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Jackley Withholding Endorsement, Signals Sutton on Verge of Beating Noem?

I’m of the impression that we can usually count on South Dakota Republicans to kum-ba-yah after a hard primary and unite behind their nominees to pound the poor Democrats who were hoping for a primary schism.

Yah, but with Republicans openly quaking about their nominee Kristi Noem’s unexpectedly uphill battle against history-teasing Democratic nominee Billie Sutton, Attorney General Marty Jackley, the man Noem nastily beat in the GOP primary four and a half months ago, still won’t say two simple words: “Vote Kristi”:

When asked whether he will vote for Noem, Jackley said, “I haven’t voted yet, and at this point I really haven’t made any final decisions.”

…“I’ve certainly been talking to our team and listening to our supporters on what to do, and I intend to keep doing that and may make a decision between now and the election,” Jackley said, “and I may simply just continue to take the position that it’s really the voters of South Dakota that will be and should be picking their next governor” [Seth Tupper, “Jackley Says He’s Undecided on Noem or Sutton for Governor,” Rapid City Journal, updated 2018.10.20].

(Kurt Evans! I see an opening here for you and the Libertarians! Call Marty now, give him an out!)

The Sioux Falls paper endorses Sutton. The Rapid City paper endorses Sutton. The AP catches Noem mostly lying about Sutton’s record on taxes. Sutton reminds voters of nice things Republicans have said about him, including Marty Jackley himself, who welcomed Sutton into the Governor’s race last year and called him a long-time friend. Seth Tupper calls Jackley and gives him a chance to let some air out of Sutton’s momentum and do a nice party-unity favor for Kristi Noem… and Jackley punts. Eighteen days before the election, on Kristi’s fourth down, Jackley punts.

What was that Sutton’s internal poll said back in July?

  • Sutton wins a real share of registered Republicans (21%) and leads among unaffiliated voters by 19 points (54% Sutton / 35% Noem).
  • Those who voted for Marty Jackley in the GOP primary are also driving Sutton’s ability to run well with Republicans. Fewer than half of Jackley primary voters are in the Noem column (31% Sutton / 49% Noem / 20% undecided) [ALG Research, 2018.07.30].

I can hypothesize five explanations for Jackley’s hesitance:

  1. Jackley’s angling for a judgeship, and he’s letting Noem know that if she won’t promise him a choice circuit appointment, he’ll make sure she doesn’t become Governor, and he’ll talk to his long-time friend Sutton about an appointment.
  2. Jackley’s still just p.o’ed at Noem, and his sense of the electorate is that she’s so weak in the polls that he loses more than he gains by rallying for a loser.
  3. Jackley’s non-endorsement signals his supporters that it’s o.k. to vote for Sutton, and he thinks that the race is close enough that his supporters can swing the election for Sutton, thus opening the door for Jackley to run for Governor against Sutton in 2022.
  4. Jackley honestly hasn’t decided who would be the best Governor, Noem, Sutton, or Evans (!)… which would speak volumes to the inability of Noem to make her case to even committed Republicans after campaigning for the job for nearly two years.
  5. Jackley knows Sutton would be the better Governor, but he’s still torn between that truth and loyalty to the party that afforded him so many favors.

I challenge my readers to come up with any hypothesis that leads to a conclusion that Kristi Noem’s campaign is not in serious trouble.


  1. Debbo 2018-10-20

    There is some amount of misogyny and lower level discomfort with women in politics in general, but I don’t know if either play a role in Jackley’s thinking.

    It would be interesting to see good exit polls asking voters if candidate’s gender affected their vote.

  2. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr., 2018-10-20

    Does anyone think that Trump will make an other stop for Noem? And if so, how much would it help her?

    I would really like to see a Minnehaha/northern Lincoln counties poll on this race. And I would especially like to see a poll of voters in just northern Lincoln county (Sioux Falls). Noem has to hold at least 60% of the voters in northern Lincoln to win this. Generally, Republicans get 65 to 75% of the vote in that area.

    If the Argus and Jackley are going to have a real impact, it depends on how well such events can influence northern urban Lincoln county.

    Had the election for this race been in mid-September, then I think Sutton would have won without a problem due to his initial compelling ad. But negativity on both sides has blurred the victory for both for now.

