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Mike Rounds
Mike Rounds official Senate portrait.jpg
United States Senator
from South Dakota
Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Serving with John Thune
Preceded byTim Johnson
31st Governor of South Dakota
In office
January 7, 2003 – January 8, 2011
LieutenantDennis Daugaard
Preceded byBill Janklow
Succeeded byDennis Daugaard
Member of the South Dakota Senate
from the 24th district
In office
January 3, 1991 – January 3, 2001
Preceded byJacquie Kelley
Succeeded byPatricia de Hueck
Personal details
Marion Michael Rounds

(1954-10-24) October 24, 1954 (age 65)
Huron, South Dakota, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Jean Vedvei
(m. 1978)
RelationsTim Rounds (brother)
EducationSouth Dakota State University (BS)
WebsiteSenate website

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, and in the South Dakota Senate from 1991 to 2001.

In 2014, he was elected to the United States Senate, succeeding retiring Democrat Tim Johnson.

Early life, education, and business career

The eldest of 11 children, Rounds was born in Huron, South Dakota, the son of Joyce (née Reinartz) and Don Rounds.[1] He has German, Belgian, Swedish and English ancestry.[1] 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 World War II.[2] 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.[3] His brother Tim Rounds is a member of the South Dakota Legislature, representing District 24, which includes Pierre.[4][5]

Rounds attended South Dakota State University in Brookings, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in political science.[2]

Rounds is a former partner in Fischer Rounds & Associates, an insurance and real estate firm with offices in Pierre, Rapid City, Mitchell, Watertown and Sioux Falls.[6]

South Dakota Senate


Rounds represented District 24, which was based in Pierre. In 1990, he defeated incumbent state Senator Jacqueline Kelley, 53%–47%. He was reelected in 1992 (60%), 1994 (77%), 1996 (66%), and 1998 (75%).[7] Rounds had to leave the Senate in 2000 because of legislative term limits South Dakota voters had passed in 1992.[8]


Rounds represented Hughes, Lyman, Stanley, and Sully counties. In 1993, he became Senate Minority Whip. In 1995, his peers selected him to be Senate Majority Leader.[9]

Committee assignments

  • Commerce
  • Education
  • Legislative Procedure
  • Local Government
  • Retirement Laws
  • State Affairs
  • Taxation[10][11][12][13]

Governor of South Dakota



As the 2002 race for governor took shape, media and political observers largely dismissed Rounds as an extreme long shot.[14] Until late 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.

But 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 scandal when it was revealed that the company was using the skins for much more lucrative cosmetic surgery such as 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".[15] Kirby invested in the company after the scandal broke and Barnett attacked him for it in television advertisements,[16] but the advertisements backfired because "the claims were so outlandish that people thought for sure that they were exaggerated or completely fabricated."[17]

After winning the Republican nomination, Rounds chose State Senator Dennis Daugaard of Dell Rapids as 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:[18]

  • Republicans: Rounds and Daugaard, 56.8%
  • Democrats: Abbott and Wilson, 41.9%
  • Independent: Jim Carlson and Ron Bosch, 0.7%
  • Libertarians: Nathan Barton and Eric Risty, 0.6%

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 won 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:[19]


Rounds served as a member of the Governors' Council at the Bipartisan Policy Center.[20] He was the 2008 Chair of the Midwestern Governors Association.[21]


Research centers

Rounds's 2010 Initiative established ten research centers at state-supported universities. In the program's first four years, the state's first five research centers generated an estimated $59 million in federal and private funding, with an estimated $110 million economic impact.[22]


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. Rounds signed the act on March 6 and the ban was to have taken effect on July 1, 2006, but did not, because of a court challenge. A referendum on repealing H.B. 1215 was placed on the ballot for the November 2006 statewide election due to a petition.[23] On May 30, over 38,000 signatures were filed, more than twice the 17,000 required to qualify. Voters repealed the law on November 7, 2006, the day of Rounds's reelection.[24]

