Kurt Evans speaking at the South Dakota Libertarian Convention, Sioux Falls, SD, August 9, 2014. Photo by Ken Santema.

Kurt Evans speaking at the South Dakota Libertarian Convention, Sioux Falls, SD, August 9, 2014. Photo by Ken Santema.

Kurt Evans plans to run for U.S. Senate in 2016. Evans will seek office as an Independent. He is the first candidate to declare for any of South Dakota's three statewide offices in 2016 (U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and Chris Nelson's seat on the Public Utilities Commission). Evans will run for the seat currently occupied by Senator John Thune, the GOP's number-three man in the upper chamber.

Evans is running because of his concerns about privacy and civil liberties. Evans says the intelligence community has been unconstitutionally seizing our telephone and Internet data. Evans predicts he would be "less inclined than Senator Thune to accept the intelligence community's self-justifying propaganda at face value."

On the economy, Evans is less worried about fiscal policy and more worried about monetary policy and the dastardly Fed: according to Evans, the Federal Reserve is inflating the money supply, which will lead to hyperinflation and the destruction of the dollar... unless Senator Evans can stop them.

On foreign policy, Evans opposes "meddling in the affairs of other nations, especially in the Middle East."

These positions support Evans's self-description as a "reasonably consistent pro-life libertarian," but notice he's not capitalizing that l. Evans says he will run as an Independent. He ran unsuccessfully for state auditor under the Liberatarian banner this year ("unsuccessful Libertarian"—that's redundant, right?). South Dakota Libertarians lost their official party status this year after failing to field a gubernatorial candidate. Evans is hanging onto his libertarian philosophy, but he says he has left the Libertarian organization "mainly due to a lack of honest communication by the members of the state party's executive committee." (Communication may be complicated by the fact that, prior to the November election, one of the five SDLP board members appears to have returned to his permanent home in Texas. Following the election, the party chair also left the state, for Colorado.)

Evans ran for Senate as a Libertarian in 2002 against Thune and incumbent Tim Johnson. He ended his campaign in late October, but his name remained on the ballot, and he drew 3,070 votes, six times the slim 532-vote margin of victory by which Thune failed to beat Johnson.

Evans thinks he can poll much better in 2016, based on the lessons of the 2014 Senate race. By Evans's read, this year's run by Larry Pressler showed that Independent candidates can at least poll in the double digits (Pressler broke 17%, far from a win, but better than any recent non-major-party Senate candidate in South Dakota). Evans reads a different lesson in the more typically low-polling (3%) Independent bid by Gordon Howie: "announcing after another non-major-party candidate has already entered the race creates a significant disadvantage."

Like Pressler, Evans will need to craft pitches that will appeal across party lines. Evans says he can win Republican votes with most of his domestic policy. He will pitch his foreign policy and positions on civil liberties to Democrats. He hopes his overall approach to politics will appeal to Independents. "Under most circumstances, though," says Evans, "I try to avoid thinking of people in groups."

Evans sees ill in grouping and labeling people. But even he can slip. As he gets ready to run, Evans acknowledges his own fallibility and asks our forgiveness:

I believe it's wrong to use pejorative labels that devalue and dehumanize other people, but last month I referred to Pat Powers as a 'Mary-worshipping douchebag' in an anonymous comment at South Dakota War College. I apologize to my fellow participants in South Dakota's political blogosphere for that very bad decision [Kurt Evans, e-mail to Madville Times, 2014.12.17].

Evans recognizes the value of respectful, intelligent, issue-oriented conversation, and he's willing to apologize when he slips from that standard. Let's hope he holds to that standard as he works to build a Senate campaign that he can sustain through November 8, 2016.

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While Mike Rounds's apologists whine and wheedle, Libertarian Kurt Evans offers an apt response to the GOP Senate candidate's deceptive dodge on his irresponsible promotion of Northern Beef Packers and the EB-5 visa investment program:

[DISCLAIMER: The following comment is intended ironically.]

EB-5 is the greatest federal job-creation program ever invented. Without it your children would be starving. And Mike Rounds didn’t have anything to do with it. It was invented by liberal Democrats like Rick Weiland’s political mentor Tom Daschle.

Rounds didn’t run EB-5. And he didn’t appoint Richard Benda. And he didn’t hire Dick Wadhams. And he definitely doesn’t preapprove these nasty press releases.

And those air molecules you’re breathing in Aberdeen? They wouldn’t have been there for you if the Northern Beef construction equipment hadn’t slightly altered the wind currents.

