Democrat Stephanie Herseth was sworn in Thursday as South Dakota’s lone representative in the House. She replaces Republican Bill Janklow, who resigned last January before going to jail over a deadly auto accident.
Herseth, 33, alluded to Janklow’s manslaughter conviction in her short speech after taking the oath of office from House Speaker Dennis Hastert:
“The unsettling truth is that my standing here today was born from a tragedy. The opportunity for me to represent my state would not have happened if not for heartache suffered by many. That reminder will be with me always. But from great sorrow can come new beginnings,” she said.
Escorted by senators
Herseth was escorted into the chamber by South Dakota’s two Democratic senators, Minority leader Tom Daschle and Tim Johnson.
She was introduced by House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who said she will “bring to this House of Representatives the values of the heartland of America and a voice of her generation.”
Herseth, who will serve out the last seven months of this congressional term, was given a noisy welcome by Democrats in the House, savoring her narrow victory over Republican opponent Larry Diedrich in Tuesday’s special election.
She and Diedrich will face off again in November to serve for a full two-year term.
With Herseth taking office, the House was restored to its full strength, with 228 Republicans, 206 Democrats and one independent.
Herseth comes from a prominent political family in South Dakota. Her grandfather was governor and her father a state legislator.