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Noem Picks Rhoden for Running Mate, Ignores Conservative Kaiser Draft

Larry Rhoden agrees to be Kristi Noem’s running mate, and instead of a nice splashy and authentic live rollout, all he gets is this pre-recorded, soundtracked Facebook video in which Kristi does all of the talking and most of the looking while Rhoden gets only brief shots, including one hunky shot of his bedenimed backside:

Larry Rhoden and Kristi Noem, from Noem campaign video, 2018.06.20.
Larry Rhoden and Kristi Noem put their best sides forward; from Noem campaign video, 2018.06.20.

Aside from filling out his Wranglers, Rhoden checks other boxes that I listed back in March 2017 when I identified him as a likely pick for Noem’s running mate. Rhoden brings his own statewide campaign experience from his second-place finish behind Mike Rounds in the 2014 GOP Senate primary. As an active West River rancher, Rhoden bolsters her mostly-showy East River farm cred on the side of the state where Noem’s primary support was weaker (though not as weak as we might have thought before she started bludgeoning West River favorite Marty Jackley for protecting sexual harassers and punishing a female victim in the law enforcement good-old-boys network). And as Bob Mercer notes this morning, Rhoden brings 16 years of Legislative experience to a position whose only formal function is to preside over the Senate. If all we were doing was hiring a Senate President, Rhoden’s résumé would beat rookie politician and Democratic nominee Michelle Lavallee’s résumé hands down.

Rhoden also plugs right in to Team Noem’s online campaign, immediately launching a new Twitter campaign account to support the team:

Larry Rhoden/@rhodenforsd campaign Twitter account, screen cap, 2018.06.20.
Larry Rhoden/@rhodenforsd campaign Twitter account, screen cap, 2018.06.20.

For all of her purported marketing expertise, Democratic nominee Lavallee has yet to leverage any of her online assets to promote the new brand she’s been picked to push. Lavallee’s public Facebook page has video from the June 14 announcement but nothing from the Democratic convention that she attended the next day and no updates to her profile information to promote her candidacy or her running mate’s campaign website. When Larry Rhoden does online marketing better than Democrats, we should be worried.

But you know what really would have been funny? If Noem’s Facebook video announcement of Larry Rhoden as her running mate were just a false alarm. Representative Rhoden has yet to be prosecuted for his Class 1 misdemeanor pressing of a police panic button as a political stunt during a Legislative hearing in 2017. On that note, Billie Sutton is already winning the lieutenant governor pick contest, in that his nominee, Michelle Lavallee, has no known history of public disregard for the law.

Rhoden’s House colleague Liz May and a 2014 primary contender whom he outpolled, Senator Stace Nelson, are pushing Dan Kaiser for lieutenant governor. Kaiser offered this non-rejection of the draft effort last week:

Recently there was a Facebook page created (I am not an administrator to that page) urging Congresswoman Noem to ask me to be her Lt Gov choice. I am humbled at the thought but to my knowledge, I am not being vetted for the position and think its unlikely. I thank everyone for their support and will wait with excitement for when she does announce her choice which I trust will be excellent. I look forward to helping her win the general election in November and she has my full endorsement! [Dan Kaiser, sheriff’s campaign Facebook page, 2018.06.14]

Kaiser has not deleted from his personal Facebook timeline a public post from Nelson on the L.G.-draft push.

Noem has obviously passed on an opportunity to repay the Kaiser family for helping her win the primary with the crushing video testimony from Dan’s wife Laura about Jackley’s complicity in punishing her for reporting sexual harassment. She has also passed on an opportunity to scratch a real conservative itch: Kaiser scored well ahead of Rhoden on both the Citizens for Liberty fiscal conservatism scorecard (Kaiser 48%, Rhoden 15%) and the Citizens for Liberty overall 2018 Conservative Scorecard (Kaiser 86%, Rhoden 48%). Noem could use some help with her conservative bona fides: her family’s reliance on farm welfare belies any commitment to small-government principles, and the Conservative Review gives her a 58%/F “Liberty Score®” for her performance in Congress.

May and Nelson have a better chance of organizing a challenge to Noem’s arguably insufficiently conservative pick of Rhoden than disaffected Democrats did last week to challenge Billie Sutton’s insufficiently Democratic pick of Michelle Lavallee as his running mate. May and Nelson have already mailed postcards to GOP delegates pushing Kaiser. Noem has also given them three full days to rally delegates in opposition to her announced choice, while Sutton announced the Lavallee pick just 27 hours before Democrats convened to nominate candidates.

But it seems unlikely that the conservative rump of the Republican Party, which exerted no great impact against mainstream Republicans in this month’s primary, will prevail against Rhoden’s Wrangler rump in Saturday’s convention vote. Rather than fussing about the man Kristi Noem has chosen to be under her, any Republicans cranky with Noem are more likely to shrug and quietly withhold their votes or cast ballots for Sutton in November.


