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Now She Trusts the Media: Noem Appoints Newswoman Duhamel to District 32 Senate

Governor Kristi Noem says “we can’t trust the media to tell the truth.” But she apparently can trust the media to do her bidding in the Legislature. Our journalist-slagging Governor has appointed longtime KOTA-TV journalist Helene Duhamel to fill the District 32 Senate Seat vacated by Alan Solano:

“The responsibility to appoint a legislator when a vacancy arises is not something I take lightly,” said Noem. “Helene is a pillar of her community and a trusted voice for Rapid City.  Helene’s experience as a journalist and more recently in the Pennington County Sheriff’s office will position her well to succeed in the State Legislature. I am confident she will serve as an effective Senator for her district.”

Duhamel is a fifth generation South Dakotan who served as News Director and Anchor for decades at KOTA-TV in Rapid City. More recently she has taken on the role of Public Information Officer for the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office.  She has also given her time and talent to other volunteer and non-profit organizations in Rapid City and the Black Hills [Office of the Governor, press release, 2019.12.03].

Senator Helene Dumahel, in Pierre for her matron Governor Noem's budget address, screen cap from KOTA-TV, 2019.12.03.
Senator Helene Dumahel, in Pierre for her matron Governor Noem’s budget address, screen cap from KOTA-TV, 2019.12.03.

Let’s hope the presence of a prominent veteran newsperson in the Senate will remind our Governor that, contrary to her Trumpist impulses, journalists are necessary participants in the responsive and transparent government Noem claims to support.


  1. BlackHills76 2019-12-04 07:56

    Helene Duhamel is a great choice. I think you will find her to be moderate and willing to listen to all sides of an issue. I wonder how Shad Olson will handle this news? She fired him years back because he was speaking at Tea Party rallys while still an anchor at KOTA TV. Anyhow I rarely compliment our current Governor, but she made a good choice with Helene Duhamel.

  2. Donald Pay 2019-12-04 08:29

    These vacancies should be filled by special election. Still, she’s a fair-minded person and able to consider all sides of an issue.

    Let me clarify an assumption you make here. In all my years in Rapid as an activist and as a school board member, I never saw Helene cover a story I was involved with. If she actually covered a story, it was generally soft news or features. She would read stories and introduce others’ stories in the newscast. That’s fine, I guess. There are different kinds of journalists. As far as the coverage of our issues on KOTA, it was always fair. That’s all I could ask for.

  3. Frances Severson 2019-12-04 18:56

    As to the last paragraph, you’re kidding, right?

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-12-04 20:22

    BH76, I will grant that Duhamel is a much better choice than Shad Olson. I look forward to seeing if she legislates as moderately and attentively as your impression of her suggests.

    I did hear Senator Duhamel say on SDPB that she plans to spend her first Session being “a sponge” and learning all she can. I do have to ask how anyone can be a South Dakota journalist and not already have learned a crap-ton about the Legislature and our political process.

  5. Debbo 2019-12-04 20:24

    I agree with the above opinions of Sen. Duhamel. She did a real public service covering her cancer treatment. In general, I would use the British term, “news reader,” to describe what she did at KOTA.

    Wouldn’t it be fun if she surprised the gov by being much more fair and civic minded than Klueless Kristi really wants?! 😀 Hope so.

  6. Certain Inflatable Recreational Devices 2019-12-04 20:26

    In 1998, when Bob Newland was the Libertarian nominee for governor, he was shut out of the KOTA governor candidate forum. He called Helene and was told, “We’ve found that when minor party candidates are part of our fora, the debate devolves to a discussion of issues.”

  7. grudznick 2019-12-04 21:26

    Bob, to be fair, back in 1998 what Ms. Duhamel said was “when we have you fringe whackos as part of our fora, you go off on rants about your single topic of the Demon Weed.”

    Also, to be fair, Ms. Duhamel was wrong to exclude you as she failed to understand the entertainment value you bring to such proceedings.

  8. Certain Inflatable Recreational Devices 2019-12-04 21:38

    grudzf**k, F**k you.

  9. grudznick 2019-12-04 21:46

    Got your goat, did I Bob? I’ll let you deliver the Opening Rant this Sunday at the Conservatives with Common Sense gathering. Campbell Street, this week.

  10. Dana P 2019-12-05 08:50

    I’m curious what the intent is here of the governor. I don’t know much about Ms Duhamel, but she has struck me over the years as one of those level-headed GOP’ers in this state (anymore, that is a species that is going extinct)

    What is Noem’s goal in selecting Ms Duhamel? Media connections? The meth issue? Or…. is Ms Noem fearing losing some support of the moderates/independents in West River, that she needs Ms Duhamel for re-election pull?

    The answer is probably obvious and I’m missing it. But just wondering what the chess move is here in selecting someone like Ms Duhamel?

  11. Dana P 2019-12-06 08:08

    Well, I think I may have found my answer.

    Newly appointed state senator, Helene Duhamel, said at a public forum yesterday that she is against the legalization of hemp.

    Trying to stop the veto override. Now I get it.

  12. bearcreekbat 2019-12-06 12:11

    Dana P’s observation and explanation makes perfect sense.

    In addition, the argument of Noem and Duhamel that they oppose hemp legalization because many people in favor of legalization of hemp also believe recreational marijuana is good public policy seems to be one of the most asinine rationals I have ever read. It implies that Noem and Duhamel would also oppose public policies like the 1st Amendment, among other absurd positions, if supporters of recreational marijuana legalization also supported the 1st Amendment.

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