SD Freedom Caucus attacks incoming House leadership, intimates they may break away from GOP Caucus

After House Leadership elections this last weekend, the South Dakota Freedom (Free-dumb?) Caucus sent out a press release this morning claiming that because their choices were not selected for leadership, they’re claiming that there’s a major split in the party, and intimate that it’s still up in the air whether their secret group members may not participate in the GOP House caucus.

SD House GOP Caucus Becomes More Progressive

Pierre, S.D. (Nov. 21, 2022) – Saturday, the South Dakota House Republicans met to hold leadership elections for the 2023 legislative session, and the results have some claiming the Republican party is going blue, resulting in a major split in the party.

Hugh Bartels was nominated to be the next Speaker of the House, breaking with a tradition that Speaker Pro Tempore, Representative Jon Hansen, would take the position. Following Bartels for Speaker, Representative Mike Stevens was elected as Speaker Pro Tempore, Representative Will Mortensen as the Majority Leader, and Representative Taylor Rehfeldt as Assistant Majority Leader.

Some “conservative” Republicans in South Dakota have said that the party was swinging blue for some time, feeling increasingly excluded from the party, and according to the American Conservative Union, the recently elected Republican leadership are of some of the states lowest rated Republican Representatives , proving the point for conservatives that the party is going blue. The American Conservative Union best known for their annual C-PAC conference held in Washington D.C. the ACU 2021 scorecard rated Bartels at 58%, Mortensen at 70%, Rehfeldt at 78% and Stevens at 65%.

But what has some conservative Republicans worried about the newly elected leadership are their SD Right to Life ratings, with Bartels and Mortensen rated below 80%. That has Republicans like members of the South Dakota Freedom Caucus especially troubled, as Democrat groups like Dakotans for Health are circulating an Initiated Constitutional Amendment petition to make prenatal life termination a Constitutional right in South Dakota, overturning the trigger law that went into effect in South Dakota after the Dobbs decision earlier this year.

Unlike the newly elected House GOP leadership, former Speaker Pro Tempore Republican Rep. Jon Hansen is working to fight back against efforts to make feticide a right in South Dakota, forming the Life Defense Fund and has been actively raising money to combat the efforts of the Democrats.

The divide over these values has some Republican Representatives wondering if they will continue to caucus with the Republican GOP during the upcoming session.

The South Dakota Freedom Caucus said they understand the sentiment being shared by some, claiming that the Republican party is abandoning its principles and is why they formed their caucus in the first place. “Being a Republican isn’t just a name, it’s a set of values,” proclaimed Freedom Caucus Secretary/Treasurer  Representative Tina Mulally. And while some Republican Representatives have already reached out to the Freedom Caucus about attending, Freedom Caucus Vice-Chairman Representative Tony Randolph said they’re only taking those Republicans whose voting records align with the Republican platform.

“We expect people to say what they mean, and mean what they say,” said Freedom Caucus Chairman Representative Aaron Aylward, “we don’t want people who are lukewarm on their values, you’re either hot or cold.”

The Freedom Caucus hasn’t officially stated whether their members will be attending the House GOP Caucus. However, these elections have been a boost for membership for their caucus, whose membership is anonymous outside of their leadership.

The South Dakota 2023 legislative session starts January 10th.

Really? What a bunch of drama queens.

If Representative Aylwayd actually believes his expressed jingoism, and says what he means, and means what he says, he probably should not just throw out thinly veiled threats.  He, Tina Mulally, Tony Randolph, and their “anonymous caucus members” should have the courage expressed in their press release and walk. 

Because, really, if they’re not lukewarm on their values as they complain about House leadership, they should demonstrate it.

25 thoughts on “SD Freedom Caucus attacks incoming House leadership, intimates they may break away from GOP Caucus”

  1. “we don’t want people who are lukewarm on their values, you’re either hot or cold.”
    fair point – stand up and be counted

    Somebody needs to do some ‘spayn’n to me about how that stand tall comment reconciles with this hide small position of the Freedom Caucus:

    ” their caucus, whose membership is anonymous outside of their leadership.”

    Sounds like a Free Chickens Caucus

    1. John, the problem with your position is that they’re just a bunch of talk, and no one is leaving anything. If they want to have their own caucus, fine. Just don’t complain when they can meet in a phone booth, and no one takes them seriously.

  2. Or maybe a little like saying Lot was a “drama queen” for wanting to leave S&G?

    Policy by policy, they either have a legitimate beef or they do not.

    The contention goes away longer if we address and resolve the platform.

    Otherwise, the fighting continues, which is of good service to some.

  3. Their membership is half anonymous, they don’t release scorecards until they can edit them to benefit their own people, and they spend a lot of their time being negative and hating Americans they don’t agree with. They are undistinguished by the Trump campaign.

    Doesnt everybody else WANT them to go caucus by themselves? Careful not to threaten everybody with a good time…

    1. Totally correct. They are the true RINO’s as they are not Republicans, but use the Republican Party for their extreme right wing ideals. They don’t even put Republican on their campaign materials.

  4. Let ‘em go do their own thing! But don’t permit them to have their cake and eat it, too— make legislators pick one and ONLY one caucus to join. They’re either in the GOP or they’re out. They shouldn’t be able to have it both ways.

    1. Hmmmm…, you are right. Make them choose their caucus, before some of the more blue Republicans announce they are going to caucus with the Democrats, too. Then the Republicans in the middle will announce they are going to join all the caucuses.

      Anybody who still thinks “love should be multiplied, not divided” hasn’t kept up with the current season of “Sister Wives.” Eventually the wheels fall off the bus, because they can’t keep going in different directions.

      Make them choose. You get one caucus, that’s it.

      1. The problem is if the blue republicans caucus with the democrats and the freedom caucus there wouldn’t be anybody left

      1. “If you analyze it, I believe the very heart-and-soul of conservatism is libertarianism … The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom … There is a legitimate need in an orderly society for some government to maintain freedom … But again, I stand on my statement that I think that libertarianism and conservatism are traveling the same path.”

        –Ronald Reagan

  5. I generally roll my eyes at this release, but it begs the question: would it have been better to keep Hansen or someone more aligned with the hardliners in leadership to keep them inside the tent? Not that it would’ve avoided all conflict, but by completely blocking them out of leadership they’re further incentivized to just throw bombs and not cooperate, making any governing more difficult.

    1. Anon at 4:52, why should the Republicans want to keep them “in the tent?” That’s like trying to keep a bunch of big cats in a tent, it doesn’t end well for the tent.

  6. Why are they quitters?

    This might be why they all lost. If you can’t talk to people who disagree with you then you will minimize your coalition by default.

  7. They stood up to be counted at the state convention, when they stood in opposition to the resolution congratulating the winners of the Republican primary, Thune, Noem, and Johnson, and endorsing their re-elections. It is my understanding the SDGOP captured them on video, which really should be shown at the next state central committee meeting for the benefit of anybody who missed it. It was an incident which should not be forgotten.

      1. if Taffy Howard is a candidate for state party chair, the video of her expressing her refusal to support the candidates who had just won their primaries should be required viewing.

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