State Rep. Susan Wismer, D-Britton, said Tuesday she will run for governor.
The third-term legislator made the announcement during a media conference held in the Capitol building. She was flanked by Democratic lawmakers, supporters and her daughter, Kate.
House Minority Leader Bernie Hunhoff introduced Wismer, calling her the next governor from South Dakota. She’s been a leader in the Democratic caucus during the past few years, he said.
“She immediately gained such stature not only among Democrats, but among Republicans here in Pierre,” Hunhoff said.
During her prepared remarks, Wismer referred to herself several times as a moderate and centrist, saying she’s a credible candidate for Independents, Republicans and Democrats. She said her campaign will show the voters there’s a viable alternative to “the machine that has controlled the state for so long.”
“Just like business is better when there is competition, government is better when there is a competition of ideas,” she said.
Several times Wismer went after current Gov. Dennis Daugaard, especially in regards to budget cuts made in 2011. She also criticized him for not doing enough to ensure South Dakotans have good wages and health care.
“I believe this governor has made choices he needs to be held accountable for,” she said.
Her lifelong residency in South Dakota gives her a historic and balanced perspective on important issues, Wismer said, adding that the state needs to support middle-class residents and education.
With her announcement, Wismer becomes the third candidate to officially join the race for governor and the second Democrat. Joe Lowe, the former head of the state wildfire agency, announced he would run at the beginning of December. Wismer said she has talked with Lowe and believes he is a credible candidate, but said that she has more experience.
Daugaard has not officially announced that he will run again, but has said he will most likely seek a second term. Former state representative Lora Hubbel announced in October that she will challenge Daugaard in the primary.
Wismer, who owns a tax and bookkeeping firm, said she won’t be campaigning right away. Stating that she has a duty to her constituents and clients, Wismer said she’ll wait until after the legislative session and tax season before devoting herself to the race.
Wismer said she knows the campaign will be an uphill battle, both because she is running as a Democrat in a predominately Republican state and because she’ll only have two months to prepare for the primary.
However, Wismer said she has some name recognition and is counting on moderates to support her.
Wismer said she has considered running for the past several months and finally decided that the time was right to challenge the current administration.
“I realized I had as good a grasp on the issues as anyone I have seen run for governor,” she said.