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Disturbing social media posts raise questions about SD congressional candidate

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Published: Mar. 2, 2022 at 6:02 PM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. - Ryan Ryder is an Air Force veteran and a lawyer from Black Hawk who is running for South Dakota’s lone congressional seat in 2022, currently held by Representative Dusty Johnson.

“It is pretty exciting, it kind of came together quickly,” Ryder said in an interview shortly after his announcement. “I think we can reach out to a lot of people that I am not normally in contact with about our common goals for making South Dakota better.”

But just hours after his announcement, concerns were raised about several questionable tweets from Ryder’s personal Twitter account.

Many of Ryder’s tweets over the last several years express a strong distaste with South Dakota Republican politicians, both in the state legislature and in Congress.

While many are relatively minute, others are far more controversial.

In one, Ryder suggests that he should make an animated video of Johnson’s family getting killed.

South Dakota Democratic Congressional candidate Ryan Ryder has made several disturbing jokes...
South Dakota Democratic Congressional candidate Ryan Ryder has made several disturbing jokes about Republican politicians in South Dakota prior to announcing his bid for Congress in 2022.(Twitter)

Or in another, Ryder makes jokes about performing sexual acts to a picture of Governor Kristi Noem.

South Dakota Democratic Congressional candidate Ryan Ryder has made several disturbing jokes...
South Dakota Democratic Congressional candidate Ryan Ryder has made several disturbing jokes about Republican politicians in South Dakota prior to announcing his bid for Congress in 2022.(Twitter)

Ryder confirmed that the account and tweets were his, but that context was important. In the tweet about making a graphic video of Dusty Johnson, Ryder said that he was attempting to draw attention to the absurdity of Johnson not voting to censure Representative Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) for creating a cartoon depicting him killing a Democratic member of Congress.

“A lot of these were basically just biting sarcasm, just flippant and rude,” Ryder explained. “A lot of these had important context on them.”

Ryder’s account has since been deactivated. The South Dakota Democratic Party (SDDP), who announced Ryder’s candidacy in a release to media Wednesday morning, says it intends to stand behind Ryder as their candidate heading into 2022.

“Ryan’s lifetime of service and commitment to his community speaks louder than some poorly-worded tweets,” said SDDP Executive Director Berk Ehrmantraut. “I expect Ryan to be the Democratic nominee for Congress.”

South Dakota GOP chair Dan Lederman says he takes issue with that decision.

In a statement, Lederman said that “Democrats should not have picked such a contemptible candidate. If he is going to run for office, Ryder needs to figure out which of his faces he’s going to be talking out of. The one which says he is “not interested in personal attacks or mudslinging,” or the one which says it was “too bad” rioters didn’t get Dusty Johnson on January 6th.”

SD Democratic Congressional Candidate Ryan Ryder is coming under fire for his conduct on social...
SD Democratic Congressional Candidate Ryan Ryder is coming under fire for his conduct on social media prior to his 2022 congressional run.(Twitter)

Ryder says that he posted all of these at a time when he was not running for Congress, and simply wanted to draw attention to issues that are important to him by way of “shock jock” humor.

“Almost all these were either biting sarcasm seeking a response from our elected officials, trying to get them to take an issue more seriously,” Ryder said. “Trying to get them to not blow off their constituents... Why are they not responding to critical issues with the office that they hold?”

Ryder is the only Democratic challenger for South Dakota’s lone congressional seat at this point in time. Johnson also faces a primary challenge from State Representative Taffy Howard (R-Rapid City).

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