Within two hours of GOP candidate for governor Kristi Noem’s announcement that she wants Larry Rhoden as her running mate, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Billie Sutton fired off this criticism of her pick:
It’s no surprise that a member of the Washington DC political establishment selected a state government insider as a running mate. All South Dakota will get from the Congresswoman’s ticket is more of the same: more of the same Pierre insiders, more of the same Washington-style politics, and more of the same old business-as-usual. Billie Sutton is the only candidate for Governor who will clean up state government, buck the status quo in the state capitol and restore trust in government by listening to the people [Sen. Billie Sutton, campaign press release, 2018.06.20].
No honeymoon respect there. While the SDGOP spin machine pulls a muscle trying to cast this attack as weak boilerplate protest, Sutton’s swift response to Kristi’s choice of a Mini-Manly-Me as her LG signals that Sutton won’t be afraid to run the tough-guy campaign necessary to counter the bruising attack politics that Noem used without remorse against her Republican friend Marty Jackley in the primary. Sutton’s attack also shows that he’s not afraid to step out and offer that criticism himself rather than relying on surrogates or his own running mate.
Speaking of whom, while Sutton took his shot at Rhoden, Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Michelle Lavallee showed she was picked for connections, not full-contact politics. While Rhoden was pounding away on Twitter with a new Noem/Rhoden-branded campaign account, Sutton’s running mate, marketing expert Michelle Lavallee, was nowhere to be seen online. Far from taking on her running mate as a creature of the Pierre/Republican establishment (a point that would sound even better coming from Lavallee, the political newcomer, than from Sutton, the four-term Senator), Lavallee actually appears yesterday to have removed from her public Facebook profile what little campaign content she had shared, the videos she posted last week of the Sutton/Lavallee announcement. Evidently Lavallee’s portfolio does not include the traditional role of running mate as attack dog; Sutton’s going to handle that job himself.