South Dakota Democratic Party Chair Randy Seiler dies

Bipartisan tributes to the former U.S. Attorney rolled in shortly after his passing was made public.
Former U.S. Attorney and current chair of the Democratic Party of South Dakota, Randy Seiler, has died. He was 76.
Published: Apr. 18, 2023 at 12:23 PM MDT
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FORT PIERRE, S.D. - Former U.S. Attorney and current chair of the Democratic Party of South Dakota, Randy Seiler, has died. He was 76.

Seiler had been hospitalized since Thursday, after suffering a heart attack while on a jog near his home in Fort Pierre.

“After a brief illness, Randy passed away last night surrounded by his family and supported by the thoughts and prayers of people he loved,” a post to Seiler’s personal Facebook page said Tuesday.

Seiler was appointed to the U.S. attorney post by former President Barack Obama in 2015. As U.S. attorney, Seiler served as the top federal prosecutor in the state.

Seiler’s nomination to the spot received strong bipartisan support, including from Senator Mike Rounds. Rounds paid tribute to Seiler shortly after his passing.

“Randy Seiler was not only my neighbor but a good friend,” the fellow Fort Pierre resident said. “I always appreciated our candid conversations about issues facing South Dakota.”

A 1980 graduate of the University of South Dakota law school, Seiler’s legal career began in private practice in Mobridge, near his hometown. After over a decade in private practice, that included extensive work with the two nearest Native American tribes, Seiler began his career in the South Dakota U.S. Attorney’s office.

Through his career, Seiler prioritized using his legal abilities to help those living on South Dakota’s Native American reservations.

Seiler served as the chairman of the South Dakota Democratic party since 2019. He did not seek re-election to the post this past year, and was set to be replaced by Chairman-elect Jennifer Slaight-Hansen of Aberdeen on May 1st.

Slaight-Hansen will take over the duties of state party chair immediately.

“I am in shock. We have lost one of the great leaders of our party,” Slaight-Hansen said in a press release. “I personally have lost a mentor and a friend. I fall short of words to express my sadness on his sudden passing.”

Seiler also narrowly lost in a bid to become the state’s Attorney General in 2018. He was defeated by former Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, who was removed from office by way of impeachment before completing a full term.