  1. MJK 2018-06-20 10:08

    We can only hope that this will help Billie Sutton. My hope is that it does.

  2. Dana P 2018-06-20 10:13

    So, now we’ve “graduated” from cowboy hats, ridin’ horses in slo-mo, and shootin’ guns, to —— leg hiked up on the floorboard of a Chevy truck, wranglers, and flannel shirts

    I do believe that Ms Noem feels that her only hurdle was to get past Jackley, and big chair in Pierre is hers now. I do hope that Sutton/Lavallee can step up their SINCERE messaging statements/videos/campaigning quite bit —–that will help them with those folks that see right through the Noem scam.

  3. grudznick 2018-06-20 11:32

    The Rhoden Rhangers Rhide! Probably for 8 more years!

    Did you see the scorecard where Mr. Rhoden scored as the most conservative and sensible fellow in the legislatures?

    This is going to stick in Mr. Nelson’s maw.

  4. jerry 2018-06-20 11:37

    Let me see now, Rhoden..was a Democrat and then became a republican. Then he went to Pierre to do some politicking. Did pretty good there as well, leadership no less as pointed out here: “Rhoden, who first started serving in the Legislature in 2001, says the team has an opportunity to do “big things without raising taxes or growing government.”” Sounds kind of like the dud’s we have had running the place learning from Rounds. Big things like he EB5 and Gear Up. They didn’t raise taxes..or did they? We taxpayers lost a substantial amount of our money in their schemes.

    Rhoden has been in the legislature since 2001, and for 17 years what have we seen? Scandal after scandal for one, all under his watch. I am thinking the best way to show what a real scam this team is, is to show what they have done for the state. Take away the rights of the people’s vote…check. The lists go on and it will be up to the team of Sutton/Lavallee to drill that message home and pronto.

    Me, I would hire one guy to handle that messaging, the feller who runs this blogsite. I can think of no other gent that would be up to the task of running campaign messaging better than Cory.

  5. jerry 2018-06-20 11:55

    NOem is still in congress so before she goes, she wants to give seniors in South Dakota a little love before she starts tearing the wings off butterflies to stay in shape.

    “The House Republican budget, entitled “A Brighter American Future,” would remake Medicare by giving seniors the option of enrolling in private plans that compete with traditional Medicare, a system of competition designed to keep costs down but dismissed by critics as an effort to privatize the program. Along with other changes, the budget proposes to squeeze $537 billion out of Medicare over the next decade.

    The budget would transform Medicaid, the federal-state health-care program for the poor, by limiting per capita payments or allowing states to turn it into a block-grant program — the same approach House Republicans took in their legislation that passed last year to repeal the Affordable Care Act (the repeal effort died in the Senate, but the GOP budget assumes the repeal takes place). It also proposes adding work requirements for certain adults enrolled in Medicaid. Changes to Medicaid and other health programs would account for $1.5 trillion in savings.

    Social Security comes in for more modest cuts of $4 billion over the decade, which the budget projects could be reached by eliminating concurrent receipt of unemployment benefits and Social Security disability insurance.” Washington Post

    So there ya go South Dakota, either vote for someone who is gonna rob you blind (see above) or vote for someone who will do what is right for our elderly, disabled and poor by making economic development investment a key.

  6. Greg 2018-06-20 12:29

    Why would Noem pick a Lt. Governor that could not even win the sheriffs race in Brown County. This election is all about Kristi Noem and Billie Sutton.

  7. owen reitzel 2018-06-20 12:30

    Hopefully the far right trying to draft Kaiser (Stace) will go after NOem.

  8. mike from iowa 2018-06-20 12:38

    Wingnuts need to incorporate means testing for poors like the koch bros and defense spending to see if they really need more and more.

    Brownback Dollar in Kansas cut taxes- business and corporate taxes and then attacked the leading purveyor of wasted spending- public education, before fleeing in disgrace for a cushy federal gubmint position never to be heard of again.

  9. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2018-06-20 14:28

    Wasn’t Rhoden a former Democrat?…. Oh, wait a minute, I get it now…..

  10. mike from iowa 2018-06-20 15:32

    Someone should remind both of those people in the photo that street walking is a crime. She trying to pick him up?

  11. Steve James 2018-06-20 16:21

    “including one hunky shot of his bedenimed backside”….

    that is priceless…


    You better copyright “bedenimed backside”…. and just try to say it 10 times fast.

  12. mike from iowa 2018-06-20 17:26

    Any idea where her right hand and his left hand are?

  13. Sam@ 2018-06-20 20:26

    Kristi’s new lap dog. I must give Kristi credit she has already trained him to sit up and beg.

