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Democrats Gain One Senate Seat, Lose One House Seat, Maintain 11-Member Caucus in 105-Seat Legislature

When the best Democrats can say is that things didn’t get any worse, it’s been another depressing election.

South Dakota Democrats have gained one seat in the Senate but lost one seat in the House, keeping their total caucus in the South Dakota Legislature at 11 out of 105 seats.

The brightest spot on the Legislative map for Democrats is District 10 in northeastern Sioux Falls, where Democrats won all three seats. Democratic challenger Liz Larson ousted incumbent Republican Senator Maggie Sutton with a strong 57% to 43% victory. The redrawn district also re-elected Representative Erin Healy and gave her a Democratic seatmate, Kameron Nelson. Healy and Nelson won 4,613 and 3,510 votes, respectively, while Republican challengers John Mogen and Tom Sutton (yeah, Mr. Maggie) drew 3,114 and 2,980 votes, respectively.

Traditionally Democratic District 15 in north and central Sioux Falls stayed that way, but not by as much as District 10 went blue. Democratic Senator Reynold Nesiba kept his seat but beat Republican Brenda Lawrence by only a 53%-to-47% vote. D-15 Dem Linda Duba kept her seat in the House with a first-place finish. Newcomer Kadyn Wittman appears to have held the second House seat in D-15 (left open by Jamie Smith in his failed bid for governor) for Democrats, but her 97-vote margin over Republican Joni Tschetter is within recount range.

Alas, the longtime Democratic stronghold of District 1 in northeastern South Dakota has finally surrendered fully to Republicans. Republican Senator Mike Rohl fended off the challenge from former Democratic legislator Susan Wismer. Republican crypto-critical race theorist Tamara St. John held her House seat, and the Republicans’ illegal candidate Joe Donnell fended off former Democratic legislator Steven McCleerey by over 1,100 votes. Democrats thus lost the House seat Jennifer Keintz left open as she ran for lieutenant governor alongside Smith.

Democrats also lost the House seat they held in Yankton in District 18. Republican Julie Auch placed second in District 18’s House race, behind incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Stevens but ahead of incumbent Democratic Rep. Ryan Cwach. 155 votes separate second place and third place, making an Auch-Cwach recount possible. While I relish the prospect of getting to write “Auch-Cwach” in as many headlines as possible, I would not anticipate any recount finding 156 missed Democratic ballots or flipping 78 Republican votes.

Democrats held the District 26 Senate seat, as Rep. Shawn Bordeaux beat three-time loser and now known child rapist and incestophile Joel Koskan 58% to 42%. (But you know, the white folks in Brule County and Jones County still have Koskan majorities, showing that some white folks still feel better represented by a white man who rapes Indian children than by an Indian.) Democrat Eric Emery stepped up to hold Bordeaux’s House seat, beating Republican Joyce Glynn 67% to 33%.

Redistricting helped Democrats take District 10, but it didn’t help in Rapid City. Party leaders celebrated the consolidation of the Lakota vote in Rapid City’s central District 32 as an electoral opportunity, but Democratic candidate Nicole Heenan mustered only 44% against incumbent Senator Helene Duhamel, and Republicans Steve Duffy and incumbent Rep. Beck Drury held off their Democratic challengers Christine Stephenson and Jonathan Old Horse. The only Democrats representing anyone close to Rapid City and the Black Hills thus remain Senator Red Dawn Foster and Representative Peri Pourier, who won reëlection in District 27, which now reaches up further from Pine Ridge to include the barren eastern fringes of the Rapid City metroplex.

Redistricting didn’t help Democrats in District 28A. Democratic Representative Oren Lesmeister appears to have held his seat in that single-seat district on our north-central reservations, but just barely. The addition of more white ranchers from southern Perkins County to D-28A appears to have helped Republican Ralph Lyon win 49% of the vote. The mere 43 votes separating him from the incumbent may trigger a recount.

But as it stands, the Democratic caucus in Pierre will remain at 11 members, constituting 11% of the Senate and 10% of the House.


