SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The South Dakota Democratic Party says it has hired an executive director.

The party said Monday that interim Executive Director Sam Parkinson has accepted the job permanently since taking over in April. Before that, Parkinson had served as the party’s finance director since August 2015.

His new role came after the party’s former executive director, Suzanne Jones Pranger, left her post to campaign for state Senate Democratic leader Billie Sutton, who launched a bid for governor late last month.

Democratic Party Chairwoman Ann Tornberg says Parkinson has been an asset to the party. Parkinson says South Dakota Democrats are seeing a new surge of interest and energy from state residents.

U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem and Attorney General Marty Jackley are Republicans competing for the governor’s office in 2018.