Primaries to decide Republican influence in SD Senate

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (South Dakota News Watch) – There is more competition and intrigue than usual heading into the 2024 South Dakota Republican Senate primaries June 4, with leadership of the state’s upper chamber at stake within the GOP ranks.

The South Dakota GOP is dealing with an intraparty schism between establishment “moderates” with pro-business views and far-right factions such as the Freedom Caucus, touting limited government and election reform. Control of the Senate is calculated by conservative ideologies and voting blocs within the Republican caucus.

There are 14 senators – 13 Republicans and one Democrat – who have either reached their term limits or decided not to run in 2024. The list includes Senate President Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck and five members of the Senate Appropriations Committee. 

That means at least 40% of the Senate’s 35 members will be new when seated for the 2025 legislative session, though some will likely have previous experience in the House.

There are Republican Senate primaries in 18 districts coming in June, compared to 15 in 2022. There is just one primary on the Democratic side, allowing those candidates to focus on the Nov. 5 general election.