SD Democrats elect legislative leadership

Sen. Reynold Nesiba

Democratic legislators have elected their leaders for the next two years.

Leading the minority caucus in the Senate will be Sen. Reynold F. Nesiba of Sioux Falls. He succeeds Troy E. Heinert, who was term-limited, as senate minority leader. Joining Nesiba in the leadership will be incoming Sen. Shawn Bordeaux of Mission as assistant minority leader and incoming Sen. Liz Larson of Sioux Falls as minority whip.

The next Senate Democratic caucus will have four members, a gain of one seat from the past two years. In addition to the three senators in the leadership, the caucus includes Sen. Red Dawn Foster of Pine Ridge, who served the past two years as assistant minority leader.

Nesiba is an economics professor at Augustana University. He is entering his fourth and final term in the state senate, having been elected for the first time in 2016. Nesiba’s hometown of Sioux Falls, the state’s largest city, has now been the home to ten party floor leaders, more than any other city: Senate Majority Leaders Barbara Everist, David Knudson, and Blake Curd; Senate Minority Leaders Scott Heidepriem and Reynold Nesiba; House Majority Leaders Elton Johnson, Lawrence Piersol, and Bill Peterson; and House Minority Leaders Dennis McFarland and Jamie Smith.

Rep. Oren Lesmeister

In the House, the new minority leader will be Rep. Oren Lesmeister of Parade (in Dewey County). He succeeds Jamie Smith, who forewent a fourth term in the State House to challenge incumbent Gov. Kristi Noem. Lesmeister has served the past two years assistant minority leader.

Joining Lesmeister in the House leadership are Rep. Erin Healy of Sioux Falls as assistant minority leader, and two whips: Rep. Peri Pourier of Pine Ridge and incoming Rep. Kameron Nelson of Sioux Falls. The incoming State House will include seven Democrats, a loss of one seat from the prior House caucus.

Lesmeister, like Nesiba, is entering his fourth and final term in the State House, which means both Democratic caucuses will once again select new minority leaders in two years. He is the first party floor leader to come from Parade, where he is a rancher and businessman.