Heinert posturing for US House, Dems suffering Ben Reifel amnesia.

From the Mitchell Daily Republic, Democrat Troy Heinert is making noise about running for US House, and his allies seem to have selective amnesia in reference to one of South Dakota’s statesmen of years past.

During a gathering at the Fort Randall Casino & Hotel, state Sen. Troy Heinert was called a “rock star” by state Rep. Shawn Bordeaux. Bordeaux’s statements were followed by former state secretary of tribal relations and current director of tribal relations for Avera Health, J.R. LaPlante, who said the state will need to see a minority candidate in statewide office before South Dakota achieves equality.

After the trio offered remarks Friday, Heinert said he hasn’t ruled anything out. But he didn’t officially throw his trademark cowboy hat into the ring in the 2018 race for the state’s at-large seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.


But 44-year-old Heinert, who has served in both houses of the South Dakota Legislature since first taking the oath of office in 2013, would instantly become the best known Democratic candidate in the race if he enters the field. Bordeaux or Heinert would join state Sen. Billie Sutton, a Burke Democrat running for governor, on the ballot in 2018.


“I believe that we will have equality in the state of South Dakota when white people elect a person of color to state office, and not just a district position, but an at-large position, at statewide election,” LaPlante said.

Read that here.

LaPlante seems to be suffering selective political amnesia in the case of Congressman Ben Reifel, a Republican who was elected as the first Lakota to serve in the House of Representatives. He served five terms as a Republican United States Congressman from the First District. 

(You know, Congress. The same office he’s promoting Heinert for.)

I’d mentioned a month ago that I’d heard Dems were looking to Heinert to jump in the race, and that their potty-mouthed candidate Chris Martian was not a factor in state Dem machinations.  

Looks like we already knew how it was going to play out.

12 Replies to “Heinert posturing for US House, Dems suffering Ben Reifel amnesia.”

  1. Miranda Gohn

    Has Chris Martian suspended his campaign? His last tweet was May 30th where it appears he and the SDDPP now known as the South Dakota Democratic Party of Pot got into it. Regardless of who steps up to run they will unfortunately not have the financial and ground support needed to be competitive. More South Dakotans are leaving that party and not taking it seriously anymore.

  2. Cliff Hadley

    Either Mr. LaPlante is willfully ignorant of South Dakota history or cynically dismissing Rep. Reifel as not a real Lakota. Maybe it’s both.

  3. Miranda Gohn

    I just finished watching the video of the town hall. J.R. LaPlante, Sen. Troy Heinert and Rep. Shawn Bordeaux are very well spoken. I agree with much of what they said including the feeling that the SDDPP has taken our Native neighbors for granted. Growing up with deep roots of being a South Dakotan whether my Native neighbors realize it or not they are a part of me. Their challenges, history, an appreciation of their rich culture, the divide and the potential.

    I missed the part regarding Rep. Reifel but visited the very nice Ben Reifel Gymnasium at Sisseton High School as an athlete and spectator many years ago and looked up his history.

  4. West River

    Bruce Whalen, a Republican and an Oglala Sioux Tribe member from Pine Ridge, was elected in the 2006 Republican Congressional primary. He ran against Stephanie Herseth, a Democrat. Herseth won. I think what LaPlante really means is that equality will only be achieved if SD elects a Native American who is also a Democrat. Did LaPlante vote for Mr. Whalen in 2006 for the Congressional statewide office?

  5. grudznick

    Mr. La Plante is just girgitating what’s he is told by his handers. The Heinert campaign has a deep and broad spectum of fellows who they think can get Mr. Heinert elected and they may stand him up for Governor.

    1. Anonymous

      Not sure what you mean here. Heinert and Sutton are buddies. Likely that with Sutton running for governor, Heinert runs for House, as is strongly hinted by this event.

      Heinert could be planning to run for governor in the future, if that’s what you mean. But I don’t like his chances. Sutton is a far stronger statewide candidate.

      1. grudznick

        I have heard they do hang out and have plenty of beverages and meat morsels together. I figure Mr. Heinert will be the Lt. Gov candidate if Mr. Sutton can get past the primary. Can you imagine Heinert vs. Nelson in the Lt. Gov debates, should Ms. Hubbel prevail in her campaign?

      2. Anonymous

        I’ve also heard Heinert feels an obligation to the party to stay in the legislature because he knows none of them are going to win. The dems need a minority leader.

        1. grudznick

          There is a big “draft Jim Hundstadt” movement afoot, and Hienert fears being placed as second fiddle again.

  6. David James

    “Either Mr. LaPlante is willfully ignorant of South Dakota history or cynically dismissing Rep. Reifel as not a real Lakota. Maybe it’s both.

    Was Ben Rifle elected to to a “statewide office?” No, South Dakota used to have two congressional districts. Rifle represented Eastern South Dakota.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.