This synopsis of the history of the South Dakota Libertarian Party has been composed by Bob Newland.
Sometime after the Libertarian Party was formed at David Nolan's house in Denver in 1971, as a direct result of President Nixon's Wage & Price Control dicta, some folks in South Dakota took a similar tack. Spencer and Darlene Nesson and James Christen of Huron were among the first to attempt to attain ballot status for Libertarian candidates.
Alice Kundert, Secretary of State at the time, made the SDLP go to court to achieve even the right to suggest that there was a point of view in South Dakota that controverted the party lines of the Republicans and Democrats.
By 1992, the SDLP pioneers had fought enough legal battles that the SDLP was able to field candidates. Gus Hercules and Bob Newland, both of the Black Hills area, were the Libertarian nominees for US Senate and House of Representatives, respectively. Their opponents were Charlene Haar and Tom Daschle (Senate) and John Timmer and Tim Johnson (House).
In 1992, the Libertarian Party was the first organized political party--other than Republican and Democrat--to appear on the So. Dak. ballot since 1932. By 1934, the Republicans and Democrats had absorbed so much of the Socialist agenda that there was no longer anything for Socialists to do.
In 1994, Nathan Barton garnered 4.1% of the vote for governor. Bob Newland lost a bid for a SD House seat in District 30. In 1996, James Christen was defeated in the Public Utilities Commission race.
Bob Newland, in 1998, only got 1.7% as the Libertarian nominee for governor. James Christen was the Lt.-Gov. candidate. Unless a political party's candidate for governor gets 2.5% of the vote, that party no longer has access to the ballot, and the party must petition the electorate for ballot access. Byron Dale ran for the US Senate under the Libertarian banner in 1998. Mary Ann Winter was the nominee for Sec. of State and Dorothea Vandenburg ran for Commissioner of School and Public Lands.
Terry Gray ran for SD House in District 16 in 2000, as did Jason Eisenmenger in District 17, and Nathan Barton ran for SD Senate in Dist. 30. Brian Lerohl tried his hand in the US House run.
2002 was a red-letter election year for the SDLP, with the greatest number of offices contested by Libertarians in So. Dak before or since. Nathan Barton was again the Libertarian nominee for governor, with Eric Risty as his running mate. Alex Martin was the nominee for Secretary of State, as was Bill Stone for Commissioner of School and Public Lands, Gwen Caldwell for SD Sen. in Dist. 30, and Terry Begay for US House.
Bob Newland was the nominee for Attorney General in '02. Kurt Evans ran for US Senate against John Thune and Tim Johnson. Johnson won with 524 more votes than Thune. Kurt Evans got over 3000 votes, and almost certainly prevented Thune from winning simply by siphoning off more votes that would have gone to Thune than to Johnson.
Larry Rudebusch ran for SD House in Dist. 4 in 2004. Tony Ryan was a candidate for PUC. Terry Begay ran again for US House.
2006: Larry Rudebusch, US House; Tom Gerber/BetteRose Ryan, Gov./Lt.Gov.; Randy Ristesund, Atty.Genl.; Jade Ager, School and Public Lands; Ben Sutter, PUC; John Anderson, Dist. 30 SD House; Alex Martin, Dist. 19 SD House; Andre Ager, Dist 31 SD House.
2008: Lonnie Budahl, Deuel (County) Conservation Board.
No Libertarians ran as Libertarians in the 2010 So. Dak election.