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Maybe 5 of Haugaard’s 15 Campaign Issues Useful for Noem’s General Election Opponents

Why should I spend any time analyzing what Steve Haugaard says in his campaign for Governor? I’d never vote for Haugaard’s Christofascism anyway, except maybe as a chaos vote in the primary to upset Kristi Noem and give Democrats an easier target in November. Why not just let him stumble about helping fellow Christofascists make legal errorsprompting internal feuds, and forcing Kristi Noem to waste more of her campaign cash responding to conservative critiques of her record? Democrats don’t have to lift a finger right now to derive benefits from the Haugaard/Noem primary battle. Just let them fight.

But while we wait for some hardy Democrat to lift a hand and enter the gubernatorial race, we can look through Haugaard’s campaign issues and see if we can salvage any campaign points that might be useful for anyone else of any party who wants to run against Noem in 2022.

Haugaard’s Issues webpage starts with a call for a “Return to Transparent, Effective Leadership.” That’s a great point for any candidate. Haugaard starts off well [subsequent quote and all following are from Steve Haugaard, “Issues,” campaign website, retrieved 2021.11.19; links are my additions, providing information any candidate might find useful to back Haugaard’s claims]:

We need leadership that is truly transparent. We need a governor who will reject the politics of fearmongering, who will disclose all of the data, who will have cutting edge discussions about actual solutions, taking into consideration real scientific evidence…,

Honest candidates should skip over Haugaard’s next couple lines complaining about the few pandemic mitigation measures the Governor initially took before she decided that pestilence was preferable to precautions:

…not merely the dictates of the CDC or the White House. The governor issued “mandates” and “stay-at-home orders” during the COVID-19 crisis. Those orders are independently available on the Secretary of State’s website. Those orders effectively shut down South Dakota just like nearly every other state. Businesses were closed or limited, and worst of all, big box stores were allowed to remain open but small businesses and ‘mom and pop’ shops were closed. Churches were forced to move services online; schools were closed; nationwide CDC requirements were imposed.

But then Haugaard’s paragraph swerves back into general applicability for any No-more-Noem campaign:

…In a terrible failure of leadership, the federal funding that was intended to help some of our local businesses survive was not released until the governor called a Special Session granting herself the authority to distribute those funds—long after after all the financial damage was done. Governor Noem made poor decisions that created bad policy.

Haugaard’s #2 issue, “Protecting Our Children”, really is mostly Number Two for anyone but distractionary theorcrats and apartheidists:

I will not bow to the demands of powerful lobbyists, special interests, the Chamber of Commerce, Big Tech, or any other group that demands we sacrifice our right to raise our children free of radical left-wing indoctrination. I will oppose Critical Race Theory in our classrooms and will fight to ban boys from playing on girls’ sports teams and being in girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms.

Steve, didn’t you get the memo? All this fuss about “critical race theory” is just a smokescreen peddled by the powerful corporate special interests you’re campaigning against to protect their own power? Sigh.

Progressives and other sensible candidates will also need to steer clear of—or better yet, directly rebut—Haugaard’s Issue #3, a critique of “Vaccine Mandates” loaded with baseless claims intended to undermine science and public health:

The government should never be in a position to demand citizens do anything other than refrain from committing crimes. One’s fundamental rights cannot be suspended or superseded by a healthcare crisis. Citizens should never be compelled to receive medical treatments without their consent, or without recourse to a religious exemption or medical exemption. During my series as Speaker of the House in 2020, I requested the Department of Health provide to the public real data regarding as to the severity of the reported infections. That was never done. Of the hundreds of thousands who were infected we only knew of those who were ultimately hospitalized. Of those who died while infected with COVID-19 we never heard of reliable distinctions between those who actually died of the infection as opposed to those who died due to underlying causes. The Secretary of Health never provided enough detailed information, so the public was left with fear instead of facts.

It’s hard to tell which is worse: lawyer Haugaard’s inability to recognize well-established Supreme Court precedent saying that health crises can supersede basic rights, or candidate Haugaard’s seemingly amnesiac and politically convenient denial of the severity of coronavirus.

