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Mike Rounds

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Title: Mike Rounds  
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Subject: South Dakota gubernatorial election, 2002, Dennis Daugaard, United States Senate election in South Dakota, 2014, Bill Janklow, Larry Pressler
Collection: 1954 Births, American Roman Catholics, Governors of South Dakota, Living People, People from Beadle County, South Dakota, People from Pierre, South Dakota, Republican Party State Governors of the United States, Republican Party United States Senators, South Dakota Republicans, South Dakota State Senators, South Dakota State University Alumni, United States Presidential Electors, 2004, United States Presidential Electors, 2008, United States Senators from South Dakota
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Mike Rounds

Mike Rounds
United States Senator
from South Dakota
Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Serving with John Thune
Preceded by Tim Johnson
31st Governor of South Dakota
In office
January 7, 2003 – January 8, 2011
Lieutenant Dennis Daugaard
Preceded by Bill Janklow
Succeeded by Dennis Daugaard
Member of the South Dakota Senate
from the 24th district
In office
January 3, 1991 – January 3, 2001
Preceded by Jacquie Kelley
Succeeded by Patricia de Hueck
Personal details
Born Marion Michael Rounds
(1954-10-24) October 24, 1954
Huron, South Dakota, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Jean Rounds (1978–present)
Children Brian
Alma mater South Dakota State University
Religion Roman Catholicism
Website Senate website

Marion Michael "Mike" Rounds (born October 24, 1954) is an American politician who is the junior United States Senator from South Dakota, in office since 2015. A member of the Republican Party, Rounds served as the 31st Governor of South Dakota from 2003 to 2011, having previously served in the South Dakota Senate from 1991 to 2001.

Rounds serves as a member of the Governors' Council at the Bipartisan Policy Center.[1] On November 29, 2012, Rounds announced that in 2014 he would run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Tim Johnson, who was retiring. He won the election.


  • Early life, education, and business career 1
  • South Dakota Senate 2
    • Elections 2.1
    • Tenure 2.2
    • Committee assignments 2.3
  • Governor of South Dakota 3
    • Elections 3.1
    • Tenure 3.2
      • Research centers 3.2.1
      • Abortion 3.2.2
      • EB-5 Visa inquiry 3.2.3
  • U.S. Senate 4
    • 2014 U.S. Senate election 4.1
    • Committee assignments 4.2
  • Personal life 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life, education, and business career

Rounds, the eldest of eleven siblings, was born in Huron, South Dakota, the son of Joyce (Reinartz) and Don Rounds.[2] He has German, Belgian, Swedish, and English ancestry.[2] Rounds has lived in the state capital of Pierre since he was three years old. He was named for an uncle, Marion Rounds, who was killed in the Pacific theater during the Second World War. Several members of the Rounds family have been involved in state government. His father worked at various times as state director of highway safety, a staffer for Rural Electrification Administration and executive director of the South Dakota Petroleum Council. Rounds' brother, Tim Rounds, is a member of the South Dakota State Legislature representing District 24, which includes Pierre.

Rounds attended South Dakota State University in Brookings, where he earned his B.S. in political science.

Rounds is a partner in Fischer Rounds & Associates, an insurance and real estate firm with offices in Pierre, Rapid City, Mitchell and Brandon.

South Dakota Senate


Rounds represented District 24,[3] which was based in Pierre. In 1990, Rounds defeated incumbent state Senator Jacqueline Kelley, 53%-47%. He won re-election in 1992 (60%), 1994 (77%), 1996 (66%), and 1998 (75%). Rounds was barred from seeking re-election in 2000 by legislative term limits, which South Dakota voters had passed in 1994.


He represented Hughes, Lyman, Stanley, and Sully counties.

In 1993, Rounds became Senate Minority Whip. In 1995, Rounds was selected by his peers to be Senate Majority Leader.[4]

Committee assignments

  • Commerce
  • Education
  • Legislative Procedure
  • Local Government
  • Retirement Laws
  • State Affairs
  • Taxation[5][6][7][8]

Governor of South Dakota


Rounds' victory in the 2002 Republican Gubernatorial Primary was one of South Dakota's greatest political upsets. Until late in 2001, then-Congressman John Thune was the front-runner for the nomination. When Thune passed on the race to challenge Senator Tim Johnson, state Attorney General Mark Barnett and former Lieutenant Governor Steve T. Kirby quickly became candidates.

