Mike Rounds

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Mike Rounds
U.S. Senate, South Dakota
In office
January 3, 2015 - Present
Term ends
January 3, 2021
Years in position 0
PredecessorTim Johnson (D)
Base salary$174,000/year
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2014
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
31st Governor of South Dakota
January 7, 2003 – January 8, 2011
South Dakota State Senate
1991 – 2001
Bachelor'sSouth Dakota State University, 1977
Date of birthOctober 24, 1954
Place of birthHuron, S.D.
Campaign website

Marion Michael "Mike" Rounds (born October 24, 1954, in Huron, S.D.) is a Republican member of the U.S. Senate from South Dakota. Rounds was first elected to the Senate in 2014.

Rounds served as Governor of South Dakota from 2003 to 2011.[1]


Rounds is a partner in Fischer Rounds & Associates, an insurance and real estate firm with offices throughout South Dakota. He placed his ownership interest into a blind trust after being elected governor of South Dakota in 2003.[1][2]


Below is an abbreviated outline of Rounds' academic, professional and political career:[3]

Committee assignments

U.S. Senate


Rounds serves on the following committees:[4]


National security

Letter to Iran

On March 9, 2015, Senator Tom Cotton wrote a letter to Iran's leadership, warning them that signing a nuclear deal with the Obama administration without congressional approval was merely an "executive agreement". The letter also stated that "The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time." The letter was signed by 47 Republican members of the Senate. Rounds was one of the 47 who signed the letter. No Democrats signed it.[5]

The letter caused intense backlash from both the Obama administration and the public. Vice President Joe Biden said of the letter, "In thirty-six years in the United States Senate, I cannot recall another instance in which senators wrote directly to advise another country — much less a longtime foreign adversary — that the president does not have the constitutional authority to reach a meaningful understanding with them."[6] On Twitter, the hashtag "47Traitors" became the top trending topic in the world, and a debate raged as to whether the 47 who signed the letter were traitors or patriots.[7]

Campaign themes

Rounds listed the following issues on his website:[8]


Mike opposes Obamacare and would work to repeal and replace it with market-based, patient-centered solutions. Mike adamantly opposes a single-payer system and meaningless adjustments.


Mike supports Medicare for our seniors. Obamacare threatens Medicare’s solvency. Mike will defend and protect Medicare. Using Medicare cuts to offset Obamacare costs is wrong.

Balanced Budget

South Dakota balances its budget every single year. The federal government should do the same. Mike supports a balanced budget amendment. The federal government should pass a budget every year. Mike commends the house republicans for at least taking steps to pass a budget. Although he appreciates their effort, Mike's long taken the position that he disagrees with any cuts to Medicare. For that reason, Mike does not currently support the budget plan offered by congressman Ryan, specifically because of the unclear revisions to Medicare.

Deficit / Debt

By law, South Dakota must balance its budget every year. We don’t spend more than we receive and we always live within our means. The federal deficit is approaching $18 trillion dollars and we must reverse this trend before it crushes our economy.

Federal Government Overreach

Pass the REINS Act. There are now more than one million federal regulations impacting Americans and driving up costs. If the Obama regulatory system were a country, it would be the tenth largest economy in the world! We need to get the bureaucracy under control. We need to return to a system of reasonable regulation and defer to local units of government as much as possible. It’s time to take the government back from the bureaucrats.

Keystone Pipeline

Mike supports the Keystone Pipeline.

Energy Independence

Mike believes in a “North American” solution to our dependence on foreign energy. All forms of domestic energy should be pursued. Mike does not believe in higher taxes on energy producers. The President’s current energy policy attacking traditional energy sources will cost the average American family about $140 more per month than they’re currently paying.

Entitlement Reform

Mike believes meaningful and appropriate reforms must take place, if the U.S. is to balance its budget. Current entitlement programs are not solvent and federal deficit spending already threatens our national economy. However, any reforms must also take into consideration current beneficiaries and the long-term economic impact.


In South Dakota, “profit” isn’t a dirty word. Mike believes you should be able to keep more of your own paycheck! The federal tax system is a mess. It must be reformed and streamlined. All federal tax rates should be lowered and the base broadened. This approach will encourage job creation and capital investment.

2nd Amendment

Mike is a strong supporter of your second amendment rights. He does not support additional regulations that restrict gun ownership.

Family Values

Mike supports the South Dakota Constitution and the traditional definition of marriage.


Mike is pro-life.

National Defense

Mike believes the primary responsibility of the federal government is funding and training armed forces adequately to protect our citizens and to secure our borders.


