South Dakota has always been a red state. And with the republican primary coming up in June, voters are starting to take a closer look at the candidates for the senate seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Senator Tim Johnson.
If fundraising is any indication, former governor Mike Rounds is the clear front runner. But his fellow primary candidates are questioning his conservative values.
That's why Gordon Howie said he jumped into the race as an independent.
"I entered the race because I was approached by a group of people who said, look, if you're not in this thing, conservatives don't have a place to go," Howie said. "People who are disgusted with the establishment in the Republican Party and the Democratic Party have no place to go. And so I decided it would be the logical thing to do."
Howie isn't the only candidate targeting Rounds. Democrat Rick Weiland and republican Stace Nelson teamed up last week to demand that Rounds release the names of his big out-of- state donors.
They say Rounds is projected to raise $9 million and 85% of that amount will come from outside of South Dakota.
"We had a discussion over the weekend about coming together to put a spotlight on how much big money is getting in the way of these elections," Weiland said.
Nelson said it's an issue that needs to be looked into.
"It is huge problem when we've got that amount of money pouring into South Dakota. He can effectively buy this election," Nelson said.
Rounds dismisses the allegation.
He says his record, and his successes as governor for two terms, speaks louder than the accusations his opponents are making.