- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 26, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - The primary petitions that have been filed in South Dakota show the hot spots for the upcoming election.

With Tuesday’s deadline past, legislative District 29 in west-central South Dakota drew the most petitions as state Sen. Larry Rhoden of Union Center looks to move up to the U.S. Senate.

Three Republicans have filed to take his place, including Rep. Gary Cammack. At least five Republicans will run for the district’s two House seats.

District 18 around Yankton will also be active. Term-limited Republican Sen. Jean Hunhoff and her Democratic brother-in-law Rep. Bernie Hunhoff will run for each other’s seats with competition in both chambers.

“That’s where the suspense will be on the Republican primary side,” said Bob Burns, a retired political science professor from South Dakota State University.

Two other Republican primary races will be in Sioux Falls’ Districts 12 and 15. Incumbents there are not seeking re-election, two because of term limits.

Rep. Betty Olson, R-Prairie City, sponsor of several pro-gun bills this past session, is also term-limited. She’s running for the Senate, and at least three Republicans will try for her seat in a primary.

Burns said Democrats have left many seats unchallenged in the House and Senate, a familiar pattern. Republicans control the House 53-17 and the Senate 28-7.

Zach Crago, executive director of the South Dakota Democratic Party, said more Republican seats will have challengers once the final petitions are certified. Petitions had to be postmarked by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, and Secretary of State Jason Gant said they will likely all be in by Thursday.

“We’re going to increase our seats in Pierre this election cycle,” Crago said. “Along the I-29 corridor there are lots of opportunities to pick up seats.”

The South Dakota Republican Party did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Independent candidates can file petitions through April 29. The primary election will take place June 3.

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