SD Democratic Party under new leadership, looks ahead
Ehrmantraut takes over for the party at the young age of 24, despite having worked in and around South Dakota politics for several years.
PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The South Dakota Democratic Party officially has a new leader, just ahead of a consequential election cycle for both the party and the state.
Berk Ehrmantraut takes over as the new Executive Director for the party at the age of 24. He joins Chair Randy Seiler and Vice-Chair Nikki Gronli, and takes the place of former Executive Director Pam Cole, who left in February.
“I’ve worked in South Dakota politics for a good amount of time at this point,” said Ehrmantraut. “I’ve had a lot of good experiences and worked all over the state, and I am hoping to bring those experiences and what I’ve learned to the democratic party.”
Ehrmantraut worked as the Call Time Director for Billy Sutton’s gubernatorial campaign in 2018, and shortly thereafter, worked as a secretary for state legislative Democrats during the 2019 legislative session. Most recently, Ehrmantraut worked for “Friends of the Global Fight” in Washington D.C.
The change in leadership comes at a time where the national Democratic party is making big investments in historically red states.
“The South Dakota Democratic Party recently got an additional $5000 per month grant from the national committee, which is specifically focused on states that have been traditionally Republican,” explained Ehrmantraut. “That’s because, I think the national party sees what the South Dakota Democratic Party is doing, and that there is opportunity here.”
Despite a good showing in the 2018 gubernatorial race, the Democratic party has been relegated to “super minority” status in South Dakota. Republicans control the State Senate 32-3, and the State House 62-8. Additionally, not a single state wide office is currently held by a Democrat. Republican voter registration in the state drastically outpaces Democratic voter registration.
However, Ehrmantraut highlights efforts by the party to expand out their influence, having recently opened a Rapid City office, and a more concerted effort to register voters.
“I think that one of the things that the South Dakota Democratic Party needs to do a better job of, and I am excited to get started on, is pushing that rural values are South Dakota values,” said Ehrmantraut. “If you go to any small town in the state, they’ll tell you one of the things they love the most is that people look out for each other. That is a core value of the Democratic party, that people look out for each other.”
Ehrmantraut will be formally introduced this Friday at the party’s “McGovern Days” event in Sioux Falls, and will officially start his duties next Monday.
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