    I expect some severely negative ads from the Noem camp starting next week, too. I do not know what they will be, but they will either destroy her campaign or make it…

  3. mike from iowa 2018-10-20

    Look at comments about women candidates from nationwide wingnuts and ask yourself why South Dakota pols would be any less misogynistic. Drumpf sets the table and others join the feasting on women.

    It isn’t what a local will be willing to say in public, but how they talk and act when they think they aren’t being observed or recorded that matters.

    I see my loco congressweasel was in Austria, of all places, giving a rousing speech to white supremacists.

  4. Rorschach 2018-10-20

    Noem is going to hammer the “Billie’s going to take away your guns” theme, and 3-7 days before election day she’s going to trot out someone to make fake sexual harassment claims – however improbable those may be – just to create doubt with too little time to ferret out the allegations’ fakeness. There is no low too low for Noem. Billie may even want to come out with an ad in advance saying don’t believe any fake last minute negative stuff.

  5. Buckobear 2018-10-20

    Com’on ……. Marty will do exactly what’s expected of him. This is just a tease. He hasn’t got the guts to support Sutton. Hell, he’ll probably endorse that idiot runing for his office.

  6. Jenny 2018-10-20

    You’re right Rorschach, that’s exactly the way Queen bee Noem is. She will pull something dirty but why Jackley would hold back on the endorsement is interesting.
    Maybe Sutton has talkedto him about a job if he is elected governor.
    Sutton is just more likable than Kristi Noem And people are just sick of her dirty campaigning. That commercial where Sutton is changing faces is just sick And very childish of Noem and her team.

  7. RJ 2018-10-20

    Who Jackley endorses? In the words of the great Melanie Trump( choking on sarcasm). I don’t care, do you?

  8. Debbo 2018-10-20

    Mike, I read an article about King’s speech in Austria. Pure filthy white supremacism from first word to last. I guess that’s the only way he can feel like he’s worth even the slightest damn at all.

    Do you think being publicly outted as head to toe hateful is going to negatively affect him with the voters?

  9. Laurisa 2018-10-20

    I vote for #2, given Jackley’s past actions and statements, and his vast ego, arrogance and petty vindictiveness. Kevin Woster had an interesting column last month where he talked about a recent conversation he’d had with Jackley and mentioned that Mr. Jack Boot (my term, not his!) was still reeling from what he believed to be an “unexpected” loss and was not certain of what he’d do after January. He’s still licking his wounds and, from what I understand, was pretty shocked and devastated at his loss (guess his ego just couldn’t handle it). Not to mention the fact that he’s displayed more than a whiff of misogyny at times, and I would think that his loss is still so bitter to him that he just can’t let go yet. After all, the only thing he’s really ever cared about is number one, himself.

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-20

    Debbo, I’d love to see a detailed exit poll… but will anyone pay the big bucks to get such data about South Dakota’s teeny little contest?

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-20

    JKC, since Trump came, the narrative has shifted against Noem. Is there any reason to think another visit would move things in the opposite direction?

    If Trump did come, would there be enough Republican suckers out there to squeeze for another $519K? Is there anyone left who would fork over $5,000 for a photo with the Groper-in-Chief?

  12. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2018-10-20

    Cory, the thing is, that if the GOP has gained any momentum from the Kavanaugh controversy, that that gain started after Trump’s Sept. 7th visit to South Dakota. So possibly, the Noem/Trump forces might be willing to risk a rally visit this time and could attract a greater crowd then Sept. 7th would have produced. I don’t think the return appearance would be for fundraising, rather it would be to circle the wagons and use Trump’s Kavanaugh rhetoric to rein in Republican voters who are soft on the idea of a woman governor…

  13. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-20

    True, JKC, at which point Noem and the SDGOP are admitting that Noem can’t beat Sutton on the merits, that letting people vote for the person not the party means Sutton wins, and that their only route to victory is to nationalize the race and get South Dakotans to vote against Trump’s bogeymen, not Sutton himself. They have to replace the honest inspiration that voting for Sutton provides with the sick, ugly sensation that the base gets from Trump’s stroking of their id.

    I’m not saying that won’t work; I’m just naming the sad depths to which the SDGOP will have to sink to save its inferior nominee, Kristi Noem.