Liberal Obama Democrat Rick Weiland wants everyone in Aberdeen to suffocate.

Keep it classy, Manager Mike [Kurt Evans, comment, Dakota War College, 2014.09.05].

Mike Rounds backed a boondoggle with a boondoggle. He can only defend his failure with flim-flam. Good call, Kurt!

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Libertarian Kurt Evans confirms tonight that he has changed his mind. The Wessington Springs man is suspending his bid to become Commissioner of School and Public Lands and now seeks the South Dakota Libertarian Party's nomination for attorney general.

Evans is not an attorney. He says that there remain at least two licensed lawyers who may throw their hats into the Libertarian ring for the AG's nomination. In the event a lawyer does enter the race, Evans says it is "possible but unlikely" that he will withdraw from the race.

Evans is one of a handful of Libertarians who have publicly expressed opposition to the AG candidacy of Chad Haber, a Republican with no law degree who announced his desire for the SDLP nomination in early July.

Evans notes with some amusement that he is making history by announcing his candidacy on an opponent's blog. I have indeed stated that, if the Libertarians have no suitable alternative, I would offer my services to their party as a nominee against Haber. However, I have stated that I would happily defer to a lawyer, a Libertarian, or even "none of the above" as ably recommended by Libertarian Ken Santema. Kurt Evans is an authentic Libertarian with statewide campaign experience. Evans is thus eminently more qualified for the SDLP nomination than this liberal Democrat or that other guy, whatever he is. Evans and I may oppose each other on various issues, but to his candidacy for the Libertarian nomination for attorney general, I offer no opposition.

The South Dakota Libertarian Party holds its convention on Saturday, August 9, 10:00 a.m., at the Sioux Falls downtown library.

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Chad Haber's unverified candidacy (Haber has yet to make any public statement about the political intentions announced by his wife's paid political story-ginner Lee Stranahan) for the Libertarian nomination for attorney general is drawing more confirmed opposition. Kurt Evans, a Libertarian who ran for U.S. Senate in 2002 and considered running for this year's open Senate seat, tells the Madville Times that he will challenge Haber for the Libertarian AG nomination if no other candidates stand for that position. However, Evans says he believes someone else is likely to run against Haber. Besides, Evans tells this blog he would rather run for commission of school and public lands.*

Evans says he has heard of two other potential candidates, both attorneys, but he is not naming them at this point. Sioux Falls Libertarian activist and consultant Emmett Reistroffer may be recruiting one of those candidates, a local professor, who may seek the AG nod.

Reistroffer explains his candidate recruitment as an explicit repudiation of Haber's Libertarian credentials. Evans does not go that far. He says his potential candidacy is "more about having the best possible candidates, not only for the future of the party but also for the future of the state and nation."

Evans would be a better possible Libertarian candidate than Haber, given first of all that he is a registered Libertarian with statewide campaign experience. Evans last year held a job as distance education facilitator. According to the income disclosure filed by Annette Bosworth for her fake Senate campaign last year, her husband Chad Haber has held no paid employment in the last two years. Plus, Evans is not known to have participated in any mortgage-flipping schemes or refused to pay back a $200,000 personal loan.

However, an Evans bid for attorney general would flounder like a Haber bid since neither man has a law degree. Evans has a bachelor's degree in math and education from South Dakota State University (Represent! Evans and I graduated from that department just one year apart!). Haber attended the University of South Dakota, where he appears to have majored in fraternizing while seeking an MRS. Neither Evans nor Haber has a law degree or a license to practice law. A big part of the attorney general's job is to represent the state in court, and South Dakota law requires that anyone who represents anyone else in court must have a law license. Neither Evans or Haber could do that job.

But we now have two registered Libertarians saying they will oppose a Haber candidacy (if there is a real Haber candidacy to oppose) and that there are bona fide lawyers considering seeking the Libertarian nomination for attorney general.

Update 2014.07.15 23:27 CDT: Kurt Evans notes the comment section on a later post that the SDLP has four potential law-degree-bearing candidates for attorney general. No names yet. Evans also says he's confident enough that at least one of those potentials will go kinetic that he is announcing his candidacy for commissioner of school and public lands.

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Last month I thought I had a brilliant idea: get Libertarian candidate Kurt Evans to conditionally back Republican Rep. Stace Nelson in the GOP Senate primary. Nelson gets synergy with Libertarian-leaners (who already make up a chunk of his campaign team); Evans gets to build his party in active primary organizing; both men improve their chances of fighting the Rounds-corporate-fascist threat to our liberty.

