Legality of Cannabis by U.S. Jurisdiction

Mike Rounds
Mike Rounds official Senate portrait.jpg
Official portrait, 2015
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 66)
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, Rounds was elected to the United States Senate, succeeding retiring Democrat Tim Johnson. He was reelected in 2020 over Democratic nominee Dan Ahlers.[1]

Early life, education, and business career[edit]

The eldest of 11 children, Rounds was born in Huron, South Dakota, the son of Joyce (née Reinartz) and Don Rounds.[2] He has German, Belgian, Swedish and English ancestry.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4] His brother Tim Rounds is a member of the South Dakota Legislature, representing District 24, which includes Pierre.[5][6]

Rounds attended South Dakota State University in Brookings, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in political science.[3]

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.[7]

South Dakota Senate[edit]


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%).[8] Rounds had to leave the Senate in 2000 because of legislative term limits South Dakota voters had passed in 1992.[9]


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.[10]

Committee assignments[edit]

  • Commerce
  • Education
  • Legislative Procedure
  • Local Government
  • Retirement Laws
  • State Affairs
  • Taxation[11][12][13][14]

Governor of South Dakota[edit]

Governor Mike Rounds (2004)



As the 2002 race for governor took shape, media and political observers largely dismissed Rounds as an extreme long shot.[15] 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".[16] Kirby invested in the company after the scandal broke and Barnett attacked him for it in television advertisements,[17] but the advertisements backfired because "the claims were so outlandish that people thought for sure that they were exaggerated or completely fabricated."[18]

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:[19]

  • 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:[20]


Rounds served as a member of the Governors' Council at the Bipartisan Policy Center.[21] He was the 2008 Chair of the Midwestern Governors Association.[22]


Research centers[edit]

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.[23]


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.[24] 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.[25]

EB-5 Visa inquiry[edit]

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.[26][27] 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.[28]

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.[29][30][31] 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.[32][33] Benda committed suicide in October 2013, days before a possible indictment over embezzlement and grand theft charges.[34]

3D-printed weapons[edit]

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.[35]

U.S. Senate[edit]



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.[36]

On November 29, 2012, Rounds launched a campaign[37] for the seat being vacated by Johnson's retirement.[38] He won the June 2014 Republican primary, defeating four other candidates.[39] 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.[40] Independent conservative former state legislator Gordon Howie was also in the race.[41]

In November Rounds was elected with a majority of the vote. The results were:[42]

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


In the 2020 election, Rounds defeated Scyller Borglum to win the Republican nomination.[43] He won the general election over Democrat Dan Ahlers with nearly 66% of the vote.[44]



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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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]

2021 storming of the United States Capitol[edit]

On May 28, 2021, Rounds abstained from voting on the creation of an independent commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection.[54]

Committee assignments[edit]

Personal life[edit]

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.[55]

Electoral history[edit]

South Dakota State Senate[edit]

South Dakota State Senate District 24 election, 1990[56][57]
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Rounds 2,188 62.69
Republican Kent Bowers 1,302 37.31
Total votes 3,490 100.00
General election
Republican Mike Rounds 4,790 52.54
Democratic Jacquie Kelly (incumbent) 4,326 47.46
Total votes 9,116 100.00
Republican gain from Democratic
South Dakota State Senate District 24 election, 1992[58]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Rounds (incumbent) 6,591 59.93
Democratic Rick Riggle 4,406 40.07
Total votes 10,997 100.00
Republican hold
South Dakota State Senate District 24 election, 1994[59]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Rounds (incumbent) 8,270 77.35
Independent Mary Morin 2,421 22.65
Total votes 10,691 100.00
Republican hold
South Dakota State Senate District 24 election, 1996[60]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Rounds (incumbent) 7,070 66.01
Democratic Kenneth Meyer 3,641 33.99
Total votes 9,711 100.00
Republican hold
South Dakota State Senate District 24 election, 1998[61]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Rounds (incumbent) 7,374 74.93
Democratic Robert Hockett 2,467 25.07
Total votes 9,841 100.00
Republican hold

South Dakota Governor[edit]

2002 South Dakota gubernatorial election[62][63]
Primary election
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
Total votes 111,264 100.00
General election
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
Total votes 334,559 100.00
Republican hold
2006 South Dakota gubernatorial election[64]
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
Total votes 335,508 100.00
Republican hold

U.S. Senator[edit]

2014 United States Senate election in South Dakota[65]
Primary election
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
Total votes 74,498 100.00
General election
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
Total votes 279,412 100.00
Republican gain from Democratic
2020 United States Senate election in South Dakota[66][67]
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Rounds (incumbent) 70,365 75.23
Republican Scyller Borglum 23,164 24.77
Total votes 93,529 100.00
General election
Republican Mike Rounds (incumbent) 276,232 65.74
Democratic Dan Ahlers 143,987 34.26
Total votes 420,219 100.00
Republican hold


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External links[edit]

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
Thom Tillis