  1. RST Tribal Member 2022-11-09 07:14

    Might be time to rethink the leadership of the Democratic Party. The known Indian fighter has proven through several election cycle processes he is as worthless running a major party as he was picking off defenseless poor indicated Native people. All the Natives who got a half wit defense attorney kicked his worthless brain and butt all over the court room. Even an all white Native hating jury box would not buy his criminal bs theories.

    Keep the Native fighter and the Democratic Party will be near zero representation in the state and will remain at zero representation in Washington in 2024.

    Time to wake up democrats. It was a no brained voting for newly elected senator Bordeaux as he is the best person for the job. The dipping of his private part into Native female children inept inbred Republican candidate did not have the moral decency to step away from the public light. He proudly thumped his trump behavior getting as many votes as the number of times he raped a young Native female child into adulthood. The South Dakota Republican Party proved once again it is one sick bunch of voters

    Representative Eric Emery should emerge as a leader as he is grounded with expertise and experiences that should make him a good leader. The “should” reference is used because the Native fighter running the Democratic Party will make not room at the table for future Native leaderships like Eric unless force to do it.

    Again, time to rethink who is running the Democratic Party now into 2024. More of the same or time for a new direction. Losing in two election cycles does have consequences. Or not.

  2. Chris McEwen 2022-11-09 07:56

    Thanks for the summary – was curious how SD shaped out. ND had a pretty bad election night and I’m now curious to what can be shaped out as folks forge ahead.

  3. Jenny 2022-11-09 09:29

    On the bright side – there was no red wave in MN!
    We love our Democrats, Labor Unions and Women’s right to choose here. We flipped the Senate, and retained control of the House and Walz won easily over Trumpie anti-vaxxer Scott Jensen. Social Justice fighter Keith Ellison also wins reelection as AG in a nail-biter.
    We also voted in our first transgender State legislator. We love you LGBTs just the way you are!
    Peace and Love everyone

  4. P. Aitch 2022-11-09 10:28

    Congratulations, Jenny. Minnesota and Sioux Falls twinkle like diamonds in Blue America’s shining sea. #JustPinkTrickle

  5. Jenny 2022-11-09 11:50

    Thanks P. Aitch, I appreciate it, and thanks for always being nice to me on here. Some of the DFP boys have been nasty to me, but you have always been decent. I heard Colorado had a good night also.


  6. Jake 2022-11-09 11:50

    Minnesota remains the “belly” of America! Everything is digested and sorted out in that state; giving life to the rest of the body! (the nation)…

  7. P. Aitch 2022-11-09 12:13

    Peace, Jenny. There’s an element of males on this blog who try to be as mean as possible to anyone that doesn’t agree with their radicalized, ultra conservative opinions. My friend Debbo is sorely missed here for her solid background and her artistic flair. The one called “grudznick” found pleasure in demeaning her alternative lifestyle to a point she saw no benefit in adding her two cents to the cause. Grudznick’s low self-esteem and tiny ability to please women has taken over his brain to the point of no return, I’m afraid.
    Bless you grudznick for you have sinned.

  8. Kurt Evans 2022-11-09 12:46

    Cory writes:

    Democrats held the District 26 Senate seat, as Rep. Shawn Bordeaux beat three-time loser and now known child rapist and incestophile Joel Koskan 58% to 42%.

    Did the rape you’re alleging occur when the victim was below the statutory age of consent, or are you accusing Joel of forcible rape?

  9. sx123 2022-11-09 14:44

    Hopefully another pandemic doesn’t show up in the next 4 years.

  10. Arlo Blundt 2022-11-09 14:48

    Jenny–hang in there. We need progressive voices.

  11. sx123 2022-11-09 14:49

    @Kurt, I think there’s more to the law in this situation than just age of consent. Aren’t there also position of authority considerations?

  12. Jake 2022-11-09 16:00

    Yes, Jenny. Thanks for posting!

  13. Mark Anderson 2022-11-09 16:19

    Sioux Falls will of course continue to blue. The state will react by taking as much power from the city as they can. It’s the world we live in.

  14. Arlo Blundt 2022-11-09 17:03

    South Dakotans continued to vote the same way they have since WWII. We have to appreciate our victories. This year it was Medicaid expansion which is a huge victory for typical South Dakota citizens with incomes near the poverty line. It was resisted by the wealthy and powerful but democracy prevailed.

