GOP battle intensifies

With five days to go until the Republican gubernatorial primary, the five candidates are getting a little sharper with their comments.

Lt. Gov. Dennis Daugaard and state Senate Republican Leader Dave Knudson locked tusks over the state budget during the one-hour forum sponsored by KELO Thursday night. Knudson said Daugaard doesn’t have any new ideas to deal with the looming state budget crisis. Duaggard said the national and state economies are improving and a rising tide will lift all ships, including the state’s budget boat.

The other three candidates — state Sen. Gordon Howie, former Brookings mayor Scott Munsterman and rancher Ken Knuppe — offered their ideas for fixing the budget problem.

Howie would freeze state spending and reduce regulations. Munsterman said he would lead the state to a better tomorrow and keep spending tied to the rate of inflation. And Knuppe, the only one unsullied by past political campaigns, said he would call for across-the-board spending cuts.

If there’s a runoff for the Republican nomination, and with five candidates that’s very possible, look for even harsher exchanges. It takes at least 35 percent of the vote to win and avoid a runoff, which would be held June 29 it it’s needed.