Political strategies

Governor Kristi Noem and Jamie Smith double down on campaign strategies in final sprint of SD governor race

SIOUX FALLS, SD — In the last full week before voters cast their ballots in person on Nov. 8, Governor Kristi Noem and her Democratic challenger Jamie Smith doubled down on the dominant themes of the gubernatorial contest.

Continuing his message about Smith’s “extreme” positions, Noem held two appearances Nov. 2 at the Military Heritage Alliance Center in Sioux Falls: the first with Glenn Youngkin, the governor of Virginia, and the second with Tulsi Gabbard, a former member. of the Hawaii Congress.

Noem also posted a

campaign ad

with a similar theme.

That morning, Noem was in Rapid City with Gabbard for a similar event. The posts from those surrogates were meant to highlight the stakes in the gubernatorial race, which Noem called “closed” less than a week before the Nov. 8 election.

Youngkin praised Noem’s record on the pandemic, crime and education during his speech. Those topics were key to his upset victory in Virginia a year ago.

Jason Harvard / Forum News Service

“Everyone I’ve spoken to who’s moved here in the last few years is all voting for me,” Noem said at both rallies, previewing talking points from Youngkin and Gabbard. “This race is close because of the people who have lived here forever and take our freedom for granted.”

On the other hand, Smith used the events of Noem as another example of his opponent’s obsession with out-of-state politics.

From Nov. 2-3, Smith toured Indigenous country, emphasizing his desire to create a working relationship between the government and the tribes.

“The situation we find ourselves in right now with our current governor and his inability to get along with the tribes,” Smith said during his stump speech. “It’s awful.”

Noem calls out-of-state stumpers, tying ‘extreme’ Smith to National Democrats

While Smith’s liberal excesses have been the major theme of the Noem campaign for months, the specific stories of Youngkin and Gabbard allowed these speakers to strike slightly different notes under that theme.

At the evening’s event, Gabbard, who ran for president as a Democrat in 2020 but recently made headlines for her

solemn departure from a party with which she has often disagreed

spoke of the position of a defector from the “extremism” of the National Democrats, which she linked to Smith.

Governor Kristi Noem poses with Tulsi Gabbard after gifting her a white cowboy hat.

Courtesy of Kristi for Governor

As he did during his 2021

upset of Democrat Terry McAuliffe,

Youngkin’s afternoon speech focused on how Virginia has handled the pandemic — “shut, shut,” he said — as well as the role parents should play in the pandemic. education, especially to stem “critical race theory”.

Several signs in the crowd reading “Parents Matter” underlined this point.

Another parallel between Youngkin’s and Noem’s races is the joint proposal to reduce the tax on groceries, although Youngkin’s newcomer status helped him avoid Noem’s reversal on the issue, which ‘she attributes to the improvement in the state’s economic situation.

“I couldn’t believe people were being taxed on milk, eggs and butter, the essentials,” Youngkin told Forum News Service. “The fact that Governor Noem is getting rid of your grocery tax is extremely important. At the end of the day, the government’s job is to make sure we don’t overtax people.

Smith also supports reducing the tax on groceries.

Smith visits homeland with emphasis on open communication

Smith, for his part, has not hosted any events with out-of-state politicians. Around the same time as those gatherings, he was talking about the Crow Creek Reservation, a community of about 2,100 people just east of the Missouri River between Chamberlain and Pierre.

“Unlike you, I prefer to hear about [South Dakotans] than bringing in national politicians telling South Dakotans what to do and how to think,” Smith tweeted last week when the dual appearances were announced.

On Thursday, November 3, Smith continued his tour of Native country, attending several events on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

“Things have gone really well here,” campaign spokesman Alex Matson wrote in a statement to Forum News Service. “Jamie did what he always did with the tribes: approach them by listening to them.”

Noem also continued his town halls focused on voter concerns, appearing in Madison on Nov. 4. His campaign said it was planning stops in Lennox and Yankton on Nov. 5.

“The governor gave the message you’ve probably heard or read about challenging our children to do the hard things,” Ian Fury, communications director for the Noem campaign, wrote in a statement. “They are going to blow us away with what they are capable of accomplishing.”

On the evening of November 4, Smith will stop in Rapid City for the last time. This weekend he will be in Pierre, Huron, Aberdeen, Watertown and Brookings.

“The people involved in the decisions you make should be around the table,” Smith said of his campaign’s driving theme. “And you should also reach out to people and tell them how can I help?”

Jason Harvard is a

Report for America

Corps reporter who writes about state politics in South Dakota. Contact him at