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Conservative: Favoring preservation of traditional views, values and established customs. — The Free Dictionary

With so many “conservatives” running this political season, I’m having trouble determining who is going to “out conservative” the other.

Shantel Krebs, who is running for Congress, says she’s a conservative who wants to break up the pack mentality now exhibited in D.C. Actually, I’ve misstated her position. It is a “herd” mindset, as her recent and funny TV advertisement describes it.

One of her opponents, Neal Tapio, also is conservative and includes the Christian values label on his signs. He advocates smaller government, safe borders, and fiscal responsibility. He was President Trump’s point man in South Dakota in the 2016 election.

Even Dusty Johnson – and I say “even” because Dusty doesn’t come across as intensely “conservative” as his opponents – is nevertheless staking claim to the definition with his door hangers, which clearly state he is running as a “conservative Republican candidate” for Congress. His TV ad featuring his children and the debt load they already have assumed because of unbridled spending in Washington is a winner.

The other high profile races exhibit a similar fascination with the “conservative” label.  Marty Jackley and Kristi Noem both are using the term “liberally,” if I can say it that way. If you are running for governor, as they both are, the wisdom is to lean right to be right.

Actually, all the candidates mentioned above are “conservative” by any working definition.

What’s surprising is on the Democrat side. Billie Sutton is running for governor and he is pro life and pro gun, or at least pro Second Amendment. How long has it been since a high profile Democrat in South Dakota took those positions? Sutton may turn out to be one of the strongest candidates the Democrats have run for governor in a long time. Keep in mind South Dakota voters haven’t elected a Democrat as governor since Dick Kneip in 1974. And Kneip, a Catholic, was pro life.

And what about Tim Bjorkman, a quality candidate for Congress, also on the Democratic side?

He too is pro life and pro Second Amendment, though he recently offered changes for gun buyers and gun owners that he believes would make the country safer.

So what does a “conservative” look like? Sound like? Act like?

A fiscal conservative favors smaller government, a balanced budget, lower taxes, and fewer regulations. A social conservative is pro life and supports traditional family values.

In the Republican primary Tuesday, voters have their work cut out.

May 30, 2018