Stephanie Herseth, a lawyer who left the East Coast for a career in politics in her home state, narrowly defeated a Republican former lawmaker Tuesday in a special congressional election that was closely watched by national parties looking for momentum heading into November.
Democrat Herseth, 33, will immediately fill the seat of William J. Janklow, who was convicted of manslaughter and went to jail over a deadly auto accident. Both candidates will meet again in November to compete for a full two-year term.
With 96 percent of precincts reporting, Herseth had 124,647 votes, or 51 percent, to Larry Diedrich's 121,719 votes, or 49 percent.
Herseth's grandfather was governor and her father a longtime state lawmaker. She also gained name recognition from running a close race against Janklow in 2002.
Elsewhere, Alabama voters chose Republican nominees for three seats on the state Supreme Court -- races that became a referendum on ousted Chief Justice Roy Moore and his Ten Commandments monument. Former Moore aide Tom Parker defeated Justice Jean Brown, 51 percent to 49 percent. Another pro-Moore candidate lost and another was trailing in a four-way race.
The Ten Commandments dispute also figured in the GOP primary for a U.S. House seat. Moore's attorney, Phillip Jauregui, was soundly defeated by six-term Rep. Spencer Bachus for the Republican nomination.