  15. Loti 2022-11-09 17:14

    Well another dim future with that cowgirl K.N. ouch.

  16. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-11-09 18:49

    Kurt, I’m not barking up your tree. Rape is rape. Incest is incest. Rapist incestophile Koskan did not deserve the vote of any decent person.

  17. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-11-09 18:52

    RST, the failure you impute to Randy Seiler does not appear unique to whatever skills or lack thereof you think he has brought to the job of SDDP chair. The SDDP has failed in multiple cycles without Seiler’s leadership. What are the core failures in SDDP leadership that produce these regularly bad results, and what different skills would someone lke Eric Emery bring to the post that would overcome the obstacles that several other SDDP leaders have failed to overcome and elect more Democratic legislators?

    What is Eric Emery’s secret sauce for beating MAGA/R branding outside friendly Indian Country?

  18. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-11-09 18:57

    Mark, can we say that Sioux Falls is turning blue when it has only the two districts I mentioned above out of the ten touching SF city limits elected any Democrats to the Legislature?

  19. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-11-09 19:10

    Right on, Jenny: Yay, Minnesota! DFL holds the House, flips the Senate, keeps the Governor’s office and AG. Nice!

    I wonder how many of the voters who helped the Minnesota DFL increase its power used to vote in South Dakota.

  20. Kurt Evans 2022-11-10 01:10

    I’d asked Cory:

    Did the rape you’re alleging occur when the victim was below the statutory age of consent, or are you accusing Joel of forcible rape?

    “sx123” writes to me:

    Aren’t there also position of authority considerations?

    I’ll ask.

    Cory, are you accusing Joel of rape based on statutory position-of-authority considerations?

    Cory writes:

    Kurt, I’m not barking up your tree.

    You don’t seem to be answering my questions either, and I’m wondering why that is.

  21. Nick Nemec 2022-11-10 06:05

    Kurt, possibly people are not answering your questions because you aren’t honestly asking questions to learn or find answers. Your mind is made up before you asked the question, any question. Maybe if you were to study the rape statutes and attempt to understand them your questions would be answered.

  22. Jenny 2022-11-10 08:31

    MN is a welcoming state for EVERYBODY and young social-minded people that have moved here from SD have certainly played a part in the blue sweep, Cory.

    “Tomorrow there will be a trans child maybe scared to face the world, but hopefully a little more sure that this State wants them to be ALIVE, that that this State wants them to live HERE and this state wants them to be their full beautiful selves everywhere they go.”
    – MN Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan’s shout out to transgenders in her speech on election night 2022

  23. P. Aitch 2022-11-10 08:54

    Kurt Evans appears to have a mental illness that’s not being addressed. Let’s all do what we can to help the man. Helping him is to the benefit of everyone.

  24. Kurt Evans 2022-11-10 15:46

    I’d asked Cory:

    Did the rape you’re alleging occur when the victim was below the statutory age of consent, or are you accusing Joel of forcible rape?

    Nick Nemec writes:

    Your mind is made up before you asked the question, any question.

    That claim is absurd, Nick. Which way would you say my mind was “made up” in this case?

    Maybe if you were to study the rape statutes and attempt to understand them your questions would be answered.

    That claim is also absurd. Understanding the rape statutes could never answer any question about what Cory is alleging.

  25. larry kurtz 2022-11-10 16:07

    Obsession with the prurient isn’t uncommon.
    “Common Types of OCD
    Aggressive or sexual thoughts. …
    Harm to loved ones. …
    Germs and contamination. …
    Doubt and incompleteness. …
    Sin, religion, and morality. …
    Order and symmetry. …

  26. RST Tribal Member 2022-11-11 14:18

    Cory, glad we agreed on the current and past leadership of the Democratic Party. There were no skills or expertise imputed to the current leader of the Democratic Party. What was boldly told is his dislike for Natives and Natives’ dislike for the likes of him. As the saying goes, look at the numbers for the story; the recent election had the number of voters in counties with a sufficient number of Natives coming in low. Too low. Maybe we just blame the Native voters, allowing for a different day, and the same crappy outcome.

    Hopefully, by mid-2023, a change will occur to prepare for the 2024 elections. Or, more of the same.

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