    But what will they get for that? The chance to stroke Der Führer’s ego by allowing him to claim he swung another election, followed by his continued dumpage on rural America and a state corruptly run by an incompetent figurehead Kristi and her behind-the-scenes lobbyist puppetmasters. Noem won’t appoint any justices to the Kavanaugh/Gorsuch court. Noem won’t uphold any Trump vetoes or pass any more Trump tax cuts. She won’t be participating actively in any of the big Trump moves that give Trump’s followers their fix. She’ll just be sitting in Pierre, supervising more corruption and economic stagnation… and when she tries to run for reëlection in 2022, she won’t have Trump to fly in on Air Force One to save her.

  14. jimmy james 2018-10-20

    Noem destroyed Jackley’s future in politics. He’s toast. Those ads of hers were devastating.

    And payback’s a bitch.

  15. jimmy james 2018-10-20

    And who is producing those Noem ads? Billie is Hillary. Billie is Bernie. Billie wants an income tax. Billie is a liberal. Which is worse, the lies or the lousy production?

    Our cowgirl is throwing cowpies faster than you can say “bullsh!t”.

  16. jimmy james 2018-10-20

    Her general election ads aren’t nearly as effective as her primary spots.

  17. Rough Rider 2018-10-21

    There seem to be more Sutton then Noem Yard Signs in my part of Northern Lincoln County,

  18. jimmy james 2018-10-21

    Same here. Yesterday, I drove by a Republican home nearby that had a Sutton sign and, next to it, a Jackley sign.


  19. Jason 2018-10-21

    There is video showing Sutton saying he likes Bernie Sander’s policies but will be voting for Hillary.

    If Sutton had any chance to win, it is now gone.

  20. jerry 2018-10-21

    Prove it widdle Russian. Show the video.

  21. jimmy james 2018-10-21

    Didn’t we already know that Sutton was a Democrat? All of this Hillary, Bernie stuff is lame. Looks desperate. Her recent ads have all of the hallmarks of a losing campaign.

    The swing voters that I know are voting for Sutton.

  22. Jason 2018-10-21


    There is a big difference between Hillary and Bernie.

    If you didn’t know that then you have serious issues researching the people you are voting for.

  23. Rorschach 2018-10-21

    Just as predicted, Noem comes out with the Billie’s gonna take away your guns” commercial. Of course it’s on the #2 blog. It’s the one Jason is talking about. Next will be a commercial accusing Billie of sexual harassment. They are already talking about that one being “in the hopper” in the comments on the #2 blog. Noem’s sleeze campaign is predictable. She did it against Stephanie. She did it against Marty. Now she’s doing it against Sutton. Anything to win. Let’s hope that the voters are onto Noem’s BS.

  24. OldSarg 2018-10-21

    Rorschach~ The sad truth is Noem may very well be right. Billie also came out and said he was conservative and a Christian as well. Between the liberals physically attacking people, the debacle they created for the SCOTUS hearings, the last administration using the government to spy on opposing parties it sure is feasible Billie has been lying as well. Lately it seems democrats will lie about anything to get power doesn’t it.

  25. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-21

    Strange: Marty Jackley doesn’t seem to be buying any of the smoke thrown by Jason and OS. How do you explain that, guys? What part of Democratic evil and Sutton doom that you see so clearly is Jackley missing that keeps him from automatically endorsing Noem?

  26. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-21

    Jimmy James, I would suggest that Noem’s general ads aren’t nearly as effective her primary ads because Jackley was a lot easier to hit directly than Sutton. Every attack she’s making on Sutton is by forced association with national figures. She hit Jackley right here on real South Dakota issues, on things Jackley himself did and said.

    Jackley appears to recognize Noem is not as strong now, and he’s not hurrying to help her.

    Strange that the SDGOP spin blog has not rushed to call him to task for his failure to support the party, the way that blog would immediately chastise Stace Nelson for not heeling to the party line. Why is that? Are they too busy trying to shore up her failing campaign with propaganda that they don’t dare highlight the lack of unity at the top?

  27. Jenny 2018-10-21

    The GOP party is the Party of Trump and that’s a problem in and of itself. The King of bullying, Trump, has made the country as partisan and mean-spirited as ever.
    Jason and Old Sarg, no matter what way you want to spin it, both Parties have their problems.
    You are in denial if don’t believe that.
    A sense of decency in the White House is lost because of Trump.
    Calling a woman a horseface is just cringy. I mean really, our own President acting that way? How can we be proud of our Country when our children hear that on TV?

