A few months ago Kurt Evans, a distance education facilitator in Wessington Springs, announced his intention to run for US Senate as a Libertarian Party candidate. Now it appears he has decided against running for the US Senate.
Unfortunately the expense of a US Senate run is not viable for Evans at this time. This from the Capital Journal:
In an email exchange, Evans told the Capital Journal he made the decision to end his campaign on Wednesday after considering it for approximately two weeks. One of the driving reasons was the financial costs, including money that had to be spent on gathering signatures for a nominating petition.
“The campaign had already cost me as much as I could reasonably afford. The petition drive would have required me to abandon the kids at school and spend thousands of dollars more,” his email said.
To have his name on the ballot, Evans would have been required to collect and turn in 250 signatures from registered Libertarians, after filing a declaration of candidacy, to the Secretary of State’s office by March 25.
While that is only a fraction of the 1,955 signatures a Republican candidate needs or the 1,221 signatures for a Democrat, that still is more than 10 percent of all Libertarian voters in the state. As of the beginning of December there were 1,262 registered Libertarians across the entire state, according to numbers on the Secretary of State’s website.
Evans also said to have a chance of wining he would need the support of a Libertarian super-PAC by September of next year. To attract that type of backing his campaign would need to raise at least $20,000, he said.
Also, without that support the political media in the state would not have taken his campaign seriously, Evans said.
Sadly this is the main reason many third-party and independent candidates are unable to run. 250 signatures does not seem like a lot on paper when compared to the almost 2000 needed for a Republican candidate in the race. Yet the trick is to reach 250 voters registered as Libertarian in South Dakota. Part of the expense is getting the list of registered Libertarian voters from the Secretary of State. Recently I attended Constitution Party of South Dakota event where it was mentioned the Secretary of State’s office was asking about $2500 to get a list of all registered CP voters in the state. The same list only cost them $50 under the previous Secretary of State. I believe this is one of the costs Evans is taking into account when looking at the cost of running. (part of me hopes this is a misunderstanding between the CP Chair and the SOS, $2500 is too much to ask).
Another aspect of this story is that the Libertarian Party of South Dakota must field a candidate in the Governor’s race and gain enough of the vote to retain their Party status in South Dakota. Realistically it would not make sense for any Libertarian to run for office until a gubernatorial candidate can be found that is able to get enough votes. It is also unlikely any national super-PAC would give money to a South Dakota Libertarian for any office is there isn’t a viable gubernatorial candidate running.
Finally what really makes this race hard for Libertarian candidates such as Evans is that most libertarians do not identify with the Libertarian Party; and as such are registered as Republican, Independent, or Democrat. Even with the recent rise of libertarian populism the actual Libertarian Party has not seen much of a boost. Rather there appears to be more of a rise of libertarian thought within the Republican Party, and to a lesser extent within the Democrat Party. Unfortunately any Libertarian candidate in South Dakota (or any state really) is going to have to figure out how to get people to listen to their stances instead of looking simply to see if they are an R or D.
Personally I hope the Libertarian Party is able to field some candidates in the 2014 election. More choices at the ballot is always a good thing. I do however think 2014 will be tough for a Libertarian gubernatorial candidate to get enough votes in order to retain party status. Independent candidate Mike Myers is very libertarian-like and will likely get more votes than anyone the Libertarian Party of South Dakota has to enter the race. I’ve heard it suggested that Myers run as a Democrat (which is basically 3rd party in South Dakota) and give the presumed winner of the Republican primary Daugaard a run for his money. That would be an interesting race.
Evans does say in the Capital Journal article that he plans to run for US Senate in 2016. I think that is a smart move on his part. Entering a race like this will take a lot of work and coordination with other Libertarian Party members. 2016 will also potentially be an ‘open’ seat in the event Thune does not run (I think this is possible, see note below). If he does run in 2016 and Thune is still in the race it will be interesting to see if people try to call Evans a spoiler again. That is the normal attack from those supporting losing candidates against third-parties. Third-party candidates, such as Evans, are not spoilers. It is also worth noting that Evans has not “dropped out” of the 2014 race, he technically never officially entered it. Hopefully he will in 2016.
Note: I think Thune is motioning for a 2016 Presidential bid, but I don’t think he will win the Republican Primary. Yet I do see Thune as one of a handful that could potentially be picked for the VP slot… and even if he is not chosen I would give Thune a very high chance of being chosen for a cabinet or other high position in the White House when a Republican candidate wins the Presidential run in 2016.