A wild night in local elections. 2 incumbent mayors turned out. Do we have an anti-incumbent mood in the state?

This bears a little watching. 2 incumbent mayors turned out in elections last night from two of South Dakota’s largest communities.  In Mitchell, Mayor Ken Tracy was defeated 58 to 42 percent by challenger Jerry Toomey. In Rapid City, 2-term mayor Sam Kooiker lost to former police chief Steve Allender.

Does this indicate unhappiness and a general voter malaise of with the status quo? Or are there unique reasons for each one’s demise?  For those involved in statewide elections next year, the mood bears watching, but this years’ elections might not be the best indicator. Lacking many other top level races to judge it against, I’d argue that it is driven individually.

Ken Tracy presided over a couple of disasters related to oversight of the Corn Palace; the alleged theft/conversion of gift cards belonging to the corn palace after an audit showed something was going on with it’s finances. And, a lawsuit that came up right before the election regarding the new person hired over whether he quit or was fired. Anyone looking at it from the outside had to be left wondering “what is going on there?”

Sam Kooiker had long been at odds with others in City Government, and rose to the office of Mayor on the basis of fighting “the man,” exposing alleged corruption, and cutting government. But in the face of being “the man,” being tied to the losing civic center expansion, facing general economic malaise and unrest in race relations in the state’s second largest city, it proved harder for him to capture the same lightning in a bottle that he was able to use previously to propel him to two terms as mayor.

It might have been a wild night – but each election stood or fell on it’s own merits.

* Bonus Election News:  Speaking of falling, in case you were curious, here are the results from Aberdeen where the blogosphere’s Cory Heidelberger “went Volesky” in his race, withdrawing last week after absentee voting had long been underway:

(78.3% to 21.6% in case you’re wondering).