BISMARCK — The North Dakota Republican Party has selected a new leader.
The party's state committee elected Mandan businessman Perrie Schafer as chairman when the group met in Medora last weekend, according to a news release from the party.
Schafer, who previously served as the state GOP's District 31 chairman, takes over for former congressman and state lawmaker Rick Berg, who assumed the party's top job from current U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong in March 2018. Berg said in a message to fellow party members that his three-year tenure as chairman has been "equal parts exciting, difficult, rewarding, and inspiring," adding that his focus will now shift to helping Republicans earn a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives next year.
Schafer is the founder and CEO of Environmental Services Ltd., an industrial services company based in Mandan. The 61-year-old studied welding at Bismarck State College and engineering at Dickinson State University, according to his LinkedIn page. He has been married to his wife, Rhonda, for 42 years and has two children, according to the release.
The new chairman steps into the role at a time of great prosperity for the party. Republicans hold all of North Dakota's statewide and congressional offices, in addition to 85% of the seats in the state Legislature. At the top of last year's ticket, former Republican President Donald Trump carried 65% of the vote in North Dakota, one of his biggest margins of victory in any state. However, the party has seen some internal splintering as ultra-conservative lawmakers, known as the Bastiat Caucus, and their supporters challenge the party's mainstream.
Schafer will be tasked with fostering party growth and advocating for its conservative platform during the upcoming 2022 election cycle, the release said.
“I am honored to have been selected by my fellow Republicans to lead our great state in such a consequential election cycle,” Schafer said. “The far-left is determined to bring their failed ideas to places like North Dakota, which is why we must be vigilant in building the NDGOP to keep our proven record of conservative leadership strong at the local, state, and national level.”
The party also elected John Odermann and Carma Hanson as vice chairs, Erika Kenner as secretary and Nick Hacker as treasurer. Regional chairs include Chuck Walen, Bruce Gjovig, Jacob Strinden and Claus Lembke.
The Democratic-NPL Party, the Republicans' primary competition, elected Patrick Hart as chairman last month.