A lifelong South Dakotan has formed an exploratory committee to run for U.S. House of Representatives, challenging current Republican incumbent Rep. Dusty Johnson.
Toby Doeden, a Republican from Aberdeen, has announced his intentions to challenge Johnson, who has been in Congress for three terms.
A political outsider, text polls commissioned by Doeden’s campaign began circulating among registered South Dakota voters Saturday — asking participants if they would support Doeden’s prospective bid to oust Johnson.
A native of northeastern South Dakota, Doeden has been active in the area’s business community for several years. He owns the Aberdeen Chrysler Center and several other businesses and rental properties in the area operating under the name Plaza Rentals.
Doeden said his status as a political outsider is what he believes could make him an attractive alternative to voters.
“I can no longer stand by and watch what politicians are doing to this country,” Doeden said. “Putting other countries first, wasting tax dollars, devaluing our currency and infringing on our property rights.”
Billing himself as a “family man, strong conservative and successful businessman,” Doeden says he takes issue with a number of votes by Johnson during his tenure in Congress.
“If I ran my companies like Dusty and the other clowns run Congress, I’d be out of business,” he said, laying out seven blemishes on Johnson’s record. “If someone doesn’t step up, we will keep getting more of the same hogwash from turncoat Dusty.”
Doeden’s list of grievances against Johnson, per a news release, are that:
- Voted to draft our daughters.
- Voted against (Donald) Trump’s border wall.
- Voted for red flag gun confiscation laws.
- Voted for the Select January 6th Committee.
- Voted to send billions of dollars to Ukraine.
- Voted to keep Liz Cheney, who betrayed Trump and the American people, in leadership.
- Boycotted President Trump’s September 2023 rally in Rapid City.
Doeden, who is married with four children, contends Johnson campaigns as a conservative and votes like a liberal.
In a response, Johnson defended himself.
“My record speaks for itself. I’m proud of the work I’ve done in the last five years to secure our border, cut spending and fix a very broken Washington, D.C.,” he said in a statement.
Dusty Johnson has not been challenged since 2018
Touted as a problem solver on Capitol Hill, Johnson has enjoyed broad support with the general electorate in the Rushmore State — he has not faced a challenge from a major party candidate in a general election since 2018.
However, the Mitchell native has also faced conservative critics at home. That opposition came to a head when former state Rep. Taffy Howard’s undermanned and underfunded campaign put up a surprising 41% against Johnson in the 2022 Republican primary.
Anti-Johnson sentiments have continued to simmer within a subsection of the Republican Party since then. More recently, Johnson — along with other statewide elected officials — have faced criticism for not weighing in on the side of landowners during the carbon pipeline debate. Although Congress doesn’t have authority over local pipeline issues, Johnson is a former commissioner on the Public Utilities Commission.
Doeden is not the only Republican angling for a spot on the ballot against Johnson in 2024. Justin McNeal of Rapid City and Patrick Schubert of Box Elder have also filed to challenge the incumbent.
Scott Waltman of The Aberdeen Insider contributed to this report.