Wiik, Fitzgerald selected to lead South Dakota GOP

Sen. John Wiik (R-Big Stone City) was chosen to be the next chair of the South Dakota Republican party, and Rep. Mary Fitzgerald (R-St. Onge) was chosen to be the next vice-chair.
Members of the South Dakota Republican Central Committee selected State Sen. John Wiik and Mary Fitzgerald to be the chair and vice-chair of the party.
Published: Jan. 14, 2023 at 8:31 PM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. - The South Dakota Republican Party’s Central Committee picked lawmakers John Wiik (R-Big Stone City) and Mary Fitzgerald (R-St. Onge) to lead the state’s party for at least the next two years.

Both won handily against opponents who did not enter the race until this past week.

“It is time for me to go to work,” Wiik said after his victory. “I have talked to a lot of people, and we are going to improve communication, fundraising, etc. We are going to do everything we talked about up here when I decided to run for this office. We are going to connect with people and counties, and we are going to have a connected party. We are going to work on goals, achieve those goals, and we are going to have an even better party than we do now.”

In addition to electing new statewide officers, those in attendance Saturday also voted overwhelmingly against proposed bylaw changes that would have removed convention voting privileges from precinct people. Discussions about bylaw changes aimed at limiting the power of precinct people began after the Republican convention last year.

What’s more, the committee voted to have the GOP Executive Board write a letter disapproving of SB 40. That would allow the Governor to appoint the Lieutenant Governor, and put the Secretary of State and Attorney General races on the primary ballot, as opposed to in the convention.

“We were given a directive in our meeting today to talk about some of that legislation,” Wiik said. “We are going to have that meeting via Zoom sometime here in the next few days.”

Republicans control every statewide office, and strong super majorities in both chambers of the state legislature, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges.

Two different factions have arisen in the party, but those elected Saturday believe they can help bridge that gap.

“We are just working some things through,” said Catherina Barranco. Barranco was selected to be the Region One Director (Minnehaha County) for the party. “The great thing is we have a terrific board, which is representative of a variety of view points, and we are here to bring the party together. We have important things to accomplish, and we are going to get them done.”