PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant said Wednesday he won't seek re-election and instead will return to the private sector at the end of his first term in office, which runs through the end of 2014.
Gant, a Republican, previously worked in health care and was a state senator for six years from Sioux Falls.
He said in a statement that he has accomplished his goals, including creating an online system for filing and accessing corporate documents, putting more open records online, increasing transparency in campaign finance and increasing access to the voting booth. His successor will inherit a government agency "that is at the forefront of technology," he said.
"I am far from perfect, but I have always tried to do my best and serve the people of South Dakota well. Tremendous improvements have been made in the Secretary of State's office with more to come. I may not be seeking another term; however my drive and determination are as strong as ever," the Republican said.
He has been criticized by both Democrats and Republicans since taking office in 2011.
Conservatives were critical of him for endorsing state former Republican Rep. Val Rausch in a primary challenge to a sitting state GOP senator in 2012, the Argus Leader reported (http://argusne.ws/17WQWyf ). Democrats and conservatives alike said he mishandled nominating petitions in the 2012 race. And a judge ruled Gant didn't do everything he could to solicit opposition statements to a proposed constitutional amendment and forced him to reprint his voter guide with a statement added.
State Sen. Shantel Krebs, R-Renner, has been preparing to run for secretary of state. In recent weeks she circulated a letter to Republican delegates, saying the "integrity of the secretary of state's office has been damaged and much of the public have lost faith in it."
In that same letter, Krebs said the biggest risk to the GOP goal of winning every statewide office was the secretary of state race.
Gant insisted Krebs' challenge didn't play a role in his decision not to run.
"I'm confident, had I decided to run for another term, I would have been successful in both the primary and the general," Gant told the Argus Leader.