If the Legislature in the Oct. 24 special session adopts the plan proposed by its redistricting committee, the new boundaries will thrust some incumbents into potential primary elections next year and create some possible showdowns between incumbents of opposite parties.
Splitting Brown County into three districts rather than the traditional two, while keeping Day County intact rather than splitting it too, would create a crazy quilt of contests. Here’s how the lines as recommended by the Republican-majority committee would affect various incumbents:
District 1 would cover Roberts, Marshall and Day and now include a big chunk of rural northeastern Brown County. Adding the Brown County precincts would put five currently elected Democrats into the new district and have five incumbents vying for three seats.
The three incumbents from the current District 1 are Sen. Jason Frerichs of Wilmot, Rep. Susan Wismer of Britton and Rep. David Sigdestad of Pierpont. Being shifted into the new District 1 are Rep. Paul Dennert of Columbia and Rep. Dennis Feickert of rural Aberdeen.
Dennert is term-limited in the House of Representatives and said he doesn’t want to challenge Frerichs in a Senate primary in 2012. Now age 74, Dennert will have served 20 years in the Legislature come the 2012 session.
The proposed District 2 would cover about two-thirds of rural Brown County, nearly all of Spink County, and all of Clark and Hamlin counties. There’s no need for a primary between incumbents in either party, but there could be a showdown among five incumbents — two Democrats and three Republicans — in the 2012 general election.
The Democrats are Sen. Jim Hundstad of Bath, who is term-limited in the Senate, and Rep. Elaine Elliott of rural Aberdeen. Some people thought the legislative committee’s recommendation also placed Dennert in this district, but the line misses him by about four miles, he said.
The request from Day County officials and business leaders that their county be kept whole in one district rather than split between two districts affected Sigdestad directly.
The shuffling leaves a proposed District 3 that will largely be Aberdeen and rural precincts stretching directly east of the city. In that district would be Sen. Al Novstrup of Aberdeen and Rep. David Novstrup of Aberdeen, both Republicans. The other House seat would be open.
The legislative committee’s recommendations also would create a Republican primary in a Minnehaha County district between three House incumbents. They are Rep. Bob Deelstra of Hartford, Rep. Steve Hickey of Sioux Falls and Rep. Lora Hubbel of Sioux Falls. All are serving their first terms.
Because of term limits, there are many possible Republican Senate primaries elsewhere under the new boundaries. They include:
- Rep. Chuck Turbiville of Deadwood in Lawrence County, where the Senate seat is now held by Tom Nelson of Lead.
- Rep. Val Rausch of Big Stone City, in a district where the Senate seat is held by Tim Begalka of Clear Lake. Rausch is speaker of the House.
- Rep. Thomas Brunner of Nisland, who would be in a district where Larry Rhoden of Union Center is the senator.
- Rep. Jamie Boomgarden of Chancellor, who is in a district where Sen. Eldon Nygaard switched party registration from Democrat to Republican after his 2010 election; and
- Rep. Roger Hunt of Brandon, who would be in the same district as Sen. Tim Rave of Baltic. Rave is Republican Party state chairman.