GOP party leader walks away a winner

Why did Bob Gray walk away?

The state senator announced Monday he won’t seek another term as the chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party. Gray had an extremely successful year as the GOP leader, even for such a bright red state.

He helped guide Republicans to wins in the race for the state’s sole seat in the U.S. House. State Rep. Kristi Noem knocked off the most promising young Democrat in the state in years, possibly ending Stephanie Herseth Sandlin’s career and making the future even brighter for South Dakota Republicans.

Dennis Daugaard kept the GOP streak alive in governor races. The Republicans have now won nine straight races.

They won all the constitutional office contests and most of the legislative races. Gray is like Jim Brown and Bjorn Borg, walking away as a champion.

The Democrats shook up their leadership, with Ben Nesselhuf taking the reins as both executive director and party chairman. Both field director have also decided to move on.

It makes sense for the Democrats to sweep out the old and welcome in the new.

Did Gray decide serving as both a legislator and a party chairman was too much? He twice turned down the post when it was offered to him two years ago.

Some legislators have said Gray’s position as Republican leader in the Senate caused some friction among his fellow senators. Pierre reporter Bob Mercer will have a story on the change in Tuesday’s Daily Republic.

The South Dakota GOP will pick a new party chairman on Jan. 22. Whoever takes the post will have a very hard act to follow.