According to a January 2006 Survey USA poll, Rounds had an approval rating of 73% and a net approval rating of +52%, which placed him among the five most popular governors.[25] Following the abortion ban, again according to a SurveyUSA poll, his approval rating dropped to 58%; after the ban was repealed, his approval rebounded to 70%.[26][better source needed]

EB-5 Visa inquiry

During Rounds's administration, South Dakota 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 the federal government established in 1990.[27][28] After the beef packing plant went bankrupt, questions emerged about 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.[29]

State officials misused funds to pay for their salaries, did not disclose that they owned companies which they gave contracts to, directed money to companies that went bankrupt and arranged for loans from unknown sources from shell companies located in tax havens.[30][31][32] 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.[33][34] Benda committed suicide in October 2013, days before a possible indictment over embezzlement and grand theft charges.[35]

3D-printed weapons

Of 3D-printed weapons, Rounds has said, “This is a new technology which you’re not going to put back into the bottle. It is there.” He has suggested creating and using new technologies, such as metal detectors that can also recognize plastic, in schools, airports and other public places.[36]

U.S. Senate

2014 U.S. Senate election

Speculation persisted that in 2008 Rounds would seek the United States Senate seat held by Tim Johnson, a Democrat who had served since 1997. Johnson opted not to run for reelection.[37]

On November 29, 2012, Rounds launched a campaign[38] for the seat being vacated by Johnson's retirement.[39] He won the June 2014 Republican primary, defeating four other candidates.[40] Early polls showed Rounds leading by a 2–1 margin against Democratic opponent Rick Weiland. October 2014 polls showed a closer three-way race between Rounds, Weiland, and independent former Senator Larry Pressler.[41] Independent conservative former state legislator Gordon Howie was also in the race.[42]

In November Rounds was elected with a majority of the vote. The results were:[43]

  • Republican: Rounds, 50.37%
  • Democrat: Weiland, 29.51%
  • Independent: Pressler, 17.09%
  • Independent: Howie, 3.03%

2020 U.S. Senate election

In the 2020 election, Rounds defeated Scyller Borglum to win the Republican nomination.[44]

Political positions


In February 2019, Rounds was one of 20 senators to sponsor the Employer Participation in Repayment Act, enabling employers to contribute up to $5,250 to their employees' student loans as a means of granting them relief and incentivizing people to apply for jobs with employers who implement the policy.[45]


In 2017, Rounds was one of 22 senators to sign a letter[46] to President Donald Trump urging him to withdraw the United States 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.[47] 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. Calling the criticism "nitpicking," he said, “I don’t know how much of it is overblown and how much of it is accurate, to be honest.”[48]

Criminal justice

Rounds opposed the FIRST STEP Act, a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill that Trump signed into law. The bill passed 87–12 on December 18, 2018.[49]

Israel Anti-Boycott Act

In March 2018, Rounds co-sponsored the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (s. 720), which would make it a federal crime for Americans to encourage or participate in boycotts against Israel and Israeli settlements in the West Bank if protesting actions by the Israeli government.[50][51]

Health care

Rounds opposes the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and has voted to repeal it.[52] In 2019, he said he supported lawsuits seeking to overturn it.[53]

Committee assignments

Personal life

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.

In May 2011, Rounds's alma mater, South Dakota State University, gave him an honorary doctorate for public service.[54]

