USA — Joe Lowe made his name on the lines of South Dakotas wildfires. Now the emergency management specialist is hoping citizens will know him as something else: South Dakotas governor.
Lowe, who was South Dakotas director of Wildland Fire Suppression from 2001 to 2012, announced over the weekend that hed run for governor next year as a Democrat.
Were last in teacher pay in the United States … were near the bottom on wages paid to people, said Lowe, 68, who currently runs an art gallery in Rapid City and leads an emergency management consulting firm. If were last in a lot of categories in the state, it shows us the things were doing arent working and we need to make a change. I think the state is ready for a change.
Incumbent Gov. Dennis Daugaard, a Republican, is expected to seek another term. Another Republican, former lawmaker Lora Hubbel, is challenging Daugaard in the GOP primary, while Mike Myers, a former law professor and health care administrator, is running as an independent.
Before then-Gov. Bill Janklow hired Lowe in 2001 to run South Dakotas wildfire battle, he had made his name in California. There, he worked in the fire department and also served as a city councilor and mayor in the Orange County city of Mission Viejo, which has just more than 90,000 people.
I think Im a good blend of what we need, Lowe said. Ive got proven leadership, and I understand the political side of it.
Lowe served under Daugaard as well as Janklow and Mike Rounds.
Tony Venhuizen, Daugaards spokesman, said the governor has no reaction to Lowes candidacy.
He is focused on running the state and getting ready for the legislative session, Venhuizen said.
So far, Lowe is the first Democrat to enter the governors race. Zach Crago, the South Dakota Democratic Partys executive director, said Democrats are excited to have a good, well-qualified candidate in Lowe but that more and more Democrats are going to be interested in running against Daugaard.
No Democrat has been elected governor of South Dakota since Dick Kneip in 1974.