PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The fight this November for control of the South Dakota Legislature might be one of the most lop-sided sets of election results in a long time.
Democrats have one of the smallest fields of candidates in decades for the 105 seats, while Republicans have one of their largest.
Republicans are running nominees for all 35 Senate seats. They start with a 9-0 lead there, where they currently hold a 30-5 super-super-majority.
Democrats lack Senate candidates in 17 of the districts: 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 16, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, 31 and 35.
Democrats also had Senate candidates withdraw in districts 3 and 13; they must be replaced this week or Republicans automatically win.
A wild card: Libertarians ran Senate candidates in districts 4, 5, 17, 20, 23, 29 and 30. Three independents also are running: Two in 25 and one in 35.
Republicans have a 59-11 advantage in the House, where two people are elected from each of the 35 districts. Republicans left open two seats in district 27, one seat apiece in districts 1 and 18, and two single-member sub-districts 26A and 28A.
Democrats left open 27 House seats: Two apiece in districts 2, 5, 16, 19, 20, 23, 29, 30 and 33; one each in districts 4, 6, 10, 12, 18, 21, 24 and 31; and one in single-member sub-district 28B.
Libertarians didn’t field any House candidates. One independent is running, in House 29.
Republicans will get new leaders in both chambers. Lee Qualm of Platte was term-limited in the House and lost a primary run for the Senate. Kris Langer of Dell Rapids recently announced she was withdrawing from her re-election run for the Senate.
Langer and Senate president pro tem Brock Greenfield of Clark were punished for drinking alcohol at a lobbyist’s house party and then returning to the Capitol on the final night of the 2020 legislative session. A special Senate committee admonished them and cautioned them against future appearances at the Capitol when their sobriety could be questioned.
The monthly totals for voter registration reflect a dozen years of Democratic decay. As of August 3, the totals were Republicans 264,706; Democrats 154,472; no-party/independents 130,984; Libertarians 1,979; and others 1,322.
Compare those to the numbers from the 2008 primary election that had two Democratic presidential candidates, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, duking it out in South Dakota for their party’s nomination: Republicans 235,388; Democrats 195,063; independents 75,894; and others 1,895.
The Democrats held two of South Dakota’s three seats in Congress for decades, and at various times had the statewide offices of treasurer, school and public lands, and at least one of the three Public Utilities Commission seats.
But Republican John Thune’s 2004 victory over U.S. Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle knocked out the financial center of the Democratic organization, followed by Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin’s loss to Republican Kristi Noem in 2010, and Democratic U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson’s 2014 retirement.
Today Republicans are in all three congressional seats and have a tight grip on every state elected office — Thune and former Gov. Mike Rounds are U.S. senators, former PUC member Dusty Johnson is in the U.S. House and Noem is governor — while Daschle remains in Washington, D.C., Johnson lives out of the spotlight and Herseth Sandlin is president of Augustana University in Sioux Falls.