- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) - South Dakota Farmers Union members in the Aberdeen region have rejected resolutions calling for the removal of three top officials including President Doug Sombke.

Sombke said in a statement that the Farmers Union board considers the matter over, but Michael O’Connor, a spokesman for the challengers, told the Argus Leader newspaper that he’ll continue to push for support.

A faction within the union challenged the results of the group’s recent officer election, citing voting irregularities. The challengers were supporters of Garret Bischoff, who failed to unseat Sombke.

The opposition group wants to remove Sombke and the organization’s vice president and secretary/treasurer. Farmers Union members in three of the group’s seven districts approved the resolutions before they were defeated in the 13-county District 7 on Tuesday.

The Farmers Union board has declared that the results of the officer election will stand, according to Sombke, who has been president since 2005 and was re-elected five times.

“Some members want to sling mud. That is not who I am, or who we are as an organization,” Sombke said.

O’Connor said he plans to go to Farmers Union county meetings to appeal for support. He needs 20 percent of the union’s membership to call a special convention, he said.

The state Farmers Union has been around for a century and claims more than 17,000 members.

O’Connor said the cooperative is “not the grassroots organization that the Farmers Union once was.”

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