- Associated Press - Saturday, February 11, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - South Dakota’s Republican Party has a new leader following a vote that upset a decades-long tradition.

Former state Sen. Dan Lederman unseated incumbent Chairwoman Pam Roberts on Saturday, marking the first time in recent memory that the position saw a contested election and that a candidate won without the governor’s endorsement, the Argus Leader (https://argusne.ws/2lDfcmS ) reported.

Lederman won the party chairmanship in a 73-53 vote in Pierre by members of the State Central Committee.

Roberts, chairwoman of the state GOP for the past two years, had been endorsed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard. She also was supported by U.S. Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds, and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem.

Support for Lederman showed a split in the party: He was supported by Republican National Committee members Sandye Kading and Ried Holien.

Lederman, 44, of Dakota Dunes offered himself as a candidate for the position last month. He previously served as the Senate assistant majority leader and as the Union County GOP chairman for 12 years.

In his new role, Lederman will guide the South Dakota Republican Party over the next two years as it looks to hold onto its dominance in state elections. His responsibilities will include managing party communications and campaign strategies ahead of the next gubernatorial race and mid-term elections.

Roberts helped collect two new seats for Republicans in both the House and Senate last year, deepening the party’s supermajorities in the Legislature. Last week, Daugaard told reporters that Roberts had cut expenses “significantly” for the party.

Lederman told the Argus Leader ahead of the vote that he felt hopeful about winning after speaking with party leaders across the state. He said he could be more responsive than Roberts and promised to give county leaders elevated roles and stronger voices in the party.

“I think I represent their enthusiasm,” he told the newspaper. “I am part of this feeling of excitement for a new direction.”

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Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com


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