Editor’s Note: Our coverage of Shantel Krebs is part of Running Women, a project following 15 compelling women candidates for U.S. political offices in 2018. Read the latest on her campaign below.

Shantel Krebs, South Dakota candidate for CongressShantel Krebs is South Dakota’s secretary of state. She is also a Republican candidate for the state’s only seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, a race that became more competitive after incumbent Republican Rep. Kristi Noem decided to run for governor, instead of reelection to Congress.

Krebs’ platform reflects her conservative priorities, emphasizing curbing voter fraud and promoting economic reform that avoids tax hikes. South Dakota is a red state — its citizens have cast the majority of their ballots for the last seven Republican presidential candidates, and have elected three consecutive Republican governors. Its state legislature is also Republican-controlled. As such, the toughest race may be the Republican primary in June. Then, Krebs will face Dusty Johnson, a businessman and former chief of staff to Gov. Dennis Daugaard, and Eric Terrell, a political unknown who lists Tennessee as his state of residence on his official candidate filing.

Krebs is the field’s top fundraiser, reporting $404,000 in campaign funding as of Sept. 30, thanks in part to an endorsement from Maggie’s List, a political action committee that helps conservative women get elected to federal offices. In January, she was endorsed by Susan B. Anthony List, which works to elect pro-life candidates. Should she prevail in the primary, she will face one of the two Democratic candidates vying for the office: former technology professional Chris Martian and Timothy Bjorkman, a former state court judge.

Krebs’ first foray into politics was an unsuccessful run for the South Dakota House of Representatives in 2002. But that initial loss was followed by a series of successes. She became the representative to South Dakota’s House for the 10th District in 2005, and held on to the seat until 2011. After that, she serve as a state senator until 2015, and became majority whip. She was also named chairperson of the Senate Agriculture Committee in 2011 — the first woman in the state’s history to do so. Krebs then won her campaign for secretary of state in 2015.

Krebs, who lives on a ranch near Fort Pierre with her husband, has won other contests — as a beauty pageant contestant. She was crowned Miss South Dakota in 1997.

She also boasts a lengthy background in business. After graduating Dakota State University, she worked in the healthcare industry and later became the owner of two retail stores in downtown Sioux Falls. She also worked in development for business services firm Milo Belle Consultants, among other professional achievements.

The Latest on the Campaign

June 6, 2018:
In GOP Primaries, Krebs Loses Bid for House Seat, Noem Wins Shot at Governorship

By Carly LeMoine

South Dakota Secretary of State Shantel Krebs lost her bid to become the Republican nominee to represent the state in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday, ending the night in second place with about 30 percent of the vote to Dusty Johnson’s 48 percent.

In a statement, Krebs thanked supporters for their work and belief in her “conservative message.” “Tonight’s results are not what we hoped for but it does not change who we are or what we want to accomplish for South Dakota,” she said.

Though Krebs did not prevail, the Republican woman whose shoes she sought to fill, Rep. Kristi Noem, decisively won her primary for governor against Marty Jackley. Noem, who would become the first woman to lead South Dakota, faces Democrat Billie Sutton in November. She is expected to win in this state that heavily favors Republicans.

However, Krebs’ loss means that, for the first time since 2004, South Dakota will have no women in its congressional delegation, which includes just one House member as well as two senators.

In the congressional race, Johnson, a former chief of staff for Gov. Dennis Daugaard, will face Democrat Tim Bjorkman, Libertarian George Hendrickson and independent Ron Wieczorek in the November general election.

Read our Full Primary Roundup: On Super Tuesday, Many Women Candidates Won Their Primaries. But Parity Remains Distant


June 5, 2018:
Krebs Trailing as South Dakota Republicans Vote in Primary

Shantel Krebs is trailing by a large margin in the race for the Republican nomination for South Dakota’s only seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Her top rival Dusty Johnson is ahead with 41 percent of Republican voter support to Krebs’ 23 percent, according to a poll of 625 voters by Argus Leader and KELO TV conducted between May 21 and May 23. 

Neal Tapio, who like Krebs ran a campaign closely tied to President Donald Trump, was polling at 13 percent, while 23 percent were undecided. The state is friendly to Trump, but Krebs and Tapio may have spilt the vote of people most dedicated to the president.

Over the last week, Krebs, who is South Dakota’s secretary of state, has slammed Johnson for benefiting from generous ad spending by a moderate out-of-state super PAC called Citizens for a Strong America. Kreb was hit with $267,000 in negative ad spending — including postcards depicting her as an ever-watchful Big Brother.

“Dusty and his never-Trump DC allies are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to mislead and lie about my record of delivering results for the people of South Dakota,” Krebs said in a statement. “I am confident that on Tuesday, June 5th, voters will send a message to Dusty’s dark money allies that are trying to buy this seat in Congress – South Dakota is not for sale.”

Citizens for a Strong America is affiliated with No Labels, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit organization that supports moderate candidates and aims to promote a more bipartisan Congress. No Labels has received donations from wealthy contributors like Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner of the Chicago White Sox, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.


January 29, 2018:
Krebs Picks Up Endorsement of Women-Led Pro-Life PAC

National pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List endorsed Shantel Krebs for South Dakota’s at-large congressional district on Thursday, making her one of the organization’s first endorsements for the 2018 election cycle.

“We are excited to endorse Shantel Krebs,” said former U.S. Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave, who is SBA List’s vice president of government affairs, in a statement. “Shantel has helped lead the way for South Dakota to become one of the most pro-life states in the nation.”

SBA List has endorsed five 2018 candidates so far, all women. The organization was founded in 1992 to increase the number of pro-life women in federal and statewide offices, though today it does back male candidates as well. Together with its super PAC, Women Speak Out, the organization spent more than $18 million during the 2016 election cycle and knocked on more than 1.1 million doors in battleground states, according to its website.

Since its founding, SBA List, which has more than 600,000 members, has helped elect more than 110 candidates to the U.S. House, 20 to the U.S. Senate and 23 to statewide offices around the country, it says. The group is led by Marjorie Dannenfelser, a former staffer for members of Congress and one of its original organizers.