But let’s focus on the fallacious circulator of Haugaard’s Issue #3 thesis statement, that government can’t “demand citizens do anything other than refrain from committing crimes.” A crime is a violation of the law. If the government makes a law, then it can demand we not break it. Haugaard’s statement provides no clear principle allowing us to determine the proper roles of government. Turn instead to Adam Smith, who said the proper roles of government are to protect us from external threats, protect us from internal threats (hooligans, insurrectionists, Donald Trump), and provide useful goods and services that individuals and the private sector cannot or will not provide on their own. The first two proper roles are relatively easy, and government can demand that we pay taxes and even drop what we’re doing and pick up arms to help. That latter role is much more complicated, but again, if we need roads and schools, the government can demand that we contribute to the building of those roads and schools.

Issue #4, Agriculture, gets Haugaard back on a useful track:

Let’s maximize our billions of dollars of unprocessed agriculture products. We export millions of bushels of grain that could be processed in South Dakota. We export hundreds of thousands of cattle, hogs, sheep, and poultry and the producers lose the majority of the available profits. There are solutions to those issues without overreaching government. Our state can pave the way for those producers to employ people here in South Dakota without drawing in businesses that simply consume profits and send them out of state.

Yes! In this case, “overreaching government” would mean the millions of dollars in corporate welfare checks and bribes we fork over to exploitative CAFOs that erode our quality of life. Instead of propping up the ag-industrial complex and the SDGOP cronies who turn their former public offices into consultancy profit, state government could focus on supporting small agriculture, which would support more independent producers and provide more healthy food to local consumers and more consumer base for small-town businesses.

Haugaard’s Issue #5, Budget, is almost as useful for sensible voters of all political stripes. He first goes after the Governor for using public wealth as a personal “cookie jar”:

Taxpayer dollars should never become the ‘cookie jar’ open to either the governor or the legislature. The role of government is to be limited, and tax revenue is a sacred trust that should be treated with the respect we would have toward our neighbor.

That passage provides a perfect platform from which to ask why Kristi Noem is taking  Highway Patrol officers off the roads to protect her body everywhere she goes. Keep taking, Steve:

Dollars drive policy decisions. Those decisions should be a shared effort between the executive and legislative branches. For the past several decades, agencies have been required to make their requests only to the executive. That needs to change. Those requests must be delivered to both the executive and the legislative branch at the same time in order to effectively align the budget with agency needs.

The man running for Governor is actually saying the Governor should have less power—what a splendid humble counterpoint to the Snow Queen’s autocratic bent!

But then Haugaard’s budget talk veers back into his dangerous arch-conservative anarchy with a cryptic nod toward his plan to gut social services and let churches provide the only safety net:

Federal dependency can be limited. Presently, we are a ‘welfare state’. South Dakota’s budget is approximately 5 billion dollars, yet we generate only 2 billion of those dollars in revenue and are dependent upon federal debt dollars to ‘balance the budget’ and make up the difference. The bulk of that deficit involves social services, and that load can be lightened by engaging the communities. Much of the farm subsidies would see a decline if we ‘harvest’ more of the profits by creating the final product closer to home.

“Communities” can’t get by without federal assistance any more than the state can. And while I appreciate Haugaard’s suggestion that we need to get farmers off welfare,   invoking farm subsidies under a discussion of the budget the Governor oversees doesn’t makes sense, since those dollars are administered by the federal government. Promoting more small-scale local agriculture would indeed provide more farmers the chance to make a living without the government assistance that keeps corporate farmers like Kristi’s family above water (and yes, Steve, you and any other Noem opponents should talk about the Noem family socialism at every opportunity!) But that’s not a direct state budget issue; move that talk to the Agriculture plank and focus here on oversight and corruption.

Having shot his critical race theory-wad on Issue #2, Haugaard issues a somewhat tepid, uncreative statement on Education, Issue #6, that really just boils down to spend less on schools:

Why do we revisit school funding nearly every year in the Session? Because there is too much central control at the state level and not enough local control over education planning and spending. Our schools must must fit the needs of the students they serve. In this age of technology there are even greater opportunities for our students to thrive, but we have chosen to create silos of authority that inhibit creative solutions.

