|Stephanie Herseth Sandlin|
|President of Augustana University|
August 1, 2017
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from South Dakota's at-large district
June 1, 2004 - January 3, 2011
Stephanie Marie Herseth|
December 3, 1970
Houghton, South Dakota, U.S.
Max Sandlin (m. 2007)
Lars Herseth (father)|
Ralph Herseth (grandfather)
Stephanie Marie Herseth Sandlin (born December 3, 1970) is an American attorney and university administrator who served in the United States House of Representatives for South Dakota's at-large congressional district from 2004 until 2011. She was first elected to Congress in a special election in June 2004 and was re-elected three times before losing her seat in Congress to Republican Kristi Noem in 2010. She was the youngest female member of the House and the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from South Dakota. Before her 2007 marriage to Max Sandlin, she was known as Stephanie Herseth.
Stephanie Herseth was born on December 3, 1970, the daughter of Joyce and Ralph Lars Herseth, and was raised on her family's farm near Houghton. Her father's family has been active for two generations in South Dakota politics. Her father served in the South Dakota State Legislature for two decades and ran for Governor in 1986. Her paternal grandfather, Ralph Herseth, was the Governor of South Dakota, and her paternal grandmother, Lorna H. (Buntrock) Herseth, was Secretary of State of South Dakota. Her ancestry includes German and Norwegian.
After law school, Herseth worked as a judicial law clerk to Judge Charles B. Kornmann of the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota and Judge Diana Gribbon Motz on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. She worked in private practice as an attorney in Washington, DC and taught at the Georgetown University Law Center. Prior to her election to the House, she was Executive Director of the South Dakota Farmer's Union Foundation, and served on the board of directors for First Bank and Trust of Brookings, South Dakota. After her service in the U.S. House, she went on to work as legal counsel for Raven Industries until winter 2017 when she became the President of Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
During her tenure in the House, Herseth Sandlin was assigned to committees of concern to her constituency in South Dakota. The Agriculture Committee affects the state's largest industry, and the Natural Resources Committee has jurisdiction over national forests in the Black Hills, as well as policies affecting the state's nine federally recognized Native American tribes. She was selected to serve on the Select Committee on Global Warming and Energy Independence based upon her work on issues related to biofuels and renewable energy in rural America.
Herseth Sandlin voted against the Affordable Health Care for America Act. In regard to voting against Healthcare Reform, she said she would "not vote for the Senate bill as is" and that she would "not vote for a package of changes that would go through the reconciliation process."
She opposed her party's leadership on some issues related to gun rights, which won her the support of the National Rifle Association. On social issues, Herseth Sandlin is pro-choice and expressed opposition to Referred Law 6, which sought to ban all abortions in her home state, including those for victims of incest and rape. She supported the Employment Nondiscrimination Act in 2007.
Janklow was convicted of manslaughter in a motor vehicle accident, and resigned his seat, effective January 20, 2004, triggering a special election. Herseth Sandlin was selected as the Democratic nominee, and on June 1, 2004 beat Republican candidate Larry Diedrich with 51 percent of the vote. The victory gave South Dakota its first all-Democratic congressional delegation since 1937, with Senators Tom Daschle and Tim Johnson both Democrats.
In the regularly scheduled election in November 2004, Herseth beat Diedrich with 53.4 percent of the vote. The vote margin in June was about 3,000 votes, but by the November election – which included a hard-fought contest for the Senate seat held by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle – it had grown to more than 29,000. Both the 2004 special and general elections were close compared to many other House races in the rest of the United States, and garnered national attention.
In November 2006, she defeated challenger Bruce Whalen for her second full-term. She received the second highest vote total for a Democratic candidate for the House in 2006.
Herseth Sandlin was mentioned as a possible, even likely, candidate for Governor of South Dakota in 2010, but she announced on July 7, 2009 that she would seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Prior to the 2010 Democratic primary, Kevin Weiland, a physician who had begun a campaign against Herseth Sandlin, but who had not yet filed to be on the ballot, called off his efforts. He said he had "concern for what the net effect would be on our political party retaining the seat in the next Congress, but also after receiving assurances from Stephanie that she will not vote to repeal the recently passed health care reform law." He had spoken to Democratic party leaders as well as to Herseth Sandlin before making this decision. Her opponent, Republican Kristi Noem, charged that Weiland's decision not to run was due to Herseth Sandlin trading her vote for personal gain. Herseth Sandlin strongly denied the allegation and said there was no quid pro quo arrangement between her and Weiland.
During the campaign, Noem also criticized Herseth Sandlin's husband, Max Sandlin. She said the lobbyist and former Congressman's list of clients included companies that had interests in legislation that would come before Congress, and suggested he would have improper influence because of his marriage. The Rapid City Journal editorial board stated that Herseth Sandlin should take the concerns seriously.Roll Call characterized the Republican charges as an attempt "to stoke anti-Beltway emotions". Herseth Sandlin's campaign responded that she did not allow family members to lobby her or her staff.
Herseth Sandlin was defeated on November 2, 2010 by Noem. The final vote tally was 48.14 percent for Noem, and 45.9 percent for Herseth Sandlin.
After her defeat in the 2010 Congressional election, Herseth Sandlin joined the Washington, D.C. firm of Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz as a principal attorney focusing on federal laws and regulations. She told Roll Call that she might register to lobby Congress, after the expiration of the mandatory one-year waiting period which bars former Members from that activity. Ultimately, she did not register as a lobbyist after the cooling off period ended. Although Herseth Sandlin did not run in 2012, political commentators suggested that she might seek the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Tim Johnson in 2014. Ultimately, she decided not to run, citing her children and her desire to continue in her role at Raven Industries in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Herseth Sandlin served briefly as an adjunct professor at the Department of Political Science at South Dakota State University. In February 2017, it was announced that she would become the 24th President of Augustana University, a liberal arts college in Sioux Falls.
Stephanie Herseth married Max Sandlin, a four-term U.S. Representative from Texas and registered lobbyist with Mercury, in March 2007. He was defeated in 2004 when running for re-election. The couple met when Herseth first ran for Congress in 2002. Upon her marriage, she became known as Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. Their son, Zachary, was born in 2008.
Herseth Sandlin's claim that transparency and disclosure are adequate doesn't cut it. She should not be laughing off this legitimate concern.
This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website http://bioguide.congress.gov.
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Dakota's at-large congressional district
|Party political offices|
| Chair of the Blue Dog Coalition for Administration
Served alongside: Charlie Melancon, Jim Matheson (Communications), Baron Hill (Policy)