|United States Senator
from South Dakota
January 3, 2015
Serving with John Thune
|Preceded by||Tim Johnson|
|31st Governor of South Dakota|
January 7, 2003 – January 8, 2011
|Preceded by||Bill Janklow|
|Succeeded by||Dennis Daugaard|
|Member of the South Dakota Senate
from the 24th district
January 3, 1991 – January 3, 2001
|Preceded by||Jacquie Kelley|
|Succeeded by||Patricia de Hueck|
|Born||Marion Michael Rounds
October 24, 1954
Huron, South Dakota, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Jean Vedvei (m. 1978)|
|Education||South Dakota State University (BS)|
Marion Michael Rounds (born October 24, 1954) is an American businessman and politician serving as the junior United States Senator from South Dakota since 2015. A member of the Republican Party, he 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, the eldest of eleven siblings, was born in Huron, South Dakota, the son of Joyce (née Reinartz) and Don Rounds. He has German, Belgian, Swedish and English ancestry. 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.
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Rounds represented District 24, 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.
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". Kirby invested in the company after the scandal broke and Barnett attacked him for it in television advertisements. However, the advertisements backfired because "the claims were so outlandish, that people thought for sure that they were exaggerated or completely fabricated."
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.
The Rounds/Daugaard ticket was reelected on November 7, 2006. The results were as follows:
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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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. 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. Benda committed suicide in October 2013, days before a possible indictment over embezzlement and grand theft charges.
Speculation persisted that in 2008, Rounds would seek the United States Senate seat held at the time by Tim Johnson, a Democrat who had served since 1997. However, Rounds did not file to run against Johnson by the deadline, passing on the Senate race.
Rounds won the June 2014 Republican primary, defeating four other candidates. Early polls showed Rounds leading by a 2-1 margin against Democratic opponent Rick Weiland. Polls in October showed a closer three-way race between Rounds, Weiland, and independent former Senator Larry Pressler.
Rounds ultimately won the four-way Senate race of 2014 with a majority of the votes cast. The results were as follows:
In 2017, Rounds was one of 22 senators to sign a letter to President Donald Trump urging the President to have the United States withdraw from the Paris Agreement. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Rounds has received over $200,000 from oil, gas and coal interests since 2012. Rounds supported embattled Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who had come under scrutiny because of extraordinary expenditures for personal security and luxury travel, and the appearances of ethical conflicts, defending him on Meet the Press. However, referring to the criticism as "nitpicking," he said, “I don’t know how much of it is overblown and how much of it is accurate, to be honest.”
While attending South Dakota State University, Rounds met his wife, Jean, formerly of Lake Preston, South Dakota. They were married in 1978 and have four children. He is the older brother of Tim Rounds.
Rounds is a member of Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church of Pierre. He is also a member of numerous service clubs and community organizations including Elks, Exchange Club, Knights of Columbus and Ducks Unlimited.
|South Dakota State Senate District 24 Republican primary election, 1990|
|South Dakota State Senate District 24 election, 1990|
|South Dakota State Senate District 24 election, 1992|
|Republican||Mike Rounds (Incumbent)||6,591||59.93|
|South Dakota State Senate District 24 election, 1994|
|Republican||Mike Rounds (Incumbent)||8,270||77.35|
|South Dakota State Senate District 24 election, 1996|
|Republican||Mike Rounds (Incumbent)||7,070||66.01|
|South Dakota State Senate District 24 election, 1998|
|Republican||Mike Rounds (Incumbent)||7,374||74.93|
|South Dakota Gubernatorial Republican primary election, 2002|
|Republican||Steve T. Kirby||29,065||26.12|
|South Dakota Gubernatorial election, 2002|
|South Dakota Gubernatorial election, 2006|
|Republican||Mike Rounds (Incumbent)||206,990||61.69|
|South Dakota U.S. Senate Republican primary election, 2014|
|South Dakota U.S. Senate election, 2014|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mike Rounds.|
|Party political offices|
|Republican nominee for Governor of South Dakota
|Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from South Dakota
|Governor of South Dakota
|U.S. Senator (Class 2) from South Dakota
Served alongside: John Thune
|Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
|United States Senators by seniority
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