Higher education has also gone the way of the national trend toward ‘letters’ as opposed to practical and employable skills. Our completion rates for college age students have floated around 60% for years, but the costs have skyrocketed. In what other area of life do we reward a 40% failure rate with administrator salaries that rival the salary of the President of the United States? We must cut unnecessary expenditures for higher education and plan strategically for the future.

Just like Noem, Haugaard has no real, practical solutions for improving education. He just falls back on ideology and the tired saw that everything would be fine if we just stopped paying administrators and wishes for a system where the only people who get education are privileged white folks with money, like himself.

Issue #7, Second Amendment, and Issue #8, Life, are the usual uninstructive and politically unconstructive absolutism that distract from solving the practical real-life problems we face every day. Bleat all you want, Steve, about fighting off “evil people and political tyrants” with guns while chanting about the “unalienable” right to life “from conception to the moment of natural death” (funny things to see in sequential breaths), but neither guns nor abortion bans pay any bills. Candidates, leave that shouting to Steve and Kristi, and focus on practical issues…

…like Issue #9, Corrections, where Haugaard turns back into a liberal!

We have neglected the necessary budgeting not only for prison security and reform, but also for probation and parole services that are the key to reducing recidivism.

Spend more money, get cons out of prison, provide more support so they can go straight—Sure! That sounds a lot better than Kristi’s so-far feckless purge and pandering to prison guards.

In Issue #10, Haugaard calls for “better long-term planning” and a “thorough review” of Game Fish & Parks Department goals and budgeting. Instead of that vague hand-waving, the loyal opposition should say that what GF&P really needs is a purge of Noem’s anti-science yes-men and a return to listening to real experts in wildlife, parks, and conservation directing how we protect our great outdoors for everyone’s enjoyment.

Issue #11, Health and Human Services, could have legs for anyone wishing to ding Noem for failing to address real problems:

We have over 70 beds closed at the Human Services Center in Yankton. We are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars per person at some facilities while underpaying staff at others. A comprehensive review of the available facilities and workforce will be completed immediately under my administration. The issues are well known, but resolution of those issues has been stalled due to lack of leadership. Stability of the communities offering some of those services can be achieved with necessary changes of use as well as necessary adjustments to compensation to retain the workforce.

Implicit in Haugaard’s framing of the issue is the politically risky argument for downsizing or closing certain facilities and consolidating services in larger communities where workers are available. I suspect the reason Noem (and no one before her) has demonstrated the leadership to resolve this chronic problem is that it involves taking jobs away from certain communities and shutting down facilities that still won’t provide enough savings to cover the cost of raising pay for workers at the remaining facilities. It’s a real problem that warrants far more attention from the Governor and the Legislature than guns and abortion, but it will take real leadership to keep the conversation focused on this issue instead of all the hotter buttons that Noem and Haugaard press first.

But why not just privatize Yankton, Redfield, and other HHS operations? Issue #12, Social Services, veers back to Haugaard’s desire to privatize the social safety net:

The motto of the Department of Social Services is “Strong families are South Dakota’s future.” Sadly, we have not fully taken advantage of opportunities to engage our communities in solving problems that many families are experiencing. We also need to engage the many very capable private organizations, churches, and community organizations that stand ready, willing, and able to assist with family issues in areas which are not the role of government to address.

Remember, privatization is conservative code for, “We don’t know how to fix things, and we don’t want to be responsible for fixing things, so let’s just have government do nothing and wait for Jesus to save us.”

Yet right after pretending he wants limited government, Haugaard misses a prime opportunity to talk about wasteful government intrusion in the private sector with Issue #13, Tourism:

The Department of Tourism has done a tremendous job of marketing for South Dakota over the past many years. We can enhance that by ensuring our primary tourist areas are not closed due to a lack of workforce. There are recruitment tools available and other tourism opportunities that have not yet been used. Our home should be available for those who will appreciate its beauty.

Translation: Haugaard doesn’t think government should spend your “sacred” (see Issue #5, Budget!) tax dollars on strengthening families, but he doesn’t swipe at Noem spending tens of millions of tax dollars on tourism ads? Noem opponents, you can do better than that.

