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District 32 Independent Runs as Reluctant Democrat, Meaning Minimal Threat to GOP Dominance

Even in the rare places where Democrats will be on the ballot in South Dakota, we can’t get the Democrat to say good things about being a Democrat:

Nicole Heenan wants to be judged as a fifth-generation South Dakotan or a small business owner, not as a Democrat.

But on the November 2022 ballot, she’ll be listed as both the lone challenger to Republican incumbent Helene Duhamel in District 32, which is made up of central and northern areas of Rapid City, and a Democrat.

“I’m tired of a two-party system,” Heenan said. “I feel like it’s an antiquated system, but it’s what we’ve got to work with right now” [Eric Mayer, “Running as a Democrat in South Dakota,” KELO-TV, 2022.04.05].

Heenan tells Mayer she switched from independent to Democratic last month (Mayer’s word) “reluctantly”:

She said the national tone of the Democratic Party is not applicable or appropriate to South Dakota, but said running as an independent for state office was not efficient.

“When you look at the asymmetry and how little diversity South Dakota has, it’s heartbreaking,” Heenan said. “I want to work really hard at coming up with sensible solutions instead of the same narrative and divisive politics that South Dakota seems to have settled into” [Mayer, 2022.04.05].

But Heenan can’t bring herself to speak the full discomforting truth: Republicans are responsible for stifling discussion and diversity with their hyperpartisan narrative and divisive politics. “Democrats” on the ballot will surrender to the Republican narrative that Democrats are evil, lodge faint attacks on the two-party system in vague terms that leave intact the soothing but false both-sidesism that excuses Republican party-line voting, and then after a drubbing in November wonder why they didn’t move the political needle away from the stagnant one-party regime.

If you want to beat the majority party’s candidates, you have to make the case that the majority party is wrong and that the opposition party can do a better job. Running as a reluctant Democrat and saying the Democratic Party is inappropriate and inapplicable won’t win votes.


  1. larry kurtz 2022-04-06 07:39

    Bless her heart. There are just so many things wrong with Rapid City it’s impossible to know where to begin fixing it especially from Pierre. Even Albuquerque beat out Sioux Falls as a healthier city but Rapid City is at the bottom of WalletHub’s list and is at 173rd for the number of healthy restaurants so little wonder the brain drain is so acute.

  2. leslie 2022-04-06 08:41

    Well said Corey. This really appear to be the crux of the matter in SD.

    “Running as a reluctant Democrat and saying the Democratic Party is inappropriate and inapplicable won’t win votes.”

    A lone candidate trying to change the two party system is up against insurmountable odds imo (in a population that is content to kill older, compromised members by refusing to vax, mask and distance because it is inconvenient and incompetent Republicans seek power over good.

    January Neil DeGrass Tyson interview w/ Yale sociology professor on 3 phases of pandemic thru 2024. And….

    Fauci yesterday: variants could elude natural or vaccine-induced immunity, asymptomatic transmission still occurs, immunity from vaccines or past infections can wane, and there has been “substantial” resistance to public-health tools like wearing masks and vaccination.

    …the evolving nature of SARS-CoV-2 and waning immunity from the COVID-19 vaccines or natural infection all complicate the ability to hit any type of immunity threshold that would definitively signal an end to the pandemic.

    Fauci has long questioned herd immunity as a benchmark to end the COVID-19 pandemic, often describing the epidemiological concept as “elusive” or “mystical.”

  3. jerry 2022-04-06 09:26

    It’s the economy stupid. Geesh, what part of a campaign are they missing? Why not state the obvious, put Democrats in and you can have nice things like jobs in a strong economy, marijuana that is legal and good for you. Medical care that is affordable and good for you. Why be reluctant when you can be honest.

    Ol’ Helene is a double dipper into the public funds and about as reckless with the truth as she can be. Ol’ Helene got too much of that Chad Olson dusty white nationalism snot on her. Ol’ Helene helped kill the voter approved and overwhelming supported marijuana bill. She is a disgrace to democracy.

    If I were running against Ol’ Helene , I would even question if she really had “cancer” or if she just faked it. I would go down and dirty. I would then ask if she was a “groomer” or if she hung around pizza places chatting it up with the kids.

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