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15 Districts Offer Legislative Openings for Independents and Alternative Parties

Only four non-major-party candidates—one independent and three Libertarians—have filed petitions to run for Legislature. Independents have until April 24 to file their petitions, but thanks to House Bill 1286, “alternative” political parties—Libertarians, Constitutionists, and any new party that can collect 2,775 signatures by July 1—can nominate candidates for Legislative office at convention until August 14.

So, based in which districts will indies and alternative parties find openings left by the failure of the Republicans and/or Democrats to fill all available ballot slots?

  1. District 1 (Marshall, Roberts, and Day counties): Republicans have left open the Senate slot and one House slot.
  2. District 13 (Sioux Falls): Democrats have left open one House slot.
  3. District 15 (Sioux Falls): Republicans have nobody, House or Senate.
  4. District 17 (Clay and Turner counties): Republicans left one House slot open, but note: Libertarians already have one House candidate.
  5. District 19 (McCook, Hanson, Hutchinson, Douglas, and the Kloucek-not-Finck side of Bon Homme): Democrats left one House slot open.
  6. District 22 (Beadle and Kingsbury counties): Democrats left one House slot open.
  7. District 25 (northern and southeastern Minnehaha County): Democrats have no Senate candidate.
  8. District 26A (Mellette and Todd counties): In this single-seat House district, Republicans have no candidate.
  9. District 28A (Ziebach, Dewey, and Corson counties): Again, single-seat, again, no Republican.
  10. District 29 (Meade and pieces of Butte and Pennington counties): Democrats have nobody, House or Senate.
  11. District 30 (Fall River, Custer, and mostly non-urban Pennington counties): Democrats left one House slot open.
  12. District 31 (Lawrence County): Democrats left both House slots empty.
  13. District 33 (Rapid City): Democrats left one House slot open.
  14. District 34 (Rapid City): Democrats left one House slot open.
  15. District 35 (Rapid City): Democrats have no Senate candidate.

There are thus five Senate slots facing no major-party contest in November. As it stands now, District 15 incumbent Democratic Senator Reynold Nesiba faces no primary challenge and thus will return to the Senate uncontested. Four other Senate seats will be decided in the June 5 primary. Each of those five seats would be good opportunities for indies or alternative-party members to make a splash as main opposition candidates in November.

The fifteen open House slots offer similar though more complicated opportunities for indy/alt challengers. Only in the eight open slots in 15, 26A, 28A, 29, and 31 would an independent or Green or some such new partier have the chance to be the sole opposition party candidate. In 1, 13, 19, 22, 30, 33, and 34, and indy/alt candidate would still be caught between both Democrats and Republicans. But in any of those races, the indy/alt candidate(s) would have the chance to appeal to major party members who can’t use both of their votes on someone carrying their own party label.

This analysis only looks at numbers. A serious new party organizer would want to look at the dynamics of each district for the best opportunities. It could well be, for example, that the independent in moderate District 7, Cory Ann Ellis, has a better chance of pulling votes away from Republicans (who have just one incumbent) and Democrats (who have two newcomer candidates) than a Green, Socialist, or Objectivist might have of winning in rock-solid Republican District 31 against two Republican incumbents, even without any Democratic challengers. But if you’re looking for gaps to fill with indies and alternative party members, start in those fifteen places where the November ballot currently would have at least one empty slot.


  1. Curt 2018-03-29

    There may be openings, but there are petitions awaiting verification by the Secretary of State.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-03-29

    And I eagerly await possible fillings of those openings! Let’s all keep an eye on that candidate list for updates!

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