So much for that idea. Evans had a conversation with Nelson last week. Kurt Evans reports that an Evans–Nelson alliance is "unlikely," given his impression that neither party seems to believe that Evans can do much to help Nelson.

Evans has a slight preference for the policies and personality of GOP primary challenger Larry Rhoden. Evans says the state senator from Union Center "seems to be unusually careful (especially by campaign standards) to adhere to the literal truth, as well as to follow the Golden Rule in his dealings with his political opponents." Evans is thus picking the wrong Republican. Nelson's temperament and policies align better with South Dakota's Libertarians than do Rhoden's. Nelson is an outsider; Rhoden is a GOP leadership insider.

If Evans's assessment of Rhoden's character is accurate, then he's leaning toward a Republican who doesn't stand a chance of decoronating Marion Michael Rounds. No Republican following the Golden Rule (is that synonymous with Reagan/Parkinson 11th Commandment?) will out-smile or out-polite insurance salesman Rounds. The only way to beat the Rounds-Wadhams machine is to knock it out with all the ferocity that it will try to knock you out (wishing well won't stop Wadhams from doing unto you whatever it thinks necessary).

Evans may rightly keep his campaign clear of Republican Party politics and focus simply on reaching Libertarian voters to get on the ballot. But in an election cycle when the number of voters seeking an alternative to the two main parties is surging, and when the number of registered Libertarians isn't enough to sell out the Corn Palace, Evans should look for every chance he can get to raise his party's profile and organize new members. A conditional primary alliance with the one declared Republican who best reflects the policies and temperament of South Dakota Libertarians would give current and potential Libertarians a campaign to get excited about.

Stace Nelson could help Evans inspire, recruit, and train new Libertarians; uninspiring GOP insider Rhoden will not. Libertarians, you're on your own!

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The standard punchline to anyone's call for an effective third party in South Dakota is, "Heck, it'd be nice if we had a two-party system."

Now that that's out of our system, let's talk about the Libertarian Party and the return of Kurt Evans as a Libertarian candidate for Senate.

The Libertarian Party of South Dakota has yet to show any sign of being able to put together an effective campaign organization. I suspect that's a genetic flaw: Libertarians believe things just happen, by the Invisible Hand, luck, what have you, so they just can't bring themselves to build a political party with officers and rules and formal procedures for raising money and getting out the vote.

Nonetheless, Kurt Evans wants to try again. We could speculate about his motives and mental state (now, be nice: I'll bet any of the other declared candidates will tell you that you have to be a little crazy to subject yourself to a statewide campaign), but let's take the Evans candidacy at face value. Let's assume Evans wants to promote the ideals of liberty and limited government that drive him to identify as a Libertarian. Let's say also that his intentions include building the Libertarian Party into an effective political force.

Instead of waiting until the last week of the election, Kurt Evans should suspend his Senate campaign now and actively support Rep. Stace Nelson in the GOP primary. Here's how this works for the Libertarian Party's goals:

  1. Stace Nelson already has a bunch of Ron Paul Libertarians (like my crazy cousin Aaron) on his team. His rhetoric and record are the closest to Libertarianism of any declared Republican in the race.
  2. Nelson is the most inclined of the GOP candidates to reach out to other parties. Rhoden is a creature of the party machine. Rounds is the machine. Nelson has built his reputation on challenging the machine and putting principle over party. He'll accept any help Evans can offer.
  3. Nelson has a better chance of beating Rounds in June than Evans does of beating Rounds in November. Efforts on behalf of Nelson in the primary are more likely to pay off.
  4. Evans can build his party by organizing existing Libertarians and recruiting new members to put up signs, go door to door, and get out the vote for Nelson in June.
  5. If Nelson wins in June, the Libertarians build on their organizing momentum and enjoy the gratitude of a GOP underdog who beat the big money machine with their help.
  6. If Nelson loses, the Libertarians still run Evans and run better because of the networking and campaign practice of the primary season. They massively increase their vote count by appealing to all those disappointed and principled Nelson voters with whom they made friends in the spring.
What do you say, Libertarians? You probably won't have a primary of your own, so why not use the GOP primary as a party-building exercise... with the possible added bonus of a bank-shot victory for a candidate who would carry more of your message to Washington?
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