Yesterday I reported that the Senate-loved Sparrow map piles five Republican incumbents into the three-seat Moody-Minnehaha District 25. One of those crowded incumbents, Representative Steven Haugaard (R-10/Sioux Falls), may be taking my advice and easing the new District 25 tension by taking himself out of the running for Senator Marsha Symens’s (R-25/Dell Rapids) seat. Instead, he appears to be going after the Governor’s chair:
Former South Dakota Speaker of the House and current State Representative Steve Haugaard (R-Sioux Falls) will run for South Dakota Governor in 2022.
Haugaard filed Friday to pursue the office, the same day that Governor Kristi Noem officially announced she would be running for re-election in 2022….
Multiple sources confirmed to Dakota News Now/KOTA Territory News that Haugaard intended to pursue the Republican nomination for the governorship.
…Haugaard did not respond to a request for comment [Austin Goss, “Former Speaker of the House to Pursue Governorship,” KSFY, 2021.11.15].
Goss’s report seems odd for a couple of reasons. First, there is no official filing to pursue the office until the state starts accepting nominating petitions on January 1. Haugaard may have filed a statement of organization for a statewide candidate campaign committee, but the Secretary of State’s Campaign Finance Reporting website shows no such “Haugaard for Governor” paperwork, only the “Haugaard for House” Legislative campaign committee (which as of January 26, 2021, reported $10,043.02 in the bank, or 0.15% of the amount Governor Noem says she has available for the 2022 campaign).
Second, Haugaard didn’t respond to Goss’s request for comment. If Haugaard is going to insurge against his party’s sitting Governor, and if he is going to follow my campaign advice of forcing the Governor to spend her money on defense, he should be eager to start cutting into her press now. She got all sorts of soft press Friday with her reëlection announcement; why not rain on her parade right away by stealing the headlines with one’s own big announcement?
Haugaard hasn’t been afraid to challenge Noem in the press recently. In October, he happily spoke to the press to question Noem’s conduct in the nepotism scandal surrounding her daughter’s real estate appraiser certification:
“When it directly affected the outcome of a license issue for her daughter, it certainly raises questions — and the important thing is the governor campaigned on transparency,” said South Dakota state Rep. Steven Haugaard, a Republican who is a former speaker of the House. Haugaard said both constituents and appraisers working in that field want to know whether Noem’s daughter was given “preferential treatment” and why she was involved in the meeting.
“Those are questions that need to be answered,” he said. “Then the public would be satisfied, and we can move on to something else. … I would like to see a transparent process just like everything in state government should be” [Maeve Reston, Lucy Kafanov, and Jason Kravarik, “Controversy Follows Noem in South Dakota as She Eyes National Stage,” CNN, 2021.10.08].
Haugaard cleverly framed the question of nepotism in the context of government transparency, an issue Noem pretends is central to her governing. His conservative caucus’s failure to rally enough votes last week to block the Senate’s redistricting plan seems to serve as more evidence that Haugaard’s radical right wing cannot effectively counter the SDGOP mainstream, but if Haugaard can translate his anti-Noem messaging into a more vigorous (perhaps the word the campaign advisors will sue is merciless) bombardment, perhaps he can make the next six months the worst election season of Kristi’s life.