    Kudos for Daniels to call it right back at him with ‘Tiny’. Always stand up to bullies.

  28. OldSarg 2018-10-21

    “What part of Democratic evil and Sutton doom that you see”. I don’t see doom at all Cory. Let’s make the irrational presumption that Sutton could by some freak of numerical magic. If Sutton were elected as a democrat he will be just another totally ineffective governor. The state will still be under republican control. What can he do? nothing. . . I was kind of shocked Billie backed Bernie though. I hadn’t seen that video until today. Kind of sad a man that rode rodeo, a pure American sport, supports communist. Guess it’s just another one of those hidden lies of the left like being Christian or conservative, both of which Sutton has claimed. . .

    The new motto of the Democrats should he “I will lie about anything to get power”.

  29. Jenny 2018-10-21

    Bernie voted against war so that tells the kind of decency that our Bernie has.

  30. Porter Lansing 2018-10-21

    The DeskJockey has gone from, “He can’t ever win.” to “OK. When he wins this will happen.” You’re calling a lot of people sad, this morning, DJ. Do you need to go to your safe space and play with your fishing rod? Hmmmmm?

  31. Porter Lansing 2018-10-21

    Did Stormy call Trump “tiny”? lol
    Tiny Trumpie sittin’ on his rumpie, makin’ America hate again.
    Priceless ….

  32. bearcreekbat 2018-10-21

    And then this morning’s RC Journal editorial supports Sutton for governor rather than Noem, providing a valid but accurate stinging criticism of Noem. We are not particularly liberal here is western SD, yet our daily newspaper editors reject Noem for Sutton.

  33. mike from iowa 2018-10-21

    Sutton doesn’t appear to be particularly Liberal hizownself.

  34. mike from iowa 2018-10-21

    OldSewersludge is lying again. It never ends with this whiny loudmouth troll.

    Rodeo is a competitive sport that arose out of the working practices of cattle herding in Spain, Mexico, and later Central America, South America.

    OldShootiegunrunner needs to leave the trap shut and stop making a fool of himself. Of course, making a fool of himself is a right guaranteed by the constitution, that worn old parchment wingnuts claim to love but it is like holy waster to a vampire for them.

  35. mike from iowa 2018-10-21

    Wah, Cory. mfi is picking on OldStumblebum again. Make it stoppppppppppppp!!

  36. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-21

    OS, you keep singing your karaoke, but you refuse to answer my question (you even omit the predicate of m question, the main part): why isn’t Jackley acting as if your hogwash were true? Address the issue of interest, please, instead of reciting your generic talking points.

  37. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-21

    Indeed, BCB: both Jackley and the Rapid City Journal, both well-known conservative entities, are not endorsing the Noem/OS narrative that Sutton is an obvious lying communist.

  38. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr., 2018-10-21

    Trump would return to South Dakota because Noem is a part of his political harem. It is that simple.

  39. OldSarg 2018-10-21

    Cory, attacking me doesn’t change the truth.

    Sutton has claimed to be a Christian, claimed to be a conservative and has now claimed to support Bernie but voted for Hillary. This is the guy you are backing. Does he support a communist like Bernie or doesn’t he?

  40. bearcreekbat 2018-10-21

    OS, why would you keep claiming Bernie is a communist, not that there is anything illegal or improper about choosing that economic/historical perspective under our very own 1st Amendent? Nothing I can see that Bernie has ever done or said suggests that the state should own the means of production, nor that dialectic materialism is an accurate description of the future course of our history. What gives with your repeated claim otherwise?

    And even less so for Billie Sutton. While Bernie has espoused some “socialist,” rather than “communist,” economic initatives, in an effort to help people, which Sutton might support, that does not seem to justify any claim that Sutton or Bernie believe in dialectic materialism as an accurate economic and historical predictor of the future. Hence, your repeated claim implying the contrary seems questionable.

  41. Rorschach 2018-10-21

    You think Noem might be right about Sutton taking away my guns, OldSarg? When he gets a majority in the legislature to pass the gun confiscation law you’re bullsh!tting about I expect him to start with your guns. You are clearly insane, and mostly a danger to yourself.

