RURAL CASTLEWOOD — U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., officially kicked off her gubernatorial campaign Monday afternoon with an announcement at Kones Korner.
With her announcement, Noem formally entered a Republican primary field that feature her and South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley as the frontrunners, with former state legislator Lora Hubbel also in the mix. The Republican nominee will likely go up against Democratic South Dakota Senate Leader Billie Sutton in the general election.
All are vying to succeed incumbent Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who is facing term limits.
In her announcement to the crowd packed into the firearms dealer 3 miles north of her family’s ranch and 12 miles south of Watertown, Noem praised South Dakota.
“We’ve got a pretty phenomenal state. We’ve got low taxes, great communities, families that love each other and the Lord,” she said.
But, Noem said, the state does have transparency and economic stagnation issues.
“We do have communities within our state that have been in poverty and destitution for generations. We’re not real transparent as a state government,” she said. “We shouldn’t be making headlines for scandals, mismanagement and million-dollar lawsuits, which is what we’re doing today.”
Noem’s announcement signals a new phase in what has largely been a quiet primary battle.
Acknowledging the low-key tone, Noem told reporters, “These primaries tend to be this way: Once you get into the new year, that’s when you start your campaign actively. I think folks will start to see more activity on the campaign side, including maybe more contrasting between the candidates. I think it will be a very friendly campaign, but I also think it will be where people start to notice differences. I want people to have as much information about what I will do if I’m given the opportunity to be the next governor of South Dakota before they go to the voting box and make an informed decision on June 5.”
By running for governor, Noem is taking the most significant step in her political career since defeating then-incumbent Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin for South Dakota’s lone U.S. House of Representatives seat in 2010. Noem previously served in the South Dakota House of Representatives from 2006 to 2010, rising to assistant majority leader in her last year.
Noem is finishing up her eighth year in Congress.
“I told you when I was going to run for Congress that I wouldn’t stay there longer than 10 years because I believe in term limits and that I was going to come home,” she said.
Among her congressional accomplishments, Noem listed her involvement in the tax reform legislation signed into law late last year, the elimination of 1,600 regulations, and the passage of the Farm Bill.
“I’ve done exactly what I said I was going to do: I was going to go to Washington, D.C., be someone who spoke up for our values here in South Dakota, work to strengthen families and then come home,” she said.
Noem believes South Dakota needs a governor with her background.
“We need someone who has the type of background I have: Someone who’s been involved in agriculture, who’s run businesses, served in the (South Dakota) Legislature, who now has been in D.C. and has seen how that federal money flows into South Dakota and how we can use it to better help our people,” she said. “We’ve got a lot to do.”