Bartels elected House Speaker in move that breaks 60 years of tradition

January 13, 2023

PIERRE, S.D.–When Jon Hansen was passed over for speaker of the South Dakota House of Representatives this week, he made history and revealed a rift of historic proportions in the Republican Party.

Hansen, R-Dell Rapids, was the speaker pro tempore last year. That should have made him a shoe-in for speaker of the House when representatives needed to fill the position this year.

Joshua Haiar with South Dakota Searchlight ( says since 1963, when the tradition of promoting the speaker pro tempore began, there had only been five times when that promotion failed to happen. Twice, it was because control of the chamber flipped from Democrats to Republicans, or vice versa. The other three times, it was because the speaker pro tempore left the Legislature.

Hansen became only the sixth speaker pro tempore in the last 60 years who did not become speaker, and the first in those six decades who failed to gain the job for a reason other than partisan control or a departure from office.

Instead of Hansen, representatives elected Hugh Bartels of Watertown, (pictured) as speaker on Tuesday during the first day of the 2023 legislative session at the Capitol in Pierre.

The public vote on the House floor came after a private caucus vote. In the public vote, there were 53 votes in favor of Bartels and 14 against him – including one from Hansen.