You can tell Haugaard is getting tired when he starts repeating himself. Issue #14, Transparency, repeats his first point. He does pledge “to disclose all expenditures of state funds” and to “examine past practices and ensure that elected leaders are not granted a special protected status…,” which nods nicely to Noem’s embarrassing refusal to reveal how much she’s spending on SDHP bodyguards. But if you’re running against Noem, put that transparency talk together in one big point at the top: Kristi keeps secrets; I tell the truth! makes for a great campaign slogan in the primary or the general!

Haugaard’s last campaign plank so far, Issue #15, Tribal Relations, probably ends up at the bottom of the pile because, frankly, who in the South Dakota Republican primary electorate gives a half-darn about Indians? But Noem’s damaging contempt for the tribes is worth talking about:

As Speaker of the House, I appointed myself to the Tribal Relations Committee to ensure that there would be progress in issues that matter to the nine tribes within our state. As a result, the annual State of the Tribes speech was highlighted by the presence of leadership from EIGHT of the nine tribes that day in the House chamber, something that had never happened before. I have enjoyed a good and respectful relationship with the tribes, but the current administration has found conflict with the tribes over pipelines, pandemic protections, and school curriculum content. There are solutions to each of those issues. I will restore that relationship from the governor’s office as I did as Speaker.

The problem for Haugaard here is that in the three specific policy areas he cites where Noem has created conflict with the tribes, she has created conflict by taking positions in line with the SDGOP ideology: supporting pipelines and Big Oil profits over tribal sovereignty and free speech rights, opposing tribal highway checkpoints to screen travelers for coronavirus, and erasing mentions of Indigenous culture from curriculum standards in favor of ideological and political statements supporting the imperialist-colonialist regime. If Haugaard criticizes Noem for those positions, he aligns himself with the opposing positions, which are inescapably liberal. Haugaard has to tread carefully with a Republican primary electorate in explaining why Noem’s fight with the tribes on these issues is reason to throw her out; opponents from other parties will have far less trouble appealing to the broader electorate for better state-tribal relations.

I will give Haugaard credit for not loading his issues with overt Jesus-freakery. The only mention of any god on his Issues page so far is under Issue #8, Life, where he invokes the “Creator” mentioned in the Declaration of Independence. He also mentions “churches” among the “very capable private organizations” and “community organizations” who could provide his Issue #11 Social Services instead of government. Otherwise, Haugaard states his issues in a completely secular tone. Perhaps, despite the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ overt endorsement of his campaign launch, Haugaard recognizes that getting into a fight over who loves Jesus more with Kristi won’t win him as many votes as issues highlighting Noem’s failure to govern effectively.

But out of Haugaard’s opening fifteen issues, only five—transparency, agriculture, the state budget, corrections, and tribal relations—come from Haugaard in a form that candidates from any party or no party could use to hammer Noem at the polls. The other points, as posted by Haugaard, are less about how to effectively run a state and more about how to score points with conservative pundits.


  1. John 2021-11-21

    Oh brother, the republicants have a choice between Satan and the devil. Neither have a vision.
    And about vaccines and vaccine mandates – neither acts like they spent a day on the farm or strolled through their family genealogy or a local cemetery. We vaccinate animals like crazy for obvious reasons. Family histories and local cemeteries are full of childhood deaths in the pre-vaccine era from a mere 100-120 years earlier. Then fully 20% of kids died before their 5th birthday. I’m waiting for an anti-science, anti-vaccine mandate nut to argue FOR rolling back all childhood mandatory vaccinations, MMR, small pox, polio, etc., ‘we need the freedum to refill the cemeteries!’ ‘George Washington was wrong with his order of mandatory small pox vaccinations and should have allowed the Continental Army and militias to die on the vine!’
    And further unsurprisingly, displaying Haagaurd’s lack of citizenship and American history, this nation had many federal, state, and local policies that addressed shutdowns, masking, quarantines, et al., to control pandemics. Lawyers make LOUSY executives for they have no to little training or experience in leadership.
    How did either of these republicant nuts get out of high school biology or history?

