South Dakota US House candidate Ryan Ryder under scrutiny for tweets

Ryan Ryder
Ryan Ryder

Update: Ryan Ryder has announced he has withdrawn from running for U.S. House. See the latest story here.

A Democratic candidate for South Dakota’s only congressional seat is coming under scrutiny for tweets he made from his personal account before he considered running for public office.

Ryan Ryder is an Air Force veteran and lawyer from Black Hawk running for the seat held by Republican Rep. Dusty Johnson.

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

In an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday, Ryder said the tweet was meant as sarcasm and was in response to Johnson’s vote in November against censuring Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar for a violent cartoon video that depicted killing a character that looked like New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Ryder told the AP that he was a frustrated citizen who wanted an explanation and answers from Johnson and other politicians. He has deactivated his personal Twitter account. He said his tweets were inappropriate and “certainly not professional, but I’m hoping it leads to more transparency and answers from our elected officials."

Earlier: South Dakota Rep. Dusty Johnson announces he's seeking third term in US House

Dakota News Now reported that many of Ryder’s tweets over the last several years expressed a dislike for South Dakota Republican politicians. In one tweet, he joked about performing sexual acts to a picture of Gov. Kristi Noem.

Democratic state Rep. Jamie Smith, who is running for governor, distanced himself from Ryder on Thursday, saying he didn't know him or support him.

“I do not condone them in any way, shape or form," he said of the tweets. “It's not how I treat people. It's not what I do.”

The South Dakota Democratic Party has said it intends to stand behind Ryder. South Dakota GOP chair Dan Lederman said in a statement that Democrats should not have picked such a “contemptible candidate.”

This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: South Dakota U.S. House candidate Ryan Ryder under scrutiny for tweets