SD Libertarian Party hopes to prove relevance
SIOUX FALLS (AP) — The Libertarian Party in South Dakota is planning a convention next month, with hopes of showing it can be a major political player in the state.
Democrats did not nominate candidates for three statewide offices — attorney general, auditor and public lands commissioner. Libertarians have the opportunity to be the only opposition to Republican candidates for those offices.
"If this is played right, (Libertarians) can show they're just as relevant as the Democrat Party in South Dakota," Libertarian activist Ken Santema told the Argus Leader newspaper.
Augustana College political science professor Emily Wanless said she thinks Libertarian candidates could get a lot of Democratic votes in the three races, though Libertarian candidates will need to overcome a lack of name recognition.
"It definitely helps that South Dakota is a relatively cheap media market," she said. "If third-party candidates are going to fare well, it's typically in states where it's less expensive to campaign and get their name out there, which is a hurdle they have to overcome."
There also is some opposition within the party to the candidacy of Chad Haber, who wants to run for attorney general. He is the husband of former U.S. Senate candidate Annette Bosworth, who is accused of election law violations. She has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges and is scheduled for trial in November.
Libertarian activist Emmett Reistroffer believes Haber — who previously was a registered Republican — isn't "a true Libertarian," and Reistroffer trying to recruit others in the party to run. Santema worries Haber would be a distraction.
Haber said he is a "perfect fit" for the Libertarian Party because he supports personal freedom and "stopping the oppression of the state." He also said his wife's experience running for Senate will be a boost.
"This will be a real candidacy. We know how to raise money," he said.
Haber, who is not a lawyer, said he is willing to step aside if someone in the party who is more qualified decides to run for attorney general.
"I'm very confident we will nominate someone else other than Chad Haber," Reistroffer said.