Update to this story: Randy Seiler died Monday evening.
PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The departing leader of the South Dakota’ Democratic Party was in a medically induced coma at a Sioux Falls hospital on Friday after suffering a heart attack while running along Oahe Dam with his dog north of Pierre.
Randy Seiler, a past U.S. attorney for the district of South Dakota, has served since 2019 as the Democratic Party’s state chairman. He didn’t seek re-election this year. Jennifer Slaight-Hansen of Aberdeen is scheduled to succeed him at the end of April.
Seiler’s wife, Wanda, in a Facebook post on Friday relayed what happened to her husband. She wrote:
“R went into cardiac arrest while running with our dog at the Oahe Dam. An amazing woman saw him go to the ground and was directed by his Apple Watch to begin CPR. We are grateful for the first responders that arrived within minutes. He is currently at the Avera Heart Hospital-critical but stable. He is in a med induced coma to allow his body to recover and it will be several days before we know more about what the next steps in recovery will entail. He is surrounded by his family and the love of our friends and neighbors. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. They give us strength and hope.”
Seiler, a long-time federal prosecutor, was acting U.S. attorney when President Barack Obama nominated him for the post in 2015. Among those backing Seiler for the top job was U.S. Senator Mike Rounds, a Republican and a past governor. Rounds issued a statement that October backing Seiler.
“Randy is a friend who has earned the respect and admiration of many South Dakotans,” Rounds said. “He has the experience, integrity and professionalism necessary to faithfully uphold the Constitution and protect South Dakotans. I applaud President Obama for nominating Randy to this post and look forward to his quick approval by the Senate.”
On Friday, Rounds said, “Randy is my longtime friend and neighbor. I am praying for his rapid recovery. My thoughts are with his wife Wanda and his family.”
State Attorney General Marty Jackley, a Republican who had been U.S. attorney for South Dakota, also supported Seiler’s selection in 2015. “I believe South Dakota is very fortunate to have a United States attorney with Randy’s experience, his respect and his ability to lead the U.S. Attorney’s office with its important work,” Jackley said at the time.
Messages of support Friday on Twitter included a statement from Jamie Smith, the 2022 Democrat candidate for governor. “I haven’t been active on social media in a while, but please send prayers of healing and positive thoughts to Randy Seiler and his family during this difficult time.” From a statement by the Minnehaha County Democrat Party that wished Seiler the best, “He’s got a strong spirit and incredible family to see him through.”
Seiler, now 76, was the Democrat nominee for state attorney general in 2018. Republican Jason Ravnsborg won the contest with 179,071 votes to Seiler’s 145,558. State senators voted to remove Ravnsborg last year for his actions after a crash that killed a pedestrian along U.S. 14 at the west edge of Highmore.
The South Dakota Democratic Party’s executive director issued a statement Friday night. “We are all wishing Randy a speedy recovery and sending him all the love and support possible,” Berk Ehrmantraut said. “We are all wishing Randy a speedy recovery and sending him all the love and support possible. Randy is very dear to me, as I know he is for many of you, and we have been so fortunate to have him leading the South Dakota Democratic Party. For right now, my priority is Randy’s health and his family’s well-being, so I won’t necessarily have up-to-the-minute updates as we respect his family’s space and privacy. I know your warm wishes and prayers are so appreciated by his family – thank you.”