SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Despite not winning any races, the chairman of the South Dakota Libertarian Party said he was proud of what the state’s smallest recognized political party was able to accomplish in the 2022 election. 

“We’ve officially doubled in size since 2016,” Greg Baldwin told KELOLAND News. “Our candidates were pulling in some new registered Libertarians.” 

In 2016, the Libertarian Party in South Dakota became officially recognized as a political party by the state and a 2018 lawsuit helped the party gain ballot access after a federal judge ruled South Dakota’s ballot access laws were too restrictive for newly-qualifying parties. That led the Libertarian Party to place candidates for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, governor, secretary of state and state auditor in 2022.  

The party has grown from 1,395 registered voters when it became recognized in July 2016 to 2,801 registered voters in November 2022. Baldwin said at least one Libertarian Party candidate needed to earn at least 2.5% of the vote for the party to maintain ballot access. 

“All of our statewide candidates perform better than that (2.5%),” Baldwin said. “That maintains our ballot access through 2026.” 

U.S. House candidate Collin Duprel received 23% of the votes against Republican incumbent Dusty Johnson. That was the highest vote amount of any Libertarian Party U.S. House candidate and better than the 19% Randy Luallin received in 2020 against Johnson. Democrats did not field candidates against Johnson in 2020 or 2022.   

“I hate to say it, but partisan politics is definitely alive and well in South Dakota,” Baldwin said. “It’s overwhelmingly red. You can see that with all the numbers on Election Day.” 

In 2022, Republicans added more than 17,000 registered voters, while registered independents increased by 5,130, Libertarians increased by nearly 200 and registered Democrat voters fell by more than 1,000. 

“I’d like to see more independent candidates,” Baldwin said. “Independents are a huge voting block in South Dakota. If anyone is willing to cross party lines to vote, those people should be the ones but when you look at some of the numbers it does seem like they’re still kind of voting a certain way.” 

Baldwin said many Libertarians heard good things about Duprel and he said the party would support him if he decided to run for any office again. 

After the June primary, Baldwin said his goal for the Libertarian Party in South Dakota was to earn a state legislature seat. Two Libertarian candidates – Sean Natchke in District 29 and Darren Freidel in District 33 – lost to Republican candidates. Baldwin said Freidel’s 24% of the vote was the second-best a Libertarian candidate has received. 

“Going forward, I think that’s where we’re gonna try to focus on. These opportunities where there are more one-on-one races,” Baldwin said. 

Baldwin said all the Libertarian candidates endorsed Initiated Measure 27 which would have legalized marijuana in South Dakota. 

“It did lose by six-percent this year. I blame that on being a midterm election with 15% less voter turnout,” Baldwin said. “That 15% would have made a huge difference. Local elections matter.”  

Baldwin said the Libertarian Party will elect new officers next summer and recruiting candidates will be a priority for 2024.