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State Sen. Larry Rhoden, a West River rancher from Union Center, S.D., has made official his intention to run for the 2014 U.S. Senate seat. His entry as a candidate sets up a primary for next year, as former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds has been a candidate since late 2012.

Rhoden touted his conservative principles in a Wednesday morning event at picturesque Falls Park in Sioux Falls. Like many candidates do in the largely rural state when announcing campaigns, he'll travel to another metro area in Rapid City later in the day.

Rhoden pointed to his legislative record, criticized President Obama and said he would not compromise on conservative principles.

“I have listened to South Dakotans very carefully about this Senate race. They want someone who will fight for our conservative principles and our constitutional freedoms. They want common sense leadership that is different from the career politicians who have bankrupted this country," he said in a release.

Rhoden, a 1977 graduate of Sunshine Bible Academy, said he would give more than lip service to "limited government, individual rights and personal responsibility."

Rhoden has served in both the South Dakota House and Senate. He wants to steer federal policies away from the direction set by Obama.

"We have a President who has veered our country away from the free market system and towards big government programs and socialized medicine. We have a judiciary of activist judges who promote the liberal agenda and trample over our constitutional freedoms,” Rhoden said.

"...I will oppose big government and wasteful spending from either party. I will vote to repeal Obamacare and I won’t surrender that fight. I will oppose big bank bailouts. I will say no to amnesty (his press release uses a capital 'A') for illegal aliens. And I won’t raise your taxes."

Earlier this year, Rhoden was the main sponsor for a bill that would enable South Dakota to oppose any federal attempts to restrict the constitutional right to bear arms.

Rounds is considered a heavy favorite for the 2014 U.S. Senate race. The primary will be held on June 3, 2014.

Rick Weiland, a former staffer to U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle, is the Democratic candidate in the race. The seat will be open because three-term U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson, a Democrat from Vermillion, won't seek re-election.

Johnson's son, Brendan Johnson, a U.S. Attorney in the state, has ruled out a senatorial candidacy.

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County & Education Reporter

Government and education reporter.

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