  2. David Newquist 2021-11-21

    In checking out Haaguard’s education, one finds some puzzling information on his campaign website. It says, “He attended South Dakota State University earning his Bachelor of Science degree in multiple fields of study, including Engineering, Sociology, Psychology, Criminal Justice, and Political Science.” I don’t know of any accredited university that awards such an amorphous degree. While students are encouraged to venture into multiple areas of knowledge, a degree must be earned in a major area to show that a graduate is successfully trained in a discipline.

    His law school also has a shaky history. It was begun by the University of Puget Sound, a Methodist college that enrolls about 2,000 undergraduate students. Its financial problems and some difficulty in finding a campus on which to operate made the higher education news. It became controversial for its admissions policy of being non-selective to admit enough students to garner tuition so that it could operate. Eventually, it was taken over by Seattle University, a Jesuit school.

  3. grudznick 2021-11-21

    Mr. Haugaard is very amorphous and shaky. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has some certificate that makes him a preacher, too.

  4. leslie 2021-11-21

    1. Trust (money laundering) industry — $$$360B

    2. Ag Industry — $$______ B?

    3. Tourism/Mt Rushmore fireworks idiocy—$ ____B?

    Pls fill in correct amounts. The Republican hopeful ignored NUMBER ONE INDUSTRY in SD. Gee whiz

    (In NC after cancer watch over a lost family member.)

  5. grudznick 2021-11-21

    Mr. Haugaard may be underplaying his overgoddery card at this point, but don’t you silly fellows delude yourselves that he won’t come out before long as the most righteous Jesus-freak of them all. He could even shave off the creep ‘stache before too long, which you may hear about if you talk to a few of his closest roaddogs.

  6. leslie 2021-11-21


    Republican Freak

    Trump Freak


    Grunt is a messed up name-calling individual. Is he Sanborn? Winding up with him either side of a once-a month-post is a good reminder to no longer consume or participate in this blog. Higher standards would be nice.

    No Democratic voice in SD!

  7. DaveFN 2021-11-21

    “He attended South Dakota State University earning his Bachelor of Science degree in multiple fields of study, including Engineering, Sociology, Psychology, Criminal Justice, and Political Science.”

    Anyone who would make such an outlandish claim must have a public CV available although I’m unable to find one.

  8. DaveFN 2021-11-21

    Yet, considering how outlandish the claim is may instead be the very reason I’m unable to find a public CV.

  9. Richard Schriever 2021-11-21

    Does SDSU have a “general studies” major – one that is sometimes preferred by erstwhile “amateur” athletes at institutions such as the University of Alabama?

  10. Mark Anderson 2021-11-21

    It’s OK, his very name gives you the idea he works for Kristi, Haugaard. It is “pronounced” that way isn’t it? His take on vaccines is the reason Republicans have made dying at a four to one clip compared to Democrats a red state disaster. Everything else is gravy, a list of idiotic stupidity. It will be very interesting to see a debate between these two “titans”.

  11. Mark Anderson 2021-11-21

    By the way grudz, I bought my marrying card three years ago for 35 bucks, Universal Life Ministries. My wife and I married two former students, legally. Got a card and a certificate.

  12. Bonnie B Fairbank 2021-11-21

    Now you’re just being mean, Mr. Anderson, with your prediction of a debate between the “titans”. I actually blurted out loud in a Marge Simpson voice “Oh my Lord” and I’m pretty sure my head rotated twice.
    Although, when a person thinks about it, it would be a fun-filled cringefest for thoughtful people.

  13. ArloBlundt 2021-11-21

    Well…yes, Mr. Haugaard is bogus..his college credentials, his no longer existing law school, his “TV Preacher” religious persuasion, his “no vaccine mandate” platform, ignorant and pandering to his base. As such, he’s a threat to the Governor if he can accuse her of certain “sins” against the right and catch on with social media and right wing religious sites. My bet is the Governor will ignore him and hope he doesn’t catch on.

  14. Porter Lansing 2021-11-21

    Haugaard is as boring as lefse.

    And, fully fifty years behind what’s new and vital.

  15. Cully Williams 2021-11-21

    Lol I’m excited to see my Twitter following going on up now

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