Gideon Oakes, the chair of the South Dakota Libertarian Party and who in 2018 received the third-best result ever for a Libertarian Party legislative candidate running in a three-way race with a Democrat and Republican (18.2%), was featured in an article on Newscenter1, the website of KNBN-TV, the NBC affiliate in western South Dakota, on April 21, 2020:
Gideon Oakes announced Tuesday that he is seeking the state senate seat currently held by Sen. Lance Russell.
Sen. Russell has opted to run instead for Fall River County State’s Attorney, leaving the District 30 Senator’s seat open. Gideon Oakes, 34, is a Keystone area real estate agent and former restaurateur who currently serves as chairman of the Libertarian Party of South Dakota. He and his wife, Mary, have two children.
Oakes was elected twice to the Keystone Board of Trustees between 2012 and 2016, he has also served on the Keystone Fire Protection District as well as the boards of several civic organizations including Black Hills & Badlands Association, Keystone Economic Development Association, Holy Terror Days Association and United Way of the Southern Black Hills.
Oakes first ran for the seat in 2018 against Lance Russell, a Republican, and Kristine Ina Winter, a Democrat.
“We brought a unifying message that resonated with Republicans, Democrats, Independents and Libertarians alike,” Oakes said. “And we’re going to do the same thing in 2020. If there’s one thing we need during these trying times, it’s unity.”
This year, with no Democrats in the race and no GOP incumbent, Oakes is optimistic about his chances. Once nominated at his party’s state convention in May, he will go head to head in November with the winner of the June primary between Rep. Julie Frye-Muller of Rapid City and Hot Springs Mayor George Kotti.
“Over the years, I’ve watched many principled candidates go to Pierre, only to be brought in line by their party leadership. And, I’ve also seen candidates go to Pierre with such a narrow agenda that they become a voice for only a select few,” Oakes said. “I will always put principle before party, and above all, I will always listen.”
Oakes said he and his team knocked on more than 3,500 doors across the district during his 2018 run. District 30 includes Fall River and Custer counties and most of Pennington County outside of Rapid City and Box Elder, stretching from the Wyoming border to east of Wall.
Repeating that feat, however, may prove difficult during the current pandemic.
“Hopefully people remember the conversations we had on their doorsteps two years ago,” Oakes said. “Nobody wants the election to be defined by illness, but the political landscape is remarkably different this year. The one thing COVID-19 doesn’t change, though, is the fact that our success will depend on how many of our neighbors we can reach.”
Oakes’ campaign website, ElectOakes.com, lists the candidate’s phone number and encourages voters to call, text or video chat with questions.
The only Libertarian Party candidate who finished better than Mr. Oakes in a three-way legislative race with a Democrat and Republican on the ballot was Andre Marrou of Alaska. He was elected to the state legislature in 1984 with 40% of the vote. In 1986, he finished second, also in a three-way race with a Democrat and Republican, with 36%.