Two east river state lawmakers will vie for SD GOP chair
House Rep. Kevin Jensen (R-Canton) and Sen. John Wiik (R-Big Stone City) are running against each other to become the next chair of the South Dakota Republican Party.
PIERRE, S.D. - Two members of the South Dakota State Legislature are running against each other for the top spot in the Republican Party.
Senator John Wiik (R-Big Stone City) and Rep. Kevin Jensen (R-Canton) both have their eyes on the chair, after Dan Lederman announced that he would not run for the slot late last year.
Jensen says he has heard a lot of dissatisfaction from grassroots, party faithful.
“The interesting convention we had this last summer, a lot of committeemen and women felt like they were not appreciated, and a lot of people were very vocal about that,” Jensen explained.
Wiik has been running for the spot much longer than Jensen, and has garnered the endorsement of effectively every statewide elected official, including Sen. John Thune and Gov. Kristi Noem. Rep. Mary Fitzgerald (R-St. Onge) is running with Wiik as his vice-chair.
“I was part of getting John Thune elected over Tom Daschle, and I have never seen unity like that,” Wiik said. “I know we can do that again, we just have to find a common goal to work towards.”
Both have been amongst the most “conservative” members of the state legislature during their time there. But Jensen says he sees himself as more of the outsider in this race.
Wiik and Jensen both emphasized that they would like to strengthen the role of the county party’s, and also shore up the party’s fundraising apparatus.
“Committeemen and committeewomen, those are your neighbors, friends, and the people you go to church with,” Jensen said. “Who better to know who they want supporting them and what they need than those people.”
“I really just want to work on improving the county party organizations and strengthening the party as a whole,” Wiik said.
The vote to decide who will be the next chair of the party will take place on January 14th in Pierre.
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