Moderate Republicans dominate South Dakota State House leadership elections

Hugh Bartels was elected by members of the Republican House caucus to be the next South Dakota Speaker of the House.
From left to right facing camera, Reps. Hugh Bartels (R-Watertown), Will Mortenson (R-Pierre),...
From left to right facing camera, Reps. Hugh Bartels (R-Watertown), Will Mortenson (R-Pierre), and Taylor Rehfeldt (R-Sioux Falls), earned three of the top leadership positions in the South Dakota State House ahead of the 2023 state legislative session.(Austin Goss DNN/KOTA)
Published: Nov. 19, 2022 at 10:54 AM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. - State Rep. Hugh Bartels (R-Watertown) will be the first Speaker of the House in South Dakota history to not ascend to the post from the Speaker Pro Tempore spot.

That comes after a majority of members in the Republican House caucus picked Bartels from a field of three. State Rep. Jess Olson (R-Rapid City) and Jon Hansen (R-Dell Rapids), the current Speaker Pro Temp., also ran.

The Speaker Pro Temp. spot will be occupied by Rep. Mike Stevens (R-Yankton), who ran unopposed.

The races for Majority Leader and Assistant Majority Leader also saw more moderate Republicans defeat hardline conservatives. Rep. Will Mortenson (R-Pierre) managed to defeat Scott Odenbach (R-Spearfish) and Rebecca Reimer (R-Oacoma) for that position. Taylor Rehfeldt (R-Sioux Falls) bested Randy Gross (R-Dell Rapids) for the Assistant Majority Leader position.

“I’m honored to get to work for this group of legislators,” Mortenson said in a press release. “We’ve got a big job ahead of us, and we look forward to delivering conservative results to the people of South Dakota.”

Members of the South Dakota State Senate, along with the Democrats in the House, elected their leadership last weekend.

Also up for grabs were the five Majority Whips positions. The following lawmakers were elected to those positions; State Reps. JD Wangsness (R-Miller), Becky Drury (R-Rapid City), Kirk Chaffee (R-Whitewood), Rocky Blare (R-Winner), and Gary Cammack (R-Union Center).