Leadership teams lean moderate in South Dakota House, Senate

November 22, 2022

PIERRE, S.D.–The South Dakota House of Representatives elected its leadership team for the 2023 legislative session over the weekend, a week after their counterparts in the Senate did the same.

Members of the 94-member GOP supermajority’s more moderate faction came out ahead in both chambers.

Speaker of the House Hugh Bartels, Watertown, was elected to replace outgoing Speaker Brian Gosch, besting Jess Olson of Rapid City and Jon Hansen of Dell Rapids. Gosch clashed with leaders of the upper chamber during the last legislative session, as well as Gov. Kristi Noem. Hansen led an unsuccessful effort to pass a food tax repeal during the 2022 session – a proposal now supported by Noem.

Mike Stevens of Yankton will serve as speaker pro tempore.

Will Mortenson of Ft. Pierre was elected House majority leader on Saturday. Also elected to GOP leadership positions:

Taylor Rehfeldt, Sioux Falls, assistant majority leader
Rocky Blare, Winner, majority whip
Gary Cammack, Union Center, majority whip
Kirk Chaffee, Whitewood, majority whip
Becky Drury, Rapid City, majority whip
James D. Wangsness, Miller, majority whip
The elections in the House came about a week after the Senate chose its leadership. Sen. Lee Schoenbeck of Watertown will repeat as president pro tempore in the upper house. Casey Crabtree of Madison was elected majority leader, with Mike Diedrich elected as assistant majority leader.

Also serving in Senate leadership:

Helene Duhamel, Rapid City, majority whip
Jack Kolbeck, Sioux Falls, majority whip
Ryan Maher, Isabel, majority whip
David Wheeler, Huron, majority whip
There are 11 Democrats serving in the House and Senate. Oren Lesmeister of Parade will be House minority leader, with Erin Healy of Sioux Falls serving as assistant minority leader.

On the Senate side, Democrats will be led by Reynold Nesiba of Sioux Falls alongside Assistant Minority Leader Shawn Bordeaux of Mission.