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Dems Now Contesting Five More Legislative Seats Than Republicans

The Secretary of State’s office added eleven candidates to the roster of Legislative contenders yesterday. All eleven of them are West River Democrats:

Democratic Kicking Donkey Logo
1, 2, 3, kick!
  1. District 28B House: Lynn Frey, Lemmon
  2. District 29 House: Jade Addison, Sturgis
  3. District 29 House: Michael S. McManus, Sturgis
  4. District 30 House: Henry Whitney, Custer
  5. District 31 House: Naveen Malik, Spearfish
  6. District 31 House: Wyatt Osthus, Spearfish
  7. District 33 House: Ian Keegan, Rapid City
  8. District 34 House: Brian Davis, Rapid City
  9. District 27 Senate: Jim Bradford, Pine Ridge
  10. District 29 Senate: Matt Kammerer, Rapid City
  11. District 35 Senate: Barry Muxen, Rapid City

The addition of these eleven Democrats to the candidate list requires updating my primary and filled-ballot-slot counts:

  1. Jim Bradford’s attempt to return to the District 27 Senate seat triggers a primary against Red Dawn Foster. The only other Democratic Senate primary is in District 1, where Rep. Susan Wismer faces Allison Renville and Thomas Bisek.
  2. The other ten entrants fill slots that were empty and thus add no primaries. The total number of primaries is thus 24: two Democratic Senate, five Democratic House, nine GOP Senate, and eight GOP House.
  3. Janet Jensen did withdraw as promised from the District 33 House race (someone must be working overtime: the date of her withdrawal is listed as today, a Saturday!), but three Republicans remain in that race, meaning their primary is still on.
  4. Democrats have 110 candidates on the official list; Republicans, 115.
  5. Primaries will whittle those numbers down. When that dust settles, Democrats will have all but three ballot slots filled: District 25 Senate, one House slot in District 22, and one slot in District 19. Republicans are leaving eight slots uncontested: Senate seats in Districts 1 and 15, both House seats in District 15, and single seats in Districts 1, 17, 26A, and 28A.

That fifth point is the statistic of the moment. We’ll eat our crowing later if folks withdraw, but at this glorious moment, Democrats are competing for 102 Legislative seats, while Republicans are competing for only 97.

In other words, if we Democrats could just fight Republicans to a draw and win half of the contested seats—win 16 of the 32 Senate races and 31 of the 62 House races—the seats we’ve already won by GOP forfeit—two Senate, six House—would give us majorities in both chambers.

Imagine the possibilities.

The 2016 general election ballot had 91 Republicans and 81 Democrats. Both parties right now are contesting more seats than they did in 2016, but while the GOP contested-seat count is up just 7%, the Dem count is up 26%.

The GOP contested-seat average over the nine previous general elections of this century is 94.7. The Dem average is 75.7. Republicans are beating their average by 2%; Democrats are beating theirs by 35%.

Hey, Republicans! Remember how Barack Obama made it harder for us Democrats to stick our necks out in South Dakota? We’re about to test whether Donald Trump has a similar effect on you.

Blue wave? Maybe!


  1. Debbo 2018-03-31 21:23

    Goooooo SD Democrats! Good on ya! SD should be, could be and can be part of the Big Blue Wave in 2018!! Woo-hoo!

  2. Michael L. Wyland 2018-04-01 07:36

    We need a follow-up tally after the deadline for removing one’s name from the ballot passes. There are often “placeholder” names on state legislative ballots from candidates with no intention of conducting a campaign. It’s not just a Democratic problem; the GOP can suffer from it, too. I still remember walking into GOP headquarters in Sioux Falls in 1990 and offering to volunteer. The first question I was asked was, “Great! Would you like to run for the legislature?”

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-04-01 08:54

    Most definitely, Michael. Both parties may see turnover or bailouts by August. I’ll certainly update after the primary.

    But even if Dems see more bail-outs than GOP this summer, at this moment, the data we have shows Dems filling more slots than Republicans.

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