Abbott makes it official USD president turned candidate launches bid for governor Jim Abbott officially announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for governor before a large group of well-wishers at the Washington Rushmore Room in the Coyote Student Center. His wife, Colette, at left, listens as he emphasizes the importance of education in the state. by David Lias Jim Abbott had a neatly-typed speech on the podium before him as he prepared to address a roomful of friends and former USD colleagues at the Coyote Student Center Wednesday.
He barely glanced at it, however. Abbott demonstrated a confidence while delivering his message that matched the relaxed setting in the Washington Rushmore Room.
"It is with real mixed emotions that I make this announcement today," he said, with his wife Colette at his side, "because I don't think we've ever been happier. And yet I'm absolutely convinced, with every passing day, that if we don't have a governor who cares about education and who cares about making economic development happen in this state ? we're simply going to be in difficult shape in 25 or 30 years."
That's why Abbott has taken a leave of absence from the presidency of USD to begin the rather daunting task of launching a campaign to first win the state's Democratic gubernatorial primary, and then be the top vote-getter in November's general election.
South Dakota's next governor will face a myriad of challenges, including demographic trends that threaten nearly every sector of the state's society.
As governor, Abbott said, education will be a top priority. His goal is to raise test scores, especially in middle and high schools, to strengthen academic standards and to make sure educators have the resources they need.
He said he also will strive to build a homegrown, diversified, knowledge-based economy in South Dakota that creates opportunities.