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TenHaken, Loetscher Advance to May Day Mayoral Runoff in Sioux Falls

Sioux Falls voters have narrowed their choices for mayor down to two: Paul TenHaken and Jolene Loetscher. Those two candidates won 34% and 25%, respectively, of the city vote yesterday, triggering a May Day runoff.

Sioux Falls voters favored the two youngest candidates in the race, and poll workers got the impression that more young people showed up to vote. That youth tilt could bode well for younger candidates looking to upset the establishment in Legislative races and for Billie Sutton in his bid to become South Dakota’s youngest governor. Also encouraging is the fact that, as of five days before the election, Loetscher had spent only 28% of what TenHaken did, and that both of them had spent less than Jim Entenman, who came in third. Loetscher’s campaign shows that lower-budget campaigning can beat big money.

Loetscher and TenHaken beat three former city councilors, suggesting that voters this year may lean toward newcomers; however, Sioux Falls voters picked political newcomer Mike Huether as mayor in 2010, so let’s not leap to a general conclusion.

We should also note that turnout was the lowest in a Sioux Falls mayoral election since 1994. Municipal politics, at least, isn’t inspiring a surge in participation. Maybe more young people came out to vote than usual, but it appears more of them and every other group chose not to participate.

Jolene Loetscher runoff logoWere I a Sioux Fallsian, my choice would be simple: sensible, progressive, politically more self-made Loetscher versus Republican Party insider TenHaken. Former young Sioux Falls mayor Rick Knobe endorsed her. Loetscher scored one of LEAD South Dakota’s first endorsements for supporting their values of inclusion, civility, action, social justice, and empowerment. When TenHaken tried to rally conservative pushback against Loetscher’s commitment to diversity in last week’s big KSFY debate, Loetscher didn’t back down from her commitment to diversity or from her Women’s Day March statement that “What we do not deserve is a City Hall or a City Council meeting that looks like a Country Club mixer. We deserve a City Hall and a City Council that looks like us. That sounds like us.”

Besides, Loetscher made a living literally shoveling poop. Any candidate who gives me the chance to say poop in a complimentary fashion takes a step up in my esteem.

Loetscher now gets three weeks to show she can marshal 63% of yesterday’s not-TenHaken votes to her side on May 1.


  1. Rorschach 2018-04-11 06:49

    Loetscher has this in the bag. Unfortunately for her, Haken might be the bag.

  2. JLB 2018-04-11 09:51

    TenHaken has a huge advantage going into the runoff. He had a 10 point win over Loetshcher in the jungle primary, and assuming he can get a simple majority of the Jamison and Entenman vote (and he will get substantially more) he should sail. Only change would be a vastly different turnout, but that probably doesn’t hurt TenHaken.

  3. South DaCola 2018-04-11 10:21

    JLB, does make a good point, so Jo has a lot of ground to cover in a short period of time. The thing that makes me nervous about PTH besides all the shady crap he did with Republican campaigns throughout the years is that he is no different than the marketing guru we had for the past 8 years. Smoke and mirrors.

    I wish Jo luck, but I’m afraid SF voters are going to get suckered again by an outsider salesman that nobody knows.

  4. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2018-04-11 11:19

    Welcome to the world of “ClickReign,” or is that “CliqueRepublican?”

  5. Kurt B Woodard 2018-04-11 14:00

    JLB – “TenHaken has a huge advantage going into the runoff. He had a 10 point win over Loetshcher in the jungle primary, and assuming he can get a simple majority of the Jamison and Entenman vote (and he will get substantially more) he should sail. Only change would be a vastly different turnout, but that probably doesn’t hurt TenHaken.”

    Well said, and frankly, with that many conservative voters that turned out for the April 10th election, I don’t think Jo stands a chance. TenHaken will not have an open government and he’ll warehouse prisoners in the county jail by forcing SFPD to make an increase in arrests. He’ll be butting heads with the sheriff over his ‘law and order’ agenda he sold while running for mayor. Yet another neo-con we can’t afford.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-04-11 18:06

    Hmm… in 2010, Staggers narrowly beat Huether in the first vote, but Huether won the run-off 57–43. Climbing up from a near tie differs from the harder climb Loetscher faces against a nine-point lead. Can Loetscher learn anything from the 2010 runoff dynamics?

    Tell me more, JLB (or other observers): why do the Entenman/Jamison voters go more to TenHaken’s column?

    Kurt, as I look for hope, could it be that TenHaken turned out all the available conservatives yesterday and won’t expand on those numbers in the runoff? Does his base extend beyond those conservatives? Or does it cut the other way: Loetscher’s 25% were all of the progressives available, and everyone else who voted yesterday for the other four guys were typical conservatives who will all crowd to TenHaken’s side in the runoff?

  7. JLB 2018-04-11 19:34

    Staggers was too far right to pick up the city wide 2010 election and Huether was a moderate D. Tenhaken is a center right mainstream candidate and “Jo” has positioned herself further to the left of Huether. I think it is likely SF will have a vote margin that is close to 2010, but with Tenhaken on top.

  8. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2018-04-11 21:09

    Conventional wisdom would tell you that TenHaken has it in the bag given the rather large group of right of center voters whom can be found within the votes for TenHaken, Entenman, and Jamison from the April 10th results, but I think the election is going to be much closer, than many realize. Because first of all, historically, often the number two candidate wins. I also think that many women voters will see an opportunity here and seize it, plus over the next three weeks I believe that Sioux Fallsians will begin to understand that a vote for TenHaken is merely a continuation of Huether, because they are both merely salesmen first and foremost.

  9. Mildred Roesch 2018-04-11 21:42

    A Loetscher for mayor would be exciting and very good for Sioux Falls – transparency, transparency her mantra – however, I think TenHaken has it and with him goes more ‘tough on crime’ incarcerations – sadly women don’t always support women and Republican women follow voting like their husbands want…….

  10. Warren Phear 2018-04-11 22:09

    I think who wins can be seen by looking at this map and Joe Sneves story. You can see Jolene won in districts inside the Interstate 29/90/229 beltway. Outside that beltway was decidedly tenhaken. A study came out a few years ago about the income levels around Sioux Falls when discussing the indoor pool. Inside that beltway, Jolene land, the median household income was $33,000 a year. Outside the beltway, tenhaken land, median household income is nearly double what it is inside. Money talks, the rest walk. For those for one minute believe tenhaken gives the slightest damn about the city’s poor, think again. He will do nothing, I mean NOTHING, to bridge the gap between the haves and have nots.

  11. JLB 2018-05-01 23:16

    I was pretty close with my prediction.

  12. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2018-05-02 01:00

    JLB, you owe it all to Marty….

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