Term limits affect 4 South Dakota state senators

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August 11, 2010

By Andy Marshall

South Dakota's legislative term limits, adopted by voters in 1992, have created a number of open seats in this election cycle. The law limits state senators to four consecutive two-year terms, making the four incumbents first elected in 2002 ineligible to run for re-election. Those four are Democrat Frank Kloucek and Republicans Gene Abdallah, Tom Dempster, and David Knudson, the senate majority leader.[1]

Although term limits affect Republicans more than Democrats this year, they seem unlikely to alter the current Republican control of the senate. Politifact staff writer Louis Jacobson, handicapping the 2010 state legislative elections for Governing, rates the South Dakota Senate as safely Republican.[2] The Republican state senators currently outnumber the Democrats, 21 to 14.


Party As of August 2014
     Democratic Party 7
     Republican Party 28
Total 35


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 not play a large direct role in the 2012 state senate elections. Although eight current incumbents would be ineligible to run for re-election in 2012, only two of them, both Republicans, are running for re-election this November.[3] For a variety of reasons, the other six are leaving the senate two years before term limits would apply to them.

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