Mike believes in local control of education, and while standards are important, a “one size fits all” directive from the federal government does not serve our children well. Mike will seek to abolish the US Department of Education and defund its budget including the 5000 employees with an average annual salary of $102,000 each.


EB-5 is a federal program that allows qualified and approved foreign investors the opportunity to receive United States work visas (not citizenship) if they invest in American companies and create jobs. Applicants must be approved by the Department of Homeland Security before they are granted work visas. In 1990 Congress created the EB-5 program on a bipartisan basis, and since then the program has operated across our country. Federal reports show that more than $600 million has been invested in South Dakota companies and more than 5,000 jobs created. Mike will continue to be transparent, open and honest with anyone looking for answers regarding the operation of the federal EB-5 program. To learn more about Mike's position on the EB-5 program, please read his Op-Ed on the subject.[9]

—Mike Rounds, http://web.archive.org/web/20141014203357/https://roundsforsenate.com/about/on-the-issues/



See also: United States Senate elections in South Dakota, 2014

Rounds won election to the U.S. Senate on November 4, 2014.[10] Rounds won the Republican nomination in the primary on June 3, 2014.[11]

Election results

General election
U.S. Senate, South Dakota General Election, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngMike Rounds 50.4% 140,741
     Democratic Rick Weiland 29.5% 82,456
     Independent Larry Pressler 17.1% 47,741
     Independent Gordon Howie 3% 8,474
Total Votes 279,412
Source: South Dakota Secretary of State
Republican primary
U.S. Senate, South Dakota Republican Primary, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngMike Rounds 55.5% 41,372
Stace Nelson 18.2% 13,591
Larry Rhoden 17.7% 13,178
Annette Bosworth 5.7% 4,283
Jason Ravnsborg 2.8% 2,066
Total Votes 74,490
Source: Results via Associated Press


Rounds was endorsed by the following people:


Rounds for Senate, "Ready to Work."

Rounds for Senate, "Leader."

Rounds for Senate, "Pro-Business."

Rounds for Senate, "Fiscal Conservative."

Rounds for Senate, "Approachable."

Rounds for Senate, "Economic development."

Rounds for Senate, "Values."

Rounds for Senate, "#ShameOnRick."

Rounds for Senate, "Mike Rounds on the Issues."

Rounds for Senate, "Work Ethic."

Rounds for Senate, "Here They Go Again."

Rounds for Senate, "That's All They've Got."

Rounds for Senate, "Veterans and Values."

Rounds for Senate, "Homestake Lab: Gold Mine of Research and Jobs."

Rounds for Senate, "Trust."

Rounds for Senate, "The Truth."

Rounds for Senate, "Our Values & Keystone."

Rounds for Senate, "Our Values & Guns."


Rounds v. Weiland v. Pressler v. Howie
Poll Mike Rounds Rick WeilandLarry PresslerGordon HowieUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Monmouth University Poll
Oct. 24-27, 2014
NBC News/Marist Poll
Oct. 24, 2014
Mason-Dixon Polling & Research
Oct. 20-23, 2014
Harper Polling
Oct. 18-20, 2014
Harper Polling
Oct. 9-11, 2014
Survey USA
Oct. 1-4, 2014
Public Policy Polling
Sept. 29-30, 2014
Sept. 21-25, 2014
AVERAGES 40.5% 29% 21.88% 3.63% 6.38% +/-3.88 631.88
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org
Rounds v. Weiland v. Pressler v. Howie v. Walker
Poll Mike Rounds Rick WeilandLarry PresslerGordon HowieClayton WalkerUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Survey USA
May 6- May 10, 2014
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org
Rounds v. Weiland v. Pressler v. Howie
Poll Mike Rounds Rick WeilandLarry PresslerGordon HowieMargin of ErrorSample Size
Public Policy Polling
April 30- May 1, 2014
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org
Mike Rounds vs. Rick Weiland
Poll Mike Rounds Rick WeilandSomeone elseUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Rasmussen Reports (February 25-26, 2014)
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org


Rounds enjoyed high popularity throughout most of his first term as governor. After signing a controversial bill to ban most abortions in early 2006, Rounds' approval rating dropped significantly, but he recovered substantially by summer. Rounds was, therefore, a heavy favorite for re-election.[13][14][15][16]

In 2004, rumors circulated that television personality and former South Dakotan Pat O'Brien was considering a return to his home state to challenge Rounds; however, revelations of personal problems ended speculation about an O'Brien candidacy in 2006. Former state senator Ron Volesky of Huron, a Democrat, had announced his intention to oppose Rounds, but he abandoned his bid on February 22, 2006, citing an inability to raise funds.

