Press "Enter" to skip to content

Dems Pick Erin Healy as House Minority Whip

Well, Democrats in the South Dakota Legislature did a little better than Republicans at picking women for leadership positions. Democrats elected a woman. A woman.

Rep.-Elect Erin Healy (D-14/Sioux Falls), Minority Whip.
Rep.-Elect Erin Healy (D-14/Sioux Falls), Minority Whip.

According to the LRC, the eleven-Dem House caucus and the five-Dem Senate caucus met over the weekend to pick their leaders. The one woman chosen for leadership is rookie Representative-Elect Erin Healy of hard-fought District 14 in Sioux Falls. The other House Dem leaders are Minority Leader Jamie Smith of Sioux Falls, Assistant Minority Leader Steven McCleerey of Sisseton, and fellow Minority Whip Oren Lesmeister of Parade.

With only four leadership positions and four women out of eleven Democrat House seats, picking Healy alone was actually the closest we could come to accurately reflecting Democratic women’s 36% of the minority caucus. Pick Kelly Sullivan, Linda Duba, or Peri Pourier to be the other whip, and women would be 50% of the leadership.

Over in the Senate, where the two women—experienced House member Susan Wismer of Britton and Red Dawn Foster of Pine Ridge—are both newcomers to the chamber, the Dems picked the only returning incumbents. Senator Troy Heinert of Mission inherits his fellow cowboy Billie Sutton’s old post of Minority Leader (we’ll see if he’s able to get Larry Rhoden to speak Lakota from the Senate President’s chair). Craig Kennedy of Yankton gets a turn as Assistant Minority Leader, and economist Reynold Nesiba gets to be Minority Whip… though there’s not much whipping to do when you only have five members in your caucus.

25 women in the South Dakota Legislature, and legislators pick one woman to be part of the leadership. One woman.


  1. grudznick 2018-11-19 19:54

    Good on them. I hope they encourage her to use less red lip stickum, as it appears she is a pretty enough woman without the cartoon makeup. I, for one, am shocked that Ms. Wismer is not the top dog in this group. She will, I am sure, be the puppetmaster behind the curtain. And good on her for that, too.

  2. Susan Kroger 2018-11-19 20:49

    I don’t comment on this site because I don’t generally have time to go down the rabbit hole but grudznick’s comment warrants a response. It’s sexist drivel like this that keeps new, progressive candidates like Representative-Elect Healy from being more active in the party. She just earned a spot in leadership as a first time Legislator- please have some respect. Unless you’d like to post a picture so we can comment, too.

  3. Jon Spawn 2018-11-19 20:54

    grudznick’s “creepy uncle at Thanksgiving” schtick is so embarrassing. There’s gotta be some dark corner of the Internet that would better suit your fixation with making weird comments about women’s appearances—maybe Reddit?

  4. JLB 2018-11-19 20:55

    For what it is worth, the Senate GOP has not picked their leadership. Since there is one incumbent woman (Sen. Langer) who was in Senate GOP leadership in 2017-2018, it seems pretty likely at least one more woman will be in leadership on the GOP side.

  5. Debbo 2018-11-19 20:56

    Agreed Jon.

  6. Nick 2018-11-19 21:07

    Grudnick’s comment is gross. Erin is more than her lipstick choice and, for what it’s worth, lipstick choice is not a part of her civil service requirement. Erin interned on The US Senate Banking Committee, worked as a legislative correspondent for Tim Johnson, and published her thesis is on constituent policy preference as it relates to morality policy and how our legislators continuously defy what their constituents wish. So yeah, keep talking about her lipstick.

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-11-19 21:08

    I agree. Grudz, you demean Rep.-Elect Healy. Her lipstick is irrelevant to her legislative abilities. Unlike our Governor-Elect, Healy doesn’t give the impression that she runs on being a beauty queen.

    JLB, tell the GOP Senate caucus that simply keeping pace with the Dems is no place Republicans want to be.

    Of course, Republicans did elect a woman Governor, and that’s probably worth triple points compared to each Legislative leader. But then there’s a difference between a popular vote and a caucus vote.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-11-19 21:10

    Jeepers: right there, Healy establishes more real policy chops than Noem brought to Congress. I’d love to compare Healy’s thesis with the little paper Noem wrote to finish her SDSU degree.

  9. RJ 2018-11-19 21:13

    Grudz, really tired of you reducing smart women down to criticism or praise of their looks. No one who isn’t a schmuck cares about someone’s makeup or their clothing. We care about their beliefs and policies. You’ve shown your true colors. Perhaps, post a picture of yourself on here and leave it open to the public to put your looks above your mind.

  10. South DaCola 2018-11-19 21:48

    Lipstick tips aside, this didn’t come without a fight. The Dems have a Good Old Boys network also. If the Dems want to get back on track they would have picked women and minorities as half of their leadership team.

  11. Kathy Tyler 2018-11-19 22:59

    There was no fight.

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-11-20 06:09

    The problem may be less the Dems’ choices and more the few people the voters picked for the Dems to choose from.

    Give LEAD another couple cycles of recruiting and training winning candidates. Maybe Rep. Healy will have a full caucus of young, energetic, progressive women to lead into battle with the Republican old-boys’ network.

  13. Rorschach 2018-11-20 08:19

    With 11 members did they really need whips at all, let alone 2 of them?

    I know. I know. The title doesn’t come with any extra pay – or work.

  14. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2018-11-20 13:18

    Young pro-choice women won and almost won in Minnehaha County this year (And Mike too!), which should be a lesson for us all to stay true to our beliefs and fight the fight and not try to be Republican-lite as a political party.

    And there is also a political incorrect lesson to be learned from this past election year too, I must admit, but I will leave it to Dick Nixon to say and to take the blame for:

  15. mike from iowa 2018-11-20 14:55

    I distinctly remember a whining voice on the blog running up to the election preaching that Dems had to become wingnuts to get elected in South Dakota. What would be the point of being the opposition party?

    Eventually, given a stark choice, common sense and decency will start to win out as people get tired of one party corruption at all levels of state government.

  16. Donald Pay 2018-11-20 15:34

    Lipstick (and makeup generally) is something I don’t understand. I’d like to know why women (and some men) wear it. Is it societal pressure? I know that many girls put pressure on parents to let them wear makeup around sixth grade or seventh. My daughter never begged me, but maybe that was because she went to her mother for that sort of stuff. She had a lot of sleepovers with her schoolmates in middle school, and I think that’s when she started picking up on makeup. My ex was not a big fan of makeup, and wore very little. My sweetie wears quite a lot. She said it makes her skin feel better.

    I never comment on women’s appearances. I never say, “Honey, you look wonderful tonight,” like Eric Clapton in the worst song he ever wrote. Especially, I never said anything to my daughter about how she looked. And she never asked me, because she knows I have no fashion sense.

    Back in the 1950s most women wore stark red lipstick, sort of the shade of Rep.-elect Heely, but maybe a bit darker. That’s what my Mom wore. As a kid, I tried some on once, and it didn’t taste good nor feel good, so I decided it wasn’t for me. To this day I don’t like lip balm, and won’t use it unless I have really chapped lips.

    And that’s all I have to say on lipstick and related issues.

    Good luck to all the new Legislators. Listen to the people. The lobbyists may have some good points to give you, but it’s the people who matter.

  17. CErmle 2018-11-20 20:38

    I’m curious what color lipstick “Grudznick” wears? Come on dude (or dude-ess), get real.

  18. Karen Soli 2018-11-20 23:53

    Democrats have had three women in their four leadership positions in the SD House for the past two years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.