The Constitution Party of South Dakota yesterday announced that Kurt Evans will seek our tiniest official party’s nomination for Governor in 2018. The CP notes that while Evans is mostly known as a Libertarian candidate, he was a delegate to the party’s second national convention in 1996, when the CP was still known as the U.S. Taxpayers Party and when they nominated party founder Howard Phillips for his second bid for the White House. Evans returned to the CP last year when he stood for their late Senate nomination.
I asked Evans what he’ll bring to the race that the other five declared candidates (four Republicans, one Democrat) cannot. Evans replied, “I understand the unintended consequences of restricting individual liberty in ways the other candidates don’t…. I’ll be able to convey that understanding to my fellow South Dakotans in ways the other candidates won’t.”
Among things the other candidates have that Evans doesn’t is a large signature requirement for his nominating petition, which he can start circulating January 1. Gubernatorial candidates must usually collect signatures equal to at least one percent of the votes that their party’s gubernatorial candidate got in the last election (SDCL 12-6-7). For Republicans, that’s 1,955 signatures; for Demcorats, 706. However, the CP didn’t field a gubernatorial candidate in 2014. Draft legislation under consideration by the state Board of Elections will allow the CP to maintain the recognized party status it reclaimed by petition in 2016 thanks to fielding other statewide candidates in 2014. Evans will thus be petitioning as a candidate for a “new” party, meaning he’ll only need 250 signatures (SDCL 12-5-1.4).
Of course, there are only 475 CP members statewide (136 in Minnehaha County, 87 in Pennington, 33 in Meade, 30 in Lincoln…), so Evans will need to secure the signatures of over half of his party members to make the ballot… or he could recruit 250 new members to register CP and sign his petition and increase the size of his forever fourth-place party by 53%.
Update 2017.09.26 05:12 CDT: Evans responds to my note about the signature requirement by contending that “registering 250 new Constitution Party members or tracking down 250 of the party’s existing members scattered throughout the state is actually a more difficult and expensive signature requirement than finding 706 Democrats…. [I]f the Constitution Party prevails in a pending ballot-access lawsuit, South Dakota will no longer be able to prohibit candidates for governor from being nominated at their state party conventions.”