Electoral history

South Dakota State Senate District 24 Republican primary election, 1990
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Mike Rounds 2,188 62.69
Republican Kent Bowers 1,302 37.31
South Dakota State Senate District 24 election, 1990
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Mike Rounds 4,790 52.54
Democratic Jacquie Kelly 4,326 47.46
South Dakota State Senate District 24 election, 1992
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Mike Rounds (Incumbent) 6,591 59.93
Democratic Rick Riggle 4,406 40.07
South Dakota State Senate District 24 election, 1994
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Mike Rounds (Incumbent) 8,270 77.35
Independent Mary Morin 2,421 22.65
South Dakota State Senate District 24 election, 1996
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Mike Rounds (Incumbent) 7,070 66.01
Democratic Kenneth Meyer 3,641 33.99
South Dakota State Senate District 24 election, 1998
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Mike Rounds (Incumbent) 7,374 74.93
Democratic Robert Hockett 2,467 25.07
South Dakota Gubernatorial Republican primary election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Mike Rounds 49,331 44.34
Republican Mark Barnett 32,868 29.54
Republican Steve T. Kirby 29,065 26.12
South Dakota Gubernatorial election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Mike Rounds 189,920 56.77
Democratic Jim Abbott 140,263 41.92
Independent James Carlson 2,393 0.72
Libertarian Nathan Barton 1,983 0.59
South Dakota Gubernatorial election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Mike Rounds (Incumbent) 206,990 61.69
Democratic Jack BIllion 121,226 36.13
Constitution Steven Willis 4,010 1.20
Libertarian Tom Gerber 3,282 0.98
South Dakota U.S. Senate Republican primary election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Mike Rounds 41,377 55.54
Republican Larry Rhoden 13,593 18.25
Republican Stace Nelson 13,179 17.69
Republican Annette Bosworth 4,283 5.75
Republican Jason Ravnsborg 2,066 2.77
South Dakota U.S. Senate election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Mike Rounds 140,741 50.37
Democratic Rick Weiland 82,456 29.51
Independent Larry Pressler 47,741 17.09
Independent Gordon Howie 8,474 3.03


