South Dakota term limits create 8 open state representative seats

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August 11, 2010

By Andy Marshall

Eight of South Dakota's 70 state representatives cannot seek re-election this year because of the state's legislative term limits, approved by voters in 1992. The term limits restrict state representatives to four consecutive two-year terms in office. Of the eight incumbents first elected in 2002 and now ineligible for re-election, seven (Joni Cutler, Thomas Deadrick, Ed McLaughlin, Ryan Olson, J.E. Putnam, Timothy Rave, and Tim Rounds) are Republicans, and only Bill Thompson is a Democrat.

Term limits impact significantly more Republican incumbents than Democratic ones this year, but they seem unlikely to affect the entrenched Republican control of the South Dakota House of Representatives. Republican state representatives currently outnumber their Democratic counterparts by a count of 46 to 24, and Politifact staff writer Louis Jacobson, handicapping the 2010 state legislative elections for Governing, rates the South Dakota House of Representatives as safely Republican.[1]


Party As of February 2015
     Democratic Party 12
     Republican Party 58
Total 70


In both 2006 (Amendment F) and 2008 (Amendment J), state legislators put measures to repeal term limits on the ballot, but voters decisively defeated both measures. After two consecutive losses, there was no attempt to repeal term limits this year.

Looking ahead, term limits will likely again impact more Republican state representatives than Democrats in 2012. Of the 11 current incumbents who would be ineligible to run for re-election in 2012, seven are running for re-election this November.[2] Of these seven, five are Republicans and two are Democrats.

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