Stephanie Herseth Sandlin

Stephanie Marie Herseth Sandlin (born December 3, 1970) is an American attorney, university administrator, and politician from the Democratic Party. She served in the United States House of Representatives for South Dakota's at-large congressional district from 2004 until 2011. Sandlin was first elected to Congress in a special election on June 1, 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 Sandlin
SHS Official Headshot.jpg
President of Augustana University
Assumed office
August 1, 2017
Preceded byRob Oliver
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Dakota's at-large district
In office
June 1, 2004 – January 3, 2011
Preceded byBill Janklow
Succeeded byKristi Noem
Personal details
Stephanie Marie Herseth

(1970-12-03) December 3, 1970 (age 49)
Houghton, South Dakota, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Max Sandlin (m. 2007)
RelativesLars Herseth (father)
Ralph Herseth (grandfather)
EducationGeorgetown University (BS, JD)

Early life and educationEdit

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.[1]

Herseth graduated from Groton High School in Groton, South Dakota. She earned her B.A. from Georgetown University in 1993; and her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 1997.[2]


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.

U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit


Committee assignments

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.[3]

She was a senior whip in the House of Representatives and co-chair of the Democratic conservative Blue Dog Coalition.[4]

Voting recordEdit

Herseth Sandlin voted against the Affordable Health Care for America Act.[5] 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."[6]

She opposed her party's leadership on some issues related to gun rights, which won her the support of the National Rifle Association.[7] 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.

Early in the 2008 presidential election cycle, she supported Senator John Edwards. On February 26, 2008, she endorsed Barack Obama for President of the United States.

Political campaignsEdit


She ran unsuccessfully for the United States House of Representatives seat in the 2002 election, losing in a close race to Republican Governor Bill Janklow.


After Janklow was convicted of manslaughter in a motor vehicle accident, he resigned his seat, effective January 20, 2004, triggering a special election. Herseth Sandlin was selected as the Democratic nominee, and on June 1, 2004, defeated Republican 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 Republican challenger Bruce Whalen for her second full-term. She received the second highest vote total for a Democratic candidate for the House in 2006.[8]


Herseth Sandlin was mentioned as a possible, even likely, candidate for Governor of South Dakota in 2010,[9] but she announced on July 7, 2009, that she would seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives.[9]

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."[10] He had spoken to Democratic party leaders as well as to Herseth Sandlin before making this decision.[11] 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.[11]

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.[12][13] The Rapid City Journal editorial board stated that Herseth Sandlin should take the concerns seriously.[14] Roll Call characterized the Republican charges as an attempt "to stoke anti-Beltway emotions".[12] Herseth Sandlin's campaign responded that she did not allow family members to lobby her or her staff.[12]

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.[15]

Post-congressional careerEdit

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.[16][17] 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.[18] Ultimately, she did not register as a lobbyist after the cooling off period ended.[19] 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 son and her desire to continue in her role at Raven Industries in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.[20][21][22]

Herseth Sandlin served briefly as an adjunct professor at the Department of Political Science at South Dakota State University.[23] In February 2017, it was announced that she would become the 24th President of Augustana University, a liberal arts college in Sioux Falls.[24]