  1. ^ a b "Governor Mike Round's ancestry". Archived from the original on October 1, 2014. Retrieved February 19, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Mike Rounds | United States senator". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  3. ^ Feb 26, Posted; 2018. "Don Rounds, 90, of Pierre". Huron Plainsman. Retrieved July 30, 2020.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ "SDLRC - Representative Tim Rounds - 2020". Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  5. ^ Ellis, Jonathan. "Tim Rounds, brother to Sen. Mike Rounds, sues over injury benefits". Argus Leader. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  6. ^ Harrison, J.D. (January 6, 2015). "Meet the small business owners who were just sworn in to Congress".
  7. ^ Lawrence, Tom. "Mike Rounds announced his bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate. So far he's undefeated -- and likely to remain so". Retrieved February 16, 2020.
  8. ^ "About the State of South Dakota: South Dakota Secretary of State". Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  9. ^ "Project Vote Smart – The Voter's Self Defense System". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  10. ^ [1] Archived May 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ [2] Archived June 1, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ [3] Archived May 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ [4] Archived June 1, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "In Close-Knit South Dakota, Mudslinging Carries Political Risk".
  15. ^ Moulitsas, Markos (February 26, 2008). "GOP's flesh-eating zombie candidate". The Hill. Retrieved April 1, 2013.
  16. ^ "Collagenesis". Youtube. November 5, 2006. Retrieved April 1, 2013.
  17. ^ "SD-Sen: 2002 ad against Flesh Eating Zombie". Daily Kos. February 28, 2008. Retrieved April 1, 2013.
  18. ^ " Election 2002 - State Races: South Dakota". Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  19. ^ " - Elections 2006". Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  20. ^ [5] Archived February 9, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ "Midwestern governors pick new leaders". Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  22. ^ Alan Van Ormer (August 1, 2009). "South Dakota research centers aid economic development". Prairie Business Magazine. Archived from the original on January 11, 2014.
  23. ^ "South Dakota voters reject abortion ban". Argus Leader. November 7, 2006.
  24. ^ "South Dakota Nixes Abortion Ban; Michigan Voters OK Anti-Affirmative Action Initiative". FOX Associated Press. November 8, 2006.
  25. ^ "Approval Ratings for all 50 Governors as of 1/19/2006". Survey USA. January 19, 2006.
  26. ^ "Poll:Do you approve or disapprove of the job Mike Rounds is doing as Governor?". Survey USA.
  27. ^ "Questions Go Beyond Beef". Argus Leader. November 3, 2013. Archived from the original on June 20, 2014. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
  28. ^ "Six months of Argus Leader EB-5 coverage". Argus Leader. April 22, 2014. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
  29. ^ "Chinese investors in failed S.D. beef plant may be biggest losers, receiving no visa or refund". Rapid City Journal. April 6, 2014. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
  30. ^ "What you need to know about EB-5 in South Dakota". Argus Leader. October 8, 2014. Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  31. ^ "This immigration scandal drove a state official to suicide — and could give Dems the Senate". Vox. Vox Media. October 10, 2014. Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  32. ^ "State EB-5 director signed deal with own company". Argus Leader. September 23, 2014. Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  33. ^ "Rounds knew of Benda conflict in final days of term". Argus Leader. October 22, 2014. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  34. ^ "$550,000 from Northern Beef grant was used to pay Benda for two years". Capital Journal. December 13, 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  35. ^ "AG: Benda Suicide Came Days Prior To Possible Indictment". Keloland. July 29, 2014. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  36. ^ "Judge Blocks Attempt to Post Blueprints for 3-D Guns". Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  37. ^ Lawrence, Tom. "Mike Rounds announced his bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate. So far he's undefeated -- and likely to remain so". Retrieved March 14, 2020.
  38. ^ Weiner, Rachel. "Mike Rounds is running for Senate". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  39. ^ Weiner, Rachel. "South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson announces retirement". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  40. ^ "Mike Rounds, Rick Weiland win South Dakota nods". Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  41. ^ Blake, Aaron (October 8, 2014). "There's something very interesting happening in South Dakota". Washington Post. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  42. ^ Jaffe, Alexandra (April 3, 2014). "Second independent running for SD Senate". The Hill. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  43. ^ "2014 Statewide Election Results". South Dakota Secretary of State. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  44. ^
  45. ^ Varnier, Julia (February 13, 2019). "Warner, Thune introduce legislation to address student debt crisis".
  46. ^ Inhofe, James. "Senator". Retrieved June 7, 2017.
  47. ^ "The Republicans who urged Trump to pull out of Paris deal are big oil darlings". The Guardian. June 1, 2017. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
  48. ^ GOP Sen. Rounds: Pruitt criticism amounts to 'nitpick' of 'little things', NBC News, Kailani Koenig, April 8, 2018. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  49. ^ Levin, Marianne. "Senate approves Trump-backed criminal justice overhaul". Politico. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  50. ^ "Cosponsors – S.720 – 115th Congress (2017–2018): Israel Anti-Boycott Act". March 23, 2017.
  51. ^ Levitz, Eric (July 19, 2017). "43 Senators Want to Make It a Federal Crime to Boycott Israeli Settlements". Intelligencer.
  52. ^ Parlapiano, Alicia; Andrews, Wilson; Lee, Jasmine C.; Shorey, Rachel (July 25, 2017). "How Each Senator Voted on Obamacare Repeal Proposals". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 14, 2019.
  53. ^ Everett, Burgess. "Republicans ready to dive off a cliff on Obamacare". POLITICO. Retrieved July 14, 2019.
  54. ^ "Honorary Degrees Given By SDSU Since 1923" (PDF). Retrieved February 19, 2015.

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Bill Janklow
Republican nominee for Governor of South Dakota
2002, 2006
Succeeded by
Dennis Daugaard
Preceded by
Joel Dykstra
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from South Dakota
(Class 2)

2014, 2020
Most recent
Political offices
Preceded by
Bill Janklow
Governor of South Dakota
Succeeded by
Dennis Daugaard
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Tim Johnson
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from South Dakota
Served alongside: John Thune
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Steve Daines
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
David Perdue
This page was last edited on 6 August 2020, at 00:35
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