Stephanie Herseth Sandlin

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Stephanie Herseth Sandlin has been a member of the United States House of Representatives from South Dakota. In the 2010 Congressional election, she lost to Republican Kristi Noem.

She was the co-chair for the administration of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of Democrats who describe themselves as moderates committed to "fiscal discipline and strong national security" to use their words. Among her committee assignments in the House are those of Agriculture, Veteran's Affairs and Natural Resources.

Born in 1970, Herseth Sandlin attended Georgetown University where she graduated with highest honors (summa cum laude) with a B.A. in Government. She then went on to receive a law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center, later serving on the faculty of that institution.

After an unsuccessful attempt to win election to the U.S. House in 2002, she stood for election again in a special election in June of 2004 to fill the seat vacated by Representative Bill Janklow who had resigned the office. She won this election in a very close contest and then, in November of that same year, was re-elected to a full term. In subsequent elections for the same seat, she won by large margins.

Committee assignments

Source: Press release announcing committee assignments

Congressional caucuses

Herseth Sandlin is the co-chair for the administration of the Blue Dog Coalition. She is also a member of the Congressional Native American Caucus and the Congressional Internet Caucus.

Issues

Health care

She voted against both the November 2009[1] and final March 2010 Democratic health care bills, saying they were too expensive. [2]
I'm so disappointed that the partisanship surrounding this debate has produced a bill that contains a number of good provisions, but is too deeply flawed to gain my support.
Unfortunately, this bill is too expensive. It does not do enough now or in the future to contain costs or to lower insurance rates. And it is marred by special deals. Not only have we missed a golden opportunity to make real reforms to our health care system, I fear that the partisan atmosphere left in the wake of this debate will prevent progress on the other critically important business of the nation–none more important than the growing fiscal problems that threaten to overwhelm our children's future.
The final bill includes a number of good provisions that I support, including
eliminating insurance companies' ability to exclude people with preexisting conditions or to cancel coverage when someone gets sick; allowing children to stay on their parents' insurance until age 26; and creating transparent health insurance exchanges for individuals and small businesses, where private insurers compete for their business.

Earmarks

In March 2010, she announced 124 earmark requests totalling $357 million she is making for Fiscal Year 2011, including $70 million for national programs affecting South Dakota, and the balance to be spent in the state. The largest total was for water projects. [3] She submitted no requests under the Legislative Branch and State & Foreign Operations appropriations bills, and, due to a rules change, did not submit the Defense earmarks.[4]

Voting ratings

Organization Rating Date
AFL-CIO
American Civil Liberties Union 78% 111th Congress
American Conservative Union 20% 2009
Americans for Democratic Action
Cato Institute 36% combined 110th Congress
Christian Coalition 10%
League of Conservation Voters 64% 111th Congress, 1st Session
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
NARAL 100% 2009
National Education Association A 110th, 1st
National Rifle Association
National Right to Life Committee 20% 111th Congress
National Taxpayers Union 22% 111th Congress, 1st Session

Sources: Links to the voting ratings guides of the above organizations together with brief descriptive information on the organizations themselves, may be found at: http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/Interest_group/Catalogs

2008 Election

Candidate Party Vote total Percentage
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin Democrat 256,041 67.56%
Chris R. Lien Republican 122,966 32.44%

Source: Federal Election Results - final official tally

2010 Election

In the South Dakota primary, scheduled for June 8, three Republicans - S.D. Secretary of State Chris Nelson, state Reps. Kristi Noem (R-Castlewood), and Blake Curd (R-Sioux Falls) - will face off for the right to challenge current incumbent Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. Herseth Sandlin is unopposed for the Democratic nomination after a potential challenger decided against a run when he received assurances from Herseth Sandlin that she will not vote to repeal the recently passed Health Care Reform bill in spite of having voted against the bill itself[5]. Early polling indicates that it could be a tight race in the November general election with Herseth Sandlin currently holding a 44% to 42% lead over her closest GOP rival.[6]

Jim Geraghty of National Review discussed a possible opposition strategy to Herseth-Sandlin's votes against Democratic issue positions: focus on her support, in her conservative district, for an especially liberal Democratic leadership. He credits her with understanding her constituents when she voted against the health-care bill, supported removing Charles Rangel from the House Ways and Means Committee chairmanship, and opposing cap-and-trade. "But she did vote for the stimulus, and perhaps her constituents are realizing that despite Herseth-Sandlin's dissents from party orthodoxy, her first vote every year is to empower Nancy Pelosi."[7]

One of the contenders for the Republican primary, South Dakota Secretary of State Chris Nelson, emphasized the leadership issue in a news release. He quoted an April 1 article in the Rapid City Journal that quoted her previous Democratic party opponent, Kevin Weiland as receiving phone calls from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland). He said Hoyer “had some huge concerns about my (Weiland) primary campaign and about losing this congressional seat and the risk of losing (Speaker Nancy) Pelosi’s majority”. Nelson said, in the news release,
As I have traveled across the state since I entered this race six months ago, Republicans and Democrats both have the same complaint. No one can tell who she is or what she stands for... it appears that the House leadership only looks to Herseth Sandlin to cast one key vote every two years – the vote to elect Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House.

References

  1. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (9 November 2009), Health Care Reform that’s Right for South Dakota}
  2. Herseth Sandlin Statement on Health Care Reform, Office of Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, 21 March 2010
  3. David Montgomery (23 March 2010), "Herseth Sandlin requests $357 million in earmarks", Capital Journal
  4. FY 2011 Earmark Requests, Office of Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin
  5. Family ties, D.C. pressure led Weiland to withdraw - article form the Rapid City (S.D.) Journal, April 1, 2010
  6. Rasmussen Reports polling data on S.D. House of Representatives race
  7. Jim Geraghty, "Horserace: Does Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin Have Reason to Sweat?", National Review