Personal lifeEdit

Stephanie Herseth married Max Sandlin, a four-term U.S. Representative from Texas and registered lobbyist with Mercury, in March 2007.[25] He was defeated in 2004 when running for re-election.[26] The couple met when Herseth first ran for Congress in 2002.[27] Upon her marriage, she became known as Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.[26] Their son, Zachary, was born in 2008.[28]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "sandlin". October 2, 2016. Retrieved November 15, 2018.
  2. ^ "Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie, (1970 – )". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
  3. ^ "Committees". Office of U.S. Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. U.S. House of Representatives. Archived from the original on March 25, 2009.
  4. ^ Bogardus, Kevin (March 2, 2011). "Blue Dog heads to K Street". The Hill. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
  5. ^ Final Vote Results for Roll Call 887, United States House of Representatives
  6. ^ Woster, Kevin (March 5, 2010). "Herseth Sandlin says no to Senate health bill, reconciliation". Rapid City Journal. Retrieved May 23, 2012.
  7. ^ Waltman, Scott (October 30, 2004). "Herseth not typical S.D. politician". Herseth for Congress. Archived from the original on December 17, 2004.
  8. ^ "Stephanie Herseth Sandlin". Who Runs Gov. The Washington Post. Retrieved May 23, 2012.
  9. ^ a b Kraushaar, Josh. Herseth Sandlin running for reelection. Politico. July 7, 2009.
  10. ^ Woster, Kevin (March 31, 2010). "Kevin Weiland pulls out of race, won't challenge Herseth Sandlin". Rapid City Journal. Retrieved November 12, 2010.
  11. ^ a b Woster, Kevin. (June 13, 2010). "Historic U.S. House campaign begins". Rapid City Journal. Retrieved November 12, 2010.
  12. ^ a b c Murray, Matthew (July 26, 2010). "GOP Assails Sandlin Family Ties". Roll Call. Retrieved March 7, 2011.
  13. ^ Montgomery, David (September 27, 2010). "Noem targets Herseth Sandlin's lobbyist husband in heated House race". Rapid City Journal. Retrieved March 7, 2011.
  14. ^ "Sandlin's job no laughing matter". Rapid City Journal. September 30, 2010. Retrieved March 7, 2011. Herseth Sandlin's claim that transparency and disclosure are adequate doesn't cut it. She should not be laughing off this legitimate concern.
  15. ^ Young, Steve (November 3, 2010). "Wave carries Kristi Noem". Sioux Falls Argus Leader. Gannett. Retrieved November 12, 2010.
  16. ^ "Professional Directory – Stephanie Herseth Sandlin". Washington D.C.: Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz PC. Archived from the original on April 2, 2011.
  17. ^ "Stephanie Herseth Sandlin Joins OFW Law – Congressional Leader Joining Nation's Premier Agriculture & FDA Law Firm". Olsson Frank Weeda. March 2, 2011. Archived from the original on April 2, 2011.
  18. ^ Ackley, Kate (March 2, 2011). "Herseth Sandlin Looks Forward to K Street, With Eye on Lobbying". Roll Call. Congressional Quarterly. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
  19. ^ Bogardus, Kevin; Leven, Rachel (May 17, 2012). "Ex-lawmakers on K Street avoid 'Scarlet L,' shy away from registering as lobbyists". The Hill. Retrieved June 12, 2012.
  20. ^ "Daily Republic Article". Insurance News. June 7, 2012. Retrieved June 12, 2012.
  21. ^ "Herseth Sandlin to become a Raven executive". Argus Leader. May 30, 2012. Retrieved June 12, 2012.
  22. ^ Montgomery, David (May 13, 2013). "Stephanie Herseth Sandlin not running for Senate". Argus Leader. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  23. ^ Jonathan Ellis (April 27, 2011). "Chicoine defends SDSU post for Stephanie Herseth Sandlin". Sioux Falls Argus Leader. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
  24. ^ "The 24th President of Augustana University". Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  25. ^ Ackley, Kate. K Street Files: Stephanie Herseth Sandlin Heading to South Dakota Job, Roll Call, June 14, 2012.
  26. ^ a b AP staff writer (April 1, 2007). "S.D. Representative gets married". The Associated Press. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
  27. ^ "Herseth to marry on Saturday". Rapid City Journal. Associated Press. March 26, 2007. Retrieved November 12, 2010.
  28. ^ Montgomery, David (November 8, 2010). "Politicos weigh Herseth Sandlin's future". Rapid City Journal.

External linksEdit

  This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Bill Janklow
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Dakota's at-large congressional district

Succeeded by
Kristi Noem
Party political offices
Preceded by
Allen Boyd
Chair of the Blue Dog Coalition for Administration
Served alongside: Charlie Melancon, Jim Matheson (Communications), Baron Hill (Policy)
Succeeded by
Heath Shuler