However, the contest between Kirby and Barnett soon became very negative and dirty. Barnett attacked Kirby for not investing in companies based in South Dakota and for his involvement with Collagenesis, a company which removed skin from donated human cadavers and processed them for use. It became the subject of a massive scandal when it was revealed that the company was using the skins for much more lucrative cosmetic surgery like lip and penis enhancements while burn victims "lie waiting in hospitals as nurses scour the country for skin to cover their wounds, even though skin is in plentiful supply for plastic surgeons".[9] Kirby invested in the company after the scandal broke and Barnett attacked him for it in television advertisements.[10] However, the advertisements backfired because "the claims were so outlandish, that people thought for sure that they were exaggerated or completely fabricated."[11]

After winning the Republican nomination, Rounds selected state senator Dennis Daugaard of Dell Rapids to be his running mate. Their Democratic opponents were University of South Dakota President Jim Abbott of Vermillion and his running mate, former state representative Mike Wilson of Rapid City.

Rounds was elected governor on November 5, 2002. The results were as follows:


Two Democratic candidates emerged to challenge Rounds: Jack Billion, a retired surgeon and former state legislator from Sioux Falls and Dennis Wiese, the former president of the South Dakota Farmers Union. Billion easily defeated Wiese for the nomination and selected Rapid City school board member Eric Abrahamson as his running mate.

Rounds was reelected on November 7, 2006. The results were as follows:


Rounds served as the 2008 Chair of the Midwestern Governors Association.

Research centers

Rounds's 2010 Initiative established 10 research centers at state-supported universities. In the first four years of the program, the state's first five research centers generated an estimated $59 million in federal and private funding, with an estimated $110 million economic impact for the state.[12]


On February 22, 2006, the state legislature of South Dakota passed an act banning all medical abortions except those necessary to save the mother's life (see double effect). Rounds signed the act on March 6 and the ban was to have taken effect on July 1, 2006, but never did because of a court challenge. A referendum for a potential repeal of H.B. 1215 was placed on the ballot for the November 2006 statewide election due to a successful petition.[13] On May 30, over 38,000 signatures were filed, more than twice the 17,000 required to qualify. The law was ultimately repealed by voters on November 7, 2006, the day of Rounds' re-election.[14]

According to a Survey USA poll released in January 2006, Rounds had an approval rating of 73% and a net approval rating of +52%, which placed him among the top five most popular governors.[15] Following the abortion ban, again according to a SurveyUSA poll, Rounds' approval rating dropped 14% to 58%; his approval rebounded to 70% after the ban was repealed.[16]

EB-5 Visa inquiry

During Rounds' administration, the state offered green cards to foreign investors in exchange for investments in a new South Dakota beef packing plant and other economic investments through the EB-5 visa program established by the federal government in 1990.[17][18] After the beef packing plant went bankrupt, questions emerged regarding the nature of the investments and the foreign investors. Some investors received neither their EB-5 visas nor the money back from their failed investments, with no indication as to where their money went.[19]

State officials misused funds to pay for their salaries, did not disclose that they owned companies which they gave contracts to, directed money towards companies that went bankrupt and arranged for loans from unknown sources from shell companies located in tax havens.[20][21][22] In October 2014, Rounds admitted that he had approved a $1 million state loan to beef packing plant Northern Beef shortly after learning that Secretary of Tourism and State Development Richard Benda had agreed to join the company, with Benda then getting another $600,000 in state loans that was ultimately used to pay his own salary.[23][24] Benda committed suicide in October 2013, days before a possible indictment over embezzlement and grand theft charges.[25]

U.S. Senate

2014 U.S. Senate election

Speculation persisted that in 2008, Rounds would seek the United States Senate seat held currently by Tim Johnson, a Democrat who has held the seat since 1997. However, Rounds did not file to run against Johnson by the deadline, passing on the Senate race.

Rounds launched a Senate campaign for 2014 on November 29, 2012[26] for the seat being vacated by Johnson's retirement.[27] Rounds won the June 2014 Republican primary, defeating four other candidates.[28] Early polls showed Rounds leading by a 2-1 margin against Democratic opponent Rick Weiland.[29] However, polls in October showed a closer three-way race between Rounds, Weiland, and independent former Senator Larry Pressler.[30] Independent conservative former state legislator Gordon Howie was also in the race.[31]

Rounds ultimately won the four-way Senate race of 2014 with a majority of the votes cast. The results were as follows:[32]

Committee assignments

Personal life

While at SDSU, Rounds met his wife, Jean, formerly of Lake Preston, South Dakota. They were married in 1978 and have four children.

