Governor Kristi Noem spent the whole weekend in warmer climes, returning to Georgia to boost her own brand under the guise of campaigning for Senator Kelly Loeffler, who stands in Georgia’s double-run-off tomorrow. Noem was also in Georgia last week Wednesday campaigning.
While Noem was away, South Dakota reported its 100,000th case of coronavirus. Let’s hope Noem’s incessant interstate travel to maskless, indoor events don’t bring more cases to our state or to Georgia or whatever states she visits next.
If you think Noem’s frequent absence from the state she’s supposed to be governing is unusual, you’re right. In a report on Noem’s gamble on letting coronavirus run its course, Jeremy Fugleberg tallies Noem’s absences in October and finds them unprecedented:
By late September, the state was nearly leading the nation for newly reported daily cases of the virus per capita, behind only North Dakota.
Noem, meanwhile, crisscrossed the country stumping for Trump’s re-election, posing for selfies with fans and fundraising for both him and herself.
The governor was outside South Dakota for at least 12 days visiting eight states in October, according to a Forum New Service analysis of her social media sightings and media reports. Her travels, including events at two Trump resorts in Florida, came amid South Dakota’s deadliest month of the pandemic to that point, with 202 reported fatalities.
“We haven’t had a governor who’s spent this much time out of state for business that was clearly not state business,” said Michael Card, political science professor at the University of South Dakota with a focus on the state’s politics, in an Oct. 30 interview [Jeremy Fugleberg, “Kristi Noem’s Big Bet: How Covid-19 Challenged South Dakota’s Governor,” Mitchell Daily Republic, 2020.12.30].
Janklow, Mickelson, Miller, Rounds, Daugaard—for the most part, they hung around the Second Floor and did their jobs. Kristi Noem’s priorities are clearly different from those of her predecessors.