SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Incumbent Governor Kristi Noem has seized the Republican Primary spot in the November general election.
Results are still rolling in, but the Associated Press has called the gubernatorial primary race with Noem surpassing challenger Steven Haugaard. She hosted an election night watch party with Rep. Dusty Johnson at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Sioux Falls.
With 68 precincts reporting at 9:55p.m. CT, Noem led Haugaard 77% (50,156) to 23% (15,203).
Noem said in a speech she was prepared to protect South Dakota from (President) Joe Biden’s America.
Noem said Biden “is threatening us that if we don’t protect girls, sports, that if we don’t ensure fairness for are women, that he will take food off of our children’s plates in our schools.”
“I will continue to defend you from him (Biden) and from the federal government and pursue opportunities for families here to continue to live the dream,” Noem said.
In the buildup to the primary election, Noem refused to engage publicly with Haugaard and declined requests from news outlets, including KELOLAND News, to participate in debates and televised appearances.
Elected governor in 2018 as the state’s first woman to hold the office, Noem served as a U.S. Representative for South Dakota for four terms in Washington. D.C.
Her first term as governor has been defined by her office’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. From the start of the pandemic, Noem emphasized ‘personal responsibility’ when it came to the virus and largely left control up to municipalities on what to do in terms of lockdowns and mask mandates.
More recently, Noem has been the center of two complaints before the Government Accountability Board (GAB) that dealt with her daughter’s appraiser license and Noem’s use of the state airplane. Last month, the GAB decided to hire an attorney to advise them on the legality of the complaints brought before them.
Two weeks ago, Noem appeared at the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas, to speak about the 2nd amendment.
Noem will face Democrat Jamie Smith and Libertarian Tracey Quint in the general election in November.
In a call with KELOLAND News Tuesday evening, Smith said he was expecting to face Noem in the November election.
“There is a good portion of the Republican party that’s not happy with the leadership of Kristi Noem,” Smith said.
Differing from his opponent, Smith said that unlike Noem, he is not a career politician and is focused on South Dakota.
“I’m focused on being here, working hard for the people of our state in our state and they can expect what they’ve seen of me in the legislature,” Smith said. “That’s somebody that works across the aisle to solve real problems and get things done for the people.”
If elected, Smith said he’ll focus on taking D.C.-style politics and hyper partisanship out of the state while keeping his attention on issues such as nursing homes, teacher pay, child care, health care and agriculture.
On the governor’s website, Noem boasts “Less government, more freedom” and says she’s focused on supporting agriculture, growing small business, and expanding opportunities for South Dakotans.
“I think we’re just gonna talk about the results and what we’ve accomplished already with this administration the last several years,” Noem said Tuesday at her watch party. “Our economy is thriving; we’ve made historic investments but the number one crisis in front of us is inflation. We’ve got an energy and food supply crisis going on and we’re going to have to defend South Dakota.”
South Dakotans will head back to the ballot box to vote on the next South Dakota governor on November 8, 2022.