Kloucek backs Van Gerpen and Nelson for GOP leadership postsOutgoing state Rep. Frank Kloucek has endorsed two Republicans for leadership positions in the House GOP caucus.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
Outgoing state Rep. Frank Kloucek has endorsed two Republicans for leadership positions in the House GOP caucus.
That is unusual for two reasons.
One, Kloucek is a Democrat. Two, one of the men he is endorsing is the Republican who defeated him for the District 19 Senate seat on Nov. 6, snapping a streak of 22 years in the Legislature. Kloucek issued the unusual endorsement on Friday.
He said Rep. Stace Nelson, of Fulton, and Sen.-elect Bill Van Gerpen, of Tyndall, should serve in “key Republican leadership positions in the state House and Senate.”
Van Gerpen defeated Kloucek, and in the release, Kloucek said that happened due to redistricting.
Nelson and state Rep. Lance Russell, from Hot Springs, were invited by House Majority leader David Lust to attend the GOP gathering in Pierre today.
All 53 Republicans who were elected to the state House were invited to attend to help select their 2013 leadership.
Nelson and Russell were removed from the GOP caucus last year after accusing Lust and other House GOP leaders of ethics violations.
Kloucek said his endorsement is serious and intended to bring harmony to the majority party.
“Stace and Billy would make excellent leaders for the next two years in the Legislature,” Kloucek said.
“They would follow the party platform and put the party first when it comes to legislation and ideology.”
He said “the hard right wing of the party” needs greater representation in the GOP caucus.
In a telephone interview, Kloucek declined to say if he intended the endorsement to help or hurt the Republicans.
He said Nelson has sought a leadership position, so he decided to assist him in that effort.
“I ask my friends in the Republican House and Senate Caucus to vote for and support Stace and Bill for leadership positions in your House elections and future elections and appointments in the Senate (State Affairs or Judiciary Committee chair.)
He said to not do so “would be a slap in the face for all who supported their ideas and agendas.”
“It is time to put the ideology first and there is no better way than by electing Stace and Bill to leadership positions,” Kloucek said. “It is time to give the people what they demanded.”
Nelson said while he was at first glad to hear Kloucek supported him, once he heard some of the terms used in the release, he wondered if it was all tongue in cheek.
“I don’t know what to say,” he said, but he did thank Kloucek for his service to the state, and said he enjoyed working with him in Pierre.
Nelson said he will be unable to attend the caucus events this weekend, since he’s busy pouring concrete at his home, and has a CASA event and a wedding lined up for today.
“I wanted to make it and I hoped I could bend the time to do it, but I will not be able to do it,” he said.
Nelson said he asked Lust to postpone the meeting until mid-December after Gov. Dennis Daugaard delivers his budget address, but Lust said the meeting would go on as planned.
The elections for speaker and speaker pro-tem will be held on the House, and Nelson said he will make known whom he supports.
He said he doesn’t plan to seek a leadership role, but there are some conservative Republicans he does support and would like to see in one of those roles.
“I don’t have any desire for that,” Nelson said.