- Associated Press - Thursday, March 5, 2015

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - In a surprise flip, nearly all state Senate Democrats supported a measure to change the state’s so-called “Daschle law” that bars a presidential candidate from seeking another office on the same South Dakota ballot.

The Senate voted 24-9 Thursday to send a proposal to remove the prohibition to Gov. Dennis Daugaard. An administration spokeswoman couldn’t say whether Daugaard would sign the measure but said the governor had expressed support earlier this session.

The original Republican-backed measure in 2002 faced criticism from Democrats for targeting then-U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who was considered a possible 2004 Democratic presidential candidate.

State Senate Majority Leader Tim Rave said this plan would help increase the state’s potential political influence.

“We have a limited congressional delegation, and if there’s ever a potential where we could have some influence on a national stage, I think it would behoove us to let ourselves to have that ability,” Rave said. “The past is the past.”

Democrats had fought against the change this session as it worked through the legislative process. In a committee hearing on Wednesday, Democratic Sen. Bernie Hunhoff said Republicans are pushing the measure simply because they have the “raw power” to do so.

But Hunhoff said on the Senate floor on Thursday that his caucus shifted positions to support the measure and said both sides had played political games from the beginning. Hunhoff said the change is good policy.

“It just became a scholarly case of how not to go about the process, not in the people’s house,” Hunhoff said after the vote. “They just brought it, threw it out there and sought to just ram it through, which they’ve got the votes to do. And we instinctively tried to raise as much hell as we could about it.”

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