Hey, I think I see one big reason Representative Sam Marty (R-28B/Prairie City) voted against the new Sparrow redistricting map for 2022: the new lines yank him out of his single-member District 28B and put him in strongly Lakota and Democratic District 28A.
District 28 is one of two Legislative districts (the other is 26) that is divided into two single-member House districts to give our Lakota neighbors at least one district in which they have the majority of voters. While the entire district is represented by just one Senator, currently Ryan Maher (R-28/Isabel), the district elects one House member from its eastern half—28A: Corson, Dewey, and Ziebach counties, on the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux Reservations, where the voter population is over 70% Indian—and one House member from its western half—28B: Harding County, nearly all of Perkins County, and most of Butte County, where the voter population is over 90% white.
According to the 2020 Census, Corson, Dewey, Ziebach, and Perkins counties all lost population. Harding and Butte counties grew, but not enough to make up for the other four counties loss, let alone keep up with the 8.9% growth in the population of the entire state. To reach the increased district target population of 25,333, District 28 had to take in more turf. Legislators settled on the neat solution of drawing in the southern bits of Perkins and Butte that previously joined most of Meade County in District 29. (Meade County grew 17.4% over the past decade and thus could afford to give up territory.)
But the single-member districts still need to be balanced, close to the target population of 12,667, and the current dividing line at the eastern Perkins county line would leave too few people in 28A and too many people in 28B. The three reservation counties together Census up to 11,554, 8.8% below target, while the three western counties hold 14,389, 13.6% above target.
The Senate solved this problem (and a slim majority of House members acceded to this solution) in 2021r House Bill 1001 by adding to District 28A “The portion of Perkins County consisting of precincts VTD-precinct 6, VTD-precinct 7, VTD-precinct 8, VTD-precinct 9, VTD-precinct 12.” That’s the southern two thirds of Perkins County, including Meadow, Bison, and Prairie City on Highway 20:
Joining those five Perkins precincts with Ziebach, Corson, and Dewey raises 28A’s population to 12,687, 0.16% above target and keeps the Indian percentage of 28A’s voting population at 67.4%. Leaving Lemmon, Lodgepole, and most of the Grand River National Grassland joined to Harding and Butte puts 28B’s population at 13,256, 4.65% above target.
But 28B’s current Representative, Republican Sam Marty, lives on the rangeland south of Prairie City, in Precinct 7, by my Google maps reckoning near the confluence of the mighty Antelope and Dog creeks. I’m sure that’s fine country for grazing and meditating, but for poor white conservative Sam Marty, that’s now, Legislatively speaking, Indian country, District 28A.
Not that the good voters of District 28A are unwilling to vote for white folks. For the last ten years, Ziebach+Corson+Dewey have elected as their sole Representative white fellers with a proclivity for Western wear just like old Sam. But those white fellers, Dean Schrempp and now Oren Lesmeister, are Democrats, and Sam Marty is most definitely not.
Rep. Marty preferred the House Grouse map, which would have balanced 28’s single-member House districts by joining Lemmon and its surrounding Precinct 5 to 28A. That Grouse split would have kept Marty in District 28B. Grouse would have created more equal Census numbers—12,944 for 28A and 12,999 for 28B. But it also would have split Lemmon-y country voters who live west of the great Highway 12 ridge from their urban counterparts.
Of course, Rep. Marty doesn’t have much to grouse about. He’s in his fourth term in the House and thus can’t run for House again in 2022. He could run for Senate for the entire District 28, but incumbent Senator Ryan Maher (R-28/Isabel) is only in his third Senate term and might not appreciate a primary challenge.
If Rep. Marty wants to save his per diem, he thus needs to get Senator Maher to run for District 28A house against Rep. Lesmeister, who is in his third term. Maher used to be a Democrat, and he lives on reservation land along with Lesmeister, so he would have a better shot of unseating Lesmeister than Marty would if he weren’t termed out.
Meanwhile, the new Sparrow District 28B sits empty of an incumbent, and Marty faced no challengers in either the 2020 primary or general. 28B thus awaits any eager candidates from Belle Fourche, Buffalo, and Lemmon to take their shot at single-member stardom.