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It finally happened. Primary voters final rose up and ejected a critical mass of uniparty Republicans in a red state primary. Together with gains in open seats in both chambers of the legislature, the Freedom Caucus and its allies are now poised to be the dominating force within the state, change legislative leadership, and force Gov. Kristi Noem to tack right.

What’s the secret sauce of success where everyone else on the “RINO hunting trail” has thus far failed? Thank the landowners and the greedy green energy pipeline corporatists who raised their anger … and activated their activism.

Although the top leaders in both chambers held onto their seats, the entire dynamic of the legislature has changed.

When Brown County farmer Jared Bossly faced an eminent domain lawsuit from Summit Carbon Solutions, which sought to use his property for a “carbon capture” pipeline under Joe Biden’s Green New Deal, he appealed to Noem for help. “Am I supposed to fight all your battles?” the governor retorted, even though it was her former chief of state signing off on the court filings.

Well, the landowners did fight their own battle in the end — no thanks to Noem and her allies, donors, and lobbyists. It resulted in the defeat of 13 liberal incumbents in the primary and an influx of conservatives willing to fight this senseless pipeline.

Included in the RINO bloodbath was the entire House whip team: J.D. Wangsness, Gary Cammack, Becky Drury, and Kirk Chaffee. In the Senate, four milquetoast Republicans were defeated, including Appropriations Committee chairman Jean Hunhoff, David Johnson, Erin Tobin, and Michael Walsh. Also, the current Senate majority whip, Ryan Maher, tried crossing over to the House but was defeated by a conservative, while a much more conservative challenger picked up his Senate seat.

These were all Senate and House supporters or allies of SB 201, the bill that allows carbon capture pipeline companies to override local ordinances to use eminent domain to build their nonsensical pipeline on private property.

Earlier this year, the House voted down a bill from Rep. Jon Hansen to prohibit private-use eminent domain for carbon pipelines. Every single House incumbent who lost Tuesday night was on the wrong side of that vote. In addition, the Senate picked up at least four Freedom Caucus-aligned members in open seats, and many more won their races in the House.

Although the top leaders in both chambers held onto their seats, the entire dynamic of the legislature has changed, making it unlikely they will keep their leadership positions. Republicans control the Senate 31-4, but only 10 Republicans opposed the pipeline bill. Now, there will easily be close to 20 votes against the pipeline and likely a majority of the caucus against current leadership across the board.

In the House, where conservatives had a stronger position heading into the election, they should be able to replace the leadership easily. In total, 24 out of the 33 Freedom Caucus-aligned candidates won, which is an astounding rate of success for underfunded, often novice, candidates going up against a party apparatus backed by the Chinese-funded Summit Carbon Solutions. Only seven of the 70 current members of the House are Democrats, and several of them are vulnerable in a general election with Trump likely to win the state by a landslide.

Going forward, conservatives have a chance to unite behind new leadership and build for the 2026 gubernatorial primary. Perhaps someone like Rep. Jon Hansen, a lawyer from Del Rapids who was former speaker pro tempore, would make a great candidate for speaker and beyond. He was instrumental in recruiting many of these candidates and has led the fight against the pipeline and COVID-19 tyranny.

Before South Dakota grassroots activists prepare for next year’s legislative session, however, there is unfinished work to be done for the November elections. Noem earlier this year signed the bill allowing Summit to preempt all local ordinances when constructing its carbon pipeline. We cannot wait until next year for relief. Landowners now have two weeks left to finish collecting signatures to place a repeal of SB 201 on the ballot for November. What better way to shape the arc of the general election than by making the race about property rights with voters given the opportunity to choose liberty?

So far, this year’s primaries have been disappointing. An apathetic voter base has generally renominated every single liberal Republican, especially at a federal level. Will South Dakota turn the tide midway through primary season?