PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Kristi Noem has received at least $2,680,000 since 2020 from the Republican Governors Association’s Right Turn political action committee as she seeks election to a second term this November as South Dakota’s governor.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Governors Association hasn’t decided yet whether its political action committee, Democratic Action, should spend any money helping her Democrat opponent, state Representative Jamie Smith.
“As Smith continues to run a strong, grassroots-backed race, the DGA is constantly evaluating the best ways to ensure we deploy resources when they have the biggest impact,” DGA deputy communications director Sam Newton said Wednesday.
South Dakota voters haven’t elected a Democrat as governor since Dick Kneip’s third term in 1974.
In 2018, Noem received two contributions of $250,000 from the RGA’s political action committee after she won the Republican primary election. She received another $750,000 late in the race, for a total of $1.25 million. Her Democrat opponent, Billie Sutton, received $435,000 late in the race from the DGA’s political action committee.
Noem defeated Sutton 172,912 to 161,454. That was the closest a Democrat came to winning the office since 1986, when Republican George S. Mickelson defeated Democrat Lars Herseth 152,543 to 141,898 in a contest between sons of former governors.
A KELOLAND News check of the DGA website found no mentions of Smith’s candidacy. There were several headlines about Noem.
A DGA official said on background that Smith’s candidacy has been mentioned in fundraising messages to DGA donors and that South Dakota was one of four states covered in a June 3 call with national media ahead of the June 7 primaries.
Alex Matson, a spokesman for Smith’s campaign, said, “Jamie has yet to connect with the DGA or major national groups because his focus is within the state of South Dakota. In fact, roughly eighty-five percent of all of his campaign contributions are from small South Dakota donors.”
Matson said Smith’s campaigning, fundraising and speeches have been entirely within South Dakota. Noem has extensively traveled and raised donations outside South Dakota, including a trip earlier this week to Arizona.
“While major national groups might forget about this state, Jamie’s focus remains on South Dakota,” Matson said.