  42. Porter Lansing 2018-10-21

    OldChairForce was never taught the differentiation between Democratic Socialism and Communism. Apparently, many recently educated in S.D. private schools lack the same comprehension.

  43. Robin Friday 2018-10-21

    Here’s another hypothesis: Republican women are Republicans first and women second. We’ve seen that operating in Congress for years, and I think it’s extra clear in SD. Republican women will vote for Republicans regardless of gender. Noem is a Trump follower. ‘Nuf said.

  44. jimmy james 2018-10-21

    Stop the constant mud-throwing, Kristi. It’s getting old. Like I said a few weeks back, if she wouldn’t have run out of money at the end of the primary….. the mud would have been flying for eight straight months now.

  45. Debbo 2018-10-21

    I’d like to read a clear answer from OS to Cory’s simple question:

    “why isn’t Jackley acting as if your hogwash were true?”

  46. Jon H 2018-10-21

    Jackley’s opinion really does not matter!

  47. grudgenutz 2018-10-22

    I think Jackley has just admitted his irrelevance.

  48. Jason 2018-10-22

    It appears the video was taken at a Brown County Democrats event.

    Was Cory there and did he personally hear Billy Sutton say it?

  49. Porter Lansing 2018-10-22

    That clip is a doctored up phony. No wonder shallow thinkers like Jason/Miranda suck it up like … well, like you know what. Here’s the straight story.
    ~ “He’s not a Bernie Sanders Democrat and he’s not a Hillary Clinton Democrat. He’s something else. He comes out of a long tradition of prairie populism that doesn’t kowtow to the conservatism and liberalism that come in from the coasts. It’s a tradition of doing things our own way, and they say, that’s what Sutton intends to do.

  50. Debbo 2018-10-22

    Thanks for the link Porter. That was a good article.

  51. jerry 2018-10-22

    Daddy Russian tries to step in to help the widdle Russian with a NOem nonsense ad. Keep working that paytroll gig boys. widdle Russian says there is a quoted video of Billie Sutton, but he lies like his papa Russian bear, cause non exists.

  52. Porter Lansing 2018-10-22

    Jason … One of us has a verified history of being a big fat liar. Any video that only shows 8 seconds is inherently invalid. It was cut down to give a false impression of Candidate Sutton’s platform. It was cut down to deceive voters. The clip was cut down to lie and it’s been a pattern with Billie’s opponent since she left the beauty pageant arena.

  53. Jason 2018-10-22


    Watch the uncut video.

    Cory is in it.

    You are the verified liar.

  54. Porter Lansing 2018-10-22

    You’re dismissed, Jason. Go home and study.

  55. Porter Lansing 2018-10-22

    PS … Since Powers showcased my assertion on his second tier blog, I offered to give his readers an hour of my time for questions … unless the MNF football games gets better. He wouldn’t post my offer. (Pat doesn’t entertain intellects that usually out think him and his carboy Troy.)

  56. Jason 2018-10-23


    You owe an apology to Noem and the citizens of South Dakota for your lie.

  57. Porter Lansing 2018-10-23

    Miranda … We’re talking about Cory & Ezra, today. Put on your little Jason face and go to work in Minneapolis. (I am sorry that President Trump holds you and other trans people in such low regard. You’ll always have a home at FreePress, though. Cory is perhaps the most anti-discriminatory leader in SD and will bring that foundation to Pierre. Golly. They need it.)

  58. OldSarg 2018-10-23

    “That clip is a doctored up phony” porter, the video is Sutton and it is Sutton speaking and it was Sutton’s words. You can keep lying all day long but it doesn’t change the facts. Besides you don’t live here. Go vote in your own purple hazed elections in your home state of Colorado.

  59. jerry 2018-10-23

    Porter, ya zinged the Russians! Good work, Russian paytrolls always get proven out.

  60. OldSarg 2018-10-23

    “zinged” me? What, are you in 4th grade?

  61. mike from iowa 2018-10-23

    Purple Haze had nothing to do with pot or other drugs, Oldsimiansloopy.

  62. DR 2018-10-23

    And that hold out lasted 3 days. Jackley endorsed Noem with Daugaard, Thune, and Rounds.

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