Rounds is a member of Ss. Peter and Paul Elks, Exchange Club, Knights of Columbus and Ducks Unlimited.

In May 2011, Rounds was conferred upon with an honorary doctorate for public service from his alma mater, South Dakota State University.[33]


  1. ^ [7] Archived February 9, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b "Governor Mike Round's ancestry". Retrieved 19 February 2015. 
  3. ^ [8]
  4. ^ "Project Vote Smart - The Voter's Self Defense System". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  5. ^ [9]
  6. ^ [10] Archived June 1, 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ [11] Archived May 15, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ [12] Archived June 1, 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Moulitsas, Markos (26 February 2008). "GOP’s flesh-eating zombie candidate". The Hill. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  10. ^ "Collagenesis". Youtube. 5 November 2006. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  11. ^ "SD-Sen: 2002 ad against Flesh Eating Zombie". Daily Kos. 28 February 2008. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  12. ^ Alan Van Ormer (August 1, 2009). "South Dakota research centers aid economic development". Prairie Business Magazine. 
  13. ^ "South Dakota voters reject abortion ban". Argus Leader. November 7, 2006. 
  14. ^ "South Dakota Nixes Abortion Ban; Michigan Voters OK Anti-Affirmative Action Initiative". FOX Associated Press. November 8, 2006. 
  15. ^ "Approval Ratings for all 50 Governors as of 1/19/2006". Survey USA. January 19, 2006. 
  16. ^ "Poll:Do you approve or disapprove of the job Mike Rounds is doing as Governor?". Survey USA. 
  17. ^ "Questions Go Beyond Beef". Argus Leader. November 3, 2013. Retrieved June 20, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Six months of Argus Leader EB-5 coverage". Argus Leader. April 22, 2014. Retrieved June 20, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Chinese investors in failed S.D. beef plant may be biggest losers, receiving no visa or refund". Rapid City Journal. April 6, 2014. Retrieved June 20, 2014. 
  20. ^ "What you need to know about EB-5 in South Dakota". Argus Leader. October 8, 2014. Retrieved October 13, 2014. 
  21. ^ "This immigration scandal drove a state official to suicide — and could give Dems the Senate".  
  22. ^ "State EB-5 director signed deal with own company". Argus Leader. September 23, 2014. Retrieved October 13, 2014. 
  23. ^ "Rounds knew of Benda conflict in final days of term". Argus Leader. October 22, 2014. Retrieved October 23, 2014. 
  24. ^ "$550,000 from Northern Beef grant was used to pay Benda for two years". Capital Journal. December 13, 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2014. 
  25. ^ "AG: Benda Suicide Came Days Prior To Possible Indictment". Keloland. July 29, 2014. Retrieved October 23, 2014. 
  26. ^ Weiner, Rachel. "Mike Rounds is running for Senate". The Washington Post. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  27. ^ Weiner, Rachel. "South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson announces retirement". The Washington Post. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  28. ^ "Mike Rounds, Rick Weiland win South Dakota nods". Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  29. ^ "Poll shows Rounds leads Weiland by a 2-1 margin". The Daily Republic. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  30. ^ Blake, Aaron (8 October 2014). "There’s something very interesting happening in South Dakota". Washington Post. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  31. ^ Jaffe, Alexandra (3 April 2014). "Second independent running for SD Senate". The Hill. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  32. ^ "2014 Statewide Election Results". South Dakota Secretary of State. Retrieved October 27, 2015. 
  33. ^ "Honorary Degrees Given By SDSU Since 1923" (PDF). Retrieved 19 February 2015. 

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Bill Janklow
Republican nominee for Governor of South Dakota
2002, 2006
Succeeded by
Dennis Daugaard
Preceded by
Joel Dykstra
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from South Dakota
(Class 2)

Most recent
Political offices
Preceded by
Bill Janklow
Governor of South Dakota
Succeeded by
Dennis Daugaard
United States Senate
Preceded by
Tim Johnson
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from South Dakota
Served alongside: John Thune
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Steve Daines
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
David Perdue
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