Numerous would-be candidates drop from SD ballotDeadline to withdraw passes; deadline to be added nears.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
Some candidates are pulling their names off ballots for the Nov. 6 election, while others are still getting on it.
Tuesday was the final day for candidates to withdraw from the election. They may still be removed from the ballot if a registered letter mailed by Tuesday announcing their desire to do so arrives in Secretary of State Jason Gant’s office.
A total of 16 withdrawn candidates are listed on his website, including 12 legislative hopefuls: 10 Democrats, one Republican and one independent.
“It sure seems like this year has been very active with candidates withdrawing from the ballot,” he said. Although candidates had to decide by Tuesday if they wanted out, replacements have a few more days to determine if they want in. The deadline to get on the ballot is Aug. 14. “We won’t have a final list until then,” Gant said.
He’s in charge of approving all ballots and his office must compile ballots for presidential and vice presidential candidates, congressional candidates, people running for the Legislature and Public Utilities Commission hopefuls as well as ballot questions and water district elections.
Ben Nesselhuf, the South Dakota Democratic Party executive director and party chairman, said there’s a simple reason so many Democrats dropped off the ballot.
“We were coming up with candidates at the deadline in March and we were dealing with a lot of vacancies,” he said. When that happens, placeholder candidates are sometimes recruited to reserve a spot on the ballot while the search for candidates continues.
“This is simply a repercussion of the 2010 race. We’re building back up,” Nesselhuf said. “This is historically a very low point after the 2010 elections. We lost a lot of good legislators.”
The Democrats only hold 24 seats in the 105-seat South Dakota Legislature, Nesselhuf noted. Of those, only 12 legislators are running for re-election to that same office.
Some were term-limited, some are leaving for health or personal reasons and some are running in the other house.
“We had to recruit 70 new candidates,” Nesselhuf said. “I’m pretty pleased with that.”
He said several new people have come forward to run in place of 10 Democratic legislative candidates who dropped out. More are being sought, and he was in his office Tuesday afternoon waiting for a new candidate to stop by and sign documents to get on the ballot.
“Most of them will be replaced,” Nesselhuf said.
Davison County Democratic Party Chairman David Mitchell was ready to get off the ballot that he had to fight to qualify for after a paperwork question was raised by Gant, but Mitchell said no one else stepped up to fill the Democratic slot for the District 20 House race.
“I was hoping someone with more energy would want to run,” Mitchell said Tuesday. “But I’m staying on.”
Davison County Commissioner Jerry R. Fischer, a Democrat from Mitchell who represents Commission District 2, dropped out earlier this year and will not seek another term. No replacement has emerged.
Two Democrats who were running for Minnehaha County Commission have pulled their names off the ballot. Christina M. Byron and Thomas B. Callahan, both of Sioux Falls, have withdrawn from the race.
Kelly Kraft, an independent from Redfield who was running for Spink County treasurer, also has withdrawn.
The other dropouts listed on the Secretary of State’s website are:
• Dick Gors, a Democrat from Tea who was running for the state Senate from District 6.
• Holly Boltjes-Johnson, a Democrat from Hartford who was running for the state House from District 9.
• Patricia R. Baker, a Democrat from Crooks who was running for the state Senate from District 9.
• Barb Kavanaugh, a Democrat from Sioux Falls who was running for the state House from District 10. Jo Hausman, of Brandon, has replaced her.
• Carmen Toft, a Democrat from Sioux Falls who was running for the state House from District 10. Nesselhuf said there are two people willing to fill that slot.
• Todd Schlekeway, a Republican from Sioux Falls who was running for state Senate from District 11.
• Susy Blake, a Democrat from Sioux Falls who was running for the state House from District 13.
• Jesse Vavreck, a Democrat from Sioux Falls who was running for the state House from District 13.
• Travis Dahle, a Democrat from Sioux Falls who was running for the state Senate from District 14. He has been replaced by Brian Kaatz, of Sioux Falls.
• Jim Holbeck, a Democrat from Harrisburg who was running for the state Senate from District 16. He was replaced by former legislator Michael O’Connor, of Alcester.
• Juanita Grewing, a Democrat from Sioux Falls who was running for the state House from District 16. She was replaced by Stanley Jacobson, of Hudson.
• George D. Dumman, an independent from Pierre who was running for state Senate in District 24.