Election day 2014 seems like a long way away but for several candidates seeking a place in the U.S. Senate, the race has already begun.
So far, there are four Republicans but only one Democrat in the running.
And they're all competing for retiring senator Tim Johnson's highly coveted seat.
KSFY News spoke with local Republican and Democrat party leaders to get their thoughts.
It's not often Republicans and Democrats agree.
And one thing both parties believe, it's important to get Tim Johnson's senate seat when he retires next year.
But with so many people in the race, they disagree on whether having so many choices will help or hurt them.
With four Republicans and One democrat it's a crowded race to the U.S. Capitol.
South Dakota Democratic Party Interim Director Zach Crago said "I think it's telling that governor Mike Rounds hasn't been able to clear the Republican field. South Dakotans want a U.S. senator with South Dakota values. That's what made senator Tim Johnson so great. And governor Mike Rounds, during his tenure as the governor, just did not represent those values."
But for the Republicans in the running, GOP leaders say having so many choices is a good thing. And Democrats may use that to their advantage.
Lincoln County Republican Chair Betty Otten said "it's the conservative versus the progressive, liberal element of our party, that's a good thing. That means that we're an active, and alive party and we embrace it."
"I think there's a lot of soul searching going on right now in the Republican party at a national level and at a state level. And that's something they'll have to figure out. Right now, Democrats are united behind South Dakota values and that's we think we're going to have a great chance in 2014 to keep the us senate seat," Crago said.
After a GOP primary, the race to keep that seat will come down to one Republican and one Democrat.
"Every Republican in the state is going to rally around that after the primary happens. So it will be that senate candidate against Rick Weiland and we really believe that we're going to walk away with that seat, hands down," Otten said.
"We need a strong democrat in that seat to advance our South Dakota values with rewarding work, respecting women, investing in children and that's why we need to keep that seat," Crago said.
The two parties have different points of view on several issues but both Crago and Otten tell us, winning that senate seat is important to preserve their view of South Dakota values.
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