South Dakota Republican Party chair Pam Roberts spoke to Brown County Republicans at their Reagan Lunch yesterday here in Aberdeen. The highlight of her speech was an assurance that she is cutting back on state party spending.
Roberts said that, since her election to the chair February 28, she has closed the Sioux Falls office of the party and centralized all operations in Pierre. Roberts says she has cut party staff. She said the only semi-regular work at party headquarters comes from two people. Gubernatorial policy analyst and Aberdeen native Grace Kessler dedicates some of her spare time to administrative tasks in the SDGOP office. Former SDGOP executive director, now consultant Jason Glodt has been putting in lots of hours for the party and driving his official GOP bus to events like the State Fair.
Roberts also told her couple-dozen Aberdeen listeners that she has scaled back contracts, saving the state party significant dollars in this non-election year.
Nonetheless, the party does not seem to be hurting for money. Roberts reports the SDGOP has a quarter million dollars in the bank. She says their top-tier candidates for next year, Senator John Thune and Rep. Kristi Noem, have told her that their individual fundraising is healthy enough that they will not be looking to the state party for financial support in 2016.
Roberts points most proudly to the party’s growing voter registration advantage: Republicans currently outnumber Democrats in South Dakota by 68,709. That advantage has grown by 26,652 since September 2010. Roberts noted for her Aberdeen crowd that Brown County Republicans now enjoy a 374-voter edge over Brown County Democrats. Just a decade ago, Roberts says Brown County Dems enjoyed a 700-voter advantage. Roberts credits local party leaders for diligent voter registration efforts.
The SDGOP apparently has so much momentum and built-in strength that it can scale back state party operations. If only we South Dakota Democrats were so lucky! But party building isn’t luck; it’s hard work and, in the case of liberals in a land where folks think “Democrat” is a dirty word, gutsy uphill advocacy.
p.s.: Roberts said she looks forward to the 2016 state GOP convention, which takes next June 23 through 25 as close as it possibly could to my house, at the Aberdeen Ramkota. I look forward to applying for my press pass.