  14. grudznick 2018-06-20 20:39

    I hope to be able to listen to Mr. Nelson squeaking “point of order, point of order” in the legislatures and Mr. Rhoden gavel him down and besting him with a better understanding of the rules. Do any of you remember the time when Mr. Nelson cried about rules and called one of his “point of order, point of order” and then got told by Mr. Gosch or Mr. Rausch that he was reading the old rule book? That was a point of order indeed. I submit Mr. Rhoden will really school Mr. Nelson, as he might not be as kind and patient as the current Lt. Governor has been with the Nelsonians’ dramatic fluff. Mr. Rhoden just might have the sergeants-at-arms drag Mr. Nelson off the floor in ankle cuffs and a spit-mask.

  15. grudznick 2018-06-20 21:14

    Larry Rhoden has a grizzly bear rug in his living room. It’s not dead, it’s just afraid to move.

  16. grudznick 2018-06-20 21:17

    Larry Rhoden doesn’t predict the future. Larry Rhoden tells the future what to do.

  17. Debbo 2018-06-20 23:45

    I followed the link to read the post from last year about Rhoden pushing the panic button. What a childish trick.

    Since Rhoden has been in Pierre all this time, hanging scandals around his neck seems like an effective campaign strategy.

  18. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-06-21 06:23

    JKC reminds us that both tickets include party-switching LGs. Rhoden spent the first twenty years of his adult life registered as a Democrat, switching to GOP in 1998 before he ran for Legislature for the first time in 2000.

    Interestingly, Kristi Noem was awfully cozy with Tom Daschle during her budding political awareness (Daschle training camp, appointment to Farm Service Agency under Clinton), although she insists she’s always been a Republican.

    Past political affiliations, in registration or hobnobbing, will have no impact on the GOP ticket, since Rhoden and Noem both have fully embraced Republican branding, strategy, and policy.

  19. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-06-21 06:27

    Jerry, I’d be terrible at messaging, because I ignore the focus groups and write all of my material from scratch. :-D

    But Jerry does provide good advice on using Noem’s ongoing Congressional voting record as a bludgeon against her. Her Speaker continues to offer legislation that will harm South Dakotans. Donald Trump keeps doing things to hurt South Dakota that she is doing nothing to stop. She can’t Sutton accountable in the same way because, as a Democrat laboring under the Republican Legislative supermajority, none of our troubles are his fault.

  20. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-06-21 06:33

    Owen, the far right makes a lot of noise, and I do talk about them a lot here, but their problem all along has been a failure to show up in great enough numbers at the polls to make a difference. They were unable to stop Mike Rounds’s Senate nomination in 2014, and once he (and Rhoden!) beat their preferred candidate, Stace Nelson, they were unable to muster more than 3% for their candidate Gordon Howie or generate enough GOP defections or sit-outs to erode Rounds’s support below 50% to give Democrat Rick Weiland a chance of winning.

    The far right, perhaps like this blog, says a lot but has yet to organize an effective resistance. Beyond a futile Kaiser-for-LG draft, they need to get serious about voting for the enemy of their enemy. Is Kristi’s lack of true conservatism enough to motivate them to stay home, to leave Kristi’s oval blank, to campaign for Kurt Evans, or to teach Kristi and the “RINO” wing a lesson by voting for the enemy of their enemy and electing a Democratic Governor?

  21. LLG 2018-06-21 12:19

    I hope your comments about his “hunky” backside and filled out wranglers aren’t construed as sexual harassment. That would be quite hypocritical no?

    And what a smack in the face to old Kaiser! Guess he thought he was going to get himself a cushy spot with Noem as payback for his wife appearing in ad’s clapping back with her lies about Marty Jackley. Tsk tsk.

  22. [A persistent first time commenter whose info and participation are welcome but who insists on using a branding slogan emphasizing the virtues of his/her post rather than just using a normal name] 2018-06-21 14:31

    The only issue with Citizen’s for Liberty scorecard is it was essentially hand picked bills created by Nelson and then just published by CFL (maybe someone reviewed it ‘with’ him to call it their own; their library is mainly comprised of Nelson authored documents from 2014). I’m sure you’re less concerned with conservative views being a liberal but this scorecard is from a national, conservative organization with nothing to gain except award legislators with conservative voting records (nationwide, out of Virginia, no ties to SD). It provides a much more accurate and different depiction of ‘facts’ than Nelson’s kitchen table project. Sorry, I’m partial to unbiased facts over opinions or slants of someone trying to make themselves look ‘the best’ when they’re not and tear down the one that is what he claims to be. :-)

    Here is our South Dakota legislative scorecard:

    And here is the link where you can view all our other state scorecards as well as Congress:

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