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‘I must abide by all rules and laws:’ Manhart withdraws from House race after Democrats challenge residency

The South Dakota Democratic Party called Manhart's withdrawal the "ethical thing" to do.

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Logan Manhart helped draw attention to the UW-Eau Claire College Republicans voter registration table on campus in Eau Claire on Tuesday, September 28, 2021, as part of National Voter Registration Day.
Dan Reiland / Eau Claire Leader-Telegram
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BATH, S.D. — A 23-year-old has announced he will withdraw his candidacy for the South Dakota House of Representatives after his campaign came under fire with allegations that he violated the state’s residency requirements.

Logan Manhart, a Republican from Bath, issued a statement Wednesday, just one day after the state’s primary election, announcing the withdrawal.

“After consulting with my legal counsel as well as my friends and family, I have made the decision that it’s in the best interest for all for me to withdraw from the race,” Manhart said in a statement posted on Twitter. “During the past two weeks, I have explored every legal and political option at my disposal and at the end of the day I must abide by all rules and laws that have been set forth for this position.”

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A map of South Dakota's Legislative districts. This map has been adopted by the Legislature, and will be effective beginning in the 2023 term.
Map courtesy of the South Dakota Legislative Research Council

A northeastern South Dakota native, Manhart attended college in Wisconsin, where he actively voted and took part in campaigns for other Wisconsin candidates. After graduating from college, he moved back home to Bath, where he later filed his petition to run for a seat in the South Dakota House of Representatives.

According to a search of Wisconsin’s voter registration and records, Manhart voted in a Wisconsin election as recently as April 2021. Wisconsin’s election laws dictate a voter must be a resident of the state.

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In a May lawsuit, one of Manhart’s Democratic challengers asked a judge to temporarily prohibit the South Dakota Secretary of State’s office from certifying Manhart’s unchallenged advance to the general election on the basis of alleged residency violations.

“In order for Manhart to have voted in Wisconsin in April of 2021, he had to be a resident of Wisconsin for the 28 days preceding that election and could not have been a resident of South Dakota on April 6, 2021,” the lawsuit read. “... As such, Manhart does not meet the eligibility requirements set forth by the South Dakota Constitution to hold the office of representative because he ‘has not been a resident of the state for two years next preceding election’ as required by art. III, § 3.”

Manhart, who has not responded to multiple requests for comment from multiple media organizations across South Dakota, called the allegations “misinformation,” but did not explicitly deny allegations that his candidacy was in violation of the law.

“While I take full responsibility for the ramifications of this decision [to withdraw], I believe that each voter should be able to compare the candidates on their merit, free of the negativity and misinformation spread by others regarding my candidacy,” Manhart said.

Despite his withdrawal, Manhart reaffirmed that he’ll continue keeping an eye on the election while remaining a South Dakota resident.

“Make no mistake, I plan to remain here in my home in South Dakota and help elect the candidates who stand with the conservative values we believe in,” Manhart said. “Moving forward, I will be paying close attention to how things shake out in both the 2022 midterms and the 2024 presidential election. … The race may be over for me, but the fight for the cause has just begun.”

A representative from the Secretary of State’s office said she’s uncertain if Manhart’s withdrawal has officially been processed. When the withdrawal process is complete, Democrats will be guaranteed to win at least one of two House seats up for election in District 1.

In a statement, Randy Seiler, chair of the South Dakota Democratic Party, said Manhart's decision was the right choice for democracy.

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“I am glad to see that Logan Manhart did the legal and ethical thing and withdrew from the District 1 House of Representatives race. He was clearly legally ineligible, as defined in the South Dakota Constitution, to seek this seat," Seiler said. "This is the right outcome for our democratic process and ensures everyone plays by the same rules, no matter their party affiliation. Thank you to our lawyer Matthew Tysdal whose excellent work made this possible.”

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Dunteman covers general and breaking news as well as crime in the Mitchell Republic's 17-county coverage area. He grew up in Harrisburg, and has lived in South Dakota for over 20 years. He joined the Mitchell Republic in June 2021 after earning his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He can be reached at HDunteman@MitchellRepublic.com, or on Twitter @HRDunt.
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