Candidate drops out of South Dakota's US House race in wake of social media posts

Ryan Ryder, a Democrat from the Black Hills, had announced his challenge of U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson earlier this week.

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Ryan Ryder, a brief Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Christopher Vondracek / Forum News Service

PIERRE, S.D. — One day ago, South Dakota Democrats announced they had a candidate to challenge U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson.

Today, Ryan Ryder has backed out, following a news report Wednesday in which he confirmed he wrote salacious and crude social media posts on Twitter.

"While tweets I have made in the past were a poor attempt at sarcastic humor, I recognize that they appear to cross a line," Ryder said in a news release announcing his withdrawal. "I regret that I chose to express myself that way."

On Wednesday, March 2, Dakota News Now reported on Ryder's social media posts, some dating back several years. In the posts, Ryder jokes about sexual activities related to Gov. Kristi Noem and suggests making a video showing Johnson's family being killed.

Ryder told Dakota News he was referencing Johnson's vote not to censure Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., for creating a cartoon depicting the assassination of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.. Ultimately, Congress did censure Gosar for the video.


In a statement, the South Dakota Democratic Party Executive Director Berk Ehrmantraut said the party requested Ryder step aside.

The party "has determined it is not appropriate for Mr. Ryder to continue in this race and has requested that he end his candidacy, which he has agreed to do," said Ehrmantraut.

Ryder, a veteran and attorney, had previously mounted unsuccessful campaigns for the South Dakota Legislature in the Black Hills.

Christopher Vondracek is the South Dakota correspondent for Forum News Service. Contact Vondracek at , or follow him on Twitter: @ChrisVondracek .

The state's biggest political leaders have touted inbound migration, so-called "blue state refugees" who flooded South Dakota. But the biggest driver of partisan races this coming summer and fall appears to be a redistricting process, log-jamming Republicans in primaries and opening up new turf for Democrats.

Christopher Vondracek covers South Dakota news for Forum News Service. Email him at or follow him on Twitter at @ChrisVondracek.
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