A new leadership role for Tim Rave

Tim Rave

This week, former legislator Tim Rave of Baltic was elected to a one-year term as president of the South Dakota Board of Regents. Rave, who works as the CEO of the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations (SDAHO), has served on the Regents for nearly two years, having been appointed to the Board by Gov. Kristi Noem in April 2021.

It is the latest high-profile leadership role for Rave, a Baltic native. Rave served in the State Legislature from 2003-15. He was first elected to the State House in 2002 and served for four terms, including service as a majority whip in 2005-6, as speaker pro tempore in 2007-8, and as speaker of the house in 2009-10.

Following his four terms in the State House, Rave ran for the State Senate, winning a competitive race against incumbent Dan Ahlers, a Democrat. He was immediately elected as majority whip, serving 2011-12, and then as assistant majority leader in 2013. Follow Senate Majority Leader Russell Olson’s resignation in 2013, Rave became senate majority leader, serving during the 2014 and 2015 legislative sessions.

Rave achieved an unusual milestone during his 13-year legislative career, as the only Republican in the history of the South Dakota State Legislature to achieve top-level leadership positions in both houses, having served as both Speaker of the House and as Senate Majority Leader. Prior to the implementation of term limits, this feat would have been a near-impossibility, as no legislator could have reached the level of seniority necessary to win a leadership position in one house, only to do so again in the other.

Prior to Rave, the only two legislators to achieve a comparable milestone were both Democrats. The first was R. Lars Herseth, who served as house minority leader from 1979-86, was the Democratic nominee for governor in 1986, and then joined the senate, where he was president pro tempore during a rare period of Democratic control in 1993-94. The other was Bernie Hunhoff, who was senate minority leader in 1997-98, was the Democratic nominee for governor in 1998, and then served as house minority leader from 2009-14.

In addition to his legislative service, though Rave claims another distinction, in that while a senator he served from 2011-13 as chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party.

Rave has never sought statewide office, but over the past two decades his public service has found him, again and again, called into important leadership roles. He now has a resume that is unique in South Dakota history: Speaker of the House, Senate Majority Leader, Chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party, and President of the Board of Regents.