Dell Rapids has enjoyed unusual success in electing legislators in the past decade. While this lovely Sioux River Valley town has a population of just 3,996, less than a sixth of the current target population for Legislative districts, Dell Rapids has provided all three of its Legislative district’s members since 2016. District 25 is currently represented by Representatives Jon Hansen and Tom Pischke and Senator Marsha Symens, all Dell Rapids Republicans.
Those Dell Rapids pols face new competition for their seats thanks to the Sparrow map enacted by the Legislature last week for its decennial redistricting. For the last ten years, the District 25 map brought Dell Rapids candidates in competition with candidates from weirdly gerrymandered southeast Sioux Falls:
The Sparrow map rationalizes Minnehaha County to a significant degree, removing District 25’s southeastern gerrymander and consolidating Brandon, Rowena, and Valley Springs into a nice, compact near-square. District 25 keeps some odd lumps in Minnehaha County, reaching down to I-90 on Sioux Falls’s northern edge, retreating back northward before Hartford, then plunging south from Buffalo Trading Post to seize the Highway 19 corridor through Humboldt and Pumpkin Center. And in a big change in area and character, District 25 also grabs all of Moody County, adding hundreds of voting-age Flandreau Santee Sioux to the Dell Rapids delegation’s constituents.
The Sparrow map also draws two more Republican incumbents into District 25:
Rep. Steven Haugaard of Sioux Falls currently serves District 10, which is gerrymandered around northern and eastern Sioux Falls and Brandon. Rep. Randy Gross of Elkton currently serves District 8, which is stretched across four counties on Highway 34, from his home in Moody out through Lake, Miner, and Sanborn. Haugaard and Gross are now in District 25 with Hansen, Pischke, and Symens. of those five incumbents, rookie Senator Symens was the only one to vote for the Sparrow map.
Haugaard is the only one of those five Republican incumbents facing term limits in 2022. He could spare Symens and his new District 25 Republican neighbors some angst by running for Governor against the SDGOP’s vulnerable incumbent. But Gross, Pischke, Hansen, and Symens may be giving each other some hard looks across the table when they meet to figure whether the Dell Rapids GOP mafia gets to maintain its outsized representation in Pierre.
Or maybe Hansen or Pischke will just move to Sioux Falls!
On the bright side, Democrat Jeff Barth catches a fair break from the Sparrow map. In 2020, his campaign for District 25 House had him driving mostly east and north out to the far rural corner of Minnehaha County. Now, if the erudite Barth wishes to try again for Legislature, he can toodle about his newly compact District 14, which appears to lie entirely within the city limits of Sioux Falls between (west to east) the Big Sioux and Highway 11 and (north to south) East 18th Street and the county line. Barth could also fill a gap in the new District 14: rare gem of a Democratic incumbent Rep. Erin Healy, currently of District 14, has been remapped into the new and felicitously Democratic-leaning District 10, which with Haugaard gone has no Republican House incumbent for her to compete against in 2022, so yay for her! Barth doesn’t get the same Democratic advantage of Healy’s 10, but Barth’s new 14 is has more Democratic voters than the new 25. Barth can thus campaign closer to home and among some voters who may miss their current Democratic Representative, without any of the incumbent toe-stomping his former Republican opposition in District 25 will be dancing to avoid.