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.
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.