SIOUX FALLS, SD ( Associated Press) — Ahead of a potential presidential bid, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem won the Republican nomination for a second term last week. Many of the candidates she was hoping to be elected to the statehouse didn’t have such a good night.
She was hoping to replace opponents with private allies in the Republican-controlled Legislature, which had consistently rejected her will, so the governor rallied behind about a dozen candidates who challenged the incumbent candidates. Two-thirds of Noem’s favorites lost.
The setback was a reminder that although advertisements often attract attention and financial resources, they do not always translate into voter support. It’s a lesson that Donald Trump, Noem’s ally, is learning as he falls short, particularly in Georgia, in an attempt to punish Republicans who have surpassed him. In last month’s GOP primary, Georgia voters overwhelmingly supported Governor Brian Kemp, who denied Trump’s lies about widespread fraud during the 2020 election.
Trump has tried to cover up his initial losses, but it’s unclear whether Noam will be able to move on so smoothly. Some incumbents who survived their attempts to defeat him were left wondering why they supported a governor and generally agreed why they went to such lengths to try to remove him.
“There was a belief system that the party was one family — you don’t campaign against other members,” said state senator Al Novstrup, a longtime lawmaker who always scores high on conservative organizations’ scorecards. “Obviously, this concept has broken down dramatically in this primary.”
Noem entered the primary election with somewhat strained relations with Republican lawmakers. The outcome of the vote could further add to the tension. Those weak bonds with the legislature could raise further questions about his ability to make a competitive bid for the Republican presidential nomination, as several contenders, including Trump, move to announce campaigns later this year.
He spent much of his first term crafting the vision of South Dakota as an example of conservative policy, which was widely seen as a knack for being part of the White House conversation. But he also considered his proposals for state government operations and the business community.
It fueled conflict with some House Republicans in the Legislature over proposals aimed at transgender children, COVID-19 vaccine requirements and tax cuts. Even though his party had 90% of the legislative seats, this year set Noem’s agenda. House MPs obstructed his proposals and often brushed aside his inputs.
He even criticized her openly.
A third of the House Republican caucus voted publicly for an unsuccessful attempt to scold Noam for his hands-on role at a state agency while it was evaluating his daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser license. Had been.
Among them was Republican Representative Fred Deutsch, who has mostly been a supporter of the governor but said he votes at his discretion. He has sparred with Noem before: puberty barriers and gender confirmation procedures for transgender children under the age of 16 were rejected in the Senate after he expressed reservations about his proposal in 2020.
As primary campaigns intensified in April, the governor publicly criticized Deutsch and pitched her support with a candidate she could count on – her childhood babysitter, Stephanie Sauder.
But Noam’s wishes in the primary race were only partially fulfilled in a contest where two House candidates edged ahead of a field of four Republicans. Sauder received the most votes but the dictionary defeated two other candidates for the Republican nomination.
Noem was able to see one of his loudest Republican critics, House Speaker Spencer Gosh, as he challenged a state senator for the GOP nomination in that chamber. He also gained several other colleagues in the Legislature, including a former Chief of Staff.
His decision to enter the primaries went unnoticed by the grassroots groups animating the current division in the state GOP. Noam received a blow from conservative media after a newspaper report that she was working with state Senator Lee Schonbeck, president pro tempore, to rid the statehouse of some conservatives.
Sensing trouble ahead, Noem tried to minimize the damage and maintain his ties with the Conservatives. The effort included a private meeting with a group called the Patriot Ripple Effect in mid-May at a church in Sioux Falls.
Noem seemed eager to convince the dozens of people who filled a conference room at the church that she was like-minded. He pointed to his decision to drop the statewide lockdown and mask mandate during the COVID-19 pandemic despite much criticism and objections. He also clapped at Republican lawmakers who pushed for broader vaccine exemptions, advocating a hands-off approach to the government that extends from businesses to individuals.
“They were blowing me up by saying I wasn’t conservative because I wouldn’t come in and tell Sanford[the largest hospital system in the state]and tell big businesses that they might not need vaccines for their employees,” he said. he said. “My answer to them was, ‘You are telling me as a government to tell them as a private business what to do.'”
His statements garnered some applause. But his questions mostly challenged Noem, picking his record in a 45-minute meeting. They wanted to know why she would reliably target conservative lawmakers.
“My babysitter is running for office. I like him,” she replied.
The group continued to question, with one member pointing to Noem’s statement supporting the challenger to state Senator Knovstrup. Noem’s answer suggested that his support for Rachel Dix was based more on a personal connection than political ideology: “She’s a friend of mine and has been for years.”
As the primary results crystallized, it became clear that the internal party conflict was not going away.
Rep. Tom Pischke, who is from the party’s staunch conservative wing and easily defeated Noem’s choice for a state Senate seat, said he received a boost after being targeted by Noem’s allies. A letter was also circulated among voters reporting that Noem’s favorite candidate, Lisa Rave, was married to the main lobbyist for the state’s hospital system – a favorite target of some conservatives during the pandemic.
“That was the nail in the coffin for him,” Pishke said of the letter’s effect on his opponent.
The fallout from the race could even extend to the governor’s stand among enthusiastic conservatives: “It really hurt Gov Noem a little bit,” he said.
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