The South Dakota Legislature will be decidedly Republican again after the 2016 election. Even stronger than before as the returns are final.

Republicans not only swept the top of the ticket for national offices and the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission seat, but also strengthened super-majorities in the State House and Senate. The spread in the House is now 60-10 when previously it was 58-12 with the Senate at 29-6 for the 2017 session when before 27 Republicans and 8 Democrats composed the Upper Chamber.

Voters resisted the urge to upset the apple cart and went with the familiar faces for the races in the Sioux Falls and surrounding area. Among the 36 seats with 23 incumbents vying to maintain their slot only two were sent packing. Representative Roger Hunt (R) of District 25 was edged by former legislator Dan Ahlers (D) who returns to Pierre. The other was Scott Parsley (D) in the District 8 Senate race who fell to Jordan Youngberg (R) in another close battle.

In most of the races, victory margins were mostly in the neighborhood of 60-40 in the Senate tussles. Republicans Ernie Otten (69 percent in District 6), Deb Soholt (69 percent in District 14) and Jim Bolin (73 percent in District 16) were the best of the bunch. Let’s also tip the hat to District 15’s Reynold Nesiba who ran unopposed as a Democrat.

The votes in the House are a little tougher to gauge because usually four candidates battle for two seats so the percentages are not as cut-and-dried. Performance-wise in a general sense about 2,000 votes was the difference between second and third with Republican Mark Mickelson capturing the strongest support out of District 13. Even though he didn’t win Democrat Michael Saba is worth a mention for running a close third in District 9.

Back to the undisturbed apple cart to polish off the local scene, a Democrat will continue to serve Minnehaha County with Pam Nelson retaining her status as Treasurer. The Commission will also continue with four Republicans after Jean Bender won back her seat and Dean Karsky broke through.


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