In this Aug. 10, 2018, photo, Democratic governor candidate Billie Sutton campaigns at a fair in Sioux Falls, S.D. Sutton is seeking to become the first Democrat elected South Dakota governor in over four decades. (AP Photo/James Nord)

Cowboy turned lawmaker hopes to be South Dakota governor

August 18, 2018 - 11:12 am

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Billie Sutton planned to be a world champion saddle bronc rider, but a rodeo accident that claimed his burgeoning career and his ability to walk led instead to a political rise that could make Sutton the first Democrat elected South Dakota governor in more than four decades.

Sutton was among the top 30 in the world for professional rodeo when a horse flipped over on him in 2007, partially paralyzing him. He's since become the top state Senate Democrat and launched a bid for governor.

Sutton faces a top-tier opponent, U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem. She's won four terms in Congress and easily triumphed in her June Republican primary.

Sutton is running as an anti-corruption moderate who opposes abortion rights and supports gun rights.