Those figures are the respective voter registration numbers for Republicans, Democrats and independents in state legislative district 15 in Sioux Falls as of the June 8 primary elections. So what? Here’s what. There is an independent candidate, Jenna Haggar, being touted on several blog sites as a challenger to the Democratic House incumbents, Martha Vanderlinde and Patrick Kirschman. Jenna, Martha and Patrick are all personable, based on what I’ve seen around the Legislature. But let’s talk reality, as in the mathematics of voter registration. There are nearly as many Democrats registered as there are Republicans and independents combined.
The numbers suggest Jenna, whose background includes work for South Dakota Right to Life and the Republican U.S. Senate campaign of Joel Dykstra, is running in some highly adverse political terrain. This is the same district where Republicans didn’t even field a Senate candidate, and pro-choice challenger Angie Buhl took out pro-life Sen. Kathy Miles in the Democratic primary three weeks ago. Angie is now better known as Sen.-elect Buhl. But here’s the real kicker: The Republicans didn’t run any candidates for House in the district either this time.
So the obvious question is: Why would Dakota War College openly encourage its readers to write checks to an independent candidate running in a heavily Democratic district? The South DaCola blog jumped on the Jenna Haggar bandwagon today, saying Vanderlinde and Kirschman better hold onto their hats. Unless my old eyes missed something, there are only two districts statewide where no Republicans filed in Senate or House races: This one, and District 1 up in the northeast corner.
And readers, you can help us on the final point: Who was the last independent to win a seat in the Legislature, and when?