South Dakota Republican state lawmakers launch “Freedom Caucus” to push the party right

The "South Dakota Freedom Caucus" was launched at the South Dakota Republican Party convention...
The "South Dakota Freedom Caucus" was launched at the South Dakota Republican Party convention as a way to push the party to the right. It comes at a time where the party in the Rushmore state has become particularly divided over the course of the last several months.(Katie Shroyer)
Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 10:31 PM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. - Republicans control a supermajority of seats in both houses of the South Dakota state legislature, as well as every statewide elected office.

But to many elected officials in the party, that doesn’t mean much.

“We are a simple group, that desires to follow the platform,” explained Rep. Tony Randolph (R-Rapid City), vice-chair of the newly formed “South Dakota Freedom Caucus.” “Follow the platform, and do what we said we would do when we were elected.”

Randolph is one of a few members of the state legislature who helped form the caucus. It’s inception was officially announced at an event during the South Dakota Republican convention in Watertown.

It is tied to the National Freedom Caucus organization, which currently boasts a freedom caucus in five other states outside of South Dakota, and in the United States Capitol as well.

Current and previous members of the Freedom Caucus in the U.S. Congress include Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), former Rep. Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina), and Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania).

“I and my House Freedom Caucus colleagues congratulate brave patriots who recently launched the South Dakota Freedom Caucus,” said Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Arizona). “We look forward to following the great success that we know they’ll have in fighting for limited government, the sanctity of life, and more liberty in the Mount Rushmore State.”

Andrew Roth, President of the State Freedom Caucus network, says that by launching freedom caucuses at the state level, they hope to build a stronger grassroots movement amongst conservatives.

“We decided we needed to launch the state freedom caucuses to build a farm team basically,” Roth said. “To help conservatives in the state capitols fight for our principles.”

The effort comes at a time in South Dakota where the party is as divided as ever. Particularly after a bruising primary, the impeachment of former Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, and the GOP convention, all just in the last month.

But members say that rather than starting their own political party, they want to be the “conscious” of the Republican party.

“During an election, there is not a single Republican in the state who will talk against the Republican party principles,” Randolph explained. “The difference between them and us, is that this is part of who we are and what we stand for. What we talk about during a campaign is the same things we talk about after being elected.”

Randolph declined to specify how many members had officially joined the caucus yet.

In addition to Randolph serving as vice-chair, Rep. Aaron Aylward (R-Harrisburg) will serve as chair. Rep. Tina Mullaly (R-Rapid City) will serve as secretary and treasurer.

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