2012 elections preview: South Dakota voters to select winners in congressional, state legislative primaries

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June 4, 2012

By Ballotpedia's Congressional and State legislative teams

The fast-moving primary season of May and June continues today with elections in South Dakota.

All polls will be open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. Any voter at the polling place prior to 7:00 pm is allowed to cast a ballot.[1][2]

Contested Primaries in South Dakota -- June 5, 2012
U.S. House
(1 district)
State Legislature
(72 districts)
Total Democratic Contested Primaries 1 (100%) 3 (4.17%)
Total Republican Contested Primaries 0 (0%) 27 (37.50%)


United States House of Representatives elections in South Dakota, 2012

South Dakota has only one at-large seat on the ballot in 2012. A total of 3 candidates have filed to run, made up of 2 Democratic challengers, and incumbent freshman Rep. Kristi Noem (R ), who is running unopposed in the primary. Retired businessman Jeff Barth and Matt Varilek, businessman and staffer for U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson, are competing in the primary to run against Noem in the general election.

Members of the U.S. House from South Dakota -- Partisan Breakdown
Party As of November 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 0 0
     Republican Party 1 1
Total 1 1

State legislature

South Dakota State Senate elections, 2012 and South Dakota House of Representatives elections, 2012

There are 105 total legislative seats with elections in 2012 -- 35 Senate seats and 70 House seats. Since all but two House districts contain 2 seats each, these 105 seats are contained within 72 districts.

There are 3 (4.17%) contested Democratic primaries and 27 (37.50%) contested Republican primaries. Thus, there will be 30 (41.67%) races tomorrow where candidates must defeat at least one opponent in order to proceed to the general election. This 41.67% figure is lower than the current national average of primaries contested--22.84% (for states that have had filing deadlines).

7 of South Dakota's 70 state representatives, or 10%, will be termed out in 2012. Of them, 2 are Democratic and 5 are Republican.

In addition to the 7 South Dakota state representatives who are leaving office because of term limits, 3 South Dakota state senators are also termed-out.


  • Incumbents Jim Hundstad (D), Bob Gray (R), and Tom Hansen (R) will all be termed out in 2012 due to term limits.
  • District 3 incumbent Al Novstrup (R) will face H. Paul Dennert (D), currently a member of the State House. Dennert purchased a condominium in District 3 so that he would be eligible to run in a District that represented Aberdeen. Redistricting moved his home into District 1.[3]
  • District 4 incumbent Tim Begalka will face current Speaker of the House Valentine Rausch in the Republican primary.
  • George Ferebee is challenging incumbent Bruce Rampelberg in District 30 in a rematch from 2010. Just as in 2010, there are no Democrats on the ticket for District 30, meaning that the winner of the primary will get the seat.


  • Incumbents H. Paul Dennert (D), Steve Street (D), Charles Turbiville (R), Roger Hunt (R), Valentine Rausch (R), Jamie Boomgarden (R), and Thomas Brunner (R) will all be termed out in 2012 due to term limits.
  • Districts 2, 3, 4, 6, 10, 17, and 19 will all have new incumbents after the 2012 elections. All incumbents from these districts are either not running for re-election, running in another district, or are termed out because of term limits.
  • Almost 30 candidates for South Dakota State House failed to file the appropriate campaign finance reports over a week after the deadline, and days before the primary. The deadline for candidates to file all campaign finance reports was May 25.[4] Some error has been attributed to the new online system of reporting put in place last year.[4] Candidates could face up to a $50 fine for every day their campaign finance report is late.[4]

South Dakota State Senate
Party As of November 5, 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 5 7
     Republican Party 30 28
Total 35 35

South Dakota House of Representatives
Party As of November 5, 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 19 17
     Republican Party 50 53
     Vacancy 1 0
Total 70 70

See also

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