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.[13]

Rounds was re-elected on November 7, 2006. The results were as follows:

  • Republicans: Mike Rounds and Dennis Daugaard — 61.7 percent
  • Democrats: Jack Billion and Eric Abrahamson — 36.1 percent
  • Constitution: Steve Willis and Larry Johnsen — 1.2 percent
  • Libertarians: Tom Gerber and Betty Rose Ryan — 1.0 percent


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 Lt. Governor Steve Kirby quickly became candidates. Rounds declared his candidacy late, in December 2001, and he was outraised and outspent ten-to-one by each of his opponents. However, the contest between Kirby and Barnett soon became very negative and "dirty." As the two front-runners concentrated on each other, Rounds insisted on running a positive campaign and was not attacked by his opponents. Rounds' positive image and extensive knowledge of state government won him many supporters who were alienated by the front-runners. On the day of the primary election, Rounds won a stunning victory, winning 44.3 percent to Barnett's 29.5 percent and Kirby's 26.1 percent.[13]

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 and his running mate, former state representative Mike Wilson. During the campaign, Abbott, who had been considered the Democratic Party's strongest nominee in years, was hampered by his strategic inability to attack Rounds; any effort to "go negative" would have only reinforced Rounds' positive campaign.[13]

Rounds was elected governor on November 5, 2002. The results were as follows:

  • Republicans: Mike Rounds and Dennis Daugaard — 56.8 percent
  • Democrats: Jim Abbott and Mike Wilson — 41.9 percent
  • Independent: Jim Carlson and Ron Bosch — 0.7 percent
  • Libertarians: Nathan Barton and Eric Risty — 0.6 percent

Campaign donors


Candidates for Congress were required to file up to seven main reports with the Federal Election Commission during the 2014 elections season. Below are Rounds' reports.[17]


Rounds, the oldest of eleven children, was born in Huron, South Dakota and has lived in Pierre since he was three. Rounds attended South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D., where he earned his bachelor of science in political science. While at South Dakota State University, Rounds met his wife, Jean Rounds, formerly of Lake Preston, S.D. They were married in 1978 and have four children.[13] Rounds is a member of St. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church. He is also a member of numerous service clubs and community organizations, including Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, National Exchange Club, Knights of Columbus and Ducks Unlimited.[2]

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See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. 1.0 1.1 National Governors Association, "South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds," accessed October 22, 2012
  2. 2.0 2.1 Project Vote Smart, "M. Michael 'Mike' Rounds's Biography," accessed October 22, 2012
  3. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, "Mike Rounds," accessed January 28, 2015
  4. United States Senate, "Committee Assignments of the 114th Congress," accessed February 17, 2015
  5. The Wall Street Journal, "Text of GOP Senators’ Letter to Iran’s Leaders on Nuclear Talks," March 9, 2015
  6. Fox News, "Firestorm erupts over GOP letter challenging Obama's power to approve Iran nuclear deal," March 10, 2015
  7. Ut San Diego, "Traitors or patriots? Senator's letter to Iran creates firestorm," March 11, 2015
  8. Rounds for Senate, "On the Issues," accessed October 14, 2014
  9. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  10. Talking Points Memo, "GOP Rep. Kristi Noem Will Not Run For SD Senate Seat," accessed June 14, 2013
  11. Associated Press, "South Dakota - Summary Vote Results," June 3, 2014
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 ‘’Rounds for Senate’’, “Why I like Mike,” accessed October 21, 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 National Journal, "Gov. Mike Rounds," accessed October 22, 2012
  14. Washington Post, "S.D. Abortion Bill Takes Aim at 'Roe'," February 23, 2006
  15. MSNBC, "South Dakota governor signs abortion ban," March 7, 2006
  16. BBC News, "US state tightens abortion laws," March 7, 2006
  17. Federal Election Commission, "Rounds 2014 Summary reports," accessed November 25, 2013
  18. Federal Election Commission, "April Quarterly", accessed November 25, 2013
  19. Federal Election Commission, "July Quarterly", accessed November 25, 2013
  20. Federal Election Commission, "October Quarterly", accessed November 25, 2013
  21. Federal Election Commission, "Year-End," accessed February 14, 2014
  22. Federal Election Commission, "April Quarterly," accessed October 22, 2014
  23. Federal Election Commission, "July Quarterly," accessed October 22, 2014
Political offices
Preceded by
Tim Johnson
U.S. Senate - South Dakota
Succeeded by
Preceded by
William J. Janklow
Governor of South Dakota
January 7, 2003 – January 8, 2011
Succeeded by
Dennis Daugaard
Preceded by
South Dakota State Senate
1991 – 2001
Succeeded by