with disabilities, and combat child sexual abuse, opioid addiction and human trafficking. He has worked with tribal leaders to foster government-to-government relationships. He also led his office’s civil, appellate and administrative divisions.
His resume stands out. South Dakota voters need to select Seiler — the best candidate to fill the real and demanding job of attorney general.