Lawmaker introduces bill to end US Senate primaries in South Dakota

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(Pierre, S.D. SDBA) - A Sioux Falls state lawmaker wants to end primary elections for United States Senate nominees and he says it’s in the best interest of the voters.

Rep. Isaac Latterell has introduced House Bill 1291 in an effort to have major party candidates chosen by the legislature instead of elected by party voters in our current primary election system.

Republican and Democrat hopefuls would need the support of the majority of their respective state house and senate legislators to earn their party’s nomination and move on to the general election. The bill does not call for any changes to the third party system of placing candidates on the November ballots.

Latterell says while it may seem like his proposal is taking the voter out of the first step of an election, having the legislators choose nominees is more in line with the local control assurances our founding fathers wanted.

He says the framers of the constitution created the United States House of Representatives to be accountable to the people and the Senate to answer to the states; and in this case the legislature is best positioned to make sure the U.S. Senate doesn’t take away any rights of states to govern themselves locally.

Latterell believes this system would increase voter leverage because having the U.S. Senators beholden to legislators actually makes them more accountable than they are to constituents.

According to Latterell, eliminating the primary system would also level the playing field for more candidates to get involved in running for U.S. Senate. He says influencing legislators for support is much cheaper than running expensive primary campaigns that often times are won by the person who has the most money.

HB 1291 has not been assigned to a committee yet, but Latterell says it will get fair consideration.

(Courtesy South Dakota Broadcasters Association.)