Rep. Paula Hawks (D-9/Hartford) is the first Democrat to say she’s considering challenging Congresswoman Kristi Noem in the 2016 election. The intelligent and articulate Rep. Hawks could mount a good challenge to our reigning rodeo princess. However, I will maintain that If Hawks wants to go to Congress, she will need to drop the gentle, arguably acquiescent tone she adopted toward her Republican colleagues in Pierre and come out guns a-blazing on Noem’s thoughtless, self-serving political record.
If Hawks runs, Noem and the GOP certainly won’t refrain from attacking her. The GOP won’t be able to win on facts, so, much like their favored ad agency, they will try to win on noise and slogans.
Consider the first attack posted almost immediately by the Noem-sponsored GOP spin blog. Dakota War College attempts to turn a 2013 statement from Hawks in favor of a state income tax into the overriding issue in a Hawks–Noem matchup.
If Paula Hawks is for a state income tax in South Dakota, what will she do to our taxes at the federal level?
That’s the biggest question that voters should keep in mind [Pat Powers, “Hawks Admits She’s Looking at Congressional Run. Despite Her Record on State Income Tax,” Dakota War College, 2015.05.05].
No, South Dakota voters, Hawks’s statement in favor of a state income tax is not the biggest question you should keep in mind when voting for a United States Representative. Consider:
- The logical implication of Hawks’s support for a state income tax is that she’ll probably support a federal income tax… which we already have.
- Unless Noem is intending to advocate repealing the Sixteenth Amendment, support for a fair income tax will not be an issue in the campaign.
- If Noem and her minions really want to spend the campaign talking about state-level tax policy, Hawks can flip the discussion: “O.K., you want to talk taxes? Great. How would you feel about repealing the federal income tax and replacing it with a federal sales tax and a federal property tax? Do you really think South Dakota’s tax system would work at the federal level?”
The GOP spin machine isn’t trying to say anything substantive or instructive about tax policy. They’re just previewing the mindless screaming they will do if any Democrat dares stand up to Noem with intelligence and truth. To be heard above that screaming, any Democratic candidate will have to be tough. Hawks will spend the next couple months deciding whether she can be that tough.