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Kloucek Advocates Redistricting Amendments, Tougher Election for Himself

Frank, Frank, Frank, didn't you get the memo? Redistricting is about protecting your election prospects, not making them tougher! But in fine Frank fashion, State Representative Frank Kloucek is putting the good of the community above his own political interests.

The Republican proposal for new boundaries for South Dakota's legislative districts draws Kloucek into a new district with only one incumbent member of the State House, Republican Rep. Stace Nelson. This arrangement would set up some spectacular campaign debates, but it would also make Kloucek's re-election quite likely, unless a really good newcomer enters the race.

But Rep. Kloucek wants different boundaries. Specifically, he wants to avoid splitting Bon Homme County. His version of the district map would keep his home county whole. It would still pit him against Rep. Nelson, but it would also draw in incumbent Republican Rep. Ed Van Gerpen. Facing two sitting Republicans would make Kloucek's quest for another term (and you are seeking another term, aren't you, Frank? You can't pass up a head-to-head with Nelson, can you?) that much more difficult.

I welcome my readers to offer alternative interpretations of Kloucek's proposal. But on face, it appears Kloucek is trying to lead by example and reject the all-too-common practice of putting party above the public in determining legislative districts.


  1. Troy Jones 2011.10.19

    I like Frank. Always have. I have deep roots in Bon Homme County. My ancestors settled there over 100 years ago, I have probably 50 close and distant relatives in the county.

    This said, I don't see his move as altruistic. Frank is well known in BH County while Stace is not. I think it makes his re-election more secure, even if it includes two other incumbents (both of the other party). Alternatively, under the current proposal, Frank will be playing more on the "visitors home court."

    Furthermore, it is just good politics to stand up for your county.

    Sidenote: I think it is amazing that outside of the large counties where splitting the county is inevitable, Butte is the only west river county not in one district and Bon Homme is the only east river county not in one district. I'd be surprised if we have ever such fidelity to county boundaries ever before.

  2. David Newquist 2011.10.19

    Brown County has been divided into two districts, 2 an;d 3, for as long as I have lived here. The new proposal is to divide in into three, 1, 2, and 3. The last redistricting created such a distortion of boundaries that it made District 3 into a misshapen mess. Frank Kloucek is not the only one trying to keep the districts related to the structure of the communities they contain. Some loyal diehard Republicans who deal with economic development and community affairs have protested the new proposal to the County Board and the City Council. The driving force behind this current plan is obviously and powerfully apparent as a gerrymander to maintain political dominance, but the dissembling, flaccid defenses of the proposal seem to work like oil on these troubling waters. Ironically, there is probably no need to go to all the trouble. Voter registrations show that there is an outmigration of progressive-leaning people and our tracking of recent high school and college graduates show that escape from a place configured to maintain political dominance is a prime motive for the migration.

  3. Nick Nemec 2011.10.19

    Troy, Spink County is a East River county that isn't big enough for it's own district that is split.

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.10.19

    Interesting, Troy. Hutchinson has the largest population, 7343 versus Bon Homme's 7070, McCook's 5618, and Hanson's 3331. Hutchinson also has a stunning majority of registered Republicans 66% of all registered voters, compared to 47% GOP in Bon Homme and 45% in Hanson.

    But can't Van Gerpen claim the same expanded homefield advantage as Kloucek under Kloucek's map as Kloucek can? And doesn't Van Gerpen benefit more from the built-in boost of having a second strong Republican on the ballot with him to give his loyalists an easy reason not to vote for their other neighbor Frank?

  5. Troy Jones 2011.10.20

    Cory, I must be dense. Don't understand your point.

    Nick, you are correct. A small portion of Spink county was joined with your district.

    David, I do agree Brown's configuration is the most challenging. Yet, when you compare the square miles of its districts compared to those west of Brown, it doesn't look so bad.

    Bottomline: It is hard to argue with the entire state's configuration.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.10.20

    Troy, my apologies for not being clearer. I mention the numbers simply as information for us to consider, not to move the argument one way or the other. Let me clearly focus on what I think makes the difference:

    You say Kloucek's plan makes it easier for him to get re-elected. You say keeping Bon Homme whole in his district gives him a greater hometown advantage. But his plan delivers the same hometown advantage to his neighbor Rep. Van Gerpen. Under Kloucek's plan, Frank goes from facing one out-of-town Republican incumbent to facing two GOP incumbents, one of who is from his own county. My question: wouldn't Van Gerpen's boosted hometown advantage cancel out Frank's? And wouldn't having another sitting Republican (Nelson) on the ballot boost Van Gerpen's chances against Kloucek?

  7. Roger Elgersma 2011.10.20

    I do not know all the local situations there other than that Frank has won in a republican district consistently. One year they didn't even run anyone against him. That is unusual in South Dakota for a Dem to run unopposed in a Republican district. He might as well forget the local scuffle although anyone would want his own county intact.
    Frank should run against Noem and take the whole state. Then his own county would be intact as all being able to vote for him.

  8. Troy Jones 2011.10.20


    I think I got it. If I do, you are correct. Van Gerpen and Klouchek get a home town advantage. But, since voters choose two representantives, they both win.

    The incumbency of Nelson in the new district gives him some advantage so you now have three legitimate candidates of which only two will go back to Pierre.

    As much as I like Frank personally, he is looking at this issue not altruistically. His reelection chances are much greater with a unified Bon Homme county where he is well known. He kinda grows on ya and the new voters may not have time for it to occur.

  9. Nick Nemec 2011.10.21

    Troy, it's not my district anymore. If the proposed map stands Hyde County will be shifted into the Pierre/Fort Pierre district. The proposed shift actually makes sense for Hyde County because people here have much more in common with Pierre than they do Mobridge. Commerce in Central SD moves east/west not north/south.

  10. Charlie Hoffman 2011.10.21

    Nick I am really happy that as a former legislator you are comfortable with the map as it now stands. The redistricting group put many hours of hard work into drawing the new lines and the people on that board went out of their way to maintain neutrality as a Federal lawsuit is not want anyone wants. Although the goofy ALCU will probably start one just to flex their muscles and make SD divy up tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars proving their plan.

    The GOP members went out of their way to make sure the new map was fair and included as much as possible the views of the other party. Nick you are my new hero! :)

  11. larry kurtz 2011.10.21

    "The board of directors for the Alaska Federation of Natives -- the nonprofit representing indigenous people in nearly 180 communities across the state -- recommends dropping your party affiliation. Former AFN President Byron Mallott said he supports the proposal, which would allow voters to participate in the closed Republican primaries which typically favor more conservative candidates.

    "Very conservative ideologies scare the hell out of us, because of our circumstance," Mallott said, emphasizing that he was speaking for himself and not all Alaska Natives."

    Read more:

  12. Nick Nemec 2011.10.21

    Charlie, for Hyde County it makes more sense to be in the same district as Pierre than in a district with Mobridge. My support of this change should in no way be interpreted as an endorsement of the map as it relates to representation for Native American populations in other parts of the state.

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