SD Democrats: More State Candidates This Election Since 2008

Only 20 Democrats represented the state in the 2016 session, compared to 85 Republicans

The South Dakota Secretary of State released voter registration numbers this week, announcing a total of 252,102 registered Republicans, and just over 170,711 Democrats.

As Election Day nears, members of the South Dakota Democratic Party are making a push for voters to choose more democrats to represent them in the state capitol.

It’s a move they say will bring more accountability and balance to what they call a corrupt state government.

“From the EB-5 program to Gear Up, there are numerous examples of taxpayer money being mishandled and misused in the land of scandal,” said South Dakota Democratic Party Chair and District 16 House candidate Ann Tornberg.

Tornberg says the state’s “F” grade in the 2015 State Integrity Survey is the result of a lack of balance in the state legislature.

“Democrats brought a bill to reform the gear up program and restore money to fund scholarships, but this common sense reform was rejected by the majority party politicians,” she said.

For most of South Dakota’s history, Republicans have held a majority in the legislature and every year, the gap between the two parties grows.

Only 20 Democrats represented the state in the 2016 session, compared to 85 Republicans.

“Absolute power does corrupt I think we can look through all civilization and when that happens it’s just not healthy,” said District 15 House Candidate Jamie Smith. “We often have things that we feel like need to be done but who’s the person who steps up to do them and I guess I answered that call. If I’m going to complain about it, I should probably be the person who steps up to try to do something about it.”

Smith says he wants to change the system, so he’s throwing his hat into the ring for the first time running for office. He’s not the only one.

More democrats have filed for candidacy in the legislature this election than in the past decade.

“We’re there to represent the people we’re not there to represent the party we’re not there to represent individuals we’re there to represent our constituents so that balance is definitely needed,” said Scott Parsley, District 8 Senate Incumbent.

A balance party leaders say will only help South Dakota’s government.

“These candidates really motivated to bring balance back to Pierre, to bring accountability to state government in light of scandals that we’ve been seeing, scandal after scandal,” said South Dakota Democratic Party Executive Director Suzanne Jones Pranger.