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Don’t Let Noem Fool You: No South Dakota Democrats Are “Insiders”

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Billie Sutton continues to criticize his Republican opponent, Congresswoman Kristi Noem, as a political insider. Asked by Todd Epp how he responds to Noem’s portrayal of herself as an “outsider” and “reformer,” Senator Sutton manages to stifle a belly laugh and says simply that it’s hard to be an outsider when you’re part of the states quo establishment.

Noem’s out-of-state campaign organizers again demonstrate their ignorance by risibly whining, We know you are but what are we?

“Billie Sutton claims he’ll upset the status quo, but as a long-time Pierre insider and card-carrying member of the Democratic establishment, what would South Dakota’s ‘new normal’ really look like under his administration?” said Justin Brasell, Kristi for Governor campaign manager….

FACT CHECK: Despite claims, Sutton is the ultimate Democratic insider.

• Sutton’s family roots run deep in the Democratic Party.  His grandfather was the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor in 1978.

• With nearly a decade spent in Pierre politics, Sutton has risen quickly to become one of the state’s top-ranking Democrats.

Sutton backed insider Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election [Kristi Noem campaign, press release, 2018.07.09].

Voting for Clinton in 2016 does not make one an insider… unless Kristi contends that South Dakota has 117,458 insiders. What your grandpa did doesn’t make one an insider… unless Kristi wants to contend that I’m an insider at Peavey grain elevators. And serving eight years as a Democratic legislator in South Dakota does not make one an establishment insider. Ask Frank Kloucek and Gerry Lange.

To fully laugh off Noem’s silly attack, we Democrats have to laugh at ourselves. As the Rapid City Journal points out, even the most “inside” Democrats in South Dakota are still outside banging on the doors to where the real power lies:

First, Noem appears a bit out of touch when she calls a Democrat a capitol insider. The party barely registers a blip on the state’s political radar screen and has left little more than a toe print on any significant legislation in recent years. Its record of futility is undeniable.

Noem, on the other hand, is a former assistant majority leader for the political party that dominates every level of government in South Dakota. There is no disputing that Republicans set policy in this state [editorial, “Governor Candidates Need to Discuss Real Issues,” Rapid City Journal, 2018.07.13].

Kristi Noem is practicing the false equivalency that marks so much of Republican campaigning and excuse-making nowadays. Democrats point out real negatives about Republican leaders, and Republicans and their supporters make some what-about shout falsely trying to paint Democrats as just as bad and to distract from the Republicans’ real failings.

Get real: Billie Sutton and pretty much any other South Dakota Democrat on your ballot this fall is an outsider, less beholden to the powers that be and more willing and able to shake up the status quo than Kristi Noem and her fellow members of their exclusive power club.


  1. mike from iowa 2018-07-20 07:24

    I must be a long time South Dakota insider as I, too, backed insider HRC in 2016.

    Now I can legally cross into Hudson, SD and vote for Dems.

  2. Kathy Anderson 2018-07-20 07:33

    Hip Hip Hooray……I too am a SDInsider (flashing my Hillary campaign pin) …sigh—-always wanted to be ‘something’.

  3. jerry 2018-07-20 08:49

    “Russiagate Is Far Wider Than Trump and His Inner Circle
    It isn’t just the story of a few corrupt officials, or even a corrupt president. It’s the story of a corrupt Republican Party.”

    This is the story Billie Sutton should be talking about, surprised he has not, must have a sleepy campaign manager to miss the obvious. NOem is the ultimate insider, look at her votes and look at her silence. That Russian spook got her for some reason and you need to look no further than Dan Lederman and Kristi NOem on how such a Russian asset could get her to do her work as a sex kitten to bat those eyes and shake that red hair at another Republican, Dusty Johnson. Hint: Another fat cat insider.

    Come on Billie, if you want the job, want it! Go after her on Healthcare as well as Russia Gate. Offer the citizens of South Dakota a fair tax to their property tax, an Income Tax. Geesh, Billie’s campaign manager, this ain’t no beauty contest.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-07-20 09:15

    Darn right, Jerry! Paul Erickson and Maria Butina are insiders. When the Russians wanted to infiltrate our decision-making apparati and influence U.S. policy in their favor, they didn’t send their Red Sparrow to shack up with Billie Sutton or Tom Daschle; they slept with Paul Erickson and the GOP gun lobby. Being an “insider” is only a voting issue when you’re talking about being an insider in the machine that’s working against South Dakotan and American interests. Kristi Noem is inside the Trump machine that’s hurting SD Agriculture.

