Democrats to invest $1 million in South Dakota Senate race

A poll this week showed a tighter three-way race for the U.S. Senate in South Dakota, with Republican Gov. Mike Rounds at 35 percent.
By Frances Burns  |  Oct. 9, 2014 at 4:04 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- A Democratic committee plans to invest $1 million in the South Dakota Senate race, where a poll this week showed its candidate running third.

A SurveyUSA poll released Tuesday gave the Republican candidate, former Gov. Mike Rounds, a weak lead. He had 35 percent of the vote to 32 percent for former Sen. Larry Pressler, a three-term Republican running as an independent, and 28 percent for the Democrat, Rick Weiland.

The seat is currently held by Sen. Tim Johnson, a Democrat who is retiring after three terms. Republicans had assumed an easy victory as the party fights to win control of the upper house.

In Kansas, the Democratic candidate withdrew, boosting the chances of independent Greg Orman against Republican Sen. Pat Roberts. In South Dakota, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has instead announced plans to begin running TV commercials Monday.

Rounds, who has not come close to 50 percent in any poll, is clearly a vulnerable candidate, who would be likely to lose a two-way race. He is embroiled in a visa scandal, and a former aide recently took his own life shortly before he was expected to be charged.

Polls suggest Weiland is unlikely to win votes among those who now say they will vote for Rounds. That means his road to victory involves picking up support from those backing Pressler.

Pressler, who endorsed President Obama in 2008 and 2012, has not said which party caucus he would join if he wins. The Democrats currently hold 53 seats to 45 for the Republicans, while two independents, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine, caucus with the Democrats.

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