In final days of campaign, Noem gathers Republican endorsements

Key endorsements have come in for the incumbent Republican in the final week of the campaign, signaling that more reluctant Republican voters could be coalescing around Noem in the home stretch.
Gov. Noem courts national GOP figures, while Smith meets with South Dakota voters.
Gov. Noem courts national GOP figures, while Smith meets with South Dakota voters.
Published: Nov. 8, 2022 at 1:37 PM MST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - In what has been a closer than expected race for the South Dakota Governor’s office, Republican incumbent Kristi Noem has managed to gather support from some unlikely, conservative allies in the final week.

Noem revealed a number of endorsements from a variety of key Republican state lawmakers and activists, many of whom Noem has sparred with in the past, both public and privately.

Amongst those endorsements are Speaker Pro Tempore Jon Hansen (R-Dell Rapids), Rep. Sue Peterson (R-Sioux Falls), and Rapid City area conservative activist Tonchi Weaver.

Noem has previously battled with Hansen, who is in line to become the next Speaker of the House, over his push to ban private vaccine mandates. Weaver has written op-eds critical of Noem’s job in office in the past.

Noem in turn, has touted these endorsements, praising Hansen for his leadership, Peterson for her work on education, and Weaver for her activist work.

All three represent a key constituency of conservative Republicans that Noem needs to hold onto in order to win re-election.

“We just want a safe, secure, and sane place to raise our families,” Hansen says in his endorsement. “Democrat politicians, from the national level on down, they don’t share our values. In this race for Governor, if you want to help keep our South Dakota way of life... There is one choice, and that is Kristi Noem.”

While Republicans outnumber Democrats in registration numbers nearly two to one in the state, any level of apathy in the base of the Republican party towards Noem could spell disaster for her campaign. Noem’s Democratic challenger, Jamie Smith, has aimed to frame himself as a moderate throughout the race, attempting to attract as many Republican voters as he can.

Despite those endorsements, a number of Republicans continue to hold out on supporting Noem in her re-election bid. Her Republican challenger in the primary, State Rep. Steve Haugaard (R-Sioux Falls), as well as State Rep. Taffy Howard (R-Rapid City) have both refrained from endorsing Noem. Howard challenged Congressman Dusty Johnson for his seat in June.

“The executive branch is the operational branch, it is populated with people who serve at the pleasure of the governor and who are not accountable to voters,” Weaver said in a statement to Dakota News Now/KOTA Territory. “Governor Noem has shown an ability to make some good decisions in that regard, especially on the Board of Education Standards. That matters to me, and I have more confidence in her judgement to make prudent appoints than Representative Smith.”

Polls close in South Dakota at 7 PM local time.