  5. LS 2018-07-20 09:31

    Sanders progressive here. We are the ultimate outsiders as the Dems don’t even want us!

  6. OldSarg 2018-07-20 11:26

    You guys should be careful and look for spies under your beds as well. . .

  7. Roger Elgersma 2018-07-20 12:39

    When Kristi was one of the top four Republicans in Pierre years ago she was asked why she voted for a bad bill and gave the excuse that the party leadership was for it. She had enough rank that she could have pushed for what was right. But being an insider is one thing and covering up corruption inside the party is much worse. She did stop Jackley who was a major cover upper for the Republicans. His coverup of the sexual harassment by a deputy sheriff cost him his political career, and Kristi helped stop him but it was actually the voters who stopped him. Pointing out the problems, and asking for and promising improvement is the way the dems can win. The voters have shown they will vote for what is right. They will vote against corruption. Keep pushing for clear improvements and stopping corruption. Make liberal to mean progress in the right direction rather than blindly accepting the status quo.

  8. Jenny 2018-07-20 12:59

    Remember in Congress when the Alaskan Representative got after her for being on her cell at a meeting? “jabber jabber jabber” How embarrassing

    This low shot on Sutton being an insider, when Dems are ever barely in the game in SD politics, is just weird. Do they really expect South Dakotans to believe that? Are they worried Sutton has a chance? Queen Kristi has such an unbelievable advantage it’s not even funny.

  9. mike from iowa 2018-07-20 13:07

    OMG, OS I see a dustbunny. Is it Russian?

  10. jimmy james 2018-07-20 14:33

    I would be afraid of the Pierre political swamp label too if I was Kristi Noem. Republicans have been in charge for four or five decades in a row. But, of course they will accuse Sutton of being the insider to confuse the issue.

    Wasn’t Justin Brasell the ultimate political insider…. working for Mitch McConnell, of all people? Now, Justin is working for the folks who have been in charge since the seventies and pretending like he’s an outsider.

  11. jimmy james 2018-07-20 14:42

    The Red Sparrow took a dump on her nest mate. Jail or humiliation. Those seem to be Erickson’s only choices.

  12. leslie 2018-07-20 15:19

    118,000 plus 130,000 new Democratic related voters are what it will take to elect Billie. If we do not SD and likely the nation are headed into more slavery to the 1%. Billie has to thread the policy needle to get those 130,000. Let’s work with him folks, not be crabs in a barrel. Adelstein is trying to snooker our Indian neighbors’ vote with the Black Elk cannonization politicization. Wasicu.

  13. jimmy james 2018-07-20 17:35

    Red Sparrow nasty to Erickson…. (CNN)

    Prosecutors suggest he may have been manipulated by Butina, a woman half his age.
    “She appears to treat that relationship as simply a necessary aspect of her activities,” prosecutors said in court filings, adding she offered sex to someone else in exchange for a position in a special interest organization and complained about living with Erickson.

  14. Ryan 2018-07-20 22:55

    I admit I’m jaded, but I’m surprised you folks don’t know this: truth is not relevant in the crap people say to get elected to office. Any office.

    Noem is setting up sound bites and tag lines that informed voters will see right through, but informed voters are a drastic minority of all voters. Stupid lazy voters will do what the “R” on the TV says, and noem knows it. All she has to do is throw out some catch phrases and dodge any actual policy questions and she’s in like dump a$$ trump.

  15. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-07-21 09:16

    Ryan, your cynicism is duly noted and likely accurate. Nonetheless, we persist in our hopes for a more logical world.

  16. Dana P 2018-07-21 09:21

    South Dakota “nice” ain’t gonna win an election. South Dakota “nice” has proven time and time again, to not take the trophy home.

    You don’t have to roll around in the muck and be disgraceful, but you do have to be tough and blunt. Billie should know that you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.

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