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Rounds announces reelection campaign for Senate

February 6, 2020 GMT

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds announced on Thursday that he is seeking reelection after recent months of uncertainty while his wife underwent treatment for cancer.

The first-term Republican and former South Dakota governor made the announcement the day after voting to acquit President Donald Trump of impeachment charges. He will face a state representative in the Republican primary.

Rounds told The Associated Press that his wife, Jean, is wrapping up the last few weeks of treatment for a malignant, high-grade aggressive tumor near her sciatic nerve. He called the diagnosis and treatment his family’s “most difficult challenge to date.”

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He said the experience has motivated him to ensure “that every family has the adequate healthcare that we have.” But Rounds criticized Democratic proposals for government-run health care, saying he instead wants to address unclear medical billing and the high cost of prescription drugs.

GOP state Rep. Scyller Borglum is mounting a primary challenge to Rounds and has tried to position herself as the more right-wing candidate. She has criticized him for being slow to oppose Trump’s impeachment.

Rounds has aligned himself closely with the president, a position he said has given him the opportunity to remind Trump of policies that affect the agriculture industry.

“I’m going to be with the president as long as it’s good for South Dakota,” he said.

Rounds holds a significant cash advantage over Borglum. He holds over $1.8 million; she has just over $8,000 and has made a personal loan of $12,000 to her campaign.

Rounds served two terms as governor and cast himself as still belonging to the state. He said he lives in Fort Pierre and only travels to Washington, D.C. when necessary.

Two Democrats have announced they will be running for the Senate seat — former state Rep. Dan Ahlers and Clara Hart, who holds several local leadership positions in Sioux Falls.

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This story has been corrected to show that Rounds lives in Fort Pierre, not Pierre.