PIERRE, S.D. — A conservative state legislator from Rapid City who has courted election conspiracy theories has announced her intent to primary U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson for the Republican nomination next year.
Johnson holds South Dakota's lone House seat in Washington, D.C.
Rep. Taffy Howard, a three-term state legislator representing Rapid City's western side, declared her congressional bid this week in a stop in Sioux Falls, though she later canceled an event south of Rapid City due to winter weather.
"Officially I am all in," said Howard, standing in a snowy forest in a video she posted to Facebook. "We need to restore South Dakota values to D.C. We need to restore integrity to elections, we need to stop the invasion at our southern border, and we need to stop deficit spending and fix the debt."
Taffy, an Air Force veteran, earlier this year introduced a bill to make public the cost of Gov. Kristi Noem's State Highway Patrol security detail, a push that put her at odds with her party's leadership.
In the Statehouse in Pierre, Howard saw none of her bills — including measures to create a new trust fund for the state for unclaimed property — make it into law. She did co-sponsor, with dozens of other legislators, a measure to require doctors to practice life-saving medical efforts for an infant in the event of botched abortions.
While her reputation as a party-bucking politician may serve her well with conservative critics of the state GOP party brass, she's also latched onto disproven theories about election fraud in the 2020 presidential contest, telling the Associated Press this week she believes the November election "needs to be investigated."
Howard was also spotted by a reporter attending an event in Sioux Falls this summer hosted by election fraudster Mike Lindell that ultimately ended in disappointment for attendees when promised evidence of election irregularities never materialized.
Incumbent Rep. Johnson voted to certify the Electoral College votes from Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia, acknowledging the election victory by President Joe Biden.
According to Howard's campaign, she raised over $100,000 as she explored a run for Congress the last few months. By comparison, Johnson has $1.5 million cash on hand, according to his end-of-June report.