National conservative group blasts Rounds

A national activist group is calling for a “conservative alternative” candidate to former Gov. Mike Rounds in the Republican primary election for the 2014 U.S. Senate race.

The Senate Conservatives Fund, which claims to have raised $16 million for conservative Senate candidates in 2012, says its review of Rounds’ record found him to be “too liberal” on issues including taxes, government bureaucracy and the 2009 stimulus bill.

"We’re looked at his record and surveyed our members in the state and concluded he’s just too liberal for the job," said Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund. "We cannot support him, but we’ll be looking for a conservative alternative."

Hoskins declined to reveal how many members his group has in South Dakota, but said they overwhelmingly opposed Rounds.

So far Rounds is the only Republican candidate for the Senate seat currently held by Democrat Tim Johnson. Johnson is expected to announce his retirement at 3 p.m. today.

Rounds, in a statement, dismissed the Senate Conservatives Fund position.

"They have been spreading misinformation about me for months now and we didn’t expect to get their endorsement," Rounds said. "I met with the organization last week and it became very clear that their agenda is to replace Republican Leadership in the U.S. Senate. I have never signed pledges and I would not commit to voting against Republican Leadership- which includes John Thune."

Some South Dakota conservative activists have said they hope Rep. Kristi Noem will run for Senate against Rounds. Noem has not said whether she will or will not run for Senate.

Haskins said his group doesn’t “know if (Noem) is someone we can support” but that they “certainly don’t object to her running.”