Johnson, Duprel stake out position on social issues
The two candidates for South Dakota’s lone seat in the United States House of Representatives debated for just over an hour Thursday. Duprel pushed Johnson to defend his voting record on issues like federal spending, gay marriage, and abortion.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB) hosted the only debate of this election cycle for South Dakota’s lone House seat Thursday.
That debate, between incumbent Republican Dusty Johnson of Mitchell and Libertarian Collin Duprel of Sturgis, allowed both candidates a chance to differentiate themselves for voters, particularly on social issues.
Primary among the social issues which the candidates pushed each other on was abortion. Currently, South Dakota’s “trigger law” that went into effect after Roe v. Wade was struck down prevents abortion in nearly every instance.
“I am unapologetically pro-life, I believe that is a life in the womb and that it is worthy of protection,” Johnson said during the debate. “And the reality is, that is the approach we take with life when it is out of the womb too.”
Duprel, 30, described himself as “personally pro-life,” but dubious of using the government to restrict access to abortion.
“We both have kind of drawn our line on the sand on this issue, and this will help South Dakota voters decide,” Duprel explained. “They decided in 2006 and 2008 that they were going to keep it legal, and that is what I am going to do too.”
Johnson was also asked specifically about his opposition to a Democrat backed bill in the House that would have protected the right to gay marriage.
“Gay marriage is the law of the land... I know some people are trying to raise some concerns that may not be the case, but eight of our nine US Supreme Court Justices affirm that it is the law of the land.” Johnson also accused Congressional Democrats of using the bill to play partisan politics.
“I think that the right for people to marry whoever they want is an American right, that is the reality,” Duprel responded. “We shouldn’t get to dictate to people what they do in their private lives. And in the ninety seconds that my opponent was given to answer that question (about passing a bill to protect gay marriage), he spent most of his time avoiding the actual question.”
While Duprel faces a narrow path to victory, Johnson enjoys a consistently high popularity rating amongst South Dakotans and a much larger war chest, he is the only thing that stands between Johnson and a third term in the US House. The Democrat candidate for the office dropped out shortly after announcing.
Accordingly, he’s looked to build a base of voters made up of disenchanted Republicans, Democrats and Independents.
“I am not a Republican, I am not a Democrat, I am a Libertarian,” Duprel explained. “That means when I go to DC, I am going to be in the power position because both main parties are going to want to work with me, and they will want my vote. And the reality is, the Majority Leader and the Minority Leader are not going to give me marching orders. I am going to make a vote for South Dakota every time.”
To watch the full debate, click here.
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