Press "Enter" to skip to content

Gant Only Secretary of State Not to Seek Second Term

A historical update: earlier today I said that Jason Gant's one-and-done Secretary of State-ship was historically unusual. The last Secretary of State who served just four years was Republican Essie Wiedenman, from 1961 to 1965. (See the full list of South Dakota Secretaries of State on page 76 of the 2011 "Blue Book," the most recent edition of South Dakota's Legislative Manual.)

I stated incorrectly Secretary Mrs. Wiedenman (hey, was she related to the Madison Wiedenmans?) served just one term. An eager reader reminds me that back in that day, Secretary of State and other constitutional officers served two-year terms. We didn't switch to four-year terms until we amended Article 4, Section 2 in 1972. So Secretary Wiedenman, unlike Secretary Gant, faced and won election twice.

So how many Secretaries of State, like Gant, served just one term? I count five since our 1889 statehood:

  1. Frank Glasner (R), 1913–1915
  2. Elizabeth Coyne (R) 1931–1933
  3. Goldie Wells (D), 1937–1939
  4. Clara Halls (R), 1957–1959
  5. Selma Sandness (D), 1959–1961

Review the election histories online (yes, thank you, Secretary Gant), and you learn that Coyne lost her re-election bid against Democrat Myrtle Morrison in the 1932 FDR wave. Wells stood and lost to Republican Olive Ringsrud the same year Karl E. Mundt won his first election, 1938. Halls stood for re-election and got beat by Sandness in the McGovern–Herseth-led Democratic surge of 1958. Nixon, Mundt, Reifel, and Gubbrud helped put Wiedenman put Sandness out of work in the 1960 election.

Secretary of State Frank P. Glasner, Republican from Tyndall (who also patented a computing device), ran for re-election in 1914, but he lost in the primary (yes, primary voters picked the nominee then, not the party convention!) to Frank M. Rood. 53% to 47%. Glasner won 18 out of 61 counties. Rood went on to win in November.

That means that, as far as I can tell from my armchair research, Jason Gant makes history as the first Secretary of State unwilling to give South Dakotans the chance to vote on his first-term performance.

But then Secretary Gant's whole tenure has been about denying people whom he doesn't like the chance to vote. It fits that he will end his tenure by denying people who don't like him the chance to vote against him.


  1. Testor15 2013.09.12

    Thanks Cory, I have fond memories of Goldie Wells and had all but forgotten her. Thanks again!

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.09.12

    There's always more South Dakota history to learn. Imagine, T, if we could assemble folks with good memories like yours to write the blog posts they'd have written back during Wells's time in the SoS office if the Internet had existed. Imagine going back and blogging the first Mundt campaign, or Foss, or McGovern, or Norbeck.

Comments are closed.