South Dakota US House candidate withdraws over tweets
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A Democratic candidate for South Dakota’s only U.S. House seat said he is withdrawing his candidacy Thursday after coming under scrutiny for tweets he made from his personal account before he considered running for public office.
Ryan Ryder, an Air Force veteran and lawyer from Black Hawk, was running for the seat held by Republican Rep. Dusty Johnson.
The South Dakota Democratic Party said it requested that Ryder drop his candidacy. In one of Ryder’s tweets, he suggested that he should make an animated video of Johnson’s family getting killed.
“I am withdrawing from the race,” Ryder told The Associated Press. When asked why, he said: “These tweets were a poor attempt at sarcasm (and) humor. And they crossed the line and I apologized to the state and the party and I don’t want them to reflect badly on the party.”
His campaign website was not publicly accessible Thursday.
In an earlier interview with the AP on Thursday, Ryder said he made the tweet in response to Johnson’s vote in November against censuring Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar for a violent cartoon video that depicted killing a character that looked like New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Dakota News Now reported that many of Ryder’s tweets over the last several years expressed a dislike for South Dakota Republican politicians. In one tweet, he made a remark about performing sexual acts to a picture of Gov. Kristi Noem.
Democratic state Rep. Jamie Smith, who is running for governor, distanced himself from Ryder on Thursday, saying he didn’t know him or support him.
“I do not condone them in any way, shape or form,” he said of the tweets. “It’s not how I treat people. It’s not what I do.”
South Dakota GOP chair Dan Lederman said in a statement that Democrats should not have picked such a “contemptible candidate.”
The South Dakota Democratic Party initially said it intends to stand behind Ryder. Chair Randy Seiler later said in a statement that Ryder’s tweets “do not live up to the values of the South Dakota Democratic Party, and we do not support this type of language.”
Associated Press writer Amy Forliti in Minneapolis contributed to this report.