SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson faced an unknown and unfunded Libertarian candidate on Tuesday as he sought a third term in South Dakota’s only House seat.
Johnson’s path for reelection seemed assured with Democrats not fielding a candidate. Ryan Ryder, a lawyer, withdrew in March after coming under scrutiny for tweets he made from a personal account. The 46-year-old Johnson still faces Libertarian Collin Duprel, who did not report raising or spending any money in the campaign.
Johnson and Duprel met in a single debate in which the incumbent suggested he would vote for a federal bill to restrict abortions. Duprel said that he opposes abortion but believes it should be legal. South Dakota had a trigger law that took effect to ban abortions after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Duprel, a rancher, also argued he would best represent the state’s agricultural interests in Congress. Johnson countered that he has experience in rural development and claimed he has a “proven track record of getting things done.”
Johnson has tried to shore up his conservative credentials in heavily Republican South Dakota while saying he’s focused on policy over political brawling. During his time in the House, he has worked for bipartisan agreements as part of a group known as the “Problem Solvers Caucus.”
The House seat was not always a lock for Johnson. He faced a competitive primary against a right-wing challenger in state lawmaker